Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Terry Begue. Terry, welcome.
Thanks for having me here, Thomas. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things that have made my business crazy successful.
It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do?
Yes, absolutely. I started my business right out of high school. I mean, I had that entrepreneurial spirit and just couldn’t work for anyone. I tried, I never got fired, I just didn’t stick around very long. And what it was, I realised I was just an entrepreneur. You know, I just, you know, you want to figure things out on your own and I’m sure if there’s any entrepreneurs out there listening right now, they know what I mean. It’s hard to, even if you’re working for someone who’s not bossing you around, it’s still hard to just follow someone’s lead. You just want to be in charge. And for me, even if I made mistakes, that’s still where I wanted to be and I made a lot of mistakes, but It took about 10 years to figure things out. I was 28 before my business really started to take hold.
But now today it’s so successful. I haven’t advertised now in almost 10 years and my business still grows every year, so that’s kind of where I’m at right now. Well, congratulations and all that. We did talk about going through your story today. So you said you were 28 and 10 years to get it there. So does that mean when you first went into business, you were 18? I was 18 when I started and you know a lot of people, they know when their life changed. When they made that turn around and you know if that has happened in your life and for me I can tell you not in the year, the week or even the day I can tell you the very moment everything changed for me. And it was when my wife, I came home one day found her crying on the couch. Not a good sign, right come home to. And I said, what’s wrong? And she had just three little words for me that changed everything in my life. And those three little words, they weren’t, I love you, they were Terry, I’m pregnant. And I can’t really explain it, Thomas, but it was like a switch had flipped in my brain all of a sudden this crappy life stylist living in a one bedroom apartment and every job I got, it felt like if I went and got it, I could be bankrupt, just barely skating by was no longer going to be good enough now that we had a child coming into the world. And we sat down and wrote out a list of what we wanted our lives to look like, things that we wanted and then we put a number beside it and oh my gosh, the number, I would have had to double my income twice over to be able to afford the lifestyle we wanted.
And fast forward though eight months my son was born. We were a few weeks from moving into our brand new house, three bedroom home and I had doubled my income once and didn’t double it a second time until about a year later. But the point of that story is for those first I didn’t learn, I didn’t Know anything different too much when I was 28 than when I was 18. What changed for me in those 10 years is I realised that I had to be proactive, I had to take action and that’s what I did. I took so much action in my business, even the wrong action was still better than nothing. And I made a lot of mistakes along the way. But there were some things I did that just set me apart from everyone else in my industry. I own a house painting business and I still continue to do those things. They were so powerful and those are things I’m looking forward to sharing today. So, thank you for that because I think it does, I don’t think you’re alone in that particular example. I think there’s some sort of statistic if I might be fudging on the number a little bit, but it’s like for every child, A parent’s income goes up by 6% or dad’s income goes up by 6%, something like that.
So it’s kind of like, and also there’s the quote, which is for any man that has the right why can bear anyhow bigger? I got there in the end, yep, you know, that’s something that I say early on in my book, you know how big is your why? Because that’s, and that’s when I get into that story in my book is I talked about with the big enough why you can take on anything and what’s the business that you went into when you were writing the same house painting business. I chose that because I had done a little painting for my brother while I was in high school, but mostly because it was probably one of the few businesses that you didn’t need a lot of money to get started in, you know, a ladder and a brush and a bucket and you’re in business. I had a pickup truck. It was, it was beat up, it was embarrassing almost, but I learned that was when I learned a big lesson starting with that old truck and that second hand equipment where I learned about the power of transparency. I used to pull a park out front of people’s homes. Mostly we do outside painting and I wouldn’t park in the driveway because I didn’t want to leak oil on their cement and they would look out at my truck and I just kind of stand in front of them so they wouldn’t look, but eventually I learned that I would just say to them, I said, you know, this is what I have.
