Speaker 1 00:00:11 This is Charlie. Welcome to the quick getting spruce podcast, where we talk about everything related to contractors, construction and information to help you run better businesses.
Speaker 1 00:00:25 Hey guys, welcome back to the quit getting screwed podcast, where we talk about all the ways your business not to get screwed in the construction industry. And part of that is planning on having a better business and improving the business that you have. Um, so today I'm very excited to have a guest with us. Um, she's a guest that is also one of Tom rivers, the contractor fight another coach. And I actually met her at the, um, mile high summit that was, um, in Colorado earlier this year. Uh, and she was actually one of the speakers and I was blown away by all of the information that she had and how very relevant it is and to, um, what does Tom say? Not scaling a turd, right? You want to grow your business, but you want to make sure that it's in, that it's in tip-top shape and then it can produce the things that you want it to produce. So you don't want to grow a business that is crumbling. And so today I have with me Sue Hibah Neil, and she is the owner and founder of the full circle business, which is going to help your business grow with systems and processes and all the things like that. So good mornings through high, but how are
Speaker 2 00:01:34 You? Good morning. Great. And thank you for having me on,
Speaker 1 00:01:38 Thank you so much for being here. Like I was saying, I was so blown away about all the things that you presented on at the mile high summit. It was just amazing. So before we jump into all this great content, tell us kind of who you are, where you started, how you got to where you are now.
Speaker 2 00:01:51 So I actually have known Tom since the, probably close to the beginning of my career in the painting industry. So my father started a company back in 1975 where a residential painting contractor in the suburbs of Philadelphia. And I joined the business in oh five and started attending industry events and met Tom there really early on and actually got roped into joining the board for the residential sector. So it was residential forum focused on residential painting. And, um, it's funny cause I hopped on to help him edit the newsletter. And then he left and I, they held onto me for dear life. And I finally, uh, retired this past year. So 2021 in when our conferences over in September, we kind of, I finally got off of that board, but long story short. So I've been involved in the painting industry by managing our family business and also on the national level with the residential forum for, you know, over a decade.
Speaker 2 00:02:50 Um, and didn't realize it was my gift. Originally, the systems and processes and organization. I didn't realize that other people's brains didn't automatically of like turn everything into a puzzle and figure out how to fit together in the best way possible. And what I always talk about with, um, systems is to try to make it as simple as possible, as easy as possible, which is not exactly the same thing. And then to make it repeatable so you can teach it to somebody and they can do it over and over and over again. Um, so with a lot of encouragement, I guess I launched officially in 2020 after a lot of encouragement from peers and friends within the painting network that told me that all of these systems and processes that built for our business and have been using in our business for years and needed to share them with the world.
Speaker 2 00:03:35 So that was how the full circle was born. Um, I had my first official client in early 2020, we did some one-on-one work and then the lovely pandemic hit. And so we kind of had a little bit of a pause and regrouped and then it kind of did the official full-scale launch in July and have been kind of moving and shaking ever since. So, um, the goal now is like I said, to help other an emergency, it started with just painters cause that's what I knew. And then something told me to reconnect with Tom and now I've opened it up to contractors. What I've discovered is the foundation for all of our businesses. Um, and I call them service-based businesses where you're going in and providing a service to a customer it's really the same. Um, and that's where the circle came into play, which we'll talk about and try to, you know, starting from a point where you can build and create your ideal business. But with that solid foundation, that was the goal with the full circle business on all of these systems and processes that I now teach other people how to use.
Speaker 1 00:04:37 So I just have a question. What kind of effect do you think the system and processes had for the family business that you were in? Kind of tell me what that, what that look like.
Speaker 2 00:04:46 Yeah, and I think one of the things that happens is you talking about earlier, you know, you don't don't scale the turd at a certain point. If you want to, you know, grow your business, you have to hire people. You know, everybody kind of starts out themselves and especially in the painting industry, you know, you've got the brush, you've got to help her, but if you want to grow and scale your business, you're going to have to hire, you're going to have to build out a team. And in order to do that successfully, like I said, you have to have systems that you can teach somebody that are repeatable. So that crew number one and crew number two are doing the same kind of work and the same kind of quality level. So for us, we like to tease kind of grew by accident. Um, but we now have, let me think right now, I think there's 34 guys in the field and I say guys, cause it was all guys.
Speaker 2 00:05:30 Although we interviewed a woman yesterday, so hopefully she'll come on board in the new year. Um, so when you've got 34 employees in the field, you know, in two to three man crews, you've got, you know, 12 to 14 different jobs going at the same time, you really need to have systems and processes that everyone is following so that you have consistency. And also, so you have profitability, which is another thing Tom talks about a lot. If you're not consistent, you can't be profitable. So that's the goal is to, um, have those systems in place. So when you hire a new employee, you can take them through really quickly and get them up and running and trained pretty easily. And then you have that, like you said, that consistency. Um, it's interesting. I have a good friend who has a family business. He's actually third generation who was around the same size as us. And now he's a little bit bigger and he said, it's just, it's easy to hire. Cause you just plug people in because you have systems and processes in place. And you're a painter, you know, here you go, you, this is your foreman, this is your to-do list. And you know, it makes it much easier to grow and scale your business kind of without the stress and chaos because you have some outlines and some systems and processes in place.
Speaker 1 00:06:43 So before we dive into this specific process in circle, I want to talk about today, how does your business full circle business, help businesses reach those goals?
Speaker 2 00:06:53 Um, so like I said, a lot of what I do focuses around productivity and increasing your productivity by getting organized. Um, like I said, it took me a long time to realize that most people are not organized at all. So I have, you know, a couple of different courses, but for me it really all started with this circle, which we're going to talk about and looking at it from a customer perspective, because I think especially in the contracting in the service world, you are providing a service, but you're really all about customer service. So they're in our world, you know, we do a beautiful job painting the house, but if your foreman was grumpy the whole time, that's what you're going to remember. You're not going to remember how beautiful it is cause you expected it to be, you know, nice when they were done anyway.
