COACHING FOR PAINTING CONTRACTOR
BUSINESS COACH FOR MARKETING SALES ESTIMATING OPERATIONS
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Coaching for Painting Contractors For Marketing Sales Estimating Operations
This is episode 14 with Elisa Moon flow design. Welcome to the cube podcast. I'm your host, Steve Burnett, where each week we interview successful entrepreneurs to hear about their journey to inspire you to double your business so that you can have financial freedom time for your family and make an impact in your community. Thanks for spending some time with me and now today's show.
Thank you again for being here. We have another awesome story lined up for you today with Lisa Moon, but first a special thank you to frank spirit, the third of smooth drywall, finish and paint for his podcast review saying, I've heard many great business tips and look forward to many more. I've only been working with the web group for just over a year now and have been shown areas of my business to improve, streamline, and make more efficient. I suggest you subscribe so that you don't miss any helpful advice. Thank you very much. Frank Sperry, and this week's episode, I interview Lisa Moon of paper moon painting. Without further ado, here's episode 14.
Today's guest is from the San Antonio, Texas area. Together with her husband, Peter own and operate paper, Moon painting. Lisa Moon, welcome to the show.
You're glad to have you. So let's get right into it with how you got started. Can you walk us through from the struggles of the startup days and all the challenges and insights along the way?
COACHING FOR PAINTING CONTRACTOR
BUSINESS COACH FOR MARKETING SALES ESTIMATING OPERATIONS
Sure. Well, we already have three wife team, which has its pros and cons. The pros outweigh the cons, but we have a different history and different set of skill sets. The synergy is is we think part of our strengths. We do have passionate debates when there are differences of opinion, but we have a little, a little executive team that helps us work things out and so we have really enjoyed it. Peter and I got together eight years ago now. These are second marriage for both of us and so we had. We were each in the field in different ways. When we met, we actually met on a job site. Peter was a wallpaper installer with an assistant and I was a decorative painter. What we used to call a photo, finish your back in the day. I used to paint in oils and do glazes and plasters and gold leafing and that sort of thing.
Back when design was leaning heavily toward the test. Contrary ornamentation on your walls was a big thing. So I had one the system as well. On the day we met, we each worked with a designer who knew both of us and she had Peter on a job site at a client's home to install the very heavily in kind of a 3d wall covering that. My assistant and I were going to go in and glaze, so that's, that's Kinda cool. But because of that, we each had our own, uh, perspective on the industry are. Our client is almost entirely interior designers because both of us were really specialty niche industries within the interior design umbrella. So we worked with many of the same interior designers and worked on similar kinds of projects, typically large custom homes, high end residential. So that was how we met. Once we.
Once we got together, we realized that neither one of our businesses are niches was truly scalable. I mean probably could be done, but it would be rather difficult wallpaper. Installation is a art that takes quite a while to master, especially in some of the more specialty papers. It'd be hard to find enough installers and have enough demand to really scale the business and on my end my work was very heavily fine. Art based. It would be difficult to find enough artists there and also enough demand and some glad we didn't decide to scale either. One of our businesses that we decided to scale and create a business out of was the overlap between us, the painting side of things. Often I would hire a small paint crew to prep space for me before I fancied it up and Peter also new guys who would go in and paint other areas of the home where he was just wallpapering perhaps it's a powder bath, so we decided to start the painting business and so for that it's been dedicated. The two of us working on a painting business, probably five or six years now, five or six years ago, that wallpaper Matt photo together and said, let's create a painting business and get married. Exactly.
First business second, but yes, that is how it evolved and both of us, our kids are grown and out of the house, so. So the businesses are baby in a way. I wasn't surprised to both of us in different regards. So here's our different skill sets. I am the visionary strategist, big picture thinker. To me, building a business has been a different form of creativity for me and I have an interior design material design training as well. I've always been drawn to proving spaces and I realized creating the business also creative in its own way. You visualize where you want the business to be. How will this look function, perform in five years, in 10 years, what could this be? And then it's almost like you're forming that. You're bringing it into being. And I love that Peter Skill sets. He is very much the steady state supportive guy on the disk thing.
