Ask A Painter #266: Simplicity in Business
is the Ask A Painter live show. I'm Nick Slavik. I'm the host of Ask A Painter Live. This is
a weekly live Facebook show where I use my almost three decades of experience as a crafts person and a business owner uh to basically answer of your questions and spread perspective. So, obviously, I don't have all the answers to this stuff but we do have the logic behind it. We have the data. We have the first principles reasoning and we can figure out just about anything you've ever wanted to know Today is a very, very special show. This feels like a no. topic Simplicity but it is the hallmark of everything I've tried to do. It is my internal
ethos. It is honestly, I don't read a lot of business books. I think most of them are kind of greasy and weird and and you know, bolstering and stuff like that but one very interesting thing you will see in most business books mentioned and emphasized is Simplicity and you cannot, you cannot take it for granted and I'm going to show you exactly how I've been able to grow and scale a business to about a zero to somewhere between twenty and thirty Painters uh doing about 2 million dollars in revenue in about four or 5 years uh with Simplicity and things like that. So, we're going to get
into that but first I got a lot of sort of admin and clean up stuff to do today which is um my Georgia Master's class recap. Uh 2 days ago, I was in Augusta, Georgia uh with my friends, the gills and his company and we went deep for an entire day. We broke down the production process into the minute steps. The simple way
that we do things in the morning and then in the afternoon, we actually did something which we're kind of going to do here uh in a different little different format but uh we basically it was an open forum We just IDs identify, discuss, and solve anything that he wants to in his business and it was great. I love problem solving. I love when somebody brings me a problem and I can attack it with first principles, reasoning, test some things out. constant reiterate, fail, learn from it, start again, do stuff like that. So, thank you to the gills. I had, I had dinner at his family's uh dining room, uh dining room table uh the night before.
Awesome family, awesome people and a lot of great people in that business. I'm really looking forward to following along with them and seeing how they're doing. So, the PCA. again, if you like Ask a painter, there's a whole pile of people who are just like me in the PCA um initiative that mister Paris and I are going to be embarking on in the next bunch of years along with all the other initiatives that the PCA is doing is the professionalism of this industry. Simplicity is a
hallmark of a professional company established mature companies are not ultimately complex. They only add complexity wherever they need it to be. So, if you like me, if you like the people who watch this show, if this is a dog whistle to you, if this speaks to you, there are so many people who are way better at this than I am in the PCA. I would urge you to start going to some events. Those events
are as follows. So, um Masters, Classes, I have a couple Masters classes coming up in the immediate future here next week, I will be in Pennsylvania, David from Facebook. We'll see you there. Looking forward to it. A lot. Uh my good friend Corey Leer is hosting me at her training facility at her classroom and it is going to be an awesome day of knowledge, Sherry. Um one of the master's classes that is super cool. We're going to do it in the afternoon is is a whole master's class on industry myths. So, I have a
lot of experience. I have a lot of data um and we sort of break down some of the major jerk reactions in the industry and we sort of either prove or disprove them. So, it's kind of a fun thing to do. Um I also have one in San Rafael, California Hosted by my good friend, John Buss of Bob Koontz Painting. So, we're kind of in that Bay Area, San Francisco, San Rafael. Uh I'll likely get
together with good friend Dan Ross. Uh you guys all know and love and I would love to see you guys out there. Uh it's going to be an awesome time.
Now, those are the master's classes that are coming up in the future. We have some more prep is going to be hosting one too. So, look forward to more details on that. We also have a Minnesota Masters Class July 30th right here. So, if you are within earshot, driving shot.
Bicycling shot of the Minneapolis area here. Um July 30th there is going to be a Minnesota Masters Class on my home turf here supported by Sherwin Williams. So, I am really really looking forward to that. Uh it also makes me a little more nervous than normal because not only are you guys all my peers. these are my peers that I see. I see their vans on the road. so that data
has gotta be sharp. Uh there can be no cracks in that facade over there. I want to be I want to give them good information and we know because we know each other, we get together regularly. Um yeah, it's an interesting group of people That innocent group of people is called Go Gathering of Minnesota Painters um and Jason Paris and I sort of facilitated here but it's a member driven thing. We actually have members
drive the content of the meetings we have Um we're sort of the Silicon Valley of Paint Sprayer manufacturers here. We have Titan Greco and Wagner World Headquarters about an hour here. Right there And they are good hosts. We have Hirsch
Fields which is a fourth generation family paint company who host this as well and we have our beloved Sherwin Williams who has always been a supporter of what we do that helps us. So, uh Phil Klein, here we go and I as well. So, um alright folks. Uh let's see here. What was the Central Florida Class again So yes. uh more to follow on that once things are solidified. I have
links in the show notes for every single one of these groups and and Masters Classes and get togethers stuff like that. So, again, uh all you Igs, Instagrammers, go to Facebook. I got all the show notes in there with links to where you can find these groups, these classes, everything else. Also, uh a really cool event coming up for the PCA is something called a Advanced Shop Talk. This is the
residential Forum. It's an offshoot of the the PCA, a high level residential contractors in August. They're all getting together uh in San Antonio.
