How to Generate Commercial Painting Leads and Sales

Commercial painting leads and sales are a mystery to so many painting contractors. Yet the methods for making it big in the commercial painting area are tried and true… if you know the system to follow.

Commercial Repaint Video

Although you may have missed the PDCA EXPO in New Orleans, this session generated TONS of buzz with owners and I’ve put up the exclusive REPLAY for 7 days!

In this 1 hour and 22 minute commercial repaint training session, I pull back the curtain on what REALLY WORKS when it comes making more money in your painting business by adding large commercial repaint contracts to your service mix.

You’ll discover how to generate leads, professionally sell, and MAINTAIN your relationship with decision-makers who can add hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to your bottom line each and every year.

NOTICE: I apologize in advance for the initial “blurriness” and “shuffling” in the audio, but here’s the more important part… The INFORMATION IS ROCK-SOLID! So, please, just look past it and LEARN!


Commercial Painting Leads Training Full Transcript:

Brandon Lewis has worked as painting business owner and political consultant to the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, and state and local officials and cognizance to the painting industry, specifically as it relates to the marketing of repaint services. Brandon’s work and at the academy for professional painting contractors helps owners dramatically increase profits, explode sales, and fall back in love with the painting business.

Brandon Lewis is working with over 115 franchised and independent painting contractors to help owners realize their dream. During this session, you will discover a proven, fail-proof process for identifying, targeting, and converting facility management prospects into long term clients for reliable, reoccurring, and annual revenue streams.

So, let’s take an opportunity right now to give Brandon a hand of applause [inaudible 00:01:10].

Commercial Painting Leads

Thank you for that kind introduction. Raise your hand if you were in my session yesterday. You people are a glutton for punishment. Why would you end your day and start your day with me? That’s what my wife is always asking herself. She’s in the back of the room. Honey, would you turn around and wave. That’s her. Hello. That’s my wife. So, I’m excited to talk about commercial today. I think there are a lot of misnomers about how you can go about building this portion of your business, and we’re gonna unpack some of those. And we’re gonna talk about what I have found, working with my owners, to be the most direct route to generating large commercial repaint contracts.

So, the first thing we’re gonna talk to you about today, what you’ll discover by the time you leave here, is how to generate leads for 40,000+ square foot commercial repaint. How to sell facility managers your services, and how to maintain the relationship and fence out the competitors. We’ve really got three big flaws in the painting industry when it comes to this. Number one: we’re too lazy to find them. Number two: Once we find them, we’re lazy about selling them. And then when we find them, we don’t keep them very well. It’s true. I see it. It’s epidemic. There’s a handful of folks that do it exceptionally well, but the rest of us are kind of just taking the crumbs off the commercial table. It’s like we get lucky, and we get a phone call, and we build a relationship, and we kind of sorta keep it, but we’re not very assertive or aggressive in going after this business.

So, let me give you a mercifully brief introduction. For those of you … ‘Cause we’ve only got about 20% that were in the first class yesterday. I grew up Arab, Alabama exceptionally poor. My father couldn’t read or write. We lived in an old sawmill slat house with a wood burning stove, and red well water in one sink in the kitchen. We were just exceptionally poor. He convinced me to go and get my education. I got an undergraduate in marketing, and an MBA. Neither of which are fit to wipe your hind parts with when it comes to running a business, but I paid for it, so I hang it up the wall. And that’s about as good as it’s good for I suppose.

I ending up building up a million dollar painting business. Sold it for $440,000. I did it in a little under five years. Started it in 2008. Raise your hand if 2008 was your favorite year? We got one. Who else hated it? Who else thought 2008 was horrible?

It was the end of the world.

Now, warm welcome to the painting industry. Here you go, have fun. You’re coming into business and everyone else is going out of business. This is gonna be fun for you. So I built that up. I worked on the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state and local races. Wrote a book on how to raise money for a political office. I trained offices, congressmen, people that are running for senate and won. And what that really taught me, the big thing it taught me, is to be focused, that lists matter, that you can do more with your time and your resources than you think. And I’ve got this constant sense of urgency that was instilled in me, when you worked 100 hours a week and you never know if your competition is ahead or behind.

And I was on the finance, so, unlike the campaign managers, who got to talk about all the reasons things were happening and nobody had voted yet, and I had the quarterly finance reports. Which meant the whole world knew if I was full of crap or not, early. Whereas the campaign manager, you can either win or lose, and often you can even parlay that in to another career. Can’t do that on the finance side. So, you’ve got to perform. And this crucible of performance is what I took into so many aspects of the painting business, and how that’s helped me with this process.

We have used what I’m about to show you to generate millions and millions of dollars of commercial repaint revenue for our members, and you can use the same system in your business and I hope that you will. So, let’s talk about how commercial fits in at The Academy for Professional Painting Contractors, and I think this is important. And if you were here at yesterday’s session, you’ll understand why it is. Now, we start out in our program with customer reactivation, because most people have thousands of people on lists that they’re not doing anything with.

We’ve got people in here that I’ve talked to this entire weekend that have $2 million, $3 million, $1 million in organic spending going on in their internal list. People they’ve already identified and found. Yet, they’re doing $600,000, $700,000, $1 million in business while they’ve got $2 million, $3 million being spent in their in-house list, because they’ve been in business since 1435 B.C. But they don’t anything with them. You might as well just give them away if you’re not gonna do anything with them.

Commercial Painting Lead Service

So, customer reactivation is where we start. It’s the easiest way, the quickest way to find profits immediately, whether you’re very industrial and commercial. Somebody came up to me to today and said, “This does not apply to me. Yesterday was interesting. It really didn’t apply to me.” It applies perfectly. You’ve just got bigger eggs and a smaller basket. Which means instead of [inaudible 00:06:35] touches, you’re gonna invest more time and energy to keep those contacts. It’s more like going from grass roots fundraising to major ifs. When you’re in commercial, you’ve only got a few people that can write you a $1 million check a year. A $500,000 check. A $70,000 check. You have to manage those people. Manage that relationship with more time, money, and effort than you do your residential clients, but the process is very similar.

Always be careful in having lazy thinking about, “This doesn’t apply to me.” Because more often than not, if it’s a fundamental, basic principle, it very much does, and it will cost you a lot of money in the long run. Second thing we do is we go through the Power Paint presentation process, which I actually will cover today in an abbreviated fashion. Then we start working on customer retention, with the at-home, in app, or monthly newsletters.

Then we go to referral lead generation. How do you get leads, referrals from be-to-be clients. How do you get referrals from other people that are either commercial, or home services. How do you go into the realtor market with a fine focus on property management companies, etc. But you will notice that commercial repaints are last in our system, and here’s the reason: if you don’t do this, and this is mainly for those of you who were in the presentation yesterday. For the rest of you, this will be a mystery. If you do not do this, and you do not do this, you will soon be screwed here. You’ll have the same problems you’ve already got that led you into this room today.

If you do not keep the commercial and industrial clients you have, this whole vicious cycle starts again. So, retention and reactivation are critically important. That’s why I wait until the end. And when I unpack the math for people, the cold, hard mathematics of retention, where you discover that it takes anywhere from 5-25 times more money to secure new contracts than to keep a past customer. If they don’t process that, I just tell them, “You’re crazy, and I can not help you.” And I let them join, ’cause I’ve got somebody crazy on the phone. “I just showed you the math problem, and you said that’s not interesting.” I’m like, “You can’t be helped.” Because it’s about math. It’s very much about math, and if you ignore the math, you’re gonna be in trouble. So, just do know that although commercial is important, if you do not do the stuff one through four, then you’re never really gonna make five work for you, at least not as well as you could.

So, let’s talk about why commercial repaint contracts are so desirable. Well, the first thing is there’s less admin per job. If you paint mama’s bedroom. Mama’s bedroom. You’ve gotta set the job up. You gotta send the guys out there. You gotta write up the invoice. You gotta write up the work order. You gotta schedule it, you gotta write it on a schedule. Then you gotta collect it. Then you gotta post them to the database. If you paint mama’s warehouse, same process, except further in the field. I love huge commercial jobs, because I can go set my guys out, three or four guys, for like a month, and I don’t check in with them. I call them every other day. “You doing something?” “We’re painting stuff out here.” “Good, you making money?” “Yeah.” “Awesome” That’s it.