COACHING FOR PAINTING CONTRACTOR
BUSINESS COACH FOR MARKETING SALES ESTIMATING OPERATIONS
I lean toward the I and Peter Leans toward the ass, although most of us tend to be rather kind of the De, you know, bullet point people at work, Peter Skill sets are much more. Keep the trains running on time, keep people happy and makes sure all the employees are taken care of, make sure the clients know that they're being taken care of as well. So those two skill sets have really helped go from, you know, again, when we started, we just literally talked to a couple of painters we knew and said, hey, we can keep you busy full time. Do you want to join us? And it literally has grown from there. So it's, it's been much more creative than I anticipated. Obviously we've had to learn business, but it's been fascinating. We've tackled it in different ways. I, I tend to to figure if you research it enough and you go for it, the odds are that it'll work. Pete Peters a little more cautious in his approach, but we've done this for enough years now that he has more faith that knock on wood, 90 percent of what we try to have succeeded so, so he's a little less worried about the potential downside and again, what we're being careful in our choices, but it's good. I think we're both kind of evolving into functioning better within the business.
That's fantastic. So getting started getting going here. The I like April, so I'm not intimately. And then the s, you know, my default is cs and so I get Peter, I can relate to that. Getting started. So you guys had to learn how to communicate with each other and trusting each other and into go for it. What were some of the challenges coming together and, and, and launch.
I think some of the challenge where that on my end I tended to think that change would be quick and instantaneous, that you're dealing this. This has been the biggest challenge for me regardless of the product we put out. This is a people and a systems business. So the people side has been a learning curve for me to realize that they can't just spit out a new directive and expect instant enthusiasm from all parties. Instant compliance. You have to sell. You might have to sell your employees on a new idea. I had to, believe it or not, I had to sell. I remember the evolution from back in the beginning when we had our guys just as subcontractors and they would give us a handwritten time sheet at the end of the week with just kind of how many days they worked. Then I had to sell them to, well, let's go to hourly. Still handwritten mind you. Then I had to sell them on the. Oh my goodness. The getting a bunch of largely painters to evolve to the sheets was not done overnight. He couldn't live without it now. But. But that has been a big learning curve for me to realize I have two projects that large shift in how we do things will take. I have to think in terms of weeks or months, not hours or days.
This is a high for high. I can you just share that I find very interesting. You said to a bunch of s painters now back when we were building for that painting, we've found that our best crew leaders were all so. Is that the case for you as well?
It seems to. I think that now granted, once we realized we had honestly the t sheets things a bit of a catalyst and I think at that time Steve, I was starting to um, connect with, with the Dib coach system and d I, S C and realizing, oh my gosh, most of our painters. So it has pros and cons. For one thing, I think there is a little bit of a cultural leaning toward that. We are in San Antonio. I'd say about two thirds of our patients are Hispanic. Now, granted they've grown up in the US. Nevertheless, their families, their values where they tend to feel comfortable is in the esg space, family, community, steady, supportiveness. They do make fantastic crew leaders because they take care of their assistants and they take care of the clients, but that means that they are a little slower to change and really have to be shown that this will help things that will make their lives easier and disrupts the work procedure a little bit, but just trust us. Keep at it. We know that will be glitches. We were fine with that. But um, let's give it a little time. It's a bit of a learning curve. We'll, we'll, we'll just be patient and it be better in the end.
That's really good. So you shared two thirds are Hispanic now. It's no shock in the industry across the nation and even in Canada and others, the work pool has dried up and so many are struggling to find painters and are considering, well, OK, we need to hire hispanics now because Hispanics are fantastic workers. What, what challenges did you go through to to make it work for you to have the success of working with Hispanics? And then what encouragement or advice would you give others who are saying, OK, we've got to figure this out. How do we work with Hispanics? How do we communicate to the clients and keep everything running smooth?
Well, let's see. In the beginning when it was just literally two or three painters, I do actually speak Spanish. My mother's Peruvians, I grew up speaking Spanish and English, so Peter speaks Spanish. So that's
COACHING FOR PAINTING CONTRACTOR
BUSINESS COACH FOR MARKETING SALES ESTIMATING OPERATIONS
first time I've heard this. But what Spanish,
he can order dinner, ask for directions. But, but some of the more technical terms, you know, we're going to, we need to refloat this area. We need to, you know, do the ceiling and a shade lighter finishing. So what happened was in the beginning especially, I ended up being the translator on most of our projects and it was starting to drive me bonkers. So we made a shift on purpose to where I don't care if they grew up in Mexico, but I'm hiring people who speak English fluently. So that was, that was important for us. And most business owners probably don't face that particular scenario. But for us we made that decision. I think was again, just realizing they really do care about family. I think they are less. They will do whatever it takes to the project work. They really have your back. The loyalty is fantastic.