Normally, I believe this group is between, you know, Seventy-five and 10050 contractors somewhere in there and it is Contractors presenting data recent experience numbers, uh best practices from their actual business in real time to the entire group. Um sadly, uh by the I have already had my um uh family, uh my family vacation uh plan for this time but I'm going to be sending estimator Andy. so you guys can meet and hang out in San Antonio with some of the best contractors ever. Estimator Andy is legitimately a world-class estimator. He's a thoughtful deep thinking and he will be there to share knowledge as well. For my business, he is representing the entire NSPRC uh business down there and I know he's going to do an awesome job. So, alright. Uh
let's see what else we got. Uh that's a lot of bookkeeping and a lot of admin right at the start here but I want to get into Simplicity and always between Facebook and Instagram. Um any questions, any comments, whatever you got. If you guys just want to talk about ladders and stuff like that, let's do that too. So, um otherwise,
alright so we're going to Let me make sure we're not missing anything here. Alright, So, going to jump into Simplicity. Um now, when I travel around and do Masters, Classes when when I uh when I give lectures, when I when I get together with groups, what I never do is make a judgement call on the size of somebody's business. Um the the universal principles of business apply to the single owner operator who never plans to hire an employee in their life and it also applies to the largest corporations ever. There are universal humanistic business principles, things that I first introduced to in college that I keep getting introduced to with uh with traction and other other businesses that I that as I get mentored an overarching principle of everything I love. I love deep seated truths. A
truth is Simplicity. Now, understand that this doesn't come natural to everybody. Um some people like to make things infinitely complex. I know contractors who create systems and processes out of interconnected seventeen apps and so that they talk to each other that's infinitely complex. I don't like that. a cheat code for me. My natural
tendency is to break things down into something so simple that I feel it in the middle of my body. I cannot help but do it and it is so, it is so just it's absolute on its face. It's hard to argue with. It's just a simple, honest truth and it's something that you can say if I do this, there's a very high likelihood that I'm going to get a win or get less friction.
So, I have prepared for you guys a PowerPoint presentation. So, let's get in here. Uh I am going share my screen. and we're going to get after today, I will take any questions that you guys have uh regards to any of the stuff you can stop me at any time. We can
go through this. Um this is basically my treats on an overarching principle. This touches every single part of your business whether you're talking about choosing a paint, whether you're talking about hiring a person, promoting a person, whether you're talking about scheduling, Simplicity is a hallmark of every single thing and I would urge you. there's a lot of times when I get into get into a business, I find uh to book it of things. I find the extremes which is there's no system. It's not simple because it doesn't exist or it's so infinitely complex that somebody can't comply with it. So, I'm basically going to
walk you guys through a treat us on Simplicity today. The goal, the goal of Simplicity. Why do all this stuff? Why make things simple? People will comply with simple systems and you want people to focus on the client and the craft Now, if if you have an infinitely complex system, it may be perfect but if nobody complies with it, it is useless. Also, remember, the greatest sort of maxims. You know, there's a lot of this sort of like business maxim stuff that I feel is kind of greasy and weird and I don't like, there's also a lot of stuff that's really good and uh Simplicity is an engineering principle. Uh Simplicity is
always better. Also, one thing that I love to cling to is perfec tion. Standing in the way of really good. I see head
trash and limiting beliefs and excuses all over the painter internet about I've been working on my standard operating procedures for 9 months. They're just not perfect and then they never do it and then they go away and they get frustrated and then they go back to the thing that they were doing which is everything that's in their head. They're yelling at employees. There's resentment, passive aggressive, uh stuff like that. Do not let perfection stand in the way of really, really, really good. I believe nothing is perfect. It
is theoretically impossible. You know, like when we're taught in science class middle school, there's that theoretical temperature, absolute zero which is the coldest temperature on earth or in existence where all molecules cease to move and exist Theoretically, it's impossible, right? It's it's impossible. I believe pure perfection is impossible as well too. So, what I do, I can get something out 80%. That's a that's a baseline in my business. If something is 80% cooked, let's get it out there and try it because we're going to spend so much time. We're
going to have diminishing returns if we spend that much more time to improve it before we try it. I'm a doer. I'm just like, hey, if I don't know how to reach this portion of the house, I just put the first ladder I have up, put it up there. Get up there and see what you can do. 90% of the stuff can probably get done. Maybe you gotta grab another one but you're not sitting there planning and measuring and all this other stuff. I'm a doer. I think that's a super
power in that So, we want our people to concentrate. This is a humanistic business. We want our people to focus on the client's experience and their experience in the company. We want our employees, our apprentices, our crafts people to improve, to improve the craft so that they can get paid more so they can enjoy this more so they're less worried about their job. Better craft equals a better client experience. That's what we want them to focus on here. So,
alright, Let's see here. Oh, man. Thank so much Fran Cozy benefits. It's going to be easier to grow. One of the reasons we've been able to grow and scale as fast as we can and that I've been able to delegate and offload and and elevate some of the things that I I do is because of Simplicity.
