Well, happy Friday, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Service Legend podcast. This is actually episode number 44, So super exciting. We’re moving this this whole community along. And today we have a very special guest, someone that’s going to be able to bring just massive amounts of wisdom to us today. John Busk. Busk, is it busk? Yeah, yeah, busk. Want to make sure I got that right, man. Welcome to the show.
Yeah, thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here. Yeah. A happy Friday.
Yeah, it is. You know, kind of the start to the summer. Um, before we jump in, how kind of the start to the summer going for you guys in the business and the market over there?
Things are booming, for sure. Like, definitely Summer’s in full gear. Maybe not weather wise, actually here in Northern California, but. But yeah, gas pedals to the metal. So.
Love it, love it, love it, love it. Um, well, for those of you that don’t know John, if you guys are in the painting industry, maybe associated with the maybe you’re a member, maybe you’ve gone to the Expos, you might know. John But for those of you that don’t, he’s a visionary leader and a third generation owner of Bob Kunst Painting Inc, hailing from Sain San Rafael, California, John’s expertise in the residential and commercial painting industry is unparalleled with a passion for innovation. He is also the co-founder of Work Glue. Com So super excited to jump into that which is revolutionizing communication with construction teams. Join us as we explore John’s remarkable journey, his invaluable contributions to the industry and his commitment to pushing the boundaries of success. Here we go. That’s that’s my bio and intro, but could you give us a little bit more than that? There’s so much to your story. I was talking to you, you know, I was researching all of your stuff. It’s so impressive from CFO stuff. And just give us maybe kind of some sort of an origin story, maybe kind of kind of insert in there some of the third generation stuff and kind of give us a little insight to you.
Man Yeah, absolutely. So I started off painting when I came out of the womb. Um, so yeah, I’m a third generation in our family business, but I’m actually a fifth generation painter. And our family, um, great great grandfather immigrated from Germany over to New York. And as they built the railroads and headed west, he his actual profession was painting the rail cars as they came out and maintain those. And then his sons started a manufacturing company called Kuntz Brothers Paints. They had seven stores throughout Northern California and Central California. And then, um, the back then they didn’t have insurance and such. So main factory in San Francisco caught fire back when they had all those oil based products and everything, and they lost everything. They didn’t have insurance back then. So my grandfather got into contracting and started Bob Kuntz painting. So then my father, who is the reason why my last name is Bucic, is because my mom is my mom is a Kunst, not my dad. So. So I’ve taken it over since.
It was your grandfather that started it. What year was that?
John That was 1958. Wow.
Yeah. Just as Jason Paris, I’m sure all of you know, I think he’s been on this podcast as he said he yeah Bob Kuntz was just a dream in a rush so so I’m lucky to take the take the reins of that several years of hard work that he’s put in and continue on. So yeah, love that.
And I also so I went off to college. I growing up in the painting industry, I always worked the summers and stuff, so I knew the painting business and I knew I wanted nothing. Part of it. I wanted no part of it. I wanted to go to college and I wanted to get in far away from it as possible. So I did. That had a pretty cool time. Went to Chico State in Northern California and then got a job in the corporate world. And after about 14 months of that, I absolutely hated my life and wanted to go back to, surprisingly, the painting business. So I did that and I haven’t looked back since.
Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, obviously you had the entrepreneur bug a little bit there. Um, what’s interesting, there’s many things we can poke on there, but um, when you decided and got that entrepreneur bug and you said, Hey, I’m going back to the painting industry, I’m sure there was a, you know, a period of time there, however long it was where you were, you had that entrepreneur bug. You were thinking about starting something you didn’t like where you were at, but you wanted to start something. What made you go back to painting versus anything else you were thinking of that, you know, at that time?
And that’s a great question. You know, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I just remember I was talking to my buddies the other day. We just got together for a little high school thing and they’re like, Hey, do you remember the time that you charged all of us for the prom bus and paid for like three buses and you, like, made thousands of dollars off that? And I said, Yeah, it was just an idea that I had. I put together three large tour buses to take everyone to prom in the city, and and I made a pretty good profit on that. So from I’ve always been that kind of guy. I’ve always looking to, to find new ways of, of being creative in that sense. Um, but. I was also. So it wasn’t like this, this going back to the painting industry. It wasn’t like this aha moment of like, Man, I want to start something. I’m going to go back to the family business. It was more of I hated my life at the time. I hated my job. I did a lot of travel.
Was that when you were a, um, the CFO?
Now, this was I had a short stint as a corporate recruiter, and I did that. And. Traveled a lot and such and so. I was getting married at the time. My wife was then pregnant, so I knew I had to kind of settle down a little bit and figure things out. And my father and I had a conversation. He’s like, You know, you should really you’d be really good at this. So I came back, had a good conversation, and I said, okay, well, I’ll come for six months and and the rest is history.