You know, my equipment is not brand new, it’s not the best. But because of my low overhead is low and I can, I’ll give you the best job I possibly can at a very affordable price. So I try to find a way to spin that and just bring it up and being honest, not asking people to trust me, which is always a red flag for some, well not always, but for some people that is a red flag, but instead I would say, if you just give me a chance, you know, you won’t regret it. And I found people they would kind of root for the underdog a little bit. So I would put it that way, made a ton of promises and I kept every one of them with them and, and things turned around once I got, as I said, proactive with things. You remember your first paying job. Oh, I do. It was outside. I didn’t, I mean I kind of knew what I was doing, but not really. And oh my gosh, my wife still laughs about the day I came home at lunch and was reading a how to pamphlet before I went back to work. But you know, when your eye, as I mentioned, I couldn’t work for anyone and I know I need had I needed to figure this out. You know, looking back in hindsight.
One of my big mistakes is I should have asked for help. I should have worked for somebody first, but I was independent and I didn’t want to do it that way. But that probably would have trimmed a few years off of that learning curve if I would have. But those are lessons now I’ll never forget though because I had to figure them out in my own way. Yes, sometimes that is the best way to learn. So I think I think it’s fair to say that the intelligent way to do it is to learn from other people’s mistakes. But when you learn them yourself, you don’t often go back on that lesson. I would say that’s quite rare, especially the painful ones. So I’m interested to know With respect to going into business at 18. Some people have, should we say reservations or fears about going into business. And I think it is a consensus? I don’t know whether back then, but it is a consensus that it’s perhaps slightly less risky to go out and get a job. What was your, do you remember what your thinking was around going into business at that time At that time? All of my classmates were going to college and I thought I was gonna I did go to college.
It was the worst four weeks of my life. You know, I didn’t last very long, but going into business then I looked at it as more than anything, a challenge. But that challenge was based on, I want to say desperation because I knew I wanted to make it have an above average income. I had, I knew that going into for as long as I could ever remember. And I knew without a college education, the best way for someone like me was to own a business. And I like the service industry, I couldn’t see myself at a brick and mortar shop waiting for customers to come in the door. I wanted to go out and find them and, and I know some of my friends thought I was crazy because like I said, I drove an old beat up truck for a long time and I just, I kept, I had it in my mind that this is going to turn around. I’m not gonna give up on this. I always felt deep down underneath it, I can make it work. And again, I know there are people out there listening to this that, you know exactly what I’m talking about when you, when you, you know, it’s where you’re meant to go and you, you know, you can feel it in your personal goals are more important than even your business goals.
I think that’s a huge motivator, but that’s where it was for me, I knew what I wanted. I had met my wife, I was just, Oh my gosh, I was 21 and she was 18 when we sat 19 when we got married and I made a lot of promises to her And I failed on many, many on for nine or 10 years there. I failed. And so it was so important to me that I make this work that I just, even when I was 18 starting that business, I knew it was the right thing to do. It just took me a while to get the results that I was hoping to see. Well, as long as you get there, right. But when you’re first starting out, how are you getting those clients considering no one knows you and you don’t have, presumably you don’t have an advertising budget. So how does that come about? Oh my gosh, my budget was like in dollars, you know, a few dollars. It was, I was running little ads in the newspaper 73 or four. There was a little circular around here that was really cheap for like 15 or $20. You can run a three line add. Of course newspapers aren’t so popular anymore.
There’s a lot of things that are different and that’s what I would do. I’d run ads as much as I could, as much as I could afford to and when I started running out of work, I think well I better run another ad. I mean I was a train wreck in every way when I started my business, but it was just me and I almost didn’t look at it like a painting business. I looked at it as a way for myself too to be able to pay my bills. I was, you know, in the early years I was still living at home from the time I was, I started it when I got out of school until I got married, but where I, where I really felt the pain of everything was when I first got married. I mean just as I mentioned, I gave my, I told you gave, I promised my wife a lot of things, but they have very first Christmas, I can still remember being on the living room floor and are in that one bedroom department counting pennies to buy her a gift for Christmas and I felt like such a loser and I use that the, the kind of channel my energy more. I would think about that every day in the future. You know, as I went on, I remember those times and I talked about it in my book a little bit is your, why it sometimes needs to be almost more personal than business.