Speaker 2 00:07:38 But if you have this beautiful room and you had this wonderful experience with the crew that was there while they were working, that takes it to another level. So the goal with this circle is to make it customer focused and use it as a way to build out the systems and processes and train your employees to deliver. I call an exceptional experience every single time. Um, so I do have some other stuff in there around productivity and you know, getting more organized. Um, but this is where it all started for me. So it all started with the circle and also just realizing that everything's connected in your business. So we always think like, and I joke if you read on the front page of my website, it talks about Snoopy and a to Z and the straight line. And you know, it's really not a straight line everything's already connected. And you know, it's either connected in a good way or it's connected in a chaotic way. So in looking at it from that different perspective and literally having that visual and having everybody understand how important their role is in the overall experience of the customer, it allows you to train your whole team to deliver at that same level. If they're, you know, in the office, if they're in the field, you know, if they're answering the phone or if they're meeting people in person, you want to have that same experience across the board with everyone,
Speaker 1 00:08:57 People how to create and implement these processes in their business.
Speaker 2 00:09:01 Yeah. So the other thing I've found is, and that's, I guess a little bit different than the average consultant is people don't have the time or the kind of capacity to build the tools. So for every stop around the circle, there's either a script or a template or some kind of outline of what this should or could look like in your world. But again, it's a kind of, I hate to use the word generic, but it is a generic foundation, but I encourage people to customize it. So that really makes sense for them. So we all kind of are at the same starting point, but I'm not a fan of cookie cutter. And your ideal business is going to look very different than my ideal business. So encourage people first figure out what your sweet spot is, what size you really want to be and how many hours you really want to work, because you could have a huge company and, you know, be working a million hours and making the same amount of money as the guy with the little company that's working, you know, half as many hours. So once you've dialed that in, I really do encourage. And everybody that I work with, if we work with you, one-on-one, we're customizing it. Well, how, what is your business need? How does this fit into what you want to do and what your goals are? So it's kind of, I'd say, 80% done for you. And then you make those tweaks and adjustments so that it really makes sense in your world.
Speaker 1 00:10:15 Okay. So today we're going to dive into the full circle customer experience. Um, so not just customer service as a whole experience, it's the customer's complete journey with your company. And I think, you know, each one of these stops on the circle and if you want to see what the circle looks like, um, it's at, you know, the website, the full circle business, and there'll be links in the show notes, but let's start this journey. Where does someone start on the full customer experience journey in the circle? What is the first stop?
Speaker 2 00:10:43 So it starts kind of at the top and the beginning, I would say, um, which is advertising and marketing. And it's funny to me. So I handle all the advertising and marketing for our family business. I've done it for years, but I also handle the HR and the finance. And it's still kind of shocking to me how many people don't think advertising marketing is important. Well, where are your leads coming from? How are you selling? Where does that work coming from? So for me, and just like I said, because of the way my brain is hardwired, it kind of starts at the beginning. And like it is, it is a circle that goes around and then it literally starts over again. So it's for us, especially in the painting industry where we're in a place where we have all four seasons, you know, it's cyclical and it's seasonal for us.
Speaker 2 00:11:25 So depending on your business and your industry, it is cyclical for everybody. It may be seasonal as well. So we start with advertising and marketing. Um, and if you hop on my website, there is a free version of the circle, which doesn't have all of the details on there that you can download. And then there's another version of the circle that has all these details, which we're going to talk a little bit more about today. Um, and you can also buy a poster, a lot of people that I've found, um, in the painting world. So we're very visual, having that visual reminder can be helpful sometimes. Um, but so for advertising and marketing, it's budget plan, execute and track. So you've got to start with a budget. Like I said, I'm in charge of our money as well as our advertising marketing. And I hate wasting time and I hate wasting money.
Speaker 2 00:12:06 And in, in marketing, I think that's where people get tripped up a lot. Yes, because they don't have a budget and a plan and you end up wasting a lot of time and a lot of money, um, in terms of did it work, did it not work? And that's where the tracking part comes in. Um, so I think it's really important to sit down, you know, get a real idea of who your ideal customer is, where they're hanging out and where you're going to try to get in front of them and connect with them and then, you know, figure out how, and like I said, so it's a budget, it's a plan. How are you going to execute it? And then make sure you're tracking it so that, you know, if it's working or if it isn't working yes.
Speaker 1 00:12:42 Tracking as hugely important because you want to keep doing the same thing. If it's not working now and there and done me wrong, you get to the size business. And there's a lot of like outsourcing that can be done on this level.
Speaker 2 00:12:53 Yeah. And I always make sure that if you're hiring an outsourcing, I've, we've outsourced a good bit of things to the very successfully. But if they tell you, they can't give you a report, that's not a company you want to work with
Speaker 1 00:13:05 So much of, uh, so much of this as a business owner, whatever business and you're, you're in that you don't know what you don't know. Right. A lot of people are coming like, oh my God, I got to do this. I have no idea what it looks like. And, you know, set the budget and then start interviewing companies, or I'm sure you have some great suggestions on that.
Speaker 2 00:13:20 Well, yeah. And I also got real quick, just tell people, like there's a super long list of ways you can market and advertise your business at this point. Like pick your ideal customer, a big target audience and figure out what you're going to do with them. They'll go back to your existing customers. And again, it depends on what kind of business you're in for us. Our goal is like, we want you to become a customer for life because we're in the painting industry. So your exterior needs to be maintained. Your interior probably needs to be updated every time you need something. We want you to call us. So depending on what your business is, a big target audience, your existing customer base. And then I tell people to start with one niche, to like pick one specific service you offer that is really profitable and figure out how to go after that. Because otherwise, like you said, it's overwhelming nowadays, especially with social media and how many platforms there are, um, and how many things you could be throwing money at and, you know, it's not successful. So keep it manageable as you're getting started is the goal.