There's a simple things that we know work every time we have the data. Uh we've failed, we've learned from it and we've reiterated very quickly that cycle of reiterate that failure iteration. we do very well here. There's less to worry about. honestly and then again
that awesome Hallmark perfection versus good. I will take 80% over 100% time knowing that over the next couple of years, we'll improve it probably to 9598 percent give or take Alright? Everything starts with vision. I'm going to hit all the parts of my business and give you some examples of how Simplicity can affect everything. Now, vision is a tough one. Um every
company must have a vision, Right. And it must have a vision. A visionary is kind of a dirty word for me. It's kind of a creepy sort of word like that. calling yourself a visionary. Feels gross, right? But somebody in their job description is going to have to have the vision of the company.
Now, you can call it future planning. You can call it, You can call it whatever you want but somebody has to lay out the plan for the future. It has to be simple. It has to be digestible. It has to be disseminated to everybody in your organization. It has to be understood. Now, if you start
talking about we're going to form a holdings company and there's going to be a uh uh a profit sharing this and that we're going to base it on income and I and all this other stuff. A lot of people's eyes roll back in their head. What we're going to do is basically say, here's where we are now, here's where we've been. What are we going to do in the future? The hallmark of this uh a lot of attraction people will recognize. this is looking out 10 years and saying just what do you think sniff test? Where are we going to be in 10 years? Where do you want to be in 10 years and then you break it down to the three-year plan.
Okay, well, if we want to be there in ten, what has to happen in 3 years then you break it down to the 1 year if we want to be where we where we think we want to be in 3 years. What has to happen this year? Then you break it down by the quarter. Well, okay. if this is the goal at the end of the year, what has to happen in these four quarters in the year if we want to be there in a quarter? What happens this week if we want to be there next week? What happens this day? This one practice has opened my eyes to more than anything else in the industry when I was introduced to the book traction this one takeaway was was basically the only thing I thought about for the next year. I love that idea of here's this thing out there. Break it down to today. what
happens today because these goals can sometimes feel crazy, right? They can say, well, how are we possibly ever going to do that? It feels impossible that lots of things have to happen between now and then. I love breaking things down into, okay, if we believe that's true. First principles, reasoning we can do this. We have time. We have money, we
have people, we have the will to do it. What has to happen today in order to get that and when you actually break it down to the day, a simple goal, it's actually not that much. I do this with Painters all the time where they say, hey, I want to make, I want to make uh $80000 a year as a painter. They're
good. If you break that down to a day, all you gotta do is about $800 of Revenue a day and say, well, that seems like a lot of money unless you can sell a bedroom repaint for 400. You can paint two of those in a day. Now, all of a sudden, all you gotta do is paint two bedrooms a day for the entire year. You have not taken home $80000 when you break it down like that. Now, it's like, yeah, I get it now and you can start passing it out too. Okay.
If I get half of the estimates I do, how many estimates am I going to have to do and then you can start talking about. okay, here's how many leads I need. You can break this down into this thing where it's wild chaos. How could this possibly happen down into, oh no. if these simple things happen and we just track them, we'll hit that goal more on tracking later but this is it. This is
called the VTA Vision Traction organizer. This is a exercise between this and this. This is sort of the uh black and white sort of traction version like that. I make a color coded and
and thrown an orchard just so I and help understand it a little better but this is an exercise. It helps you create your core values in your company. It helps you base the metrics on those. It helps to come up with a 10 year vision and it helps you break it down to what needs to happen today in order for that stuff to happen. It is a beautiful exercise people uh and and interestingly enough, the uh as a painter Live summer retreat, we're going to go deep. It is going to be a vision quest uh out there.
We're going to we're going to traffic in a lot of this stuff. So people Simplicity with people. This is the most complex part of our businesses.
People are infinitely complex. They are irrational which isn't a good or bad thing. People are just irrational. They do things based on certain incentives based on certain motivations that sometimes we understand or don't understand and it's a weird thing sometimes, right? So, we need to have simple systems in place so that things are People understand why they're here. If they want to go somewhere in within the company, what needs to happen between now and then and you have to start combining data plus feelings Most conversations between an owner and an employee is a feelings based thing. This This is how
the most stereotypical conversation goes from the employee. I've been here a year. I feel like I should get a dollar an hour. The owner
says, I agree. you've been here for a year but I feel like you could have done a little more. Now, if there's no data to underline that conversation, here's your production rate.
Here's your attendance rate. Here's your callback rate on your jobs. Here's the point of improvement. Here's here's your
training where you are in your four quarters. Here's your goal. Have you hit every goal between now and then every review of those goals and it's just two people with their feelings talking about feelings but if you have a review process where you're actually saying good, let's talk about that based on the pay scale that you agreed to when we were here. Here's what the standards that you have to hit all the budgets on your job. You have to be here. Uh you know, no less than 2 weeks off a year.