You start painting a warehouse, I’ll just leave you alone. You start painting a tank on a fuel yard, I’ll just leave you alone. And in every day, I used to love this feeling when I would take out my little production schedule, because I just did it by hand and wrote in where they went, but Dean, Nelson, and Scott have not moved for a month. I hated it. I hate the production schedule. I hated it. I hate figuring out mama’s bedroom, mama’s deck, mama’s fence, and you’re shuffling them every day. That’s the hardest thinking you do, in my opinion as an owner, is shuffling those guys around every day. You can be really lazy in your thinking the rest of the day.

You can pretty much, on a painting business, kinda walk in and fiddle-fart around, but when it comes time to the schedule, every day I was like. “Ugh, god I hate this. I hate this. Wonder who’s going here. Well, he can’t do this. Well, she can’t be there.” That’s why I like commercial, ’cause you set them on the dagum thing, you leave them alone. Second thing, fewer emotions. I’m not emotional, and I don’t do well with emotional people. You paint in a residential for lots of emotional people. Poor old ladies whose husbands are not very nice to them, and they don’t see anybody all week long. And now something has gone wrong at the house, and you’re the pastor, and the counselor, and everything else. And they’re mad at something, or said at something, but it aint you, but yet there you are.

Marketing For Commercial Painting Leads

So there’s another reason that I really like commercial. It’s mainly ran by people that just want stuff painted, and often not even painted that well. They just want it painted. So it’s a lot easier. Larger profits, typically. I’m happy for taking the same amount of profits that I got in a residential job, as long as there’s more of it, maybe even sometimes a little less. But, usually I found it was more. So, that’s a good part. Recurring revenue. McColly School, TransMontaigne fuel yards, Chattanooga State, U of Provident, and a handful of other people were worth 30, 50, $100,000 to me every year, and I knew I was gonna paint this dorm at this time every year during spring break. Every year. I knew it was there, so before I looked at my projections for next year, I knew here’s $100,000. That’s nice. That’s a good feeling.

And then finally, this is the big deal, I think, with commercial. I believe you live on your residential, you thrive off your commercial. We always treated, in our household, the commercial stuff like we would never get paid on it. Now, we always did, because it was repaints, but when you get a $30,000-60,000 check and you have pretended like you weren’t going to get it, and then now you got it. You can pay off debt. You can pay off your house. You can buy nice cars. You can send your kids to better schools. You can sock away and max out your IRA. Money that comes in big chunks helps you get ahead. Money that comes in itty-bitty, dabbling, dribbles is helpful, and it pays the bills, and it keeps the lights on, and it keeps the painters paid, and it pays for the utility bill and the rent. But it doesn’t really help you get ahead as much as getting these big chunks, and that’s the big reason I love commercial.

So, let’s talk about what the competitive landscape is like. Buddy, it’s a wide open, abandoned market. People talk to me all the time, “Man, competition is tough in my area. Whew, it’s tough. Tough out there. [inaudible 00:13:26] price. Whew, it’s tough.” And you start asking them what they’re doing about it. And no damn wonder it’s tough for you, buddy, you’re pretty lazy. You’re pretty damn lazy. You’re about the laziest person I’ve talked to today. What are you doing to find painters? “Well, we posting that on Craigslist, and we ask my fellers if they know somebody. It’s tough.” Well, it’s gonna be tough, and it aint gonna get any easier for you. What are you doing to get commercial? “Well, everybody just wants price, and everybody you gotta know somebody. You gotta …”

And it’s just like this excuse wagon. Most people would rather have a comforting excuse, than a challenging opportunity. They really would. We emotionally attach ourselves to our business, and we see flaws, we get all mad, and we would rather just … We take the coat of many excuses and we put it on, and we’ve gotten our 15 things we talked about why we don’t do anything. This is a wide open market here, people. These poor facility managers haven’t heard from a painter in an average of a year and six months, if ever. And when they do hear from them, they hear from them once. Some poor old painter got the courage up, and he finally got to the decision. “Hey would you maybe like to… Maybe like to… Paint something… I paint something. Oh, no? Okay, okay, okay bye. I tried, it’s tough. It’s tough.” You didn’t try hard enough.

So, it’s wide open. The opportunities are hiding in plain sight. Anybody ever watch the Dukes of Hazard, raise your hand up. What about the A-Team, remember A-Team? They’d take the van or the General Lee, and if they needed to hide it, they’d put like three brushes on top of it and they’d run off. You remember that? They would always be doing something sneaky, and they’d have to hide their van, or they’d have to … And it’s like two twigs, they put it on top of it and they’d run off. You can see that’s bright orange, it’s got the Confederate flag on the top of it, you cannot hide this thing.

Well, these are bigger than those two items. They’re 40,000 square feet or bigger. If you drive by them, you will notice. They’re in your town. There are these things, they’re black, they’re called roads. They can take you to them. They’re there. You can see them. They cannot hide them. They are not putting twigs on top of them. They’re just right there. Number two, almost everybody who has a relationship with a commercial person, if you talk to them about how they got it, it’s like a happy accident. “Well my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law went to church with ol’ so-and-so, and we went out there and we painted a closet one time, and now we do a million dollars worth.” It’s about like that. It’s never, “Well, we have this very specific strategy for going after commercial, and let me show you what we’re doing and how we’re accumulating leads on a monthly basis.” It’s never that. It’s a, “We got called, we did the work once, we kinda kept them because nobody else calls them.”

That’s what this world looks like. And the reason I say is so that you don’t be intimidated. It is not tough. There’s not a lot of competition. Our industry is not very aggressive when it comes to marketing, and it’s even less aggressive … You wouldn’t think this. It’s even less aggressive in commercial repaints than it is in residential. People try harder in the residential market than they do the commercial market. ‘Cause the decision maker is a little bit harder to find. And, buddy, you put up a fence this high, aint a painter in your town that will jump over it. Hardly. Seriously, about this high. That’s all you need. “Whew, it’s tough. It’s tough. A big ol’ fence. I gotta go back to the house. Let’s shuffle some paint cans around at the shop, let’s look at some invoices, let’s check the Facebook. Tough.”

So, don’t worry. You’ll be just fine. So, how to generate leads for commercial repaints. There are some fundamental laws in marketing. You cannot escape them. There’s nothing you can do. Your opinion does not matter, nor does marketing care about your opinion. These are the fundamental rules. I would write them down. First one, market. Who are you gonna go after? Who are you gonna go after? That’s why going back to your past customers is so unbelievably valuable, because the market is perfect ’cause they did what? They gave you a freaking check. No psychographics, no demographics, no income and then they handed you some money. They are perfect. So, when you fish in that pond, you get good results.

Well, we’re gonna go after people that are managing large buildings. When you manage large buildings, stuff needs painted more often. If your average residential customer is worth about $1000 a year in revenue, on average, ’cause they’re gonna spend $11,000 over 11 years. We covered this yesterday. If you’ve got a 40,000 square foot building and your average house is 3000, they may be paying you about 10 times as much. If it’s bigger, they may be paying 20 times as much.

If you looked at all of them like a slot machine. Like if a house was a slot machine, and every year you market to it, and one year you pull the lever, you get a $1500 interior repaint. You keep marketing. One year you pull the lever and you get a fence. And then year you pull the lever and you get the big one. What’s the big one?

Interior, or exterior.

The house. The outside. “Whew. A lotta money.” It’s fun. Now, here you pull the lever, it may be corridor or a floor if it’s a skyscraper. Might be a whole move-out. You pull it. Might be the whole outside of a warehouse. You pull it, it might be, once every 30 years they paint the ceiling because it’s covered in grease and it’s nasty. Make sure you put cleaning into your estimate. That’s expensive. I did that.

Number two, message. Who you’re going after. Most people’s message in this industry … and we’re gonna walk through this, I’ll [inaudible 00:18:56] walk through the rest of it, but anyway. It’s market, message, medium, and timing. So, you’re gotta know who you’re going after, what you’re gonna say to them, what you’re gonna use to communicate that message, and finally, there are certain times of the year that it’s easier to reach these people. So, let’s talk about the market.

Anybody know who this fella is? No. Lord Nelson. Probably the most celebrated military admiral of all time. And he always had a saying for his men, which goes, “If we’re in the cloud of battle and if things become unclear, men, and you can’t read my signals through the smoke, or we’re in a blow. Go straight out.” You can hardly do anything wrong by just going straight out. It is the same in market. We have been, for some reason, conditioned now because of all the handful of technological advancements in the last 10 years. “Inbound marketing, if we do this on our website, if we Facebook this, and if we show up here, and if we stand in the street with a sign, maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll get a commercial lead. If we blah, blah, blah commercial painting, blah blah. Maybe we’ll get a commercial painting lead.”