Speaker 1 00:14:20 Yeah. All right. So some advertising and marketing, what is the next step? Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:14:25 So am I circled its initial call, but it could also be an incoming lead from online somewhere, um, in our world we're really still old fashioned and old school. When I think it speaks a little bit to the, the customer service that we deliver, we answer the phone. And even if you send a website request, the minute we see it, we're going to call you first to see if we can catch you on the phone and actually have a conversation. So the point of that initial quote unquote call is to gather some information, ask them where they heard about you. So that's part of your marketing tracking. Um, and it can be as simple as that asking where did you get our name and number and, you know, making a note of it and putting it into, you know, your CRM or whatever you're using.
Speaker 2 00:15:02 Um, and then really starting the conversation. That's where you kind of build rapport with people. And it's the, that's the first interaction they're going to have with your company. So however that goes, and like I said, in the program, we talk about phone scripts. So you should have a script, but it should feel like a conversation. It shouldn't feel like somebody is run off a bullet list of questions. And they're just checking boxes because that's where you kind of get a sense of what this person is looking to. Do, you know, are they potentially your ideal client or not really? You can kind of, um, in our world because we market and it's, so hyper-targeted very few leads come in that aren't qualified, but I know some people need to pre-qualify as well. So that phone call has a great opportunity to really pre-qualify people. Um, and then now I've confirming appointments because of technology. There's no reason you shouldn't be sending a calendar invite to everybody. Once you hang up the phone, that's a reminder that, Hey, we set our appointment and it just elevates the level of professionalism and makes them feel even that much more confident in you that you kind of, you have your crap together.
Speaker 1 00:16:05 Exactly. And plus like, I don't know, but my calendar fills up. Like if we make an appointment and you take a week, it's gone, you know, or you can take two days that space that I offered you is now gone. Yes. Everybody's that?
Speaker 2 00:16:17 Um, yeah. So the, the goal with that first contact is to really just to start to build a relationship, you know, um, and learn as much as you can about that person. The other thing that happens, and again, like I said, it depends on your business in our world, the person who answers the phone is not the person that shows up to do the estimate. So we try to gather as much information so that estimator slash sales person knows what they're walking into and they can start do, you know, to further the conversation based on the information we gathered. So it goes back to, and really it'll come up. You know, the further we work our way around the circle is everybody owning their piece of the pie. And knowing that they're going to hand it off to somebody after them. And that knowing that that handoff is, is as clean and neat as possible.
Speaker 2 00:16:59 And they did their job to the best of their ability. So you're not worried about, oh, well, you know, Carolyn didn't do a good job on the phone call and she didn't ask the right question. So now I'm walking in blind and I don't know what this customer even wants kind of thing. So I think again, when you have all these systems in place and it's very clear what everyone's role is, it makes it that much easier for each person to just focus on their job and do it, you know, a hundred percent and then handed over to the next person, knowing that they're going to do the same.
Speaker 1 00:17:28 No, cause I find the same thing I'm like, and with my customers, they're pissed off. If they got to tell this story twice and I, and I get it, they shouldn't have to, the person that's giving me the call should be able to tell me what they said. So they don't have to start to have to start all this out. You know, I get it, I get it. I don't want, you know, and so I think you definitely, especially whoever's whoever that initial phone call is, has got to be like a very personable person that you train well on. Here's what we're trying to do, right? Yep. Okay. So from the initial call, we take all that information, then what's the next step after that?
Speaker 2 00:17:59 So then it goes on to the, in our world, we call them estimator still, or the salesperson, whatever it may be. And I know a lot of people do this differently. Um, for us, the estimator and the salesperson are the same. So they go out, we still do things in person. I know a lot of people are doing things with, you know, send me some photos and then we'll have a conversation, but no matter how you go about that process, it's about kind of discovery conversation. And like you said, having those questions answered for us. It's like, you know, where are you looking to paint the interior, the exterior of your house? And, you know, depending on what they say, then you would go down a list of other questions, you know, what rooms are you looking to have done? You know, or when was the last time the exterior of your house was painted?
Speaker 2 00:18:39 Do you know roughly, you know, do you want to change the color? Do you want to leave it little things like that, make it 10 times easier for the estimator to show up and start that discovery conversation and dig deeper into kind of like the why. And I know I went through Sandler sales training, so they talk about, you know, finding the pain point to things. Um, so it starts with again, you know, an introduction and that same energy and that same rapport that the, the person who answered the phone had, so that they're getting that same experience, talk about, you know, timing. So in our world, that's really important. And a lot of times, um, I know it's a little crazy in the contracting world right now because we're all so busy. Um, but it's important to know what timelines are and be realistic with people upfront on, Hey, this is, you know, our general turnaround time is this many weeks or, you know, a month, whatever it may be.
Speaker 2 00:19:28 So talking about timing and being really clear there, um, budget, I think people sometimes get afraid to talk about money, but you really have to have the conversation if you're trying to, you know, decide if this is a viable lead or not. Um, and then last but not least is I think people miss this a lot, um, is follow-up like getting clear about, okay, when I leave here, this is what's going to happen. Can we schedule our follow-up call now? You know, not leaving it open-ended and just handing over, you know, in and hoping they call you back one day. So just being really intentional about asking, when can I follow up with you or setting the time to follow up right then and there, so that it's on your calendar. Like we said, you know, and again, you could send an invite for a followup call, you know, and then it's a reminder for both of you that we're going to circle back around, you know, and talk about this, um, before you make a final decision or make that request.