Um there's uniform standards. there's you know, core values, standards, things like that. Now, you can have a database discussion. not so that you can give people raises and not so that you can fire people so that you can train them and coach them to make sure they hit those goals every 3 months in your company and do that so you don't have, there's always going to be feelings based discussions and businesses. I'm
not, I'm not a robot. They aren't either and we're not going to get rid of them but very important that we also underlay a little bit of data in there to reason and have an objective conversation as much as we can. So, with people, there's a very simple to evaluate people in your company. Are they the right person? Is it the right seat? Do they get it? Do they want it? Do they have the capacity for it? Now, within that, it's infinitely complex and what you want to do is have a rating system where it's sort of one of these, are they the right person? Yes. Is it the right seat? Yes. Do they get it? Yes. Do they want it? No, maybe not.
Do they have the capacity for it? Yes, I believe they do. You want simple things like that uh so that you can have a discussion based on those things Now also what want to do in your business. One of the things that uh traction introduced me to was the idea of actually using core values, Core values is not a new thing, right? When I was going through college, this type of education, I got basically trained me to be a mid-level corporate manager. give or take. Um it wasn't that robust. It was fine. It was just a
general business degree but the things that grossed me out were mission statements, core values. um you know, all that other stuff because they were were generic. They were people put them on a crappy poster that look like it was made from the 80s and they put it in their lobby and then it was just lips You know, everybody's single mission statement. We want to be, we want to turn out good things. We want to do good
service. We want to take care of our clients. We want to have happy employees. It's all Bs. It wasn't connected to anything but traction taught me was find core values that are actually unique to you and then tie them to something in the company. My five core values are on Facebook right now. Number one, gain and maintain. Trust me,
this is it. We, if we only have one core value which would actually be kind of an interesting thing. Uh now that I think about it, that'd be kind of fun to have only one core value in a company trust which is awesome that can encompass just about everything but gain and maintain trust.
You need to gain the trust not only of the company and the people in it but of our clients and then you need to maintain that trust constant improvement. We are a training company. We operate under the decent human being principle. We need to constantly improve Quality always wins. If you have a choice to get it done or get it done well, you will always get it done. Well,
discipline equals freedom. following the Sos. following the systems, following the processes, it may feel robotic but in the end, you'll have more time, more money at the end of it and then produce. Never forget, we are a manual labor trades company uh that turns out a product based on our effort we need to produce. We need to put a little sweat on the brow. Now, we could put
this on a poster, put them in our lobby, and then basically say great. We have core values. If you ever if you never talk about them, if you never teach them, if you never hold people accountable to them or review them or rate them on them They are completely useless. So, four times a year, we have a review process where we sit down. Last week, I reviewed every single human in my company uh minus the leadership team on this, we actually have a rating scale zero to ten and we rate people on those core values. I have a series of questions uh attached to these core values to help us understand if we did that or not. So, uh Dave Pine halfway
through traction. Good luck man. I love this stuff. Happy to talk with you anytime about that and so we actually tie these things our core values. People know they're going to be rated on 'em and when it, when we come to core value, number five, produce, we have a production number, $55 in revenue an hour. That's the low floor. You must do that or
you're in trouble of getting super coached or losing your job. So, that's just the way it is now, that's people, that's the squishy part data. You must have simple data in your business. If you do not have some data, some K Ps key performance indicators, uh you will be flying blind.
basically, you won't know how to make decisions you will be making feelings based decisions on systems, processes, and humans. If you don't have any data, one of the things that we do uh simple data is now you can you can collect data but if you don't hold anybody accountable to it or changing it, it's useless. Again, you gotta have these interconnected systems, these simple systems in your business. Here's a
simple way that we do it. What you're seeing on your screen now is an excerpt of my leadership meeting every single Monday morning. This is a chance for every single person on the leadership team to chime in on their goal from last week. Now, there's a person. there's a goal attached to it. Very simple goal and and some of these goals are simple as listen this much dollar amount of work must be produced. This a few amount of callbacks with an estimator is pretty simple.