Well, maybe is a crappy thing to put between you and opportunity. They’re in the building. They’re in there. It keeps the rain off of them. You just go get them directly. There’s no need for all this crap that we do. I mean, yes you should do that stuff too, but it’s secondary, maybe even tertiary. They’re there. Let’s just go get them directly. So, go straight at them. So, we’re gonna purchase a narrowed down list. There’s lots of different places you do it. You can, number one, is you just pull up buildings that over 40,000 square feet in your area, businesses. Second thing you’re gonna do is look for plant manager, facility manager, maintenance manager, CFO … Or not CFO, usually COO. You’re gonna work from the top down, you’re gonna work from the bottom up, and you’re gonna have them talking about you in the elevator.

Don’t worry about spending a couple extra dollars on having more contacts per business, doesn’t matter. These guys are worth $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $100,000 a year. Don’t be a cheap you-know-what. These are big opportunities. Spend a little money. Spend a little time to go get them. So, you pull a list. Like in my area, I’ve got 326 businesses that meet this criteria. That’s a small list. You can spend lots of money and time on a tiny list. Easy. Easy. 326 people to manage. Not a big deal. When you go after your residential market, it’s like 2.3 million. You can go broke trying to talk to 2.3 million people. People encourage you to do that. Brand and image your company. Yeah, brand and image until you’re broke.

You can’t talk to everybody. You just can’t. We’re painters. We don’t have Coca-Cola’s ad budget. We don’t have Pepsi’s ad budget. We got our ad budget, and it’s really tiny. We gotta do the most we can with it. So, number one, you need to get a narrowed down list. Now, let me back up to this … Well I think I’m gonna cover here in a minute. So, number two, message. If you remember this guy from Office Space. “Oh no, no don’t move me down to office-” “We’re gonna have to move you down to storage b.” And he walks off with this poor guy, and he stole his stapler.

This is your facility manager. This is your maintenance manager. But he’s in the basement. Raise your hand if he’s in the basement and you’ve seen him. Who has met him in the basement? He’s in office b. He controls your destiny. Your financial destiny. This fella controls it. The phone only rings when people are doing what? Complaining. He’s over worked, he’s under paid, he’s surrounded by morons.

He wants somebody to acknowledge that and to say, “Let me tell you why our painting company is different. Your employees will not even know that we’re painting. You’ll never get a call from your superiors that our guys have wandered on the wrong floor, and they’re messed up. Our guys will never walk in and embarrass you, and cause one of the feinting lilies, who works here in this company, to write and say that he smells like cigarette smoke.” What we often have, the only message we have … And there’s a saying in marketing, “If you wanna know why John Smith buys what John Smith buys, you must see the world through John Smith’s eyes.” But we tend to do is look through our eyes, and say, “We do commercial and residential. We have craftsmanship. We’ve been in business since 1435 B.C. We’re licensed and insured.” Sing with me. It’s on the side of every van. It’s in every yellow page ad. It’s on everybody’s Facebook page.

You know what? This guy doesn’t give a damn about that. He’s got his own problems and he wants those problems solved, and if your message does not communicate that, then it will fall on what kind of ears? Deaf. He’s heard that song before and he doesn’t wanna hear it now, so you’ve gotta talk specifically about how you solve his problems. How you keep the complaints from the employees down. And how you make certain that he never gets in trouble with his superiors, or better yet, can look good in front of them. Can help them find solutions to fix their problems.

We do this with two programs. One of them is a service trial program. You see this in all kinds of industries. Open up a ladies magazine, and it has what in it. You know that little thing you pull back and … Little perfume sample. You go to Sam’s, and you go to Costco, with that lady, she’s … The chicken from China that’s breaded, it’s wonderful. She gives you that, and you go, “Oh, that’s pretty good. I think I’ll go feed that to my kids.” We buy things that we sample. Who’s ever gone to see an artist in a concert that you didn’t think anything about, but now you own like all his records. Raise your hand. Sampling.

We have a program. It’s a free trial program to get us in the door, because these guys are worth lots of money. You’re not free trialing to mama. When you do free trials, there is a lower lead acquisition cost, in most cases, than if you tried to sell them directly using lots of money. Most people look at it, and they’re so damn cheap, they can’t stand to part with a couple hundred dollars. But they would save money if they did it. It’s about the cost of lead. It’s about the cost of saving.

And the second one we have is an FM4 strategy, where we get all these people together in a room and we’re just simply a facilitator. We thank them, and we give them recognition, and we give them an ability to communicate peer-to-peer, because many of them don’t have the ability to do that, and most of the folks that are in [BOMA 00:26:10] meetings, and I was a BOMA associate of the year, are the top brass. Now, Melvin has hired me, but the top brass is going to the BOMA meetings. Especially in the bigger cities. Smaller cities, you get Melvin, but you don’t get him in the big cities. So you form other opportunities for them to get together. Simple, cheap, and easy. If you can read a note card, you can do this program.

So, you have to have multiple programs. The message you don’t want, if you can help it, is “Please buy our crap. Please buy our crap. We got crap to sell, and buddy, you need to buy it.” That’s about what we do with most of our marketing. Now, if you had the choice between “Please buy our crap,” and no message at all, please use that one. You’ll still get work, because they haven’t heard “Please buy our crap” from anybody else. Not at least in six months to a year. They have not heard from anybody. Call them up, ask them, “When’s the last time” … Call your clients, ask them “You ever get any painters calling you?”

I did this. Called through seven, got one. One. I called them after I sold my business, so I know they would give me an honest answer. None, except for one, and he’s at a university. That’s an easier target. Government. They attract that type of attention. But the independently owned business do not, so you are really, in most cases, putting out messages in a vacuum. A competitive vacuum. Alright. Multi-step and multi-medium. Boy, do we give up at every opportunity. We just give up. We go after somebody one time, one way, and if we hear crickets or just a little bit of response, we just give up. We need to call them, and we need to email them. We need to go by, in some cases, and visit them. And we need to mail them. In sequence. In a compressed 35-45 day period, we need to blow their office up. And we’ll talk about trying to figure out who the decision maker is. This is one of the complexities of managing this process you need to be aware of.

There’s only a handful of ways you can go directly and see these people, but they’re worth so much money. You could almost hire somebody … And we’ll talk about marketing coordinators. Stay at home moms. College students. Anybody who can read a script and not sound like they’re reading a script can help you in the process. You don’t have to do it, nor would I suggest that you do. The main reason that I don’t suggest that you do, is because you won’t. That’s the main reason. I could make the argument, “It would be a better use of your time. Dah, dah, dah, dah. You’ve got more important things to do.” Frankly, you don’t have anything more important to do. If you did this it would still be the best use of your time, but I know my owners, and they won’t do it. So I don’t ask my owners to do crap they won’t do.

So we talk about hiring marketing coordinators for 10, 12, 15, depending on the area of town you are. They pay off in spades, because you just won’t do it. You’ll wanna get busy with something else. Somebody will need a bucket of paint in the next county, and off you’ll go. Screw these $100,000 account, somebody is missing a pressure washer tip. Super-owner to the rescue. Their whole business plan shot for the year. That’s all it takes. Jose needs a pressure washer tip. And I know you people. I was you people. I did the same thing. Not as much as y’all do it, but I did the same thing.

So, we know where they are. We can go get them. We’ve got lots of tools that really work. And I made this point in my session yesterday. When you go to the craftsmanship forum tomorrow, what are the three things they will be showing you, primarily, to put paint on the wall. Three tools. What are they? Brush, roller, sprayer. Three things. Have we been using those for a little way? I think it’s time to quit. I think we should use an old shoe and a basketball, and maybe a sock. Or there’s gotta be something new out there, why are we still talking about this old, tired crap? Because it still is the best thing that works.

People want to get caught up in social media, and SEO, and blogging, and I do it well, and I’ve done it for campaigns, and I’ve sat on technology panels in Washington, D.C. and talked about it. I understand it. It’s just down here from an effect stand point. And the people that come to you through those mediums have two qualifications, primarily. They got two fingers, you know that ’cause they type something in. Maybe they just got one finger, but they get a finger. They type something in, and they think they want something painted. That’s the sum total of their qualification. When you do this, you’re at least going after people who have been qualified because they’re in a bigass building, and they’ve got a specific title.