Speaker 1 00:20:19 So like, you go to you, you do, you go take the pictures, you measure, get all the information and then you tell them, Hey, this is the proposal is going to come. And here's, what's going to look like, and then let's schedule a time to answer any questions kind of thing. Right. And so the new schedule that calendar,
Speaker 2 00:20:34 Right? Yeah. So you can either do that before you leave. We don't generally give prices on the spot unless it's kind of a ballpark. Um, what we'll usually do is come back to the office to double check everything. It goes into our system. We email most estimates out, but then that estimator will follow up with a phone call either that the same day or the next day, just to make sure it went through and reminding them, Hey, if you have questions, you know, we're happy to chat and answer them for you. So
Speaker 1 00:21:00 How often, at least near how often, once you sent that proposal, you sent the price. How often do you follow up and when do you stop? Just kind of ballpark rules. I'm curious.
Speaker 2 00:21:08 It's funny too. Cause I saw a stat the other day about sales that like, it takes people away longer than most salespeople stay, stick with it and follow up. And I know my world on the same way, like I got a quote to redo my roof and then it like took me weeks to call the guy back. Cause life happens, you know, when you've got a million other things going, we do a follow-up call and then we'll send an email a week later, you know, I may do another call two weeks out. And so we usually give him about four to six weeks where we'll continue to quote unquote kind of touch them one way or the other with an email or a phone call until we kind of get a yes or no. Um, and you'd be surprised too. How many people come back two months later and say, you know what, I, I never answered you.
Speaker 2 00:21:49 I'm sorry, but now I'm ready. So we never, you know, we save everything so that if you change your mind, we still have it in our system, but you gotta do, you know, at least four or five touches, I would say, and not like in a pushy way, but just little nudges and reminders that, you know, um, if you've chosen somebody else, we would appreciate if you let us know, so we can close this out in our system, if not, you know, and you still have questions, we're here kind of thing. So not, um, overly pushy, but just, they called you for a reason, you know? So stay on top of it until you get the yes or the no.
Speaker 1 00:22:24 Okay. So we did that and I sign up then what's the next part after that?
Speaker 2 00:22:28 So we move into scheduling, which is the, uh, the bane of most contractors existence. I think, especially if weather comes into play. So in my world, I look at scheduling in two different pieces. So scheduling part one is you call me and say, yes, I want to go ahead with a project. And so now I've got some internal stuff I need to do to get everything lined up and get ready. So, you know, we, in our world, we create a work order. That's going to go to the crew, they know what they're going to do. We have to put it on, figure out where it fits in our schedule, which crew it's going to get assigned to, you know, order materials, all that stuff. So we do all the internal scheduling first. And actually, I will say we send a email for a deposit. So you call me today and say, yes, I want to go ahead with the project.
Speaker 2 00:23:09 I'm going to tell you, we're going to get started on our end to getting things situated. And you're going to get an email from us, requesting the deposit and with, um, we do prep letters actually. So what you need to do to prepare for us to come and what we're going to do when we get to your house, once your interior, once for exterior. So I feel like the more you can tell people upfront what to expect, the better the experience is going to be. Um, then once we do have it on the schedule, we confirm it with the customer officially. Um, cause we may give you a kind of a tentative date or tentative week, and then we'll tell you as things get closer, um, we're going to give you a hard, you know, target and come confirm that with you. Um, and then there's that first day of the job and the things that happen on that first day of the job.
Speaker 2 00:23:52 And then part two of scheduling. And again, like I said, for us, we're in an area in an industry where weather is a factor. Um, we deal with the daily changes to the schedule. So all of our crews check in every day to give us an update on where they are. So sometimes it's weather related and we've got to push things or move things around. Sometimes people add work while you're there. So you had a short project that turns into a big project and that may mean you need to shuffle some things on the schedule, um, or, you know, whatever, it may be, those little daily changes, that's kind of part two of the scheduling, but the front end of it, I think again, like I said, having a system and keeping the customer informed really elevates the experience as well. So they're not waiting and waiting and waiting weeks and weeks and weeks to hear from you.
Speaker 2 00:24:38 So like I sent you my money and now, you know, so just keeping them in the loop as to, you know, what's going on, um, when possible, and it doesn't always work, but we try to add jobs on Friday and start jobs on Monday. But sometimes things happen, you know, and we'll have to call and say, you know, we had a delay on that project before you, the crews got one more day. So we're actually going to start on Tuesday, but just keeping those lines of communication really open between the customer and whoever the scheduling department is, I think is really critical in getting off to a good start.
Speaker 1 00:25:12 I think, I think that's one of the major parts of the client experience, especially in construction and residential is because homeowners have no idea how long it's going to take or what your schedule looks like. And if you don't, if you don't get that expectation clear, then there's going to be problems. And like I talked to pissed off homeowners all the time and they're one of the biggest thing is the lack of communication. If somebody would just tell them, this is what happened, or this is why it happened, there'd be a lot less lawsuits and disputes I'm telling you. So
Speaker 2 00:25:43 Yeah, I think the other thing that happens is we forget when you do something every day, you just assume that other people realize that, oh, this is the process, but it really with customers, you know, you're not painting your house everyday. You're, you're not, you know, doing a huge landscaping project every day. So what, you know, people ask over and over and over again, like I said, we have a prep letter and we send it to you without you even requesting it. And you're like, oh, wait a minute, here you go. This is what to expect. This is what I need to do to get ready. And this is what they're going to do when they get here. So for us, for interior, we asked you to move all the little stuff out of the room and we'll move all the big stuff, you know, to the middle and carpet, you know, and we'll put it back when you're done.