I, Peter and I just talked about this yesterday. We are six years and we have about 25 painters now. We have only lost one of his own accord and that's because he moved to California. We have net. We've let guys go, but we've never. We have zero turnover that we feel like family and so we really value that. I can say there had been any challenges other than one challenge with one guy in particular who had grown up in Mexico and struggled a little bit with a a woman running the business as much as I did. He has now seen that I'm not that I have a good head on my shoulders and I'm not going to run the business into the ground and so he trusts me now, but that took a little time.
Peter's tourists to Spanish. Peter, your tourists. Spanish is still better than mine so I could not order. I love Tacos, my skin, so my favorite food, but I cannot always. OK, so this is really good with the two thirds, but they're loyal and hardworking. But another key is you just said that's it. You have to speak fluent English. So that's. What about the other third one, third who are not Hispanic? How do you make that work with the team and the culture?
This seems to get along great. We hire, we watched for it. Steve, you've got these set of interview questions, 11 interview questions that are for hiring for character. I use those when we interview. I do listen to the interviews and I like going deep sometimes at Peter's there with me. Then as well, the PT will tend to lean more towards the technical side. He'll point to on our office and say, how long would it take your paint this wall? I'm asking more questions about, tell me what the biggest lesson you've learned so far, for example. And so one of our selling propositions that we try to communicate to our clients as well. You'll love our guys and so I'm careful to hire guys that are friendly and easy going. No drama will get along. I can spot drawn on the pretty well now in an interview and even if the qualified in every other way, I just won't go there. It's not worth it. We've been there. Done that.
That's fantastic. You mentioned that you live in interview questions will just for the listeners will leave a link for those. You can download those in the show notes. They've been very helpful for. Would you say that they help you to reveal a person's character in many times without them even realizing it?
Yes, they do. It's fascinating. We've had. I remember one guy who was a little bit a little rougher looking. I had we, we, because of our, our background in working with interior designers, we focus very much on high end half our work is from desert interior designers and their client base that we have to be a little more selective about the appearance of the vibe of our painters, so we had a guy who was a little. He appeared a little rougher, have a gentle voice, but little by little I mean just a little rougher. He didn't look like he just got out of jail or anything, but I asked him, you know, what was, what's been your biggest life lesson? And he just got this really thoughtful look and he just said people really can change and that intrigued me and we just spoke more and I thought this guy is solid and he's been fantastic. And then other guys, you know, guys that seemed great until I asked them. One of the questions was like, tell me about the best and the worst boss you've ever had. And, and Oh my goodness, he went off on his previous boss and the Boston sound that bad. But the way he talked about him, I thought I don't want to be the next one. Talks about that way.
And he said Peter would say, well, hey, how long is going to take to oversee production, handle more the sales and marketing or what's the relationship there? Peter is our chief estimator. We do have a backup estimator, but Peter does four or five estimates day and he was production. He does have a production manager, but he is, I don't know, operations officer, if you want to call it that, co Ceos if you want to put it on paper has been interesting. But um, and then I run because Peter's a chief estimator, he is technically in charge of sales, but I do manage the marketing and kind of business development and growth strategy and so I have a say in the sales process, but Peter and Peter's doing the sales. He's the rainmaker.
Fantastic. Now you guys have just launched a second location, correct? Yes. We sure we are about an hour and a half drive away from Austin, Texas, which is the capital of Texas. It's a, it's a smaller city, but ironically it's a bigger market. Austin and San Antonio were vastly different. San Antonio has a 50 percent Hispanic population and the Hispanic population is distributed through demographics. We've had, we've got Hispanic mayors, judges, attorneys, doctors, high end, you know, it's not concentrated on some of the more working class like it might be in other cities. Austin is different. Austin is really primarily Anglo and so for example, we have so far for team members and Austin and they're all equal and that hasn't been me trying. It's been just who has answered our ads and who has been a good fit. So it's also Austin as a tech. It's, it's got three strengths as a city, high tech being the capital high government base and ut Austin is a massive school like 50,000.
So I think I remember reading once that Austin has the highest per capita book ownership rate in the nation, a lot of educated people so it's a high end market and that is our specialty. So. So far so good. Thank goodness. We are now booked out with with two crews to 14 members with two crews or booking into January and so we were excited about it. So far so good. We're looking to hire our third and fourth cruise. Soon as we can go straight out of the gate. You guys are taken off. Who's heading that up? Actually Peterson pj and that has its pros and cons. Peter's son, his, um, his, his oldest son, PJ is one of those super capable. You can trust them to get it done. I think if you were to test out on a d I, s c, he'd be an IC, which is an interesting blend and Peter was a youth pastor up in Washington state and moved down here with his wife and we know he kinda grew up with exposure to the business but didn't know it as in-depth as if he'd been working in it, but we said, hey, we'd love to know.