Online Commercial Painting Leads

painting contractor online lead strategy academy professional painting contractors

Remember the market, if we get the market wrong, everything else doesn’t matter. Well, the problem with generating leads online, so often is we don’t know what the market is. Its got a big question mark over it. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. Not that it shouldn’t be a front end, it certainly should be. But the idea is to go from front end to back end, meaning what happens in transaction two through 105, not what happens in transaction one. Plus, transaction one is the most expensive thing you’ll ever do in your whole career, is to get that customer to buy from you the first time. Most expensive thing you’ll do.

The most expensive thing you have in your whole business is your customer list, because you paid 250 to a gentleman I talked to yesterday, sitting right here. $900 it cost to say, “I don’t know what he’s doing.” So, if you’ve got 1000 people, and let’s split the difference, and let’s say it’s truly 300. You’ve got $300,000 sitting in a list. Does anybody got a piece of equipment that’s $300,000 in their office they paint with? No, but you got a list that you don’t use. So, we’ve got to do these things. It’s critically important.

Now, let’s talk about this. Has anybody ever really ran out of toothpaste? I mean, really. Anybody ever really ran out of toothpaste? I mean, how much toothpaste is in a tube? Jeez la weez, it’s like you think you’re out and you get in there and you grit your teeth, and you stand on it and you put both your feet in it, and then a little. Ah, brush my teeth today. That can go on for two years. It truly can. There is always, write this down, there’s always more toothpaste in the tube. There’s always more toothpaste in the tube.

What we do as painting contractors is we buy a brand new big fat tube, we take the little cellophane off and we go, and then we throw the tube away. “Whew, tough. It’s tough. Getting toothpaste out of that tube. We need a new tube. And I broke my finger getting that toothpaste out the first time.” That’s what we do. We’re lazy. Bone lazy when it comes to marketing sales. You’re gonna get a list. If you’re not careful, you’re gonna hand it off to somebody, your admin assistant, Judy. You’re gonna go, “Hey Judy, why don’t you work on this list, and here’s this thing this feller told me to do, and you go at it.” And you’re gonna go run Jose a pressure washer tip on the other side of the county, and hope that when you come back, she’s found you $100,000 worth of stuff to do.

You have to manage this process carefully. List management is important. So, there’s this process we have to go through. We got started at 9:00, right? Okay. So, there’s this process we have to go … You have to approach the list the first time. You’re gonna use multi-step, multi-medium, it means you’re gonna call them, you’re gonna email them, you’re gonna mail them. Some of them you’ll have emails for, some of them you won’t. And what you’re gonna do, is during that process you will identify a handful of decision makers. And you will hear tale of some that you can’t find. “Oh, you’re talking to the wrong person, who you need is John Stansel. John Stansel is over in so-” “Well, can you give me his number?” “Why, hell no. We don’t do that. We got a company policy book that’s 15 pages long that describes all the reasons we can’t give you the contact person.” “Thank you for your time.”

And you call back in tomorrow, and you get a different person, they go, “Oh, yeah. Here’s John’s information.” Just like when I used to work with the financial aid office at the university, when somebody would get told no, I would say, “Just come back tomorrow. Doesn’t matter if you ask the same person or a different person, you’re gonna get a different answer. Just come back tomorrow. You come back enough, you’ll get some money. Don’t you worry. We got piles of it here. The government’s paying for it, what do you care.” When they come back, by god, they walk out with a sack full of money. They find some way to give people your money. They do.

Same thing here. You’ll get different answers in corporate America, these big businesses, when you call a second, third time, email … And after a while, it’s just like the Parable of the Persistent Widow in the bible. Is anybody familiar with that? There was a judge who did not fear man, nor … Did not respect men or fear god. Yet, for the persistent widow, he argued in her case before hearing the evidence. Because if you pester people long enough, and I’m keen at pestering people … Who’s is on my list in here. Raise your hand. Do I pester the hell out of you, and I send you stuff. Yeah, I sure will.

Now, I’ve mentally noted all of you in here. You’ll get more shit from me. You will. Just hang on, it’s coming. It may come earlier than what you expect. And why do I do it, because every time I do it, I get like a handful of emails from … Nevermind, you’re gonna get me in trouble. I get a handful of emails … This is a strange industry, ’cause I don’t just have PDCA folks that I fish for. And I fish, I’m like, working hard down on the bottom. You just never know what I’m gonna catch. But every time I do it, people hand me some money, so I keep doing it. Now if you ask, said, “You’re going broke sending that stuff.” “Oh no. Come to my house. We eat pretty well.” It’s what people buy. If people didn’t buy, I wouldn’t do this stuff.

So, you’ve gotta market to them. Identify these decision makers. You’ve got to try your best to meet them with one of the two programs that I mentioned, and then you have to repeat this process, because what you’ll discover is every time you do it, you get a handful of decision makers.

And let me kinda paint this picture. So, over here, you’re blind. You don’t know who’s in your market. You know the handful of people you’d like to work for. You buy a list that is narrowed down. Now you’re over here. You got a little bit clearer picture of who your targets are. You’ve moved over, through acquisition, to something that is a little clearer. Now you run your first multi-step, multi-medium campaign. The first portion. The one, two, three steps out of nine. Now you get over here. Now let’s say your list is 300, 400 people. Now you’ve found an extra 30. 15, 30 people who control lots and lots of money and you go back and you do this process again. And by the time you get through, you may only have 70 or 80 people out of the 400, but those things are exceptionally valuable. You can’t buy a list of decision makers. You can’t buy one, you have to create it. You can not purchase one, because they’re different and they move around. You have to create it.

Now, lists are important. I got called by two presidential campaigns this year, to help them raise money in the state of Tennessee. Proxies. It ain’t like Trump is calling me. Proxies. Why do they call me? Why do they call me? Anybody know?

You’re on the list.

I own the content list. It’s bigger than … Damn, it’s huge. Lots of people who have given money. I wrote a book on it, which is probably helpful, but I mainly get called because I have a list. Even though my list is getting older by the day, and yours is too. It’s worth less the less you do with it. But these lists, once you build them, are incredibly powerful. Why? Because that fence is this high, remember? Painter see a fence this high and he ain’t stepping over it. Too much effort. Too much work. Your competition, they see that and they go, “Whew. It’s tough. This marketing is tough. I tell you what, he done called some people. I can’t do that.” That’s what he’ll do. Takes a very low fence to keep your competition out. These barriers to entry.

Now, here’s the thing. They’ll do lots of things. Your competition will do lots of things, but they will not think. That is your biggest advantage as a painting contractor in your market. You can write that down. They will not think hard. People would rather dig a ditch for a day, than to think really hard and do something different for about 10 minutes. Who’s got something on their list, which is just incredibly difficult right now, you have not touched? Would transform your business. To hell with that. It would take a good 15 minutes of you thinking real hard to get it going.

An old proverb is, “Once a task begun, it’s half done.” And that’s true. How many of you know that? You sit down with something, and you wrestle with it, and you get into it, and about 10 minutes later, “Oh, this aint so bad.” But, you were so damn scared of it, it might as well been a python curled up in your office chair. But when you get there and you kinda unpack it and look at it, you say, “Oh, I’m halfway done now.” This is what this stuff is like. But that keeps all your competition out.

Did you have a question, sir?

Yeah, I was just wondering what software do you recommend using to manage your list.

That’s such a funny question, and somebody asked that yesterday. I swear to God. It doesn’t damn matter.

Well what do you use?

I use Infusionsoft because I’ve got a complicated process. For you, you could live if you had to, I don’t recommend it in itself, probably keep them in QuickBooks. Maybe keep them in … Really, you could just … Your residential is one-to-many communication. It just needs to be in QuickBooks. If you can get an email address out of it and a phone number and mail, then you can do everything in the world you need for a future paint up. Now, your facility managers are a little different. You probably need to be able to make a note, and understand what’s happening in the relationship. It’s the only thing in painting that’s really like true sales. Residential is not sales. You don’t need a CRM for it. It’s one-to-many communication.

It aint like you’re calling up Ethel and saying, “Hey Ethel, how are you and the kids? How’s that deck looking? Okay. Well, the deck’s got some patio … let me make some notes in my CRM here. Well that’s good to know. How’s Fufu? Excellent. Okay, well call me if you need your deck stained.” You don’t have that type of relationship with residential. It’s one-to-many communications. You’ve got 1500 of them, 2000 of them on a list, you’re not going to be … Know those people. Your facility managers, maintenance managers are different. But see, here’s the thing, the question I always get is … And I’ve got this question twice. What CRM would you use? And I wanna just take people by the lapels and go, “I’d try to contact them first, and worry about how to keep up with it later.” ‘Cause that’s what people don’t do. They don’t contact them.