Speaker 2 00:26:24 We're not expecting, you know, the customers to move heavy furniture, you know, to get ready for us. But having that beforehand allows you to be more prepared and not have somebody rang the doorbell and say, okay, I need you to clear all this stuff off of these bookcases. And you know, I need you to take down the drapes. So I think like you said, the goal is to have the best experience possible for the customer. And so sometimes when we slow down and we think about what do we do every day that we know we do everyday, but the customer doesn't know cause they don't do this every day. And just share that information ahead of time instead of playing catch up later on.
Speaker 1 00:27:02 Okay. So we get them on the schedule and we show up and they know what to expect. And we, so what's the next step after scheduling and I sign up and we get them all ready.
Speaker 2 00:27:09 This is production. So that's when the crew shows up to get started. So in this case like execution, customer satisfaction, and obviously this is where the profitability comes into play because this is kind of where you really make or break it with, you know, your gross profit margins and making money on each project you complete. Um, so again, the guys in our world get a really clear work order of what they're doing that first day of the job. They're going to show up, they're going to ring the doorbell. They're going to introduce themselves, are going introduce the crew. They're going to run through everything with the customer and just kind of make sure everything's clear, this is what we're doing, apples to apples. And um, so one of the things that happens in kind of this part of the circle is like, there's a job start checklist that the, the foreman has, you know, and then there's the daily checklist.
Speaker 2 00:27:54 What are we going to do everyday on the job? We're really big about cleaning up every day. You know, even if you're coming back tomorrow and you're back in the same room, clean up every day. Um, and then that, that final, we call it the lap of honor. So a couple of days before you wrap up a project that end of job checklist, these are the things we're going to walk through. We're going to look for, um, to make sure again, that the customer's getting this unbelievable and exceptional experience for us in our painting business, our goal is to exceed your expectations. We don't just want to meet them. You know, we want to kind of go above and beyond and really exceed what your expectations were for when we got there. Um, and it's interesting because I think sometimes we forget that, you know, you get in and you're like, oh, I'm the worker bee.
Speaker 2 00:28:38 And I put my head down and just go to work. The crew has the most interaction with the customer of anybody in your company. And they're the one that really has that chance to make sure that the customer satisfaction ends up where you want it to be at the end of the day. Um, so just again, like I said, looking at this circle and knowing your piece of the pie and how important, you know, cause sometimes they don't realize how important they really are to the overall success of the company. Like, oh, I'm just putting the fence up. No, you're really doing more than that. You know? And, and making sure that they're aware of that helps them to even take more ownership of doing their job really well and also kind of, you know, making sure that they're interacting with the customer in a way, um, that elevates the experience as well. And then again, of course, obviously profitability, you gotta be profitable. Otherwise you're not gonna be in business for too long. So that really comes into play in the production part of things.
Speaker 1 00:29:31 What are some of the ways I'm just curious, I know we're just gonna stop a second on production. What are some of the ways you let, at least in your business, you let everybody know about the circle and like how important their part is. And like, if we don't have a circle, then we can't travel because it's a wheel. And if we don't, you know, we have an uneven wheel, then we're not going to go anywhere. What are some of the things that you do to, to have everybody know that they're part in the circle and how important it is?
Speaker 2 00:29:55 So when we originally created this, we went through it, we do, um, we call them all shop meetings so that everybody's on, on deck and we do them in the fall and the spring before the start of our interior season. And then before the start of our exterior season, just get everybody together and go over, um, anything new and big, like last six months, how do we do, what are our goals for the next six months kind of thing? So when we first, originally finally created this circle, we went through it with everybody. Um, and we actually focused on our two biggest pain points, which was between scheduling and production, you know, and that communication where it becomes a triangle of the customer and the office and the field. Um, and then we do, and we call them for men. A lot of people call them crew leaders.
Speaker 2 00:30:38 We do monthly meetings with our foreman. And so we'll talk about it again then. And again, like I said, the visual, like it's up, you know, so you see it just like our core values are up and you see them when you walk into the shop. So having that visual reminder also helps as well. But we do in every form of meeting, we'll kind of talk about it and reinforce it, um, along with the core values. Um, and anytime there's an issue. And one of the things that I always tell people, and we may come back to this later again too, is like, you gotta try it when you're doing something new for a little bit, you got to track it and then you got to tweak it. So if we are making adjustments to kind of make this flow better, we're going to talk about it next month. You know, what went well, what didn't go, well, what can we adjust? What can we do better kind of thing. So it's never going to be when you're putting something new in place it's not perfect the first time. It's really not possible because it's new. But having that, you know, that space to try to track it, to get that real feedback and then to tweak it so that it gets to the point where, Hey, this is really the best way we can do this piece of the puzzle.
Speaker 1 00:31:40 Everybody's entitled to a shitty first draft. I mean, that's how things get better. Nothing comes out and it's perfect. Right? All right. So we've done the work, whatever painting, whatever customer service you're in. And so, okay, we've done it. What's the next step after the production.
Speaker 2 00:31:56 So then we moved to billing and collections, which hopefully by now you have some money because you've asked for a deposit, but one of the goals here is that it's always accurate. It's done in a timely fashion. Um, so for us, we tend to do 20, 40, 40. So, and it's really clear from the beginning. Again, this is about the other thing this does is it gives you an opportunity to educate your customer on how you operate from the door. So when you get your estimate from us, the bottom, it has the payment terms on it. You know, your contract is good for 90 days. We want 20% deposit and a signed contract. Before we can put you on the schedule. We're going to ask you for 40% when we're halfway. And then we're going to ask you for the balance when we're finished. Cause sometimes the balance changes.
Speaker 2 00:32:39 Um, so once you tell them that's your process, then you have to stick to it. You know? So getting the deposit before that first day, when you start the job, double checking to make sure that it came in and if it didn't in our world, what we'll do is we'll tell the foreman, Hey, you know, we're starting tomorrow, ask for the deposit check. And then, you know, they come back with it on that first day of the job. If for some reason you don't have it ahead of time. Um, again, this is where the communication comes in. The crew lets us know when they're halfway. Cause there's no way for us to really, you've got 12 crews running out there and 12 different jobs. It's a lot to keep track of. They tell us, Hey, I'm going to be halfway tomorrow. You want to send the bill.