So yeah, that’s awesome. And what’s interesting about your story is, you know. Probably like your grandfather and your father. They didn’t have the experience You did. I mean, because think about it. I mean, CFO, accounting, financials, you got recruiting, hiring people, personalities. Um, and but their leadership kind of leading up to this and then kind of you doing those, the CFO and those and those and, you know, and those experiences, do you feel like that kind of helped you kind of hit the ground running when you started the business? You know, all those different experiences?
Yes, Yes and no. A lot of it was trial and error, like most entrepreneurs, fail, fail, fail until you succeed. Right.
Don’t know what you’re talking about. You know, Have no clue. No.
So what happened was, is I was I came back to the painting industry with my dad and he said, Hey, you’re going to paint and earn the respect of the crew before I can just put you in the office. So I did that. And while that was happening about a year in our main office manager who really ran the office and all the tech and everything, did all the invoicing and everything, we were a small company back then, like 1.2 million, 1.5. Um, well, she had an emergency and went to the hospital and never came back. So I had to pick, got brought into the office and I had to pick up the pieces. I taught myself QuickBooks. I taught myself how to shop insurance, you know, through obviously through advisors and stuff, through local advisors that I made. But but yeah, I had it was trial and error, trial and error and figure it out and through that process is actually how separately little plug separately is how the software business was created. Because I originally did that as I was going through this process to professionalize my painting company, I realized that there weren’t tools out there, so I created one.
Yeah, I mean, that’s the best way to create or, you know, to bring a product to the marketplace is to just solve those problems. So that’s, that’s pretty interesting. Um, and then what’s also interesting is for those of you guys that are live, thank you guys for being live. If you guys can relate with that problem that John just mentioned, uh, of of of of having a company maybe low seven figures or, or around there. And you have a smaller team, probably ten or less around there and you have a key team member leave for whatever reason, putting comments, if you can relate with that, where you had to step in and figure it out, X, Y, z. The cool thing about the next kind of, uh, transition here is John’s already been through all of it, right? And he’s been where you’re at. So if you are at that place or you’ve been at that place. Give us some engagement in the comments. Put in hashtag, you know, me or whatever you’d like to let us know. Because what we’re going to get into now is, um, you know, all of those other things on how to solve it and then we’ll get into Work Glue and a couple other things. But as you started that business, um. To now. Could you give us a little bit of just foundation information of the business, maybe size of team, kind of what services you offer? And I know that you in your company really focus on some high end work and it’s something that you guys are really well known for. So if you could talk to us about that as well, that would be awesome.
So when I came in, like I said, we were doing about one point to 1.5 million. It was my father, my uncle, an office manager, and about 10 to 12 painters. I quickly realized that as I got into the office that, you know, there was a big opportunity for us to press the button on marketing a little bit. We didn’t do any marketing. It was all referral based. So luckily again, I’m stepping into a company that is multigenerational, so our brand and name is out there in the community and that it was strong. So I realized that if I just push the marketing just a little bit, we could ramp up. So we quickly went to 1820 guys and currently we’re around 30. 25 to 30 is where we are out in the field painting and we’ve still maintained most of our leads through that referral network. And that’s that’s kind of the high end market, really. If you don’t know, you’re not plugged into a lot of these people that most people aren’t Googling, painting, contractor in your community. These people are usually through their house manager, through their general contractor, architect or designer. Those people are the ones who have the foot in the door and you develop relationships with. And those those are the those are the access points. And that’s what’s really those relationships of what we focused on, on servicing those. And that’s what allowed us to grow over time.
Yeah, it’s very interesting. Um, I mean, the industry is growing rapidly. I mean, the PCR is growing. I know you’ve been involved there. Um, and like you mentioned, Jason Paris being on the podcast. Nick Slavik I, I’m really connected some on the surface level, some deeper with these industry leaders and the trends and like I’m sure you are and the majority of our industry is the opposite of that. You know, as they start and you know, they’re looking for basically any job that, you know, that’s going to pay. And but, you know, as you start to grow and develop your team, maybe you’re 1,000,001.5, you start to kind of realize, okay, what am I doing here? I got to build a team, systemize this thing out if you want to get it to 3 or 5, etcetera. And I want to ask you a lot of the listeners here, whether live or on replay, a lot of our listeners are on Apple and Spotify and replay and I imagine they are there in that in that pickle that you were probably in. Could you speak to us a little bit about that decision making there and that decision to kind of focus on high end maybe why you decided to do that and just some insights that you can share there?