And because when it’s personal, it’s emotional and as we all know, it’s emotions that change our thinking more so than logic. Right? Again, another thing I talked about in my book to find to find your motivation sometimes you need to look at the personal issues in your life because those are the emotional times that that spark that that fire, that you need to keep going. So I’m interested about with when you’re a sole trader when you first start out. it sounds like you’re sort of finding your feet a bit and things start to get a little bit more comfortable and there’s a consideration at some point where you think, you know, maybe I might, I’m getting a bit busier, Maybe I might need some help. Maybe an employee or some an assistant of some kind. When do you start having those thoughts or that conversation with yourself? It all was starting around the time my wife told me she was pregnant. That part was a total surprise because I said we have been married for eight years, maybe nine years at that time. But I did a couple of things that I can mention real quickly that changed everything for me.
One is I knew I had to find a way to stand out and I needed to take my business more seriously. So I there was a home and garden show near where I lived and I decided I called them up and they said no, there’s no painters I’ve ever gotten in this show and I said, but I want to get in and they, I think it was like $1,000 to be in it for a week and I didn’t have that much money. I mean I did in my savings, but I it would have cleaned me out almost. But they said, if you joined Mary, which is the National Association of the remodelling industry, you can be a member there plus you get a discount of like $700 from the end from being in the home show. So it was a no brainer for me. But what I realised was becoming a member of a professional organisation, it rose me up to the level of all the other people in there who were professionals and I didn’t really look at myself as a pro at that time, but in my customers eyes instantly I had that professional, more professional status. So getting in that home show and joining Mary was a big turn was a big boost in my career.
And I saw right away when I was in that show, I was getting dozens of leads every day. People were coming in. there was a local radio station giving people a one minute like a greeting and talk about your business for a second and people started coming in to see me And when I left that show with maybe 80 or 100 good leads before I even started giving those bids, I hired three guys that I knew they were just my friends, but I knew I could train them and that was scary all of a sudden I had a payroll that I couldn’t cover if we weren’t doing jobs, turning jobs over real quickly. But all at the same time I did that and it was scary. But immediately what I used to get done in a week, we were all of a sudden doing in a day. So I was spending my time starting those guys in the morning, then I’d get out, give bids and get, get booked ahead. And before I knew it, I had 20 houses scheduled and in that first summer before my son was born, we had painted, I want to say 60 or 70 homes and I think by the next year once I got the process down a little more and more got back into that show the following year.
I think that year I painted over 100 homes and to this day we’re a little bit thinner. I have a smaller crew, but we’re really efficient. I found a lot of shortcuts, but we still do almost 100 homes every summer in in our painting season here in Ohio, we have about eight months to do the outside work and um, we do close to 100 homes without any advertising without any marketing. It’s just all repeat, repeat and referral business. You mentioned something quite interesting and it’s a topic which I’ve covered before and I’d love to get your take on it because you hired friends first and foremost. and now you have the experience of, should we say, making some form of conclusion on that. what is your take on hiring friends when you have a business? It’s, I know a lot of people say don’t do it and but I was a little bit desperate. There weren’t sites out there like zip recruiter and indeed, I don’t know if you have that where you’re at, but that there’s hiring sites now, there wasn’t even any internet when I was starting everything.
So I didn’t know a lot of people and, and it was, it had, had, its, its positives and negatives, it’s hard to boss them around, but I was very clear with them in the beginning what it would be like and it did work for a while. What did hurt me is once they became good at what they were doing, they knew the whole job, they knew everything that was involved, They would quit me and become my competition And we got past that. One of them even came back and still works with me today who he ran his own business for about 25 years and then got tired of it and came back to me. So without him and the other ones had quit, some started a business, one still has a business, but it had its ups and downs, you know, they, they, it was a struggle, but as long as I found as long as you’re really clear with people, even your friends and they know what, what’s going on going into the whole process. It worked and, and we got through it and they learned what to do and stayed long enough to train a couple of people before they left, so that was always kind of rolling over. But yeah, those first ones were my friends and eventually they did quit me.