Speaker 2 00:33:18 Then you know, they can either call in and make a payment or they can give me the check. And so staying on top of what you said your process was for collecting money. I think the other thing that happens too, I find a lot. So cash flow and revenue are very different numbers and I won't go down a really long tangent here, but you should be collecting on a regular basis to keep your cashflow healthy. You know, like you can make $5 million at the end of the year, but have like very little cash in the bank because you're not doing things in a way that makes sense. So, you know, accurate and timely, you make sure if there's change orders, you get them and you get on the bill and the customer knows they're coming. So you don't have surprises there. And just really staying on top of it through the process.
Speaker 2 00:34:01 Um, again, up comes into play here sometimes. Uh, hopefully if you've gotten 60% getting that last balance, isn't going to be an issue. But if it is at least you have the bulk of your money ahead of time. Um, and then, you know, closing it out. So for us when we're finished and the bill is zeroed out and closed out, that's when we start the process of sending thank you notes or potentially sending a gift. If we're going to send a gift, um, just to kind of close it out on a, on a nicer note and not just like thanks for your money kind of thing. Um, I think that's important.
Speaker 1 00:34:34 All right. So do you collect the last payment while your guys are still there? You'd do like a walkthrough and then collect the last payment or do they leave and collect it? How I know that's kind of like the critical part
Speaker 2 00:34:44 If possible. So yeah, and again, that goes back to communication and depends on the job. So if we know we're going to be done, we know there's no change orders or no extras in them. We've gotten word from the foreman, Hey, I'm going to be done on Friday. We'll send the invoice on Thursday, make a phone call. It says, they're going to be finished tomorrow. You can, you know, give them the check and they leave with it. We take credit cards. Now we try not to do it too too much, but you know, if you want to put it on a credit card, depending on what it is, we'll do that as well. But yeah, to try to close it out as quickly as possible, you know, and our quotes and estimates, it does say that the balance is due upon completion of the work.
Speaker 2 00:35:22 So like we had a guy that said, oh, I thought it was due at the end of the month. Like all my other bills. It's like, no, you know, it's the second door not waiting till the 30th for you to pay us. So it does say that again, that's where the clarity is important. Like what is your process and how are you to get paid and kind of reminding people along the way. Um, so that they don't pretend to be surprised, you know, when they get the final bill and they need to write that check right away.
Speaker 1 00:35:48 So how important do you think like a closeout letter or gift is? Because I know a lot of people talk to them.
Speaker 2 00:35:54 I think everybody gets a thank you note. And, um, it's funny cause I feel like customer services is a dying art, unfortunately, and it's like those little things that can make such a big difference. You know, we've had people that say, you know, in all my years of using contractors, I've never received a gift from anybody, you know, and if you've got somebody that spends 30, 40, $50,000 with you, can you spend a hundred bucks to send them, you know, a gift certificate or, you know, some flowers or whatever it may be that you think will kind of resonate with them if you know them well enough to send them something even a little bit more personal. Um, so I think again, the goal is to exceed expectations. So they're going to remember that after the fact, like you did a
Speaker 1 00:36:37 Few find that that's true, that they do remember it. If you take that extra
Speaker 2 00:36:40 Step, they do. Yeah. And almost everybody. So we do orchid sometimes as well. Um, and you always get a call or a, you know, an email that to say, thank you. And I'm like, you don't have to say thank you for the thank you, but we get it, you know? Um, but it is just, there are so many little things that you can do that aren't very expensive or very time consuming, but that really just elevate the experience. And anytime you can set yourself apart from everybody else, that's something simple as, you know, the handwritten thank you note, or, you know, a small gift that they weren't expecting. I think that's how you win customers.
Speaker 1 00:37:15 Absolutely. And I think the only way that you can do that and it doesn't have to be huge, it just has to be intentional. Right? You put this in place that this is, this is the level we're going to do this. I mean, we do handwritten notes. I think we're still, I just think that's an important touch.
Speaker 2 00:37:29 It's interesting too. I'll just throw this in there. We actually sent letters to Los bids as well. So if you decide to go with someone else and you tell us that you finally decided to go with someone else after our follow up, because we haven't given up on you, we send a letter that says, thank you for allowing us to, you know, to provide a quote. We wish you the best of luck. If something happens, you know, we're still here kind of thing. So it's not pushy, but it's again like just a little bit different, you know? Yeah. So, um, I think gratitude goes a long way.
Speaker 1 00:37:57 Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. So they're all paid. We did the close that was sending a gift or a card, then what's the next step after.
Speaker 2 00:38:05 So we move into customer satisfaction. And that's the thing where I think, like I said, all of these stops have to really work and flow smoothly for you to get here and be successful. So in this day and age, Google is king, you know, and reviews are like you, of you kind of live or die by your online reviews, unfortunately. Um, so this is surveys where you're going to do. Um, whatever makes the most sense for you. We used to do them internally and now we do them all through Google. Um, and I've outsourced that to amazing company. Um, so I don't have to do it anymore. And, but, um, so important though. I agree. It is. And so getting, and again, like you said, if you did all those little extra things, when you ask them for a review, if they were thrilled with the experience, they'll happily give you a review if it was so, so they're like, ah, I don't know if I want to take the time to fill this out, you know, and if it was not good, you don't want to ask for a review because they're going to give you everything in a little bit extra to probably, you know, um, but I think, like I said, it is really important nowadays.