How many estimates did you go on? How many did you get? That's your success ratio. How many did you get versus how many you did? Um how much what is the dollar amount of the estimates that you sold last week? That's pretty simple and what's your average job size? You can actually get these numbers very easily and if that What happens here is everybody in my leadership team must report whether they are on track or off track. Now, this is not a thing where it's like, oh, we just want to point fingers and say, you didn't do your thing. This is a way of
finding problems if they exist or if it's just an apparition discussing them and solving them. So, everybody must report on track off track to a few simple numbers that we can that we can easily find easily find um and then we Yes. Identify, discuss, and solve. So, if somebody's off track, we go through an IDS process. We identify the problem. We
discuss it and solve it and sometimes, especially when you get to like um estimator Andy and me, you know, we're out there both selling work sometimes a lot of my jobs are completed in a week just because they fit better, they were ready. The clients were more receptive to whatever and sometimes more of Andy's one reason if if I don't produce get enough of my work produced each week, I can say I'm track and then we can all say, well, what is the reason that I was off track that I didn't get enough of my jobs produced. You can say, well, it was just an apparition. The last ten jobs I sold, the people are all waiting for carpentry and they're going to be pushed off a little bit maybe three or 4 weeks down the way I'm going to have a week where all of my work. it's produced Andy's dozens. So that's an example of
when you're off track, it doesn't mean you're wrong or you did anything bad. It just may say we need to recognize and all say the same thing which is is this an apparition? Is this a normal course of business Or did you just not do any estimates last week or did you not sell any estimates last week? That's one simple thing we do there. So, systems and processes. Uh one of my
favorites, people and Painters love to complicate this stuff. Coding specs I have this on my list to do an entire show on coding Specs Painters. Love to geek out on this stuff. I do I love to go deep on molecular science. I love to go deep on the technical data sheets I like to come up with crazy coding systems as a thought experiment to try to get something that's faster, better, more durable, things like that. The problem is we have a company where we want to drive results and consistent results and the hallmark for me of a simple system and process which one is coding specs is Simplicity. Here are the
things. Now, this is we start getting into these awesome discussions where people say, what's the best exterior paint? What's the best cabinet enamel? This is one of the most hotly debated topics and all of the painter world and I will say to you that depends what is your criteria for what makes a good cabinet enamel to me. These are my criteria uh cost. This is probably the thing I take into account the least. Honestly, if there was a amazing enamel that you didn't need to do anything with except open up the can and it applied itself in one coat and it dried in 10 minutes and it never failed and it was a beautiful hard finish that lasted anything that you can sell that to me for 500 bucks a gallon That would be such a time saver. It would be such a beautiful, simple thing. I pay
500 bucks a gallon for that. So, honestly, cost isn't a determinate for me. I put it on here because no, maybe but if one of your criteria, if you, if the first thing you think about and what paint should I use is cost, you're wrong. You're absolutely wrong. Availability and proximity. This is a big thing for me. Um
we have you know, height of the the summer, probably 3035 people. the equivalent of working here. Um we have lots of jobs going on. There was a couple of weeks ago where we touched twenty-six jobs in a week. We need and we need it sometimes on the spot. We cannot wait for it to be shipped via Fedex in a two or Three-day thing. We need it
now. We have to have a ready supply and we need that on sites right now. It to be close to the proximity. We made a choice this last week. There's two places we could buy this certain insanely high end exterior paint. Uh one is is
our favorite one which is closer to our shop down here. One is our favorite place that's closer to a job in the cities. We chose to buy it from the place that's close. to our job in Minneapolis, Saint Paul because if need another gallon, they're not going to have to drive an hour down or we're not going to have to ship it. Proximity is a big thing. people. Um it's not going away.
There's lots of new fangled sort of stuff out there. There's lots of stuff that's popped up. There's things that kind of change all the time. I
like going with the googles of the industry. Google's not going away. Facebook's not going away. Instagram is not
going away. Chevy and Ford aren't going away. I'd like to base my systems and processes on things that aren't going to constantly be changing uh that aren't going to be disappearing in a couple of years. Complexity. Now, folks, value judgment. If I was a single
person Painter, I would be neck deep in all of of the polyurethane right now for that stuff because I'm a master crafts person. I have lots of experience I can control based on my senses and my experience. Uh what happens in the field and adjust on the fly and I know why things happen and why they don't happen. Now, the
problem is we have a company full of people who are focusing on giving the client a good experience, learning the painting trade we do. We do not need to add infinite complexity to this. So, this is not me giving a value judgment. I'm the coatings that people use. We use a system that is fairly inexpensive. It's available everywhere we go. We have 100
different options. It's not going away. It's simple. We open a can and apply it. We don't have to add. Reduces, thickens thinners. We don't have to wait for a certain humidity. We don't have to
speck eight different things. There is one can and it's got a certain color label on it. You crack that can open, pour it in the sprayer, and put it on the house and it's beautiful Every single time. we need to be bomb
proof. So, people love Ben uh pigmented shellac. People do not understand the chemistry behind them. Uh people don't understand a lot of the chemistry behind a lot of their coatings. People will swear I love, I love Shellac. I'm a I'm a historic restoration as I finished a lot of projects with Shellac, Amber, Shellac, things like that. I love it. The
problem is one out of 11 out of twenty fails. It just is what it is. I get people saying, Ben is the best product ever and I also get a lot of messages saying I use been on these cabinets and it chipped and or it bled um with the process. we use oil primer, zero failures in over a decade. If you've
never had anything chipped, we have never had anything bleed. It just is what it is. It's just a bomb proof system. I do
not want to send my beautiful young, happy, decent human beings out into the field and they do everything right and still something fails. That is not a thing that I will ever do to my people. So, as the master craftsman of my company, I pick coding systems and processes and inspect certain products to make sure that they're set up for a win every time. Now, the interesting thing that I want people to understand is that or estimator Andy, who's a master craftsman himself can probably go out in the field and on a scale of zero which is a horrible job in 100 which is theoretically perfect impossible estimator, Andy and I could probably do 90.5 to 90.8. most of my people because
I have 30 years uh and he's got a whole bunch of years in this too. Most of my people can do probably ninety somewhere between eighty and ninety. The thing that you guys need to know is that based on the client's expectations, they're only looking for seventy or 75.