But in the end it worked out it served its place because they were able to train the other guys when I wasn’t around. So it doesn’t sound too negative if you if you had the choice between, let’s say hiring a friend now versus hiring a someone that you could take through a normal interview process and that you didn’t have that friendship who do you hire with equal ability. What I found is getting not so much a hiring for skill or talent, just hiring for attitude, you know, finding the kind of people are businesses completely customer focused, so having people that understand that and a lot of it, I don’t really see it in the application, but more just having, again, having a conversation with them, tell them what we expect, how important it is that they be engaged in the job and talk with the customer, you know, when they’re there because we really niche down to where we were just for homeowners and we do just certain types of siding outside, and that’s why we’re able to turn jobs over so quickly. But what I found is if I can find people who haven’t been painters before, I even say experience, not necessary will train and they figure out the skill part pretty fast because it really isn’t that hard house painting.
Another reason I got into it early because it was fairly an easy skill to master but finding people who have the right attitude that want to, that want to think about their customer and they’re engaged in the job and just they want things to come out nice and go, well, have some pride in their work, they want to be able to look back at what they did at the end of the day and see and see results and people who are I guess so, maybe what I say is people who are like me. So I’m always looking for people who are I was back in my twenties, someone that really wanted to create something that they can build on for the rest of their life and skill wasn’t in skill to this day is not that important to me because skills can be learned, its attitude that matters. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. so very, very good point worth highlighting. So, you’ve been in the business about 10 years and then this life changing moment happens where you’re going to be a dad and you get the marketing in place because you’ve joined that, would you say?
It was NARI – National Association of the Remodelling Industry and you start getting a significant amount of leads and your hire friends and you can, you’re starting to expand. I do find often it’s the case that you run into some issues when you’re growing. So any thoughts about what pops up there? Yeah. And yes, absolutely. Thanks for sharing. mentioning that. But yeah, in a short time I I saw, jeez, we’re easily doing 100 houses. This is a couple of years into it. I lost my main guy by then, but we was able to replace him because other people had been there And I thought I have so much work. I’m just going to start a second crew and even was thinking about a third crew. But at the end of that summer I looked back and we had painted about 180 homes with two kind of 2.5 cruise you might say. But I was spending a lot of time going back and calming down the customer because it just seemed like maybe it was, I’m not a good lead as good of a leader as I should have been. I didn’t train them as well as I should have maybe.
But I found myself putting out fires a lot. The customers weren’t happy with some things they’d meet me and talk to me and they’d like me, which is what my book’s all about, becoming likable to your customer. But all of a sudden here’s these new guys in and, and I wasn’t there doing the work every minute of the day. So I was part of the problem. I was running around like a crazy man between the two jobs back and forth trying to make an appearance and be as much help as I could and the owners weren’t as happy. So that was bothering me more than anything. So after a few years of doing that, I just went back to just one crew and decided rather than paint more homes, I’m just going to focus on what we do best, what the owners are the happiest with And what I could get a premium price for, get a higher price. And what I found is just my one crew of just select guys doing just a certain types of homes were able to do 80 homes and make what I used to make doing 180 homes just because I know they took this whole career to figure out the right jobs that pay the highest dollar and create the greatest profits with the least amount of headaches.
And are you are you still that way inclined, so you’re still sort of specialising on the highest prices and you stick to one crew. Is that right? Yes. one crew and I’m there too with them as much as I can be when I’m not giving bids or meeting with the customers? I try to be on the job mostly. Mostly because I love doing that. Even after we get off this podcast today, I’m gonna be getting all my pain, my paint clothes and going into work not so much because I have to, but I love to. I love being with my customers and doing what I do. I’ve been doing it now for 44 years and it kind of surprises me. I would have thought I wouldn’t have thought back in my thirties, I’d still be doing this in my sixties, but I still love what I do and that’s a big part of success. I think you need to love your job or your career or the business that you’re running and I do and it’s still that way. But yeah, it’s all been a process and I don’t know when I’m going to stop. I, some days I think of just letting my guys do the work and I probably will eventually, but for now I can still do it and I still enjoy doing it.