Yeah, good question. I think it depends on what type of business you want to run. There is a little more personal touch involved. Let’s be honest, it’s a little more kid gloves with customers when it comes to that world. But most of it comes down to it’s not much different than any service you’re offering a service. You just need to offer it at a premium level. And we just basically our basic model here is, is do what you say you’re going to do. It’s that simple. And communicate well. Painting is I always tell people painting is the actual easy part. Yeah. So. So, yeah. So my advice would be if you want to get into that market, you need to heavily double down on relationship building because that’s the access point. And if you have you have the appetite for it, you have to have the personality and appetite for that market. If you don’t, it’s probably a difficult, difficult space to be. But it’s also an area that I’m learning to grow a team in that market as well. So they represent your brand and still carry on that level of service. It’s a little more challenging than saying doing just the average repaint residential job, right? It’s easier to multiply that versus very custom stuff. So so training is huge and hiring like anything, hiring the right people. But double down on on your staff to be able to do that.
Yeah, it’s like a whole different business model if it’s, you know, let’s say at least 70% or more of the of the revenue contribution, It’s, you know, it’s a whole different business model in some senses. Um, so that’s, yeah, that’s very interesting. You know, very interesting also to you mentioned about the marketing side. You know, as you know, as most contractors are starting out, you know, in the painting industry, um, you’ve got to get business, especially if it’s a new brand. You’ve got to get your yourself to a certain foundation to where you can even think like this unless you started that from the, from the start with some resources and some funding or something like that. But um, I want to learn more about that real quick and how important because you touched on it, the brand was so important and the reputation was so important to even kind of get into this ball game. Um, could you talk to us a little bit about branding your painting business and kind of how important that is for you guys was I noticed there’s rap trucks and, you know, your guys are happy and engaged and there’s pictures, you know, all those things. Um, just speak to us a little bit about brand and how important that is for you guys.
Yeah, I think we, we do very little marketing per se, like direct marketing to for, for leads. We’re all about our marketing dollars are spent on branding. So when I came in and like I said, we didn’t really do any marketing, we didn’t do any branding, we had a we had a logo that was kind of half assed, to be honest. It was terrible when I got here. So I did a whole rebrand. When I got in, marked all the trucks, started job signs, kind of low hanging fruit like we all do. Um, and from there I’ve really gotten into finding the spaces that people hang out. So a lot of the high end magazines I advertise in that I’m not saying call one 800. No, it’s just here’s our logo, Here’s, you know, hire a professional. Boom. Keep it simple.
It’s like top of mind. Top of mind. Top of mind. Yeah, Top of mind.
I don’t do any. Once in a while. I do a little. Do a little social media boost, Facebook boost or Instagram and stuff like that. All of it is remaining consistent. And your brand, wherever you put it, it’s and finding your ideal customer, where do they hang out? So it’s no different than anything else but that people are doing out there. But it’s a real focus on just peace of mind, you know, naming the community, naming the community. We sponsor every little league that’s within our area. So we do 26 little leagues of the areas we serve. We have a sign out there that’s also soccer teams, travel ball teams. I mean, we’re heavily involved in the community and that’s where we spend most of our marketing because that’s where a lot of people hang out. Um. And we do very little online paid marketing. Our online marketing is all about brand. We do a daily Post and Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn. I’m heavily engaged with all of that, but none of it is paid for. And if that makes sense.
Yeah, like it’s it’s a different purpose going into that, that, that marketing spend, I guess you could call it. Um, what’s interesting about that too is so at server such and our, you know, our one of our mantras is more profit, more freedom, more impact. And it just kind of goes in this concept of ultimately the biggest thing that we want to do here in our home service companies is make impact, which impacts the way I define that in our mantra is you have an impact on your team, your employees, your customers and your community. You know, that’s what we should be doing. It’s not just about making money. You know, obviously, that’s that’s that’s important. But we want to make an impact and have a purpose here in our lives. And that starts with profit first. You can’t really do anything without having some revenue. You can’t hire people, get new software, new trucks, you know, you know, like the branding. So we got to focus on that lead to cell cycle generating leads and opportunities, getting that kind of that foundation set. And then we can have freedom because now we’re not doing everything ourselves as an owner. We can hire team members, we can empower them. We have some freedom back to work on the business. And then ultimately, once all that systemized, we have the strategy, the systems, the people, all those things that you’ve kind of figured out here, you know, you have the opportunity to have an impact on your team and you can pay them more and give them better trucks. And I really love that aspect of really making the impact in the community. And I think when you do those things the right way, um, you know, you see a lot of fruit from that. So it’s really cool to hear you say that.
Um, you know.