So, I will say this, I products that exceed the client's expectations that exceed the lifespan that they wanted for that exceed the beauty that's there at some point going way beyond that they may not find any value in that. Also going way beyond that with infinitely complex coatings, you may enter into a scenario where one of them fails. That's not a conversation that I want to have with the client. They do not care about the added durability. the added
complexity of that product or where it came from if their cabinets all crackle or fail, it is what it is. We did an estimate on a whole house trim, repaint couple weeks ago where it was done a couple weeks ago Uh infinitely complex coating system and it is peeling off in sheets inside the house and trim weeks later never happened to us. So, not a value judgment. I'm just telling you how simple and my interconnected systems work together like that one thing that almost nobody takes into account is a relationship. I have a great relationship with my um with my suppliers here and you do get certain perks I like working with somebody I have a good relationship with.
I do not do one of those Hey, this store over here. you can get it for a dollar less. I don't care. I would much rather have a relationship where you can tap that person for advice. You can work together collaboratively. There's so many things intangible benefits of a relationship like that and I've been blessed with an amazing relationship with my suppliers here.
basic processes. So, again, had this awesome discussion with somebody this last week where they said, hey, I got the advice that I should find a niche, an ultra fine niche, do this one thing. Let's just call it entry door refinishing. I'm only going to do that because based on all business principles and and things that learn in college, you're supposed to find one very specific thing specialized in it so you can maximize efficiency and then move forward. Now, there is another principle Uh if you if you follow any economics called mass customization which is you can go on Nike's website right now and you can order a custom pair of shoes. Now, what that shoe isn't, every piece is not custom. You can customize some
things on it. The baseline of a Nike Air Force One is there. You can change the swoosh symbol, the laces, some of the colors, some of the layouts but all those pieces are still the same. They're just Lego pieces that they add on top. You can't ask for a custom pattern on the sole you can't but you can change the color of the swoosh sign in my business. I'm a
practitioner of mass customization which is we have about three different things we do that apply to about fifteen different types of projects. So, people think they see us on industrial projects, commercial projects. Uh we're doing gold leaf. We're doing historic restoration. We're doing wall painting, whole house trim cabinets, popcorn removal, carpentry, all this other stuff. There is an underlying
super unsatisfying Simplicity to all that stuff. When you look at what we do, there's three basic parts of every single thing we do. it. They're right on the screen here on Facebook. Number one, if
there's a failed coding, we need to get rid of it to make sure our coatings look good and last a long time. Number two, we gotta make sure our coatings stick and then nothing from underneath the coating affects the coating above it and number three, apply something that has color and or durability You can apply that to carpentry. You can apply that to drywall. You can apply that to painting. You can apply that to a powder room wall repaint. You can apply
that to kitchen cabinets. You can apply that to historic restoration. The theory, the simplistic theory of all that is beautiful and simple and underlies everything we do. So, you can hyper niche down to say, I am only going to do bathroom vanities. The problem is it's the same process for kitchen cabinets. I would say that you're not going against your niche if you do kitchen cabinets and that I would also You're not going against your hyper niche of only doing uh bathroom vanities. if you do
trim as well. Our trim process is exactly the same as our cabinet process. It's exactly the same as our vanity process. It's just you just you have to prep a few other things. That's it. So, underlying principles,
if you break this down, first principles, reason, those are the three things we worry about and that informs everything we do. Even carpentry and drywall internal processes. So, these are the things within your company, Simple systems to make it run accounting. One of the
simplest things I ever did is you get a separate checking account for your business and you put everything on auto pay. Now, yes, you have to be a good cash manager to make sure things are taken out at a certain time but everything I do is on auto pay except one bill which I won't tell you the company. It's a nationwide company that does this but I have to write them a dang check every week and it is painful if I had to write the 32 checks out every week, I would probably not be compliant with it. It's not a simple system
and it's time. Auto pay is a simple thing. Also, one thing that I that I do that I probably would not advise other people to do is we don't take deposits on projects. 14. years
ago, when I decided to do this, I did all the accounting for my business and if you take a deposit and you take a final check, you have doubled the amount of accounting in your business. I wanted a simple system. I am a very good cash manager. We have never missed a payroll. We have never missed a
bill no matter what. No excuses. I've held myself to this. We've always paid
everything that we need to pay but it takes effort on that but we don't take deposits. I would probably not. I would probably advise against that accountability at meetings. So,
this is the one thing where people uh get uh get off on. I believe that a meeting should be same time, same place, same agenda start and stop at the same time, the same day of the week all the time. It is sacred. There's actually a baseline in my company that says Monday mornings are sacred leadership team will meet at my office at a certain time. There
is no other options. You will be there. Yes. but a job is to kick off. Yes. the client has a question. Yes, paint doesn't
matter. It sacred. This is way more important than whatever else is going on out there. So, training uh we have simple training in the company. You think, oh my god, Nick, you do historic restorations. How do
you train people on that? Remember those three principles, get rid of something bad, Make sure something doesn't come through adhesion and blocking and then put on something that's got color and or durability. It's the same thing when we train people in the prep process, We train them hard in wall painting which is the majority of what we do in our business. If you look at it by revenue numbers and we train them in cabinet prep. We don't even need them to learn how to do a sprayer yet. The prep is
everything. So, for our Two-week Apprenticeship 2.00 program, we basically do circuit training between wall prep and painting and cabinet prep and they get some other things. Yes, they get safety
training, and other stuff but that's legitimately seventy to 80% of our entire business. So, why not just train to that? The people who get that stuff and get our core values will eventually get all these exterior processes. It's not the end of the world but what we don't do is then a week on decks and a week on restoration and a week on basic exterior painting and all this other stuff because other things will get picked up. Don't let perfect stand in the way of really good if I want it perfect, I would take 1 year of somebody and never let them touch a field or a crew and train them there but the problem is I could probably get better results if you give me 2 weeks in my training facility and then send them out to the field for real world experience and mentorship from one of my trusted crafts people tools, and supplies. So, think about this as the same as coatings a great discussion in Georgia with Gil uh and his people.