He wanted to kind of. He might eventually worked back into the ministry and so he's doing some volunteer work with the church. Started by some friends of his and Austin, but we said we'd love to be your day job. We plan to start a new branch in Austin, but probably wouldn't have done it until next year if they were to hire somebody cold, but with pj moving down, he is our main estimator and handling office admin right now since it's small enough to be able to do that and we have taken one of our top crew leader here in San Antonio who hit who we had trained to be our backup estimator. He's got family in Austin and so he's been willing. We're so thankful to basically just commute to Austin. He's done it for a month now and he's been the one who's been hiring, interviewing and hiring the new guys in Austin and training them into the system.
So between the combined efforts of PJ and and Lex who will come back down to San Antonio in a month or two. They've launched it and it's been really good and pj does all the to maybe an office is working in the field training the guys, making sure they know the system before you stepped into this role? Not that much, but we did. We took. When he moved down here, he. He stayed, he came down and commuted to San Antonio for a solid month, so he spent the month of shadowing Peter as he heated sales. He spent a month working with me in the office, kind of explaining marketing vision and strategy, and then he actually was on a job site for. I'm s, I'm sorry, I'm saying [inaudible]. He shadowed Peter for a week. He shadowed me for a week. He spent a week on a job site actually working I think the other week he shadowed our production manager here in San Antonio, so they really tried to get them to see all sides of it and in Austin we're focusing more on a more San Antonio offers a lot.
Because of Peter's background, we do offer wallpapering services that we have separate guys doing and because of my background we offer specialty painting that we have separate artists doing. We're not doing that in Austin, so we're nearly our service offerings and has been able to do it really well and talking about a crash course very much pj. That's incredible. What are some, so now that you've launched this, if we call satellite location, what have you learned and to do it again, what would you change for those out there? Considering doing the same lessons and small lessons, small lessons get if a physical address immediately before you have your first client. Physical address I can get on Google maps. Gosh darn it. Closure. So that was A. I don't care if it's a virtual office with one of those mailbox things, but get an ad rep right away.
We started off first just working on a PJ's house, so that was a learning lesson for us. Larger lessons. We probably would have peers I think [inaudible] a little bit of the s and that's not have been launched a branch before. He wanted to really just wait and see if we even got any leads before investing very heavily. So I think for a next time we would probably dedicate a budget. Whatever you can do in my mind, I had the idea 10 grand, 10 grand to cover the cost of your estimated for the first month. Assuming he, while he's still warming up and to cover, acquiring and doing basic outfitting of an office, also, it took us some time. I would've done this sooner to get a van and get it wrapped. That's an investment, you know, it's, it's, it takes at least two weeks just to find the right van and then to get it wrapped.
So I would have probably planned on a bit of a bigger outlay. Now it's only been two months open and it's in the block already, so we're delighted, but I would've invested a little more in the beginning. And then the other big learning lesson was you almost have to be very clear to whoever you're your pioneer is going to be. Whoever will be in that role. This was a shock to PJ, especially coming from church ministry. We would have probably done a better job of warning him upfront. This is not a nine to five clock out at five and you're done thing. Be prepared for giving phone calls, be prepared for late nights, you know, catching up on estimates. He didn't get to be prepared for it. You know this, this will spill over into a little bit of your private life. It won't be forever, but just be prepared for that until there's enough steady work that you can hire someone else to take on. Some of that sleep would have worn them a little more of that. First he was a little shell-shocked by the nature of the work, but by the amount of work that spilled over. So we would probably be somebody who would probably worn some a little better next time to the life of an entrepreneur. Exactly. And Peter Nigh east seek and breathe this. So we thought this was, this was our normal, this is the water we swim in. But for a new guy's perspective, we see it.
So you mentioned leads. It's fantastic. Took her it off two months in and and the black already. How did you generate the leads?