I could do a whole presentation on CRM, and everybody would run out and go buy a CRM. But then when it came time to communicate with them, and market to them … You’d call them six months later, “How’s that going?” “Well, we’ve got our CRM, we’ve loaded up our contacts, and we’ve dah, dah, dah, dah.” That does not make you money. Better that you, in all honesty, write this crap down on a legal pad, and start calling people, than to have the world’s fanciest CRM and not do anything that will actually generate the money.

I’m not playing down being organized. You have to be it, but that is not what’s keeping our painters poor. It’s lack of action. It is lack of action. Give me a dummy who will do this stuff and be disorganized. He will make more money than a smart one whose got it all buttoned up and never gets started. My dumb ones run circles around my smart ones. I aint gonna tell which ones the dumb ones are. I don’t tell them, but they are. They’re making tons of money, and the smart ones can’t get off first base. Paralyzed by analysis and trying to get it perfect. The distance between perfection and something, is infinite. The distance between something and perfect is not noticeable to hardly anybody but you, when it comes to marketing. Because again, nobody is doing any of this stuff.

What the heck is going on here. Okay. Alright. Seriously, I’m sorry to get on that soapbox, but I just see people losing money and it aggravates the piss out of me. I just can’t stand it. I’m more worried about y’alls financials than y’all are. Truly. I talk to people and they’re so damn casual about it, what they’re doing. And I’m nervous for them, anxious for them, and yet they do nothing about it. I’m more nervous about people’s list, what have you done with it? Nothing. And aint worried about it a bit. They slept last night like a baby. “I think on it. It’s probably the … $1.4 million, and this is 90 … He only missed about $50,000 this month.” I say, “Times three, that’s $15,000.” That’s what I would a call a used new car. But he ain’t worried about it. He’s sleeping like a baby.

So, how to close big repaint jobs. We’re gonna talk about the Power Paint presentation process in the time that we have remaining. You’ve only got 72-96 hours to build maximum trust in this business in those cases. 72-96 hours. That’s it. They call you, or you get them and they’re interested. Sometimes they come to you, sometimes you go to them and the timing is right. Or you keep after them and later they purchase. So you’ve got to really get after these people.

Let me talk about a few cold, hard facts about selling. They buy the show, not your craftsmanship. They buy the show, not your craftsmanship. Everybody is so proud of their work. The lines are straight. The walls are painted. Earl’s got 83 years of experience. Look at Earl go. Good old Earl. But when you talk to them about their sales process, the thing that makes people hand you a check, it’s anything but craftsmanship. “Well, we get a call and I ask them what they need, and I go look at it. And then about 15 days later, I email them an estimate. Sometimes I call them and sometimes I don’t, but we are craftsmen.” Poor craftsmen. “That’s great. I’m so proud for you.” And buddy, it’s like a badge. People wear it.

You should be as focused on lead generation, sales, and marketing, as you are ever focused on craftsmanship. I made lots of money in the painting business. I can’t pick up a brush by the right end. I never trained anybody. Not that you shouldn’t. I think you should, I just didn’t know where to start. “Here’s your work order, here’s your checklist, here’s your labor budget. It’s the closest thing you will do to working for yourself and still being employed. Go paint it. I don’t want any trouble. Here’s our three rules. Here’s our checklist. Go do it.” And they go do it, and they bring back the checks. I didn’t go look at it, I didn’t check on it, and I didn’t do anything. They just brought back money. And I would get on the phone, and I would check and if there was a problem, there would be hell to pay. Because we only got three rules. Come in on budget, make sure they’re happy, and … That’s it, there are three rules. “How did you mess the three rules up? Didn’t you say you painted for a living?” And if he didn’t, well I would fire him and get another one.

So, craftsmanship did not make me any money, but the sales and the marketing did. You can be a great craftsman, be a terrible a marketer, and probably never make much money. You can be a really good marketer and a really good sales person, not know squat about the painting business. Because that’s how franchises do it. If it required lots of technical information, they couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have done it.

Number two, if you use industry standards, you’ll lose the price. And I don’t mean industry standards, I mean if you do what everybody else is doing, you’re gonna constantly complain to me, “Everybody only cares about price.” It’s such bull. That is such bull. And you notice, this whole process, I haven’t talked about how to calculate anything. And you will never hear me talk about how to calculate stuff. If you’re in the painting business and you don’t know how long it’s gonna take to paint something by now, you’re never gonna know. You’re never gonna know. It’s hopeless. You can sit through 1000 of those, and how to calculate the 15 ways to screw up an estimate. If you don’t know by now, it is unknowable. Just quit going. Just take what you got now, and just go do something a little bit different in some other area. You’ve learned as much as you can learn about how to price stuff.

Pricing is what a clerk does at Walmart when she rings meat. “That’ll be $3.96. That’ll be …” You don’t make a lot of money being a clerk at Walmart. Now, if you sell the Walmart, and you close big jobs, you’ll probably make a lot of money. [Mr. Albright 00:47:34] would you close that door? I’m like a dog, if I hear something, I just walk up there and start talking to them. I get easily distracted. They have to know why they need to pay more, and if you don’t give them reasons, they just gonna pay less. Every time. I do and you do too.

Third thing. Your costs are sunk. Being lazy only costs you more. When somebody calls you on the phone for an estimate, you have paid in all the money you are ever gonna pay the moment you say, “We’ll come see.” When you have mentally committed to go seeing that person, all the money just caught on fire and burned. You’re done. You paid for the lead. A gentlemen yesterday had about a $800-$900 cost per sale, which means his cost per lead, if his closing rates are 25%, it’s $250. Then you’re gonna go out … If your time is worth anything, at least $100 by the time you go there, come back, burn gas, you’re gonna spend $350 or so to go out and write an estimate. Depending. Every time.

If somebody took $350 out of your wallet every time the phone rang with an estimate, and said, “I got it, you gonna get the job?” You would do it differently, wouldn’t you? And then if you didn’t, they just went, “Well, maybe next time.” You would do things differently. But that’s what’s financially happening, we just aren’t made aware of it graphically. So you can do the flaming bag of poop estimate, or you can do the Mona Lisa. Makes no difference. You already paid all the money. It’s just whether or not you can charge a higher price, and whether or not you close the job or not. The money is spent. The difference between doing a perfect estimate and a crappy estimate takes no more time and only a little bit more money. And I would argue it’s not the little bit more money, because if you close one, how many you gotta close? One, two, three a year to pay for doing it right? Doesn’t cost much.

So now we’re in the big city. “Holy cow, we done got us a lead for a commercial job. Did all this marketing. Somebody has done called us down at the xyz company, 15,000 employees. We’re going down there. We put our clean shirt on. Wash the car. Brush our teeth. Comb our hair. We’re going to the city boys. Whew.” It’s like the [inaudible 00:50:05]. “We got some commercial work. Get out of these houses, boys. Go paint some big stuff.”

Alright. Intake process. You start the selling when you pick up the phone, and if you don’t have somebody answering your phone live, you’re crazy. Get that phone answered live. You’re losing, hemorrhaging money, every time something goes to voice mail. “I answer it most of the time.” I hear that on the phone all the time. Not most of the time. You only lose money part of the time. That’s great. Excellent. Strive for excellence. Get the damn phone answered. It costs like $70 a month. Get somebody to answer your phone. Use a service. Hell, drive it down to India Call Center if you have to. [inaudible 00:50:47]. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Better it be answered that way, than not answered. But, best is to be answered.

We’re gonna have meaningful conversations when people call us. We’re gonna have some scripts on a table or in a book, and when they call and they’re a commercial contact, we’re gonna start asking commercial questions. Because we want them to know that we’ve kinda done this before. If you treat a commercial customer when they call in, like a deck staining customer, they’re gonna wonder, but when you start asking commercial specific questions on the phone from your receptionist, or if you use an answering service, if this then that. And they start moving to that call script. “Golly cracker, we called a commercial exclusive painter.” Nope, you called somebody with a piece of paper in front of them, who can read. That’s what you called.

Now, you’d think it’s the other, but we know it’s this. Becky will read whatever’s on the sheet, you just gotta tell her to read it. So, Becky reads. “Well, Okay, you’re a commercial client. Well, let me ask you a few questions about your facility. Tell me about your hours of operation. Tell me about who’s there. Do you have any dah, dah, dah. When’s the last time you did this. Are there any safety programs. Are there any blah, blah, blah. Okay.” “Oh shit, what, this a painter? Hey I think I got the wrong number. We called our own maintenance department. What’s …” ‘Cause the other one is, “Earl’s painting … ” or whatever the hell you [inaudible 00:52:06]. It needs to be better than that.