100% agree about loving what you do and it’s such a familiar story of as you start to grow maybe as you start to get other people to do the work. Perhaps the standards slip because you’re no longer doing the work and people typically make a decision there of. Do I start, do I continue the growth and start putting processes in place for people so that they have to do things a certain way or do I perhaps get more involved because I like what I do and just maintain the highest quality I can as the way that you did your based on what you said, you’re happy with that decision, right? I am. Yeah. It forced me to go in the direction I didn’t want to go. And honestly at first I kind of thought, jeez here, I am just one crew and I know I could have to and if I beat myself up a little bit over that because I thought I’m not a good leader, I’m not able to train people to work without me. So I kind of blame that on myself. And maybe that’s true, whether it is or not.
I still found myself enjoying life. I slept better at night if I could be at just one job and never have any complaints. And because we rarely do, I have, um, I have a little policy. I call permission and nit-pick that I give my customers and I want them to, I want them to know that I want to know if they’re not happy about something and it rarely happens now if, if one of the things I talk about in my book is having a list of testimonials from your customers that say how, how good you are, what you do speaks volumes. It’s, it’s 100 times 1000 times more believable than anything that I can say to them. So I love getting those testimonials and, and just being part of the process with them every day is enjoyable to me. And, and it’s how I see myself finishing out my career the same way any biggest wins that you can think of, that you took on something. And he thought, wow, that’s a major, that’s a major win for me. He’s the biggest win. That’s I didn’t, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question before.
I got to think a second. I would say the biggest win for me is realising today, when I didn’t have in the early years, I didn’t have money to advertise. And when I started having enough to advertise, I was spending quite a bit of it. But having the realisation now that I don’t need to advertise or market my business anymore. I haven’t run an ad since 2012. So it’s been about 10 years since I’ve advertised, but I still get, I probably still turn away more jobs than I take. And so to me that’s, that’s the biggest win is no one I can maintain this business. Probably even go back to two crews if I wanted to without any marketing at all because it’s those repeat and referral customers, they’re the ones that that hire you, they when they’re blown away by your service, they’re gonna refer you to their friends. They’re gonna pay you instantly. They’re gonna sing your praises. And that’s what I have. I have that situation now. I know what they like because I hand them, I have a form that’s a free download in my book that a person can download it. Just put in their own information and it’s designed to elicit a positive response.
I don’t ask them, what didn’t they like about our service. I asked them what they did like. But the things that they say aren’t what I expected. At first. I thought they’d say you guys do a nice job painting and you have nice straight lines. But it was all the little things that really aren’t part of what we do. It was they say we were easy to talk to. The crew was friendly. I returned their calls right away. We cleaned up wonderfully. At the end of the day, we didn’t leave a mess. It was all those other little things. That was what was important. And it was all those little things that I got on my forms is what I built my book out of my book is entitled attracting keep customers for life. And that’s how I do it basically. The information came from my customers what they wanted to see more of. And I that’s when I realised I need to write a book about this because there are a lot of them are things I didn’t realise were as powerful as they are. That was my that was my big win. Was learning that when you do certain things and you do it over and over you don’t need to market your business. After a while I thought I was always going to have an advertising budget but I don’t anymore and I haven’t in the last 10 years.
At what point do you think about writing the book on that particular topic? I’ve been thinking about this for maybe 10 years I want to say and people started telling me at first they said you know they would call me again after 10 years and I was still in business and they said you really should the things that you do are so different than all the other painters in town and you should write a book about what you do. And I even had a product I had created. It was sort of it was hard to put it into a package into a CD. And they tested it in one of our bigger paint stores in the country here in Sherwin Williams but it failed. It painters didn’t want to buy a CD and listen about how to be more, I think they looked at it as painting tools and not people skills information more so it failed and I turned that court that product into this book. And because it’s, it’s more about what I say throughout the book as your technical skills are important, but they’re not as important as your, your personal skills, those, those um, people skills, so to speak.