Ryan That’s, that’s a great point. So yeah, this might sound super egotistical and I don’t mean it to, but it kind of is like there’s ego there. Like I take great pride in being a profitable company and putting it right back into the community, whether it’s through advertising and supporting all of these different organizations within our within our community that we live. But it’s also like we do, we do give away projects and we’re able to attend fundraisers and make donations. And like to me that is like the whole circle. Um, and to be able to be in a spot that I, I realize like if you’re just starting out your business, like you’re like, Dude, I’m just trying to make payroll this week so you can tone that down. So I get that. But, but what fires me up and kept me going in the early days of trying to get to that was the thought of, Wow, I really want my business to look like this in ten, 12 years. So, so that’s what I’m just putting that out there of like if you’re like wondering sometimes like on this hamster wheel of trying to make payroll and trying to get your business to that one next step, that is something that keep in the back of your mind of why you’re doing it.
So yeah, love that, Love that. Um, now.
I haven’t figured.
It all out either. I’m still. Yeah.
When you do, you let me know, all right? You let me know. And then I’m going to build a course, and we’re going to sell it. No, I’m just kidding. Um, but, um, I want to touch on residential versus commercial. That’s a common topic of discussion in, you know, the painting contractor Facebook group that Tanner runs. And, you know, when I was at the expo, um, you know, on the panel, you know, it, you know, I was running a couple table sessions and it’s a very, you know, a common topic. Um, so what percentage of the company is residential versus commercial? And, um, what was your guys’s experience when you, when you started taking over the business? Like, was it like, what was it like then I guess is a better question versus now and kind of just some some details, you know, about those two divisions? Yeah.
So when I came in, we were about 85% residential, 15 commercial. We do some HOA, but not really much. I kind of lump that into commercial a little bit. Um, but we don’t it’s not enough to really write home about don’t do very much industrial either. Um but now we’ve grown that when I’ve come in over the last ten years we’ve shifted that to about 65% residential and the rest commercial. And that’s again focusing on double downing, on your brand, being involved in the community. We have a board member always we represent on Marine Builders Association, which is a local building group. Um, we attend events and such. We do a little business development and try to develop relationships. It’s still the same concept of like building those relationships, but it’s just a different group, right? So now I’m going after property managers and, and, and general contractors who serve that world of that stuff. So that is kind of how we’ve grown that. Um, that said, we’ve actually this last year shifted back to about 75% residential. And the reason why is the commercial market has gone down a little bit. So instead of like trying to reinvest in. And try to land. That work shifted back to residential where people are still investing in their homes. And and so we’re getting we’re able to offset but we’ve had to shift some gears.
Yeah, it’s interesting. Um, you probably don’t know, but, uh, so Service legend will be entering the fifth year of business later this year, and I own a concrete coating company and in Phoenix and it did, like 2 million last year. Probably did like 2.5 this year. It’s it’s kind of a steady thing. And, um, but, um.
What’s interesting is, um, you know, like the fact, like you went down 20%, um, into from residential to commercial, shifted that revenue, added 10% back on from commercial going down. Um, it’s kind of interesting. So what type of residential projects do you guys do normally outside of those big ones, or is all that 75% just all those big, you know?
Yeah, we have.
We do the average repaint like your home. My home probably we would we would paint the outside of those we have the average is just a little bit more difficult for us to compete in that world. Yeah. Um, but people if we find our ideal customer who’s willing to pay a little more premium for our service and communication and and, and such, then we have, we have several existing clients that we do a lot of maintenance. We do a lot of em too. That falls under that type of material work where we just maintain homes where people are. A lot of the homes we work on are second, third, fourth homes. So people are like, Hey, I’m out of town. The house manager calls, calls us and says, Hey there, the this. Mrs. Smith’s out of town. Her and her family are out of town from July 4th through the end of July. If you could get a crew out here to maintain it. And we penciled in the schedule and we know all the products, we kind of we’re we maintain the property. So then we send a crew out, we do whatever’s needed and we build them for the time we’re there.
So that’s almost like Hvac garage doors where there’s like a membership type of. Yeah, that’s very interesting that, that’s I didn’t realize that that type of opportunity or revenue kind of channel was available in that high end market because you don’t have that in the, you know, in regular markets. But like that’s almost like a membership, um, like lifetime value and, you know, those types of things. Wow. That’s interesting.
Yeah, that’s a big market here for us. And again, that takes time. That takes a lot of trust over over the years to build. But people also, you know, these are people are spending anywhere from four, ten, up to $30 million on a home of theirs that we need to maintain. They want to protect their investment. And that’s part of our our role is to protect that investment and do it for them without having them having to wait till it’s too, too far gone and having to spend ten X on it. So we’re able to maintain it on an annual or biannual basis.
Wow, that’s cool. Do you guys have like, Hey, we did your home. If you sign up for our repair program, it’s, you know, five grand a year and we’ll come out. No, we’re.
We’re not that pushy like that.
I’ve about I have thought about.