So in our case, because we needed instant quick, fast, your system see focuses so heavily on connections, which is fantastic and becoming a presence in the community that we didn't have the luxury of taking the time to do that. We needed to work because we could get it, so pj reached out to a bunch of interior designers that he basically researched and put together a little packet and sent it out and that is. That has largely been it. Believe it or not, wouldn't. One designer that he emailed emailed me back within 30 seconds as, oh my gosh, you've been looking for someone like you in the two months. She's given him six projects. Has been huge. So yes. So that is some of the personal community building that we want to develop more and more that because we targeted designers who already have a meeting and already have a client base, I think that was helpful for us.
Fantastic. What's. What points or advice would you give for those who say, you know, I've been wanting to get into designer market. How can I reach out to them? How? How could they get a response to that fast?
Most designers are loyal to their vendors and their trades people, so you will. It may not. You will have to expect that you may not have an instant return on all of the ones that you reach out to, but that's OK. What I've often and I started off and I was the last person in the world to want to do this. I was not a salesperson at all, but when I started my finishing decorative painting way, way back in the day, I cold called designers. I hated it, but I got used to it and I would just offer my services and nine times out of 10 they would say, oh, thanks so much for calling, but we already have a decorative painter and I would say, I totally understand. I totally respect that. That's fantastic. Just keep me in mind in case sometimes the person you have now may have a full schedule.
You've got a project that needs to be looked at immediately and we may have different skill sets so you know, I would love it if you would just kind of keep me as a potential and they would call back maybe in a month or two months and it didn't take very many designers. He fewer designers than than homeowners because the designers are repeat business so that that has been helpful, reach out to them and be patient. Designers need what they need from their vendors is they need their vendors to back them up. So a homeowner, especially some of the more nervous homeowners, you know, painting and design and redoing your home is disrupted by nature in some of our cns clients have struggled with that. So sometimes they'll go and they'll ask, you know, we are under designers project and we're doing what the designer has hired us to do and the homeowner might ask this kind of not sure about this color.
Are you sure about this? Is this going to be OK? We've told our guys you backup the designer's vision. That is your number one role. Absolutely. We completely trust she has done so many projects that we've seen turned out beautifully. She's got this. So we let designers know w we've got. We've got your back in that regard. Also, as part of the reason why we're a little more selective, I think on the appearance of our guys, our guys to almost look like the geek squad in a way think cut, friendly, engaging game, but you know, they'll, they will. We don't want these homeowners to feel nervous about who's in their home and so we want designers to know they can trust us to send guys who will represent their brand and their brand is going to be usually exclusive, high end, quite glove service, that kind of thing.
Starting off, it was cold calling that out of 10, so thank you. But no, we have somebody said, you understand if you need a backup or here for Ya, and many times they did so they would reach out to you. Fantastic. And always back them up, always back them up when the client needs that extra security, knowing that it's all gonna come through. Very good. Our designers primarily your target market,
if you had to put it in terms of the end user. Our target market is the high end residential housewife. We have some. We have to target neighborhoods within San Antonio and if you want to put it in these terms, these are a bit old fashioned terms, but they convey the image. One of these neighborhoods is old money and one of them is new money, so our target market is a housewife and each of those neighborhoods, but they face similar pressures and this kind of goes to the three P's, but our target market is the health life in those, in that demographic who has a certain level of status to protect. It may be her husband's status, so maybe that her husband's a ceo of a large corporation or he may be on city council, whatever it may be that they have an image to maintain.
COACHING FOR PAINTING CONTRACTOR
BUSINESS COACH FOR MARKETING SALES ESTIMATING OPERATIONS
Therefore their home has to be up to date, spotless, perfect. Usually the housewife, the net scenario, when I say housewife, not to be insulting by any stretch, but usually she has been in charge of, in charged with the project, whether she's talked to the Hubby and said, Babe, you know, I'm tired of these Tan was can we upgrade to a white or gray? And he said, typically he will say, if you really want to go for it, but here's the budget. So she trusted with getting it done within budget, or he's told her right houses, looking a little shabby. We're having the corporate, you know, retreat at our house in two months, let's get that exterior painting, whatever it may be. Usually she's interested with the job, so she's got to find somebody. If she doesn't have a designer, she's got to find someone cold who she will trust, who will get it done properly without causing a the argument of why are the painters still here, why are they taking too long, or why are they leaving a mess every night? She doesn't need any of those stressors, so we try to minimize stress, uncertainty, disruption. That's, that's kind of our approach.