And we’re also gonna collect information while we’re on the phone, that we’re gonna later get to use to sell these people, and to show them that we were paying attention. Pre-positioning. My Papa used to pay me 50 cents to till a two acre garden. And it’s kinda dangerous, ’cause I’m like this, and I’ve got no shoes on, and there’s these big metal things. He did not seem very concerned about it. And maybe that’s why they call me stubby. There’s no toes in this one. I’m just joking.

So, I got to just till that garden. Who likes to mess around in the yard. Raise your hands. Mess around in the yard. What happens if you plant seeds without tilling up anything. You start your garden this year and you don’t till it. You just kinda sprinkle crap on it. Birds get it. Like it says in the bible. Some of it was cast on the rocks, some of it was cast in good soil, some of it was cast and then the weeds came and got it, but if you don’t prepare the soil, again, your money is being wasted. So, we got 72-96 hours to build trust. How many of you are wasting the opportunity between the time you answer the phone and the time you arrive by doing nothing? Raise your hand if you’ve got no pre-positioning process.

Don’t you raise your hand, you’re not supposed to. And the rest of you are lying to me, because I talked to you on the phone, you liars. I’m in a room full of liars. How can I trust you people. I don’t know what you’re gonna do. I probably need to leave right now. So, what we do is we, number one, we send an initial email, and then we put them on a autoresponder campaign that talks about our products, our processes, and our people, and how we’re completely different from any other painting contractor. I hate it when people say, “Do you do any pre-positioning?” And they say, “Yeah, we make sure we remind them of the estimate time.” That’s outstanding. That’s why people buy, because you remind them of the estimate time.

No, they need to know why they’re gonna pay you more money, and that typically has to do with your processes, your people, and your products. If you’re not telling them about that, then how are you distinguishing yourself? Because we sent them an estimate time? That’s good. It’s functional helpful so they don’t forget you. You should probably do it, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do. And then we’re gonna drop information in the mail to them, simultaneously. They’re gonna get a big package of mail. Nobody uses mail anymore. That’s why I use mail. I’m the only one there.

So, I go there, and they’re gonna get information about our processes, our people. It’s gonna be commercial specific, and it will have a commercial survey in there, depending on what type of work they’re gonna have us to do. Interior or exterior. It’s important, and you’ll see why it’s even more important … So, before we get there, we have promised them, “Well, Mr. Jones, over the next few days, I just want you to know you’re gonna be getting some communications from us via email and then mail. When you get that survey, it’s important that you fill that out before we arrive, because we wanna make sure that we have all the information we need to give you a good bid, and once we get the project underway, there will be no surprises. Because we know exactly what you need at your business.” That’s what Melvin wants to hear. No surprises.

So, we’re gonna do that in advance. We’re gonna show up, and we’re gonna bring a gift based on whatever information they give us during the intake process. You form an impression of somebody in the first seven seconds that you meet them, and to undo that first seven second impression is very expensive, and it takes a long time, and it’s time you do not have. So we’re gonna give them a gift when we show up in the first seven seconds, because we want to make sure that we have a good impression. For 20% of the population, gifting is their love language. You don’t know who it is, but it makes a big deal, and it’s gonna be based on what they told us. In which case they’re gonna be like, “Holy crap, this person was listening on the phone. They were able to listen and then take an action on the way here, which means they’re probably pretty bright. There won’t be any problems.”

It’s more than just bribery, and it is that, good old bribery. Look around the PDCA here. You have your Sherwoods, bribing them, spend more, buying them. Everybody’s bribing. But they have company policies against bribing. Weird, weird, weird. Okay. Goose, gander.

Overview. I’ve got two big pet … I’ve got lots of pet peeves, this is one of my biggest one. It doesn’t matter if you walk into a house, you walk into a commercial situation, people walk in and they go, “What we looking at here today, boss? What we looking at?” Like a dog or something. You need [inaudible 00:56:48]. It’s weird. And the thing is, when you do ride-alongs with people, the poor old customer is so damn confused. You show up, they expect you to kinda tell them what’s gonna happen here, and yet you pitch the ball to them, “Hey Suzy, what we looking at here?” And she’s like, “Um, uh.” And I see it happening, ’cause I do [inaudible 00:57:11]. “Uh, uh, well, well, well…” And then it takes about three seconds, she’s like, “I need something painted.”

You’ve gotta remember, you do estimates everyday. They don’t get them that much. You should know what’s going on and be able to tell them what’s gonna happen. So, we do an overview. “Well Mr. Creston, thank you for coming today. Let me talk to you a little bit about what we’re gonna be doing today, and what I hope we’re able to accomplish. First thing we’re gonna do is dah, dah, dah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And at the end of this, hopefully you and I will get to do business together. Does that sound okay?” “Great.” “Well, first let’s start with your survey.”

When you go to a doctor’s office, or an attorney’s office, or your accountant, what happens when you sit down? They ask questions. Have you ever walked into a doctor’s office and he just go, “What are we lookin at here? Here’s some Advil. I gotcha.” They don’t do that shit, but we do it. Is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. If you wanna get paid like a white-collar professional, you better kinda act like one. If you act like a craftsman, you’ll get paid like a craftsman. If you act like a white-collar professional, you get paid like a white-collar professional.

There is a dividing line. White-collar professional salesperson is in charge right up until here. Once the order is signed, the craftsman needs to take over and make sure that the promises we made over here show up over here. And then the craftsman goes to sleep, and then the salesperson and the marketer has to start the whole process over again. It’s like a sandwich. Sales, craftsmanship, sales. But what we do is craftsmanship, craftsmanship, craftsmanship. Good luck to you. Does not work very well.

So when we walk up, we’re gonna diagnose. We’re not gonna sell. We’re gonna sit down and we’re gonna ask a lot of questions based on the survey. It is almost impossible to get yourself in trouble asking questions. Just like if you go to a cocktail party and you spend all evening asking somebody about themselves, they will tell you you are the best conversationalist they ever met. ‘Cause people like to talk about themselves. You ask Melvin about his stuff, he’ll talk your ear off. And if you are not very confident in your sales ability, taking a diagnostic approach is probably one of the safest things you can do, and especially when you go to hire an estimator. You don’t have to hire a salesperson, you just have to hire somebody who’s honest and trustworthy and who can measure.

So, we’re gonna start off with a diagnostic process. The second thing we’re gonna do is put on a show when we measure. It has nothing to do with what you need. “I don’t need to do all that to give them a price.” Nope, you don’t. You might need to do all that to get their money, though. Jeez, people, come on, this is sales. So you gotta look up, and you gotta hem, and you gotta haw, and you gotta measure, and you gotta take out your stuff and some magic dust and a potion, and you gotta do a dance and shit. So they think that you’ve really tried hard, and there will be no problems.

When you go to a restaurant and you make a complicated order and people do not write it down, what happens? It is gonna get … “Meatloaf, you get…” Banana nut bread comes out, “What happened here?” “Oh, well I’ve got a photographic memory, you see.” No you don’t. You never do. And if you don’t look like you’re … Now, if you go out and make a big show of it, and if it looks like it’s really complicated and hard and you’re getting all this stuff, and then JimBob comes behind you and goes, “Say, two, man. Three days. Two days. That’ll be. Yeah, it’s about three. I think I’ve seen everything I need to see here.” They’re thinking, “There’s gonna be problems, there will be lots of problems with this one.”

That’s what you want them to feel. Now, you may be able to do that and maybe you’re actually … I’ve got some guys who are doing that. They’re measuring and they’re doing all this crap and then they go, “For about two or three guys, [inaudible 01:01:18].” And they’re still doing it, but they don’t look like they’re doing it. You can still be eyeballing, and that’s all well and good as long as you don’t lose your butt. That’s fine. I don’t wanna try to change people’s habits there. I’ll let other people do that. I’m all about selling the stuff.

But P.T. Barnum knew that it’s about the promotion, it’s about the show. You’ve got to give people a show. You may not think that it’s performance, but by golly, you’re performing, and if you perform well, they’ll pay you lots of money. If you perform poorly, they will pay you poorly. You must perform. It’s a performance. The leave behind book. They don’t trust you. For good reason. Our industry is terrible. Awful. Show up at Sherwin-Williams in the morning and look around. It aint a dinner party. It’s not. [inaudible 01:02:16]. And everybody gets upset. Whatever. Politics. Look around. They’re lazy thieves. I was in both politics and painting, I prefer the painters. That’s why I’m here.