That, trust me. But what we do do is we do blast out emails based on dates and they say, so we take a chunk of say they painted their residential exterior from this date to this date three years ago. They will get an email from us saying, Hey, you should probably look into a power wash. And there’s a whole gamut of like services that we could come out and help maintain your property to make it last longer.
Wow, that’s awesome. So that’s a big um, if you guys watch the Bradley podcast you like has like this dropping bombs like thing. If I had something like that, maybe I will one day I would do it right now. Because if you guys, you know, let’s say that you’re in business, you’re watching live replay, Apple, Spotify and you’re in business, you’re a painting contractor, maybe you’re doing three, 5 million and you’ve been thinking about doing high end market. Maybe you’re doing some high end market, Maybe it’s something that you want to do. This is really cool. This is an additional revenue source that obviously makes more money for the business, keeps that customer retained. So they’re top of mind all the time. Um, it’s just really cool. And then you get more referrals out of that because they’re telling their friends, Hey, they did this and they take care of me. They, you know, keep us up to date. So very, very good. Uh, ninja hack right there for.
Part of the ninja.
Part of the ninja hack, though it all sounds good until reality, you know.
Reality hits. You got to.
Be freaking organized. And I’m not. You know, we try our best. There’s always areas for improvement, but you have to be so organized in the sense of, like, you need to know everything about that property and communicate that to the field staff. Because if the field staff aren’t following through on the promise that you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re promising you are in a world of trouble. So we try to do is, is put a crew leader with a junior crew leader with them so both get to know the property and if one one of those people leave someone still knows the property and I can send them back out. Otherwise I’m reintroducing it to a new new crew leader. And that takes time for them to get to know the property, the products, the location of everything. Alarm codes. I mean, there’s a whole list of shit that goes beyond painting that. Yeah, super important. And if you don’t write all that stuff down and be documented and stuff like the worst thing, the worst thing you can do is I have a great story real quick. So one time we go to this house, it’s a beautiful home on the ocean right there out of town there in Europe. So we go there, we show up, we get the alarm code from the house manager. He shows us everything really quick. Well, okay. Yeah. My guy takes it in just. Oh, yeah, I got it, man. I got it. Puts it in his head. Well, my guy got sick. He’s out. House manager said I’m showing you because I’m leaving on vacation for two weeks as well. Anyways, long story short, we didn’t have the data to get back in to the house, so we couldn’t show back up. We kept trying to like get into the property, couldn’t contact anyone. Our guy didn’t remember half the stuff anyways. We didn’t maintain the house, we didn’t get that project done. We lost the account. So it was a huge eye opener on like, you need to have your ducks in a row if you want to play this game.
So yeah. Got it. So true.
Sounds simple, but it’s that’s the that’s what separates you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love that, man. That’s a really good point to make. Um, okay, so this is all very, very interesting. Um, and if you could talk about the commercial side as well, is, is that just, you know, is that like bid to owner stuff mainly, or is it more like through the general contractors and kind of like those networks or.
So so we do.
Majority is bid to owners or property manager that’s a lot of repaint so it’s a lot of commercial repaint whether it’s interior or exterior small buildings. You know, we’re not doing high rises or anything like that. I did do my first hotel with a general contractor, new hotel this year. That was an interesting project. It went fairly well and I think we might dabble a little bit more into that world.
That’s to be determined.
Yeah. Yeah. What’s interesting is, um, I was going to say earlier, um, before I started the marketing company and the home service company, I was, uh, well, I was, I worked for a residential painting company in Bakersfield called Steve Holloway Painting, and I was like the sales and marketing manager there. I did sales in the home and then they started a concrete coding division. And so I started doing that. Um, and then I started my marketing company. But um, uh, that business was in business for 40 years when I got there. So it was very interesting to see. And it was probably similar to what you walked into is just seeing all this stuff, a lot of opportunity, a lot of good things being done, but a lot of opportunity for technology and different things and culture and leadership. But before that, I was a commercial estimator for a large flooring company that did like carpet tile, but they also did concrete coatings, sealed concrete for like Fedex, UPS, all these different things. And I, I mentioned this because, um, I would do a lot of those, you know, those commercial related things take offs and the building relationships with project managers and GCS and, you know, architects and all these different things. And it’s a very interesting world. Um, uh, like, do you guys have like project managers in the office that are just doing take offs and all those types of things in the commercial department?
So we have, we kind of bounce between both. Um, I still handle quite a bit of the estimating. I do have another estimator and I have two project managers, a shop manager, an office manager, slash job coordinator. But we are, we are lacking another estimator right now, so we kind of all dabble. I’m currently looking for actually, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. So a little plug right there.
You guys need a good job and you’re in that area. Yeah. Great company to work for. There you go.
So yeah, so that.