We'll continue with the rest of Lisa story in just a moment, but first I want to thank Matt Johnson of the painter from billings, Montana for his feedback saying thank you for the mini blueprint. I will always have it with me now to keep me on track and to help spread your message. I appreciate all of your hard work and value that you guys bring to the community. Couldn't be happier. Thank you very much. Matt Jensen. We understand that building a business is hard work, but you're not alone. If you would like to download your copy of the Free Day, be system, go to d, Y, b coach.com, forward slash D Y B system. Again, that Web address is d, y, be coached [inaudible] forward slash day be system and I'll also include a link in the top of the show notes for you. Any questions, just shoot me an email and that Steve at day be coach Steve at the Dui. Be Coach Dot Com.
That's fantastic. Now do you have a strategy for reaching out and connecting them directly? A lot of it will be repeating referral business. We do reach out to them. We do implement the, um, annual touch ups that seems to help. I do try to stay active in the design community, having some design credentials and so I'll meet designers that way and I think we do have a strong website. I'm so thankful for so many of the symmetry of the direction you've given with how to build a strong website and we've implemented so much of that and because of that we ranked really high in Seo, so if someone is looking for a painter and they're looking and they're comparing versus those who appear on line, nine times out of 10, we'll knock it out of the park. Our website is just way above your average, you know, just smith painting kind of a thing.
So we convey high end on our website and that seems to attract those clients first. Thank you for the comments and the feedback. Do you find that the website will help to do one of two things? It will qualify those who are your target market and it'll also detour those who are not. Yes, it really will. We actually, um, I can't remember how we heard from them, but someone told us and they went to their target market. They said, yeah, I looked up a bunch of painters and sales website and they said, nope, my budget.
Because we do have to present a very careful image, being meticulous about prep and cleanliness and all those things. You're not the cheapest. So we are hoping that people who see our website realize that. And so, so far so good. Fantastic. Well done. Where to implement? Speaking of implementing, what would you say is the biggest change in your business? I think the mental shift in this, this came a little sooner for me than for Peter, but the mental shift of shifting from thinking of this as a mom and pop the thinking of it as a streamlined business.
Still a mom and pop. It was really how we started and it's, it's got a couple of guys, you know, the really well when we started we were operating out of our kitchen and garage and you know, the guys would come over at the end of the work week and sit around the table and have a beer with Peter. Don't recommend that for various reasons. Liability being one of them. But um, that's, that's all we knew at the time. That's how we started. And so obviously it's OK to to remain in the mom and pop space. There are some, some pros to it, you know, these, these guys really are your family and it's you. It's less to manage and maybe less drama and you can be very happy in that space for a long time. But we really didn't want to grow. And so we realized kind of like, and this kind of came from reading that book, the E-myth, which spindle so many of us have read, but it's going from thinking of us as a painting company to thinking of ourselves as a systems company that produces painting.
So for us that has meant do we have a system for all of the parts of the machine that will produce a painting project assistant to get leads assistant, to estimate a system, to have a project calendar assistant to quickly put together job specs for the guy's a system for initial and final walkthrough is a system for getting paid in all these systems in place has made it scalable. Whereas just a mom and pop and you're just writing notes on a yellow pad and you've got a couple of guys that might be fine, but if you want to grow, you'll grow. Perhaps that pretty quick.
Software programs have helped you. Tcs was one of the early ones, saved us some money right off the bat and realizing we weren't paying for, you know, back before we were just a pain for eight hours a day kind of on on their word and and you know, often it would be six hours, 45 minutes, so that saved right off the bat, but also you can book me, which is a system that you introduced me to that we put on the website that allows clients to book online with an estimate online that saves our office person from fielding calls every five seconds. It allows us to get an estimate even if it's after hours and if the client had to wait until the next business morning to call us by them, they've already booked someone else. So being able to capture someone after hours is critical. That has helped greatly. We use estimate rocket to handle our estimating and kind of interaction with the client, sending out estimates, progress invoices, spinal invoices, uploading photos, that sort of thing. We really like estimate rockets, follow-up email feature and I know other programs have it too. We w we love that. We send some follow-up emails, you know, after a week are you still thinking, you know, if we hadn't heard doctrine then we'll ask, you know, are you still thinking about your project? Can answer any questions, that sort of thing.
Your automatic just to clarify. So it's part of the system, right? They just automatically go, well
I created a template, you know, in kind of that reflected in our brand and estimate rocket was kind enough to upload it into their system and so now that's, that's part of an automated campaign. We click start campaign. The minute and estimate first goes out and if the work hasn't been accepted within the first week, they're already getting that email. So that's been great.