Speaker 2 00:39:12 Um, and this tags into the advertising and marketing a little bit, but to get those, those good reviews online, because it's just the way the world works now. Um, so making sure that you're getting some kind of surveys or, you know, reviews somewhere, um, this is also where I've put callbacks. So it's inevitable at some point, somewhere down the line, somebody's going to have an issue with something and the way you handle a call back can actually elevate the experience for our customers as well. So in our world, you call in and you tell us there was an issue. We take down the information and we tell you, we're going to give it to the foreman because he's going to come back and take care of it as he handled the job and he knows the house, he's going to be in touch with you within 24 hours.
Speaker 2 00:39:52 And we let him schedule it. Cause we don't know what his schedule is. And you know, for him to pop off of his current job to visit another job, it's easier to just let him do that himself. And then he'll let us know when he's done, but the more again, systematized it is and the quicker you handle it. Um, the more, I think impressed people are that like, not only did they do a good job, but they stood behind their word that they said they would come back if something happened or if I was unhappy or there was an issue. Um, and then the last part of customer satisfaction is winning the customer. And that's how you do it by making sure no matter what, you know. And sometimes they call back in, you're like you got a grunt in private. Cause you know, it's one of those picky customers.
Speaker 2 00:40:35 That's just never going to be fully happy. And then you put on your smiley face and you go take care of it and you know, um, but then they might become your biggest fan, you know? So you never know how much. And I think this kind of leads into the next one, which you haven't mentioned yet. Like you don't know who they know how they're going to share, you know, this information. And so winning that customer is partly for repeat business. If you're in an industry where repeat business as possible. So I think going back to the advertising and marketing, it's way cheaper to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. So everybody's always after I need new customers, I need new customers. It's like, Hmm, maybe not. You may need to like, you know, go back to the pool of customers you've worked with before because they already know and trust you. And they know that the level of work that you do, um, and you've already quote unquote kind of paid for them, you know? Um, so that's the goal is to make sure that the customer is fully satisfied and they become a customer for life or a raving fan. That's going to refer you to other people.
Speaker 1 00:41:39 That's the final step on the circle is follow-up and referrals. So what kind of programs do you have there? Cause that's, I mean, I'm, I'm pretty good at customer satisfaction. I'm not so good. This is, I mean, this is not one of my strong suits
Speaker 2 00:41:53 And I think it's, most people kind of forget about it a little bit. You know, they think, oh, I got the survey, they were happy. It's all good. You know, and like I said, it's one of the places where you've missed. I think a lot of opportunity because, you know, especially in our world, like I said, our goal is for you to become a customer for life. We actually just finished a job for a customer. I think we've been working with them for 20 years and this is their third house. Wow. You know, so like they've moved and you know, they actually moved into a retirement community. So we did their first house. When our kids were little, then they moved to a bigger house when the kids were bigger and now their kids are gone and they're moving into, you know, a retirement community and we've done that house, you know?
Speaker 2 00:42:29 So if possible, that should be the goal, you know? And I think what people forget is, um, we've talked about soft touches and staying top of mind, your existing customer list is like a gold mine, you know? And so we do a monthly email through constant contact, a little you news, and it's not a sales thing. It's more educational or like Thanksgiving was, you know, about gratitude. Um, and we'll do it around the holidays, but just once a month sending something that's informative, you know, in our industry, we'll in the fall, we'll remind them of the things you need to do to get ready for winter and to make sure your house is prepared on the exterior. And some of them are services. We don't do ourselves. So like we remind people to clean your gutters, you know, or have your chimney checked if you're going to use it this winter.
Speaker 2 00:43:17 So it's not even always about you, but for us in our world, it's about educating the customer on how to best maintain your home and all of those little soft touches and staying top of mind when they do need painting, they're going to remember us first because we've kind of been in contact every month, kind of quietly, not in a, you know, aggressive way, but over the course of the year, we've stayed in touch with them. And then, um, like I said, depending on what you do and what your kind of capacity is, um, maybe creating some kind of referral program to, if somebody refers you, another client, send them a like a gift card as a thank you. Or, you know, you could set up a formal program where, you know, if you have a referral, maybe we'll give you a discount on your next project or, you know, a percentage off or a dollar amount off, you know, if you do another project with us, but just looking for opportunities to, like I said, if you have really happy customers, how can they help to elevate your business and, and spread the word as well that you guys really do a great job.
Speaker 2 00:44:17 It's really easy. I think when people are unhappy for them to tell the world, but when they're happy, you know, sometimes they need a little bit of help and a little encouragement. And even if it's not formal, if you know, and this goes back to asking people where they got the lead, do you know? So I call in and they asked me how I heard about you. And I say, oh, Carolyn gave me your name. So I'm gonna make a note of that. And you know, if you book the job, just send Carolyn, you know, a little thank you that she's not expecting again, that's elevating the experience and setting you apart from everybody else. And you know, what's $20 Starbucks card costs. And you, at the end of the day, you know, not very much if you got, you know, five, six, $7,000 job out of it.
Speaker 1 00:44:58 Absolutely. I mean, like I said, this is a whole, like, this is a lot, but it's so every it's at every level it's so important. Right. And you don't have to anchor it all at once. So where would you?
Speaker 2 00:45:11 So I, this is like the, uh, the trick question I like to tease whenever people ask me about this is that there's three choices. Um, and again, my goal is to take something that is really kind of complex and complicated, and it's simplified enough to make it palatable. Because as business owners, like you said, we're busy, we're married and a million hats, and you don't have time to do everything all at once. So three options. One is you can start at the top because it's, you know, it kind of makes sense that way, if you don't have anything in place with regards to your advertising and marketing, and you're struggling with leads, like then obviously you need to kind of start at the top. Um, the other option is to start at, and like I said, this is what we did when we finally kind of formed this visual of the circle at your biggest pain point.