Side of it. I will say though, that one thing we mentioned earlier about the branding of trucks and stuff, that is another golden ticket into the market that you’re serving that I’ve learned is a large percentage of our projects, even repeat projects come from, Hey, I saw your trucks in the neighborhood, so that’s one of the biggest ones.
Yeah, especially in those neighborhoods, for sure. Yeah. Um. Okay. Really, really cool. Um, okay, so how long was it from from from now and until you started taking over the business when you first started doing that?
15 years ago?
Yeah, 15 years. Okay. I want to confirm that on your LinkedIn. Okay. So 15 years, Um, what are some things that because there’s a lot of newer painting companies that are in our Facebook group that listen to this, that are in, you know, between 500 to 1 million, you know, there’s a ton of that. There’s obviously the industry is the majority of less than that. Um, you know, annually and you know top line revenue. But for those folks that are kind of in that range, maybe in the first couple of years or maybe five, ten years, whatever, but less experienced, what are some things that you would recommend that they do, um, that, you know, that are like the right things kind of as they’re like, like with the perspective of scaling the business and then what are, you know, couple things that you’re like, definitely don’t do this.
Right off the top of my head is, is the simple model of model of go back to like, do what you say you’re going to do and follow through with that. If you do that and you communicate well, I think the sky is the limit. So as just Jason. Jason Paris is a good friend of mine, so I quote him a lot because he’s he’s much more elegant with how he delivers things and to the point and he’s so much better at that than I am. So he says it best of like, you know, just stick to your plan if you you’re limited based on what you can do on executing your plan. So it’s so true. So the first thing that I would do is come up with a plan, get involved with groups like you guys that help to there’s there’s a lot of groups that are out there. I’m involved with BTR. They help me quite a bit. Um, and then get your, get your marketing and sales process down. That’s the first start because if you just stay on the hamster wheel of like, Hey, I’m going to take a referral and just get the work done. All you’re not, you’re not really planning, you’re just reacting and just sitting on that hamster wheel where you can come up with sales and marketing plan to where now it’s kind of automated and now you’re able to just service that and you’ve eliminated that piece. I typically like to use a third party to do that, such as you guys. It just offloads a lot and a lot of saves you a lot of time. So that would be step one in my opinion.
Wait, so you’re not saying for them to just do everything themselves and work 80 hours a week.
Could still work 80 hours a week and not do that part if you.
Yeah, there’s a there’s an easier way is what John is telling us. So appreciate that.
And that’s the truth. That’s flat out truth. If you can invest in that and figure out that process, that’s a that’s a big one. And then from the next part is building a core team. So and that could be two people. That could be three people. And those people are infectious and they attract other good people. So and I always double down on those people. I treat my people really, really well. I think at least. Am I perfect? Hell, no. I have so much to learn. Sometimes I’m like, Oh, that’s a good idea. I should have probably done that for my guys, you know? Um, so. So I think that those two things will grow both at the same time and then you’re able to because that’s the two pieces of the puzzle, right? I need more sales. I need more sales. Okay. Now I got the sales, now I got to build, do the work. So and then the other piece, then you get to the next level is how do I bring that key employee in that can help me manage this thing. So that’s that’s the big one right there. And I was able to do that a couple of years ago. So I have my right hand person, Miguel, who’s who’s absolutely stellar, and he’s helped us get to the next level. And I’m looking for two more Miguel’s to get us to the next level.
So yeah, that’s awesome. And I’ve heard you talk about people a lot. Um, and you said that you take care of people. I think that’s a big key. And Jason talks about it all the time about the revolution of professionalization. And it’s so important in painting, in the painting industry. Um, and I think people are, you know, part of that. I mean, you have strategy like, hey, how we’re going to paint, right? Like, like, like that’s how you do it. Like you’re good because you have the strategy and the skills and things like that. You have the systems on like, how do I repeat that with people and more people? But then the third thing is like, we have people so like that and the people are so important. Um, and you talk about that a lot. Could you talk to us a lot about how you take care of your people? I think that’s a big need in the space, especially with smaller companies that have no clue how to take care of the people. They don’t have the experience they might not have or mentors, things like that. And so they’re either intentionally or unintentionally. Treating their employees like crap, you know, and I know I’ve done that unintentionally many times, but could you talk to us about people and how do you take care of people?