I want to circle back. You've commented a few times about culture, you know, 25 painters in your lifetime. Have you ever had one leave is because we went to California, which is an understandable reason for somebody to leave and what's right. What part does culture play in building a successful business and for you guys and then what have you learned through this and what would you share or encourage others to embrace? Because I think we'd all agree culture's not something that's talked about or even considered and the industry.
I agree and I was listening to one of your previous podcasts and I love what you said. I forget who use it, you said quoted it, but culture eats strategy for breakfast. I love that. Peter Drucker, so we have found the more you can hire a players and get them to work as a team, the better. We do have. We have monthly company breakfast. We are considering going to weekly currently to meetings. We have monthly meetings as well. We use whatsapp similar to to the group me instant messaging group apps on our phones with so the crew leaders will check it every day. We really worked hard to kind of get them to suddenly feel a sense of pride since we are kind of the larger company and have worked to become a more elite brand. I think they feel a sense of pride from that. We try to be in basketball terms.
We try to be the spurs. The San Antonio Spurs have won championships over the years. San Antonio is a very, very proud of this person. They're huge on culture and our coach Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. He's he. He doesn't play favorites. He is known for just working on developing systems of the game, but the guys love him and so we've tried to do that, believe our culture. Honestly, our culture elevated. This is just a quick, useful takeaway for us that we realized once we moved into an office, we had grown to probably about 10 painters, maybe [inaudible] before we move, before we rented office space and we're paying 2000 bucks a month for the office and you know that that's significant, you know, but I'm telling you, it made the biggest difference. It made it seem like a real business, not just for working out at the boss's home gets seemed to have elevated, I think the sense of pride, the guys and working for us and to a certain degree, even the higher easily get they we, they come to our office now, we don't have to meet them at a local starbucks to interview and they see the operation and they see my office over here and and our bookkeeper was office in that room over there and our office manager here, that's been huge.
COACHING FOR PAINTING CONTRACTOR
BUSINESS COACH FOR MARKETING SALES ESTIMATING OPERATIONS
Has given us a real presence, a home base for the guys to feel. You know, we wouldn't have been in that position early on, but I would encourage anybody considering that as soon as you think you can sling it, go for it. It will return back to you so much more than just the actual rent of the space. It was worth it. How important is having a strong culture in your company? It's enormous because honestly it will. It helps some of the guys that haven't made it almost self selected. It was almost easy let them go because they saw themselves, it's like, you know, they, they, they, they either weren't on the, on the drama side, you know, allowing too much personal drama or the production side. I mean we do still, we are still a business. We do have to still bring in projects on time and on budget and so we, we work hard to hire a players and keep a's and b's, you know, we've had to weed out some of the c player.
She know when you're in growth mode, you'll almost take any warm body in the beginning. I've got work, I need guys, painters, and so you'll put up with a little bit more and as, as you, as you grow and mature. For us anyway, we realized no, you know what, we want to keep the culture strong. We really don't want c players that drive us down, you know, that, that, that will either kind of try to laugh their way through a project or, or bring too much angst or drama into, into the team. So it's been, it's been key for us really. Fantastic. So you find the right guys, you hire for character, you're encouraging them to take care of them, you support them through to where? Yes, they do have a phenomenal deal just for us that we have. We do surveys with the clients and at our monthly breakfasts for every 10 server that we give back and almost all of them that we get back are tens.
We cut an occasional nine. We had an occasional but for every 10 that we get back, every crew member on that team that did that project gets a $10 bill. So at our, at our company meetings, company breakfast, you know, the last agenda item is all right, but see surveys and so we're just hanging out cans left and right. And so the guys were all cheering for each other and it's a silly little thing, but some of the guys will leave that meeting with, you know, five, six, seven tens and they just, it's just fun and they love it. So
you do it in front of the whole team. So they are acknowledged in front of the tomb. That's fantastic. Quick aside about the [inaudible] and I remember getting the nine and and so, so and so will. Thank you. That's what would make it a turn. He said, well, I'm from Jersey. We don't give tens. Yes, we had a client like that. Hands on principle, but you guys rocked. Yep. Great. Fantastic. You mentioned emails, groundbreaking book that changed all of us. What other books have made a big impact on you and in your business and help you to make the mind shifts the paradigm shifts to get gain, new perspective to help you to reach some of the levels that you guys have attained.