If someone, let’s say spent a load of time enhancing those skills, getting better at all the skills, which are not necessarily your technical skills, but all of the things that people highlight as something that’s really good. How would you then communicate that to your potential prospect? Because you’re getting referrals all the time presumably that’s not relevant? Mm hmm. That’s a good question. Well, the way I do it is I created a process. It’s maybe a selling system, but I think of it as more of a connecting system and in my book it’s in four parts and I call them the four abilities. It’s likeability, believability, trust ability and wow ability and making myself likable to the customer is huge because nobody’s going to, as I mentioned, trust you right away. So you, you know, know, like, and trust attitude, right? Everybody’s heard of that. So, um, I have little things that I do to make myself likable to my customers and, and I know these things now, but I found a lot of my competition doesn’t and little things like being on time when you say you’re going to show up to give an estimate or return phone calls right away.
Almost every person I called back that has left me a message says, You’re like the only painter that called me back and that just blows me away because these other guys are spending money on advertising and they’re not calling them back at least not right, not right away. Another thing I talk about to make yourself more likable is listening before you talk and my customers that people want to know that you understand what their problem is and it’s hard to know that if you don’t listen, but I even still looked at likeability is too big of a leap to go from like to trust. So in between that I put believability or credibility and examples of those are having a website which I don’t consider as marketing. It’s just a a video brochure, customer awareness piece and that makes you believable following through on your promises, that testimonials make you believable. So all a lot of things like that. But then I do say in my book that once this is the most important ability, I call it the golden ticket and that’s trust ability. And then I talked about 10 or 12 things you can do to build and grow your trust because that is the difference maker when, when you’re trusted business is easy.
And then last of all ability that’s really not a selling school skill is, although it will help you with your sales. It’s more about creating referrals and that’s what the wow ability is. Part, I call it referrals on steroids, that’s a great one. Um, so um, so far in the story, um, we’ve, we’ve got a bit of a gap, so we’ve gone from, you’re expanding your business and at what point are you sort of going back to your 11 team? Yeah, I only stated to cruise for, I wanna say two summers, maybe three, But then I just went back to the one and it, and it was, but still for being the one team, it was like five guys on one crew. And the idea now was no longer to take a day and a half or two days to paint a house and, but to do it in just one. So once I cut it back to just one crew, find getting the right tools and systems in place to be able to turn jobs over really quickly with less people with just one crew was a challenge for me and I had to find every shortcut that didn’t hurt the quality of the product that we turned out and, and that’s what I focused on.
Then for the next five or six years, ways of doing things that are, that will help get done faster and just turn over jobs quicker. So that was the next step for me and, and, and at first I needed five or six guys, but then as time went on, I slowly cut that back and cut it back. Now. It’s just myself and I’m not full time really with the crew and three guys were able to do that. We try to paint our house a day. Sometimes we get onto big, big homes that we just can’t do in a day, but many times on a rain free week we could paint five homes and get five checks. So cash flow is really good in the summertime when we’re turning jobs over every day. And how when did the book come out? two years ago right now, as a matter of fact, and that’s helped to a little bit when people see on my signature line, if I email him a bid that I’m also an author of attract and keep customers for life, that that really sets me apart from the competition as well. And you said that, I mean, typically I asked about the writing process and how it was, but you’ve created a course previously.
So I guess it’s, what was it like to create the course initially Create the course? It was a challenge. A lot of times I had to ask my side to look at myself back when I was in my early 20s, what did I need to know then? And it really fell more under the interpersonal skills part than the technical skills. So I the only thing technically, I think that that I changed in those early years after making the commitment to turn things around for myself, that’s the biggest thing was finding different processes that would, would help the job go quicker. Like certain people had certain roles. The guy who did the spraying would also do the caulking around the windows and doors, for example, certain guys would just take the shutters off of the house and mask off the windows and do other little prep things and then I would focus on, oh, I don’t know, I kind of oversee all of that. And then eventually I put someone in my spot of overseeing everything and one guy on the crew was very good at trimming if there was any trim work to do, like maybe painting windows or doors, things that we couldn’t spray.
And several guys that just did the same thing over and over, like I said, masking and tearing all the masking off at the end of the day. So it turned into a real system of the spray guy, basically, the guy who was doing the spring would just follow the prep guys around the house and work their way all the way around and once they were around to the end, they would start tearing off behind the spray guy. So it’s a neat little system and I even created a video that shows how we paint a house in one day and I’m not sure where that’s at right now, but just putting that together again helped me get clear on that the next step. Once I had the crew and everybody knew their job was looking at processes that would shortcut the whole thing so we can turn jobs over quicker. Well, speaking of videos about painting, I think I have seen online millions of views or whatever where someone takes a spray gun and paints a room in the matter of, you know, minutes or something. And I’d like to ask about what the future of your industry will be. What do you see?