Speaker 2 00:45:53 So we were having major issues between scheduling and production. So that's where we started. And what happens is if you start at your biggest pain point, a lot of the little issues go away because you've solved that big issue. Um, and then the last option is if you want a really quick win to get some momentum and, you know, just feel like you've done something and you've got like, I live by my to-do list. And part of the fun is really being able to check things off is what's the easiest one to tackle? Like start there. The only thing I will say is not to hop around too much because there is a flow to it. So wherever you do decide to start kind of be intentional about working your way around from there. It is a circle, so you'll come back eventually, but it's not, you know, connect the dots kind of thing. You do want to make sure that the flow makes sense. Um,
Speaker 1 00:46:41 Gotcha. When people find out all this great information, where can they reach you? Where all the,
Speaker 2 00:46:47 So my website is the full circle business.net. I'm not a.com, I'm a.net. Um, and there's more details and outlines actually have a ton of free stuff. It's funny cause I did launch the business officially and now I am sharing this with the world. I'm still really not good at charging for everything. So there's a ton of free stuff on site. Like I said, you could get the basic circle for free. You could get the circle with the details, um, for a small price, you could buy the poster or you could actually go ahead and take a look at the full course where, like I said, I'm going to walk you through each and every step. Talk about everything in more detail, give you whatever tools or templates or scripts that I've created for each stop along the way to kind of help you get started.
Speaker 2 00:47:29 Um, and then what I am doing with this for the kickoff is when you finish the circle course, you get 30 minutes with me. One-on-one just to kind of review and follow up and see if there are any final questions. Anything else I can help you to like get you off and up and running? Um, so you just have to email me to schedule that once you've finished the course and I'm happy to have her hop on a call and do that. And I'm always available by email. Um, like I said, um, my favorite thing to be as helpful, um, working on, you know, making sure that, uh, I don't do it all for free, but my inbox, you know, you can shoot me an email. If you have a question and you know, I'll do a 15 minute discovery call, you know, for free with anybody just to chat about things and see what the options are and what makes the most sense for them. Um, but yeah, everything's on my website. Um, and like I said, lots of free content there as well as, as these courses and some other courses that focus on productivity and getting more organized within kind of their office in your busy.
Speaker 1 00:48:31 No, absolutely. I think we're, we're going to have you on again. And I have another circle for employees that I was very excited about. There's know a lot of stuff that I'd like to have you teach because it's just amazing stuff. And to, for someone who is, and I think most people are like this, like, yes, I know I need this, but how the hell do I do it? I have, I have, I have no. And even when I say to my team, I want to do this. And they're like, okay, well, I don't know. You know what I'm saying? They have a plan in place is just amazing. Is there any last thoughts you'd like to add?
Speaker 2 00:48:58 That's a good question. I think the other thing that, um, I'm really not good about talking about, but I should share is the fact that I'm living it every day is very different than, you know, sometimes you hire a coach or a consultant, but they're not really in your industry and they haven't lived it day in and day out. So like I've seen the ups and downs over the last 17 years of what it looks like when you don't have systems, you know, and when your company grows and you're not quite ready to handle it all. So I think for me, that's one of the differentiators is that I'm still living it every day in our painting industry. We're still dealing with issues, you know, and I think what happens, you know, you grow and you, you change your systems and it works until it doesn't and then you need to revisit it again.
Speaker 2 00:49:40 So I think what I tell people is, um, the blessing and the curse of, you know, putting the systems in places that you only have to do at once. So you really just have to set the time aside to do it once, do that brain dump. I've done that with a lot of clients, you know, we get on the call and when I work with people, one-on-one we literally do the work together because of working on your business is just really hard a lot of times. Um, so we do it together and you don't leave with a ton of homework. And that way you feel like you've actually made some progress, but you do that brain dump. You do it once and then you have it. And then you just, like I said, you tweak it. You know, if something changes, you're not starting from scratch, you're going back to this work.
Speaker 2 00:50:17 And now we need to change these three steps because they're not really working anymore. So I think that's the other goal is to just really shift your mindset a little bit and get into that gear of art. I'm going to do this once. And then the dividends and the payoff of having taken, you know, however many hours it took for me to do that is going to multiply it by 10 easily. If not by a hundred, over the years of having saved yourself, the headache of you think, oh, I don't have the time to do this, but how much time are you wasting? Because you don't have a system in place or you don't have a process in place that you can just revisit. You know, it's funny too, because in my world, one of the first things I started with was taxes. So I have a checklist now that I'm like, I only do taxes once a year.
Speaker 2 00:51:01 I have to give all this stuff to the accountant. I don't remember what they need, but I made a checklist. And so every year I'm like, oh, here we go. I need these 10 things. Gather them all together, send them off because otherwise I'm sitting here for 20 minutes trying to rack my brain and remember what I needed to use. And I only do it once a year. So especially with things that aren't happening on a regular basis, having a quick checklist, you can refer to that, oh, here are the 10 things I need to do to, to, to get my workman's comp audit together. You know, it just makes life a whole lot easier down the road. So it's just being intentional with setting aside a little bit of time to do it once and to do it right. And then to just revisit it as needed, you know, as your business changes.
Speaker 1 00:51:43 Well, especially for people that have gone into the business because like, you know, your family that we're good at painting, you don't realize that all these other systems too, to just go be good at painting, you gotta have to all these other systems and processes in place to make that work. So you can have the door open so you can keep painting. It's just amazing. But I thank you for all this great information where to put all your contact information in the show notes, um, look forward to having you again, to get into some more circles and stuff. It's I mean, this thing is these things are so important unless you're intentional about it. They're not going to happen. So thank you against you high, but, and I know we'll have you on again.
Speaker 2 00:52:17 Thanks you for having me. It was a pleasure.
Speaker 1 00:52:22 Thank you for listening to this episode of quick getting screwed. I hope you found it helpful if you liked what you hear, please like us and follow our podcast. Do you want further information? So you can find [email protected]
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