Let's see. Now Miss, there's a book called work the system and he really talks about the importance of systems developing standard operating procedures and developing procedures down that are so well thought out and spelled out that he could literally, the guy who wrote the book runs an answering service that he could literally take someone off the street and hand in the manual and they would know what to do. That was an eye opener for me to even think in those terms. Also lately, anything by Jim Collins, I would start with good to great. There are so many insights and all of his books. They're fantastic. One of my favorite takeaways from good to great, I think it is, is if you imagine a venn diagram, you know the overlapping circles, so imagine one with three circles and so they have one overlap in the center of this three.
One circle is what does the market want? What do people out there want? Another circle is what is your passion, and the third circle is what could you be best in the world at? If you find what matches all three of those criteria, that's your sweet spot. And for us it sounds Corny to say, but we mean it. It's just, it's beautified spaces. Homeowners want their homes beautified, no doubt is our passion and we think we can be the best in the world at it. So that's kind of our sweet spot. Crystallizing. That was great. I think that was in the grade book and another book that was really good is anything by Patrick Lencioni, but we really liked the one book he has called the five dysfunctions of a team and this has really helped us elevate our culture on the executive staff level. He talks about how teams first and team members first and foremost, and I'm my team in this case, it applies to the whole company, but for us we implemented it on the me, Peter, Office manager, financial guy level, that team of four, so the foundation first and foremost is they have to trust each other.
If you trust each other, then you can have healthy conflict. You can debate ideas, you can get to solutions. Then you can actually implement them and expect results and hold each other accountable. I just really liked that book, the five dysfunctions of a team. That was eye opening for me. Fantastic. These are really good with texts, culture. We've gone over so much and you've been so generous to share. Is there a question I should've asked or a point that you'd like to make reading somewhere and. Goodness, I can't even remember where I wish it could kind of in keeping with the. What got you here won't get you there. Marshall Goldsmith. I realized the. We've grown relatively fast. It's been a bit of an exponential growth. Gosh, I think two years ago, two years ago, we ran a million dollars. Last year we cleared one point 8,000,000. This year we're on pace to do it's.
It's already December one, pays to do two point two, so it's been. We realized there's a vast difference between a $1,000,000 company and what we're hoping to be as a $3,000,000 company difference being a $1,000,000 company, but God is. There is typically excellent customer service, excellent customer attention. Personability almost the mom and pop, the mom and pop can make it to a million, but the difference in getting from one to 3,000,000, $3,000,000 company cannot survive on Pete and I cannot be stretched thin enough, you know Peter to they're estimating that is not scalable to 3,000,000. To go to that level, you have to still retract, retain the culture of personal service, but being able to scale it and so you have to think differently. It's no longer a, you know, our default is always, oh, peter or I will do it, will take care of it, we'll get it done, we'll figure it out.
We have to delegate more, we have to trust more, we have to hire more carefully. So that's, that's the biggest thing. That's where we're at right now. That's kind of most of the forefront of our minds as we're growing. I just want to make a quick your growth as well. Back to the famous quote profits for doe and I just want to make a point that goodness, thank you. Obviously as we've grown, the overhead has affected some of that, so we work hard. Peter and I both work hard to keep it. That means we have to maintain as the overhead expands, you know, and we're adding paid holidays, we want to implement health insurance next year, that sort of thing. As the overhead expands, our efficiency has to get better to maintain that profit margin. So we're really focusing on that.
Fantastic. And you guys are doing a great job. Quick point too, about bunch of growing is at every level we have to trust, trust the team. Trust and delegate.
OK, fantastic. So this has been great and Peter, awesome power couple. You guys are building a wonderful business and it's exciting to watch you guys in your journey and to see all the effort, the risks you're taking and all the success that you guys are learning along the journey. Thank you so much for your time. As somebody who has a follow-up question or they just want to give some feedback or thank you for sharing what's. What's the best way to reach out to you? Can they connect with me on facebook? Shoot you an email.
We do have a face to page paperman painting, but honestly for if you have an immediate question, would be better to just email me directly. And that's Lisa l I s a at paper moon painting that [inaudible] paper like rock, paper, scissors, moon, like the sun and the moon.
Fantastic. And we'll go ahead and put that in the show notes as well. So these again, thank you so much for your time. You've shared so much wisdom here. Many nuggets, many takeaways. I'm very grateful for that. Thank you.
Oh my pleasure. I've loved it. Thanks Steven. Wouldn't be here without you. I'm telling you everything you're doing. Thank you very much. Appreciate that. Have a wonderful day.
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