I do think spring, but there’s different ways to do it. The future of my industry, I think there’s always going to be outside work. I remember way back then people saying there there’s aren’t wooden houses, aluminium siding is the thing of the past, but I find myself still doing aluminium but what I did, I took my process of spraying and just opened it up to every other industry. Every other type of painting that we do just using the sprayer as an applicator still saves hours out of each day. So I see everything still staying the way it is. It’s just that it seems like there’s there will be less a fewer times when people need to paint the outside of their home just because they aluminium siding, which is holds upgrade is getting changed out for cement board, which lasts longer cedar homes, they’re finding different types of, of cedar siding that hold up longer woodpeckers aren’t as likely to make holes in it or carpenter bees and things like that. So probably even though there will be fewer of the types of homes that I paint, there’s still going to be other areas to do the work, you know, they’ll still always be trim work to do and they’ll always be inside painting to do.
So I still think there’s always going to be a lot of work out there. It’s just a matter of figuring out what the best type of work it is there is to do than the best types of customers to work for. And so I I don’t focus on people who are not directly going to benefit from our work. So homeowners are my target. And another thing that I found is the more I niche my business down to just first, just exterior than just working for the homeowners, then just doing aluminium and cedar sided homes. once I, the more I niche down it seems like the more people wanted me for other services too. It’s kinda, it’s almost counterintuitive, I wasn’t expecting that, but that does seem the way it is, the more I niche, the more people want us. Would you have done anything differently? Looking back now, have I done anything differently since the beginning. Would you have the biggest thing that I think I look back at and I think the biggest mistake I made was not reaching out for help. You know, back then there wasn’t the internet.
So it was hard to talk to people, you know, the competition didn’t want to give up any of their secrets. But still there were successful business owners that I found are happy to talk to you if you need help. So yeah, the biggest thing I would have done, I was looked at the people who were where I wanted to be and I knew who those were, but I didn’t reach out to them. I wish I would have instead of I probably could have trimmed years and years off of that learning curve by asking for help early. So the course I created is basically build on who what I would have wanted back in those early years. And that’s what’s in my course because I see other people in not just painting, but all the home services industry making the same mistakes I was making back then. And that was a big reason I wrote the book but created a course then because even with the book of being available, they still wanted more. And that’s why I created the course which sort of just takes them by hand and shows them how to do what they need to do, where to find these groups and professional organisations, all the things that I didn’t do.
So that that was my big mistake was not reaching out for help today. It’s so easy because as I mentioned, there was no internet, there was no cell phones when I started and with technology the way it is now, it’s easy to find people that will help you. There are a lot of courses online. I think mine’s perfect for the home services industry. So that’s my big mistake and that’s what I would have changed. I would have reached out for help and, and maybe even work for a painter for a few years first would have helped some too. I like this one. It’s about what you’re most proud of. The one I’m most proud of is, I um, all those dreams that what I’m most proud of is when my wife and I made that list way back when we were, you know, having a hard time paying our bills that I have completed everything on that list. All of those things that we wanted and then some that’s what I’m most proud of is I, I fulfilled every goal that I had and surpassed them all. Um, maybe because I didn’t think I’d still be doing it 40 years later. But that’s what I’m most proud of is every goal that I had set for myself to do.
And at the time I had no idea how I would ever do it, but I’ve accomplished every one of those things. Congratulations to that present day activity. Would you say a lot of it is regarding the book and the course? Yes, I do in the winter months, You know, like I said, we’re outside for eight months out of the year. So that gives me four months to work on the book. Work on the course. I just created a new and expanded addition to the book and I do that during the in the winter months. In the summertime. I still make time to work on ideas, write articles for magazines. Not as much. Most of that gets done in the wintertime when I’m not so big as busy. But I always make time to be a guest on podcasts. For example, in the writing articles for a few of the trade magazines. I talk about that in my book. To under the wow ability topic is it’s not that hard to get published in a trade magazine and everybody should do it because it really gets, it really sets you apart from the competition because not everybody does it. Very few do.