It’s in my opinion, it’s pretty simple. It’s go above and beyond for them. You know, it’s it’s when they finish a job and they work six hours for the day, but they brought the job in like you pay them eight, you know, and say thank you. There’s just it’s not that complicated in the sense of like be polite, be respectful and be super grateful because they are working not I like to say they work with me. But a lot of times what they’re doing is they’re, you know, we hire, we sell labor, they’re working for the company, they’re working, they’re servicing the people, they’re also servicing the company. So I like to work for customers that are that way as well. Like, hey, thank you very much. You guys did a great job. I want my employees to look at me and our management staff the same. Are we perfect? Hell no. We we screw up a lot on that. You get so busy, right? You’re so busy to the next job. To the next job. And you forget the little pieces sometimes. So recognizing your staff, that’s a big one. Small recognitions of like, Hey, happy birthday. Here’s a $50 birthday card with a card and a little note on appreciation. Thank you very much. Um, so providing vacation. Paid vacation. We do paid 401. That we contribute to profit share 401 K providing all the little things like a gas card or a vehicle or, you know, as you, as you grow and get better, you want to attract top people.
Well, top people require kind of the top stuff, right? Steve Jobs would be the first one to say that. So can we afford what Steve Jobs can on his recruiting budget? I don’t think so. But we can get there in the painting world slowly but surely. And a lot of these are I’m still learning. Um, there’s guys that do it better than me for sure, and I continue to kind of mirror them. Um, and where I find those people is through the PC. So the PCA is Paying Contractors Association. I know you talk about it a lot and I think Paris and Slavic, those guys talk about it. They’re heavily involved too. But it is seriously the spot that I mingle with the people that are better than me. So I can talk to people that are ten, 20 years in front of me in terms of business and size and kind of who I look up to. And they give me a lot of pointers. And I literally have their cell phone and we text each other now and like they’ve stepped up to be my mentors and I’m so grateful for that. And it wouldn’t be for I wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for PCA in that simple little membership and attending things and putting myself out there. So if you’re a younger contractor out there like getting started, that is number one spot to start. If you’re looking for a very cost effective mentorship and quick advancement in your company.
Yeah, same thing for me too, is people are so important here at Service Legend and then that mentorship side is so important, that coaching side. I mean, when I think I got my first coach ever in my life outside of like sports but you know, as an adult, as a real, you know, as an adult getting like a business coach, um, was May 2020. And, you know, I’ve just experienced so much growth since then and just networking, it’s such an amazing place. Um, communities like I’ve heard amazing things. I just had Benji on the podcast talking about stuff. I think we’re going to do a webinar with them. There’s just amazing things. You have the huge, the huge convention coming up in August, so there’s just amazing opportunity out here. You just have to go get it. And John, what’s really cool about your story is it’s just constant, just going after and getting it going after and getting it, Oh, I want high end. Here’s what I got to do. And you have just this can do attitude, you know, and I think that’s such a great energy to have. Could you talk to us a little bit about that? Like, where does that come from and kind of transition that into like leadership? Because I think for someone to run a company like a company, you’re running to have the success that you’re having and, you know, things like that. And, you know, obviously, like, you know, you said it’s not perfect, there’s issues. But talk to us about leadership and kind of how we build this from the kind of from the front.
That’s a good one. Um, I think that for me that that is a core value of mine and I think it stems from when I was in college, when I was in college, I was, I got involved in the outdoor program. Um, we basically were like the, we ran outdoor trips, so I was the trip leader for like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, backpacking all throughout Northern California and a couple other states that.
The way, guys, just so you know what he’s saying. He has a bachelor’s degree in activities and societies, adventure outings, outdoor education. Talk about the coolest thing being early 20s and. Like you’re just outdoors all the time. Like, what a cool, cool deal.
There’s no there’s no money in it, but it’s a good time. Um, so. So, yeah, so in college I did that and then that, that grew me into an opportunity that opened opportunities for me to get into whitewater rafting as a guide. So I went and worked on my summers during college as a whitewater rafting guide, doing multi-day trips throughout all across the West Coast. That got me a job. When I graduated for six months out of Chico, I moved to Fiji and ran a rafting company in Fiji. Well, that transitioned back to I got a marketing director job for my first year. That was my actual real job for whitewater rafting company and I learned a lot of marketing skills there and such. And then, oh, that was oh eight, that hit. And that’s when I unfortunately that stuff kind of faded. But I look back on that, so grateful for that opportunity. And what that did was so putting myself in those those experiences out there where you’re responsible for 25, 30 people on a trip and you have to make decisions on the spot and step up and be a leader for people. Like when things went south, if a storm blew in, you got to set up tents for everyone and all those things and corral people and keep it positive.
And those to me, like I look back on those those experiences that have got me to where I am today. And I think that’s what drives me to be able to like, yes, I have problems, but I can move past that a little bit and get to that next spot. But it all starts back on that plan, having a some sort of plan to work towards or a goal or a goal. So I don’t need to get into all that. But that’s that’s really the core of kind of, I think where that comes from. And I hope it never dies. I hope I don’t ever stop that. Even when I’m retired. I want to be I look at my dad as one of my heroes. He just retired a couple of years ago and it’s so cool to see. I was worried about him retiring because he’s such a busy man. But now he’s he’s involved in so many different little things because he’s always wanting to learn, always wanting to get better. So really cool.