But I have no illusions about what my industry was like. That’s why I address the problems that people had in their mind. If you don’t talk about it, it’s not as if it goes away. They’re still thinking it. Best you talk about it. So, 72-96 hours. We can’t leave to go do the on the spot estimate, which in many cases, we would still do in commercial, and let them start checking emails and playing Angry Birds, ’cause we’re losing an opportunity to sell them.

When I worked at my business, we had a leave behind book that was full of surveys and testimonials and everything. It was a three-ring binder and it was this thick. And I would walk up and go, “Well, we’re gonna go out here and look at stuff, and here. Why don’t you look through this puppy right here while I’m out there. And there’ll be a quiz when I come back. And why don’t you tell me what you think.” They start flipping in there. Nevil and Mama and the facility and everybody just said how wonderful we were, and we awards and pictures and papers and stuff. And you put a little yellow sheet in the middle that said, “Are you really reading this?” And they’d giggle at it when they came back in, ’cause they’d actually read it. You put it in the middle.

If you’re reading this, there will be a prize. You’ve got to. They don’t believe you. They should not believe you. They’ve been lied to all their life. Their politicians are lying to them. Their religious leaders are lying to them. Painters have already lied to them in the past. They think you’re there to lie, so you’ve got to give them proof. Other than you just telling them that you’re a good person, and you’ve been licensed and bonded, in the business since 1435 B.C, and your daddy started the painting business back before the Great Depression, so on and so forth. You gotta give them more.

So we’re gonna leave that leave behind book with them. Then we’re gonna do the company story book when we come back in. If you do not spell out a difference, there is none. People are always upset because they lose the price. And I start quizzing them on their estimate process, and I go, “Well, when in the process do you talk about maybe how your products, your processes, or your people are different?” “Well, they should know. They should be able to tell.” With what? A crystal ball and Ouija board? Slick, these people have to be spoonfed this stuff, or they do not know.

If you don’t spell out a difference, they can’t see a difference. How are they supposed to pay you more if you don’t give them a reason to pay you more. You can’t. You can’t. They will not. It’s a residential or a commercial, it’s the same thing. It’s a slightly different message, but what are we worried about in commercial? Same crap we’re worried about in residential, you have to paint it a little bit differently. Now, the husband is not complaining, the workers are complaining. Everybody is complaining about now you’re not leaving the mess at the home, you’re leaving a mess somewhere else. Same crap.

People are like, this always kills me, “Oh I’m just a different business. I’m just. We do lots of commercial. Just different. We’re completely different than residential. Whew, completely different.” And I always ask them, “Where does that person go when they leave at the end of the day?” Their car. Home. They live in a residence. They’re the same damn people, they just go to a different building and they do stuff for eight hours here, and then they go right back there. They’re the same people. They’re humans. They have the same worries, fears, and concerns. They’re just slightly different. The process is the same.

On the spot estimates. Who is emailing their estimates in here? Stop it. Stop this crap. It’s insane. You are losing money, hemorrhaging it. Write it down, that I’m never gonna email an estimate again, please. You will make … I want you to send me some of the money you’re gonna make. If you still do your same process, you incorporated nothing that I have said here today. You have had earwax in your ears the whole PDCA conference. You’ve learned nothing. Nothing. Right that down. Quit emailing my estimates. And you’ll make more money, and I want you to send me a royalty check. I’m only gonna take 5%.

But when you start doing this, you’re gonna see three things. Your closing rates go up. You can charge more money for the same estimate, and it takes less time. Do you know how much time it takes to leave a place, forget it, and go have a cup of coffee, see three other estimates, get home tired at about 6:30 PM and start trying to remember what the hell you did. Take it out, put it back on the table, and then get confused by the this other thing, and your kid runs in, and then the wife needs the trash taken out, and then now you got … Now it’s day two, because you had a [inaudible 01:07:08]. Now you’ve got 12 of the bastards piled up on the desk. And you can’t remember anything.

Yes, let me get through this rambling. And not only that, how many of you get on the phone with people, chasing fundamentally stupid stuff all day? “Did you get the estimate? Did you check your spam? Oh sometimes it goes in spam. Oh you got it, but you didn’t read it. Oh you read it, but you didn’t read it closely. Oh you read it, but now you’re confused.” You’re 15 calls into this process. When you take the stupid estimate and you put it under somebody’s nose, and you say, “Let me talk to you what’s here. Let me walk you through this.” You know they saw it. You know they got it. You know they read it. You know it’s thoroughly explained.

So when you call them, there’s none of this 15 emails of, “Did you get the email? Did you check your spam? Did you read it? Did you open it?” You just wanna lay down on the floor. It’s stupid. It’s stupid. Number two, cheap stuff is sold by email. Who’s selling houses by email? Anybody ever bought a house by email? You get an email, “I got a house for sale.” And you just kinda buy it? Cars. Life insurance. If it’s important and expensive, it’s sold face to face in our culture, and if you try to sell it through an email, you’re stupid. It can’t be done. It can be done, just not as well.

Success is over here. Don’t pile up a bunch of barriers between you and success. It’s hard enough to get their money. It’s impossible when you put up all these artificial barriers. Quit emailing your estimates.

Yes ma’am?

[inaudible 01:08:48] even most [inaudible 01:08:51], but what if you looked at something really unique [crosstalk 01:08:52].

Sometimes you do actually have to do this. Now, if that’s the case, especially commercial, it’s worth $1 million. Come back. Come back. Present it in person. It’s expensive. How many of you, if you took your wife … You found out your wife had a heart condition, and she needed to be operated on by a surgeon, and you went and saw the surgeon and he said, “Well, that ticker’s lookin pretty rough. I’ll email you something.” You look over at your wife and go, “Let’s get the f out of here. He ain’t cutting on you.” But yet, we wanna ask for the same amount of money. Our services were worth about $100,000. We’re asking for $100,000 and we wanna sell it by email. Shoes and beans are sold by email. Not this stuff. Too expensive. You’re crazy. Quit doing it. You wanna argue with me about it later, that’s fine, but don’t poison the minds of the people in this room of this email business. It’s wrong.

Post-position. We use post-position landmines. Teaches them how to hire a residential or a commercial painter, and then it gives them the preponderous proof in summary of why they should hire us, and why you should ask for this information if anybody else comes behind us, because this is what you really need. Now, most of these guys, unlike residential people, don’t bite on this as hard, but here’s the thing, it shows that we care. It shows that we’re professional, and it gives them a pile of proof. I believe strongly in leading people with tangible things in a digital world.

Who reads as much out of the APC online edition as they read out of the magazine? Same amount of volume. Who reads more out of the magazine than they read out of the e-newsletter. Who’s the reverse? Nobody. I just did a survey, so if you wanna argue with me, it’s nobody. And you’re the freaking survey group. Stop this stuff. It’s stupid. Yes it’s digital, and it’s nice, and it’s pretty, and it’s worth a lot. That’s great, but it doesn’t work. People do not consume long-form information digitally as well. You can get a little bit in, but a little bit doesn’t always close the deal.

So, multi-step followup programs. I can’t tell you how many people will knock it out of the park, and then when it comes to followup, it is so weak and so wimpy, it’s ridiculous. If you’re not harassing these people by mail, email, and phone, and by going to see them, especially commercial, physically showing up. “Hey, Earl, I haven’t heard from you and I’m right here in your office. And I think you got $100,000 I’d like to have. Can we do business here?” We gotta quit being lazy about our businesses. It’s too important, especially in commercial.

Now, you don’t have to go see mama about her bedroom. You probably still need to call her and email her and get a system set up. But when Earl’s got a $100,000 job, go see his ass if he’s not calling you back. It’s expensive. You already paid. You’ve been through this process. Let’s get some money out of them. Now, after you write these estimates. After you find these decision makers, whether they need an estimate or not, we’re gonna market to them until they do one of two things. Buy or die. If they buy, we’re still gonna market to them. If they die, we’re gonna market to the next guy that comes in their position.