Have you got a favourite chapter? I think wow ability. I say that in the beginning of that chapter that this is my favourite of them all. I think trust ability is the most important. But wow ability is my favourite because it’s what keeps people coming back, it’s what blows them away. I guess you could say. So I’ve got one which says, why should people read your book? I mean if people want customers for life, which I think they probably should. I think that’s a good reason. But have you got anything to add anything to add to that? That that was the difference maker for me is another thing that really makes me feel like, I know what, I know what I’m talking about is the very fact that I haven’t advertised in 10 years. So again yet making the big change the mindset part. Maybe just explain it in one sentence as I stopped looking at my customers as like the competition and they were like the adversary. Either they hired me and I won or they didn’t hire me and they won. And it wasn’t until I learned that your customers are your very pathway to your success. That things changed for me.
I started treating them like my friends and that’s when everything started to change for me. I don’t know if this is correct, but you seem quite content in your business. Would you say that’s fair. I am. I feel like I’m on autopilot now. I like what I do and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it anymore because I don’t need to now, but I still do it on I’ve been giving it’s wintertime here in Ohio and I’ve been giving bids all winter for summertime and the first thing people say is I need you to get out here and look at my house because I want to get on your list right away and I’ll always kind of joke with them and say I haven’t given you a price yet and they say, I know you’ll be fair. But Yeah, I love what I do. I I know we already have, I want to say maybe 15 homes already on the books as soon as the weather breaks this spring. And since the pandemic, we’ve gotten even busier, I guess people are home, they weren’t able to spend money on vacations, but Well last year we were booked about 40 houses ahead for most of the summer. You know, it’s a good feeling to be into September and know your book for the rest of the year.
And again when people hear that they want you even more. It’s the funniest thing, what your goals, terry my goals is to have the success with my coaching business, my course that I’m having in my painting business. I would like to be able to transition in the next hopefully two or three or four years to where I’m just helping other business owners find the success that I found because I look at it as being really easy, but people tell me it’s not that easy. So, so that’s where I want to go next is into the educational side of things and be able to work more with business owners than my painting customers. So becoming a bit more of a mentor, correct? Exactly. My course is designed about all the things designed based on the things that I needed back in my twenties that I didn’t do and work with some young people and maybe they can sustain themselves for the whole their whole lifetime that you have. Right. Absolutely. I think if you have the right attitude and almost any business that there’s a need for, I think you can do it with the things I talk about it, it wasn’t so much about the technical skills and it would seem like it was all about the people skills, well based on what you’ve said, I’m sure that if you do work with some people I think they’d be they’d be very lucky to have you as a mentor.
Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? Oh yes, yes, I did think of something my book, if you could go to Amazon and get it attract and keep customers for life, I think it’s like 14 95. But to celebrate coming out with my course and the revised edition, I’m giving my book away for free Plus shipping, so that’s all I’m charging shipping in the United States I think is five or six bucks and outside of our country it might be 11. But if you get it through Amazon with shipping it’s going to be about 20, so the book is free for now because I just want people to see how power what I have in there and how powerful it is in the hopes that maybe they’ll buy my course and I and I believe I haven’t looked recently but I think my courses at for half price right now for a short time to because I just rolled it out actually, it’s only been available for a few weeks now. So Amazon for the book. Can you just share the website address? Yes. Oh I’m sorry Amazon for the book if you want to pay 20 bucks but if you want it for free.
Yeah the address for that is the fourabilities.com. And that’s just like it sounds it’s not lower case and upper case sensitive. And it’s the number four. So the fourabilities.com with the number four. And if you go there you can get my book for free.
Thank you for that. Have you got any closing thoughts for us today?
Closing thoughts is the one thing I’d like to say is don’t make my mistake. Connect with your customers. They are the pathway to your success. I’ll leave it at that.
Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for having me here Thomas. I’m grateful for your time.