brush strokes, quality painting, um We have one tape Basically in my company, We have one interior brush. We basically have one or two spray tips. give or take. We have kind of one type of sprayer. We have two types of drop cloths.
We have a couple types of ladders. If a young apprentice gets bogged down and they have to make a decision on what to use inside, we have one ceiling paint, one wall paint, one primer, and one trim enamel cabinet enamel. We also have one brush for that. You cannot pick the wrong brush in my company. Yes, we buy all stuff.
We get the best but there's only one and it's been proven by me. That's my job description. I'm supposed to be these things I'm supposed to set them up for success. So, I find all these systems and processes. I find these tools and I say, we don't need all this other stuff. If you got sixteen types of tape or even sanding grits in your company, somebody's going to pick the wrong one and they're going to focus on picking the right sanding grit and not taking care of the client or accomplishing the mission.
they're going to focus on. should we, should we be using 150 or should we use 180 to sand the old finish off this deck instead of just sanding the finish off the deck. If you as the master prosper in your company speck, we're only going to be using eighty grit on exterior decks. Good. You have rough stuff and you have not rough stuff. Inside me is 180
outside. We use it is what it is. Take the rough stuff If you don't even know what the numbers are, pick the thing that's rougher and go outside and do it. If you have a thing
that's smooth and you're outside and you're wrong. it's simple as that and then pay promotion. So, very tiny little sheet on uh on the screen there but basically you have to simplify this stuff too. You
have to show people what it looks like in your company uh to proceed and kind of move through those phases and stuff like that. So, external processes. So, these are, you know, for us in the simplest form is estimating and production in estimating that's all external facing. Uh that's basically how we first interact with clients out there must be a simple system estimator Andy and I are awesome practitioners of this where we truly both believe that yes, you can have a 3000 uh line spreadsheet where you type in every single piece of data from that thing. It can take you an entire day to do an exterior estimate but it will be perfect. The problem
is you and I know that we're probably only going to get thirty to 50% of our estimates anyway. So, let's figure out a way that between a half an hour and an hour, we can have an estimate on site for somebody and discuss it with them on site. What we maybe lack in complexity we gain in Simplicity for the client which is we're at their house. We made this appointment. We can give you the price for this job and we can also answer any of your questions from the client's point of view that is way more valuable than you come to them and saying 3 weeks from now, I'm going to hand you the perfect estimate. They don't care. They're going to find
somebody between now and then to do it. Now, what I don't want you to think is that Is that because we do a one page estimate and a one-page thing in the back and nothing else that it's a dumb way of doing things. We have a data set that is deep and rich. We have mindless data to come up with a few simple truths When when I taught estimator Andy, my estimating ways, he's an awesome estimator. He ran his own business for more than a decade. He knows this stuff. The problem is it's my system now and he's adapting himself to mine. So, what I did is
something I'm very proud of very effective is I made the equivalent of a children's book for estimating and it's not because Andy can't comprehend it. It's because I wanted to take my whole world of this of this crazy data that I have and boil it down to a few things. So, honestly, we have about six or eight different pictures of houses, the square foot attached to them and the price attached to them and legitimately anybody could take that book and get ninety to 95% close to a true price for that house based on market price in my area in about 2 minutes by pointing to a picture of the house that it is and assigning a price and then going a little up for complexity, a little down for Simplicity, things like that. So, Alright, we'll get you some Uh oh yeah. production too. So, there's a um the with the external facing stuff. We actually have a
series of Emails that we send out. Um our production team uh so that we get the same results every time. Um it just there's a few things that we've seen over the years like color is a big thing. There are people going to have carpenters, uh timeline, things like that. So, they addressed that right away in a very simple form so that we can produce all this work.