Look at this hole. That’s a bigass hole, man. That’s a bigass hole. Oh, I’m sorry. I heard how that sounded. I didn’t mean for it to sound like that. That’s funny though. That’s funny. People are snickering out there. It’s funny. I would’ve snickered at that. I would’ve probably laughed out loud, ’cause I have a great sense of humor and I’m very crude. So, all they’re looking for itty-bitty diamonds. Itty-bitty diamonds. Tiny things. And they just keep digging, ’cause they keep finding them. Once you find a good lead source. Once you’ve got a good list. What we tend to do as painters, is we kinda get down here and we scratch around a little bit, and we get one. “I caught one, man, I’ve got a bunch.” And we put it in our pocket and we just leave. There’s more diamonds in this mine, but we just stop. It is insane.

[Kristen 01:13:23], will you pass out those papers, those I forgot. So that’s really … She’s gonna pass out some papers. If you wanna meet with me during the trade show. If you’ll just pass those by. I’m gonna be just meeting with people by appointment in the booth, talking about their plan of business. We can talk about customer reactivation, retention, etc, it doesn’t matter. You just fill that out and hand it to this lovely lady, and she’ll help you.

Now, in closing, and I’m gonna take some questions. I’m right on time. I think we’ve got maybe five minutes for questions. Now, most of you in here, having seen what I have just presented, are gonna walk out of here … I’m just gonna tell you the truth. You’re gonna walk out of here and do nothing. Absolutely stone cold nothing. We’re gonna mistake the casual unawareness, or casual awareness of implementing things. They’re not the same. You can be casually aware that a building is on fire, and kind of understand how fire works, but if you don’t leave the building, you’re toast. That’s what most people do. They sit in something like this, and they’re casually aware that they need to contact their past customers. They’re casually aware that they … And they feel like because they are now casually aware of it, that they have done it.

You have done nothing yet. Please do something. Here’s the deal. If you got an invoice for all the money you’re losing in your business at the end of every year, you would change. If you got an invoice for the money you are hemorrhaging, losing, and handing to your competition, you would change. Here’s the deal. Operations is constantly chewing on your hind parts, isn’t it? Mama’s bedroom didn’t get painted right. We got people over at xyz corporation and then you go over there and they’ve got a production schedule. So you’re constantly running pressure washers, and paint cans, and checking on stuff, and making sure invoices arrive, that money is coming in. Because if you don’t do that, what’s operations do? Operations eats your freaking lunch, and you’re in trouble.

Marketing for Commercial Painting Leads

Marketing a Painting Business Effectively

Sales and marketing. You will never get a call from xyz corporation and Bob say, “Hey, I just wanted to call you that I’ve done two things today. I called the Better Business Bureau, and made a complaint. And I just handed a $250,000 job to your competitor because you’re such a crappy marketer. I hope you’re damn happy with yourself.” You will never get that call. Has anybody ever got that call? Complaint to the Better Business Bureau because your poor, crappy marketing habits? Nope. Never will. You have to understand what you’re missing and then do something about it. You are the only stinking person who can fix this problem. You. Not your staff. Not your receptionist. Not your buddy. Not your employees. You. And if you don’t do anything about it, it aint gonna take a t-bone steak off of Brandon Lewis’ table. They’ll come right off of yours. So please take this stuff we’ve talked about today and do something with it.

You just either damn do it or don’t. Just either do it or don’t, but don’t talk to me about it. Don’t talk to everybody else about it, and don’t talk about it around a cocktail table. You just either write down, right now, on the top of all your notes, just seriously, on the top of your notes, either write down yes or damn no. And if it’s no, just wad up the notes and when you leave, throw the damn thing away. You’re not gonna do anything with it anyway. If it’s yes, then frame it, make a checklist, get on the phone and start doing it when you get back to your office. It’s in the doing that things get done.

So, at the [APPC 01:17:01] we put all this on a silver platter for you. I’ve ran people through this process over and over again. We’ve done a few tools and lots of support, and I’m not gonna chew your ear off about it, because they’re very picky about pitching people at the PDCA. They don’t want you to ever be sold anything now. And I’m not gonna sell you anything. I’m not selling you anything now, just in case you were wondering. But if you will hand your order form, I’m just joking, your request form to Kristen, in the back, I’ll talk to you.

If anybody ever talks to you about marketing and sales, and they do not try to sell you, you do not trust that person. Seriously. That would be like if a painter came into your house and he didn’t paint anything, and you would be like, “Hmm, is he a painter? Probably not.” Somebody talks to you about marketing and sales, and they don’t try to market or sell you, that person is a moron. So I’m gonna give you an opportunity to talk to me today. Who has their golden tickets? Gold tickets.

We got one, two, would you hand them … Kristen, would you come get these? If you brought your golden tickets, we’re gonna do a drawing right now, and then I’m gonna take questions. Oh I’ve gotta get to the trade show at like 10:30. I’m meeting people. So I can take a couple of questions. Go ahead. Couple of questions. If you’ve got questions. Questions? Man, I’m so good, nobody ever wants questions. Yes sir?

Mine’s in the hotel room.


Mine’s in the hotel room.

Yours in the hotel room? What’s it say here, must bring … Sorry. Sorry. Yeah, I’m a hardass like that. That’s why the instructions are on the ticket. I’m just joking. I might be able to … I can’t … But I have to do the drawing. Imaginary ticket, okay. Here we go. [Gustavo 01:18:45].

Again? Wow.

Can we give it to somebody else?

Yeah, give it to someone else.

I’ll [inaudible 01:18:49]. Thank you. You’re a lucky son of a bitch. I need to follow you around. Alright, one, two, three. [Joel Hamburg 01:18:58]. There you go Joel. Would you like the ultimate $100,000 trade show marketing toolkit, or the Power Paint quick start painter improvement toolkit. One is for finding painters, the other is for marketing to trade show.


Marketing. Very good. I’ll put a circle on it, and that’s what you’ll get. Questions? ‘Cause I’ve got to sprint over to the show. Yes sir?

: Some of these items that you’ve covered here this morning are kinda fascinating, because PDCA, we do have industry standards, and we do have our craftsmanship forum, so I don’t know how to build what I’m going for, being a PDCA member, and what you’re presenting, because it does make sense. But I don’t know how the [inaudible 01:19:43].

Well, the problem is we don’t have marketing standards. Like, contact your customers. What do you do in sale? That is like wide open. Now, how you paint a handrail, buddy, we got that nailed. Whew. Paint that handrail. Two millimeters and four inches away, and you could see it from 15 yards. It’s like 15 pages of how to paint a handrail … I’m sure, I don’t know, I’ve never looked at it. But we’ve got none for the rest. One person says this. Other person says that. We don’t know if it’s right. We just try to muddle our way through it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality. I wish I could tell you something different, but that’s kinda how … That’s where we are. That’s the state of affairs.

Other questions? Yes sir.

You were talking about when they fill out the survey, they give you the information, one of the things you do when you approach them is you bring a gift.


What type of gift are you bringing?

Depending on what you get … I’ll tell you what, something that’s really nice. I have found, if you go to Amazon, there are lot’s of used … not used, maybe they are used, books on facility management. Facility Manager’s guide to dah, dah, dah, dah, blah, blah, blah. They don’t cost that much money. Some of them are expensive. You can find them in different places. We used to bring that. We used to ask them, “Do you have a favorite football team?” ‘Cause the guys … It’s mainly guys, and there’s a handful of women facility managers, but it’s largely 40 year old men, 50 year old men. That’s usually who you’re going after here.

And we would ask them, “You have a favorite football team?” Or something like that. You only have a handful of SEC people, and if you couldn’t get the football team, you’d get the other thing. And then you’d show up and go, “Hey, I remember we talked on the phone and Suzy asked you dah, dah, dah, dah. We thought we’d bring you this. We wish we had Phil Fulmer back. So on and so forth. If they’re a Tennessee fan. Or whatever.

It’s just nice, because nobody does this crap anymore. It’s like what did you do? “Well, I tweeted to them.” Or something. People don’t care about that. Yes sir, one more question.

Wouldn’t that facility manager book sort of tell the guy, “Here, better learn what you’re doing?”

Yeah, well just … Well, who cares. It’s just the thought that you gave them something. “Hey, we always give this to people, in fact this was recommended to me by one of our best clients over at dah, dah, dah, dah. He said he got a lot of helpful stuff out of it. We always bring this when we go on a commercial estimate.” So, I don’t know. Versus what? Nothing. That’s usually what people’s alternative are. “Well what would you do different?” “I don’t know.” Well then do this instead. This is better than nothing. That’s what I always tell people.

Guys, you’ve been exceptionally kind. I appreciate your time and attention. Go make some money from your employees.

Your Friend in Repaint Profits,

Brandon Lewis, MBA
Marketing Department Director

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