Yeah, it’s awesome. Um, and then, um, as we’re kind of coming to the end here, um, I want to talk about Work Glue a little bit. And I think what would be really fun for the audience is to do like a webinar where you can kind of present the software, like how it works, what it solves. I think we could do that, um, maybe between now and the end of the year. If you’re open to it, I think that’d be really fun. But could you talk to us about like, um, how this came about, the problem that it solved and kind of the, the fundamentals there of the business?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So workflow was a complete accident. Um, I stumbled upon workflow because I needed some tools to run my painting company. I came into a paper driven company and I quickly needed tools to, to scale my business. So there was a bunch of CRMs on the market. So I tried different CRMs and then I found myself, okay, now I need a project management system, a scheduling system, And then I needed document storage. Right? Then I need this is, you know, six, seven years ago and time keeping. So there’s all these different nuggets of your business and they all need to talk to each other. And I found all these things that weren’t really talking today. Thank God they have Zapier. If you’re creative enough and you can you can figure all that world out, go for it. You can do that through multiple applications. But I wanted something simple, so I just built I found a tech guy because I’m in the land of tech here in the Bay Area. Um, my buddy works for LinkedIn. I called him, I said, Hey, this is what I’m trying to build. He finds the perfect guy that’s built the systems for painting companies. He comes over to my office.
Lo and behold, he builds me a little tiny thing that works right that I needed. I go to a conference and a couple of people are like, Hey, what is that? I showed them. They made me come up and present to the whole group of what I was using, and half the room’s like, How do I get it? So I call my tech guy. I said, I think we might have something. And fast forward to today and now there’s thousands of users across the world. So pretty cool too. And that system has developed over time through other contractors that contribute of their opinions and how they think it should be, you know, little features here and there. And we’ve really been strategic in adding new features and stuff to keep it simple. But it’s basically been built on multiple contractors, not just myself. So all I am now is the face, a little bit of work glue. I’m not really involved that much in the company. Um, I have a staff that does most of that, so I just claim to be the co-founder and promote it. But yeah, there’s you can talk to other contractors that use it today.
So yeah, that’s awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome. So an amazing software that was really manufactured by a painting contractor for painting contractors and I think that’s some of the best, uh, products and services that are out there. Um, and that’s why we work with painting. Contractors and concrete coating companies because that’s that’s what I did when I got into home service. Um, and so, you know, it just makes things really relevant very, you know, much more valuable. And if you guys want to learn more about that, you guys can go to work blue.com. And guys if you’re if you’re open to it if you’re on Apple Spotify you can leave us a comment or on the replay here. Um, but if you guys would love a webinar about Work Blue and John I think that would be really cool if you’re open to it. We can get that scheduled. Um, we’d love to kind of basically dissect it a little bit further. Um, and that’d be really, really fun as we kind of come to an end here, um, I always try to ask like, what is the best advice you’ve ever received and the worst advice? Um, so if you could answer that, the best advice, the worst advice you’ve ever received in your kind of professional career, and then any final comments you might have, John, or anything that you want to leave with the audience?
I was I was at a conference probably ten years ago, and the worst advice I ever got was.
You need you.
Need to hammer your people to get to get to where you want. Meaning the guy was talking about production and how important it was to stay on top of your people and monitor them and and really be kind of that top down management. That was probably the worst advice he was. He was an older gentleman, but that was the worst advice I ever had because I left that room going. That is that creates a bad culture, that creates a hamster wheel of garbage. So from there, I’ve always think about that when I find myself in kind of that role of kind of frustrated, top down management, I go back to that and I go, It’s such a good memory for me to like self check, you know? The best advice I ever got was was actually from my grandfather and we’ve carried that ever since. And he said, Never bid a job that can put you out of business. So, um. In the sense that if this job goes south, I cannot cover my my nugget. So I’ve always stuck to that and it’s helped us grow. And sure, we’re not we’re not growing 100 X, but it’s slowly but surely and we’re chipping away and we remain profitable every year. So I think that was that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever got.
And that’s so that’s so awesome, man. Well, thank you so much, John, for your time here. Such an amazing story. I mean, it’s just incredible. Um, and really appreciate that. Uh, for those of you that are tuning in on the regular next week, we have week number five of our five week sales masterclass with Chuck Toki and we have a bonus week the week after that. And I’m going to be releasing the topic of the bonus episode. So tune in to that next week, guys. That is Thursday, June 15th at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, 2 p.m. Eastern time. Uh, and you guys have an amazing weekend. Enjoy your, uh, your summer, and we’ll talk to you guys soon. Thanks, John.
Thanks for having me.