So, in the end, I'm going to get to some of your questions here in the end Simplicity is a cheat code. I see people use complexity and perfection as an excuse because they don't want to just get out there and do stuff and they don't want to fail. I would argue you should fail a lot but you have to earn or learn. You either earn from that mistake or you learn from it never to repeat it again. Write it down. create a system around it. It's going to create
efficiencies for you. If it's simple, there's going to be more profit involved with that and there's going to be less friction and stress. So, I will say one of the things you can do if there's stress in your business which there is. See if you can simplify something around it or you can get rid of something like that and magically, you'll probably find do that exercise of how far, how far down you can break it down into Simplicity. You
probably find some superficial is in there and you'll find that your stress goes away. Also, it will cause alignment if people understand the vision of where your company is going, their comp plan, what they're held accountable accountability to their their key performance indicators and you connect those together Painters are reliant on the production. The production is reliant on the estimator. The estimators reliant on the owner. The owner relying on the painter who's reliant on the production team Who's you can see how this all interconnected The painter needs to know that they have a future in the company from the owner that estimator needs his bonus to be higher. So, he
looks to the production and the painter team to say, let's do this guys. Let's be efficient. The painter looks to the estimator to say, hey, you want to bid this one, you're not giving me enough stuff. If all those are interconnected, it works very beautifully. How you get this This non interconnection is if you incentivize somebody like if you incentivize um your production team and your Painters based on the quality of jobs and the profitability of jobs but you bonus your estimator based on just the amount of work he sells, not whether it's good work or bad work or good gross profit or bad gross profit. That is not
an aligned goal and he may fire sale a whole bunch of work that's not profitable. His numbers go up but everybody's numbers under him go down because there's no way they can produce that work at that So, you need to have these goals inter aligned like that. Alright, folks. That is it. Let's go through some questions here. Rodrigo Franco. If anyone that manufactures paint missed the 500 Buck opportunity, you're not doing your job. I've
been screaming that for over a decade. Uh if you can find me a water based primer that is guaranteed to block stains will stick to everything. and I can get anywhere. I'd pay 300 bucks a gallon for that primer if I could do trim cabinets, exterior interior, metal, fiberglass, plastic glass tile, everything like that and it never failed. You can charge a hell of a lot of money for that product right there. Uh Michael
Horn. How's it going? Uh Rodrigo Campos. Hey, Nick. Do you do a two to three training with all your master's classes? So, no, not necessarily. Uh most of my master's classes are 1 Day events. Give or take. I
can do them in as little as you know, somewhere between two and 4 hours but if people are going to take a day to do this, I usually like to throw in two Masters Classes. So, Rodrigo typically how a master's class event goes is from eight to nine in the morning usually on a Thursday or Friday. Uh we have a little white breakfast and a social time where a whole bunch of contractors get together. Uh we talk and discuss and do a whole bunch of fun stuff like that. At 9
o'clock, I usually kick it off with Masters. Class number one for the day. That's usually somewhere between two and 3 hours. We have a lunch where we keep kind of socializing, discussing, and then usually between like one 130 and 330, I do Masters class number two and then we socialize for about another hour, hour and a half because we love to decompress and stuff like that. So, that's normally how the day is going and I like to get people out of there so they can beat traffic and more like that. So, um Seth
really appreciate what you're doing this man. Happy to do it. So, um this is a resource or a resource like which I would have liked to have uh about 14 years ago. Um the one thing I want you guys to know is that legitimately, we're all going to do better when we all do better. This industry is the Wild West. Um we need to raise the standards of everything. Uh Jason Paris and I are embarking on a huge initiative to basically bring professional to all of the traits. Now, this
does not mean that you have to be a multi-million dollar holdings company like this. It can mean and it's a simplest single owner operator. I have the data to prove that you're probably leaving 100% more money on the table than what you're doing right now. You're providing so much value to your clients that you can say, yes, I'm happy with the money I'm making. Yes, I'm doing this and I will say you could probably double that and still have happy clients and still have a full schedule and all that other stuff when you have a database discussion like that.
Um it's a much better discussion than a few things risk and running a business. Uh you've got, you guys have all heard the statistics. You know, half of all businesses or 80% of all businesses fail in the first year and then another 80% of the ones who succeed after their first year fail and you know, five to six or five to six. There's a ton of risk here. Most paint business owners make $3000 a year which is less than almost all my employees give or take Most paint businesses go out of business. every one to 3 years. That is proof that they're basically pricing themselves out of business because they're not taking into account all the risk. If you're a business
owner and you are making anything less, a single owner operator, if you're producing anything less than Seventy-five to $100 in revenue an hour, you're probably under yourself consistently and you're going to put uh some added stress on your life. So, uh thank you so much uh for watching everybody. I do appreciate this. I got tons of links and show notes uh there for you guys about the Gathering Minnesota Painters, the master's Classes, the uh PCA as the residential Forum which estimator Andy will be there. I would love for you guys to meet him. Have a have an IPA with estimator Andy.
He's one of the greatest humans on earth. I just love this guy. Uh also, uh there is the PCA Expo coming up this next winter. They just put out a call for speakers. Hopefully, I make the cut this year. Uh that'll be fun to do but we'll see you guys there. That's the
big one. That's 500 to a thousand people showing up for that one. Um yes, Masters Classes Gathering in Minnesota Painters. I think we got it all. I think we got it all. Thank you guys. I really do
appreciate this. I appreciate you giving up a bit of uh Saturday morning but I believe this is worth worth it because I lot of you guys when we're all not working and all my paintings. So, alright everybody. I appreciate this. I
appreciate you looking on. I would challenge you to see how simple you can make a business and we'll talk