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Indie Maker / Designer building startups like Sunshine Social, I also own an interior house painting company. Indie Maker / Designer building startups like Sunshine Social, I also own an interior house painting company.
Indie Maker / Designer building startups like Sunshine Social, I also own an interior house painting company.

Journal

MicahIverson

Twelve things I have learned / relearned while running an interior house painting company that you can apply to any business (especially local services)...

  1. Customer service / relationships are as important, if not more important than the painting itself. The more you can connect with your customer, the easier it is to discuss issues that arise. Clients often say to me "Wow, you showed up on time."

  2. Respond as fast as possible, show up when you say you will, be reliable and ethical. Clients appreciate quick responses and don't forget to write well and in relatable language.

  3. Don't cut corners, it seems like an easy way to get ahead and be faster, but in the long run it bites you in the butt and takes twice as long and adds stress.

  4. Find great referral partners, build relationships with people who compliment your business. For house painting, I work closely with realtors, flooring people and handymen(women). I closed 3 jobs in the past 2 weeks worth $11k gross from 3 realtors I know.

  5. Join every local Facebook group and have all your friends recommend your company when someone posts a request for your type of service, 50%+ of my work comes in this way.

  6. Hire great people, take time to find them and get rid of the bad ones as quickly as possible. This has been hard this year since I'm so busy, I have needed anyone I could get. I can tell which ones add stress to my life and which don't.

  7. Are you a new local service provider? Join Home Advisor, turn off all leads except for "Opportunity Leads" pick and choose the best jobs that fit your skills. Respond to leads immediately, goal is to win as many jobs as possible your first year for referrals for year 2.

  8. Have an amazing brand, website, business card and marketing eye candy. I have a cool Fox pin I add to every business card when I do an estimate. EVERYONE loves them, especially their kids. I also have a stuff fox mascot named Chip.

  9. Set 1, 2 and 3 year goals, for me my first year was to get stable financially. 2nd year was pay down/off debt, 3rd year is growth. I'll be out of credit card debt, school debt sometime in July. This week I'll do my 89th estimate, which is how many I did ALL of last year.

  10. Do the small things, the detail work. 95% of your competitors don't want to do them, this is your way to high quality referrals from your past customers. Don't penny pinch, do that small "extra" thing to win over your customers, it will pay off long-term.

  11. Think long-term, a small $300 job that my competitors turn down almost always turns into thousands of dollars in future work and referrals. Don't gouge your customers to get a big onetime paycheck, price fairly, it will lead to referral after referral.

  12. You are the center of everything in your business, work super hard, but take breaks to get refreshed. Work as little as possible on weekends, work standard business hours, keep your evenings for you, family and friends. When they go to bed, work on loose ends.

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MicahIverson

This year my wife and I have lots of big house changes we are making, I have already talked about re-doing baseboards and doors and basically all the woodwork throughout the house. However, before we can finish that other big project, we are replacing our big built-in entertainment wall.

This wall right now is about 18 feet long, but a whopping 24 inches deep, which is way deeper than it needs to be. So we are taking the entire thing out and replacing it with new cabinets and shelving that is only 12 inches deep.

The bottom row will simply be pre-manufactured "upper kitchen cabinets", each has one floating shelf and two doors, there will be six of these across the base.

On top of the cabinets will be a simple counter top made out of nice plywood, with a nice front frame and the whole thing will be painted a dark greenish/gray.

On the left and right side of the wall we will have two sets of bookshelves (see picture below), this will hold books, completed Lego sets, etc. Between the two shelves will be a space for our stupidly large TV.

It's a fairly big project, but making good progress on some of the harder stuff, need to get it done so we can move on to other tasks.

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MicahIverson

It's been quite a while since I last added a journal entry, been super busy and stressed.

My painting company has been the leading factor in my schedule and stress load, I have had some issues with the availability of my painters. They have either been busy themselves or out of town and had let to some jobs that I thought would be fairly quick, taking additional days (long days) of me doing it myself.

I also just learned that one of my painters decided to get a full-time job elsewhere but gave me no warning, which isn't great considering I have two large jobs coming up.

Lastly, in the first 3 months of 2020 I did 12 estimates; in 2021 I have done 40 in 3 months and winning 60% of them. So there has been a lot of extra time dedicated to doing estimates, plus of course all the extra jobs themselves.

It's hard to complain though, it's good to have work, very fortunate.

We are also doing a lot of house projects, new floor in bathroom due to mold we found, new woodwork throughout the house, new entertainment center built-in that needs to be done before we can do the flooring and baseboards, plus just trying to get rid of junk and other things in the house.

There are numerous other things happening too and simply struggling to keep up, slowly getting through the more stressful things though, I think.

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MicahIverson

I am now back in Colorado, I ended up leaving Iowa a day earlier than expected. As you can see from the weather map below, if I had left today I would have had to drive through the middle of the storm.

It's nice to be home, finally able to catch up on some emails and social media.

Some minor frustrating news though, the wainscoting wall we built for our kitchen was built 10 inches to long, doh! So I spent a bunch of time today taking some of it apart, trimming it and putting it back together and then filling in the new cut marks. So now we will have two narrow panels and 3 wider panels, not the end of the world but a bit disappointing.

Also discovered that I left some of my woodwork in Iowa, fortunately it's nothing critical, just frames for a couple access panels in a couple closets.

While I was out of town, my wife started taking off baseboards and discovered that we have mold under our bathroom flooring. So now we have to also rip all that up and put down new flooring. We had planned to redo the bathroom at some point, but not this early. We'll do the minimum for now and do full rebuild later.

Next up, get first coat of paint on the woodwork, take off old woodwork, buy and install doors, rebuild entertainment center wall. LOTS TO DO!

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MicahIverson

Today we managed to finish all our remaining pieces, got everything primed and sanded. Went and picked up the Uhaul and got all loaded up.

Originally I was going to head on Saturday, but we are supposed to get 15"-20" of snow in Colorado over the weekend, so decided I'm going to drive back a day earlier to try and beat the storm.

Either way it will be a 13 hour drive or so, hopefully all goes well.

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MicahIverson

Today I added the edge profile to all the woodwork, sanded everything and then primed everything.

Tomorrow I'll be preparing more wood, this time for the headers of all the door frames, hope to get all that finished an primed as well in one day.

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MicahIverson

Today I started working on my new Baseboards, Doorframes and few misc. things for our house.

We have 14 doorframes, 4 double wide closet frames and 375+ feet of baseboards to build.

Started with just rough cut lumber, then ripped it down close to final width, then planed it to final dimensions for all the vertical parts of the doorframes (Jambs, Door Stops, Door Casing and then baseboards as well.)

Good progress so far, but lots more to do in 3.5 more days.

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MicahIverson

I'm flying back to Iowa tomorrow (Saturday) to visit my parents but also to do a bunch of woodworking in my dad's shop. My wife and I are replacing all the woodwork in our house and I don't have the tools to do this efficiently.

I'm going to spend the entire week going from the raw wood to a finished product, I'll then load it all up in a U-Haul and drive it back. Then of course will be the tedious process of installing it all.

We are doing a bunch of other projects as well like replacing all the carpet / hardwood floors, rebuilding our entertainment center built-in, building a shed in the back yard, remodeling two bathrooms and should probably paint the exterior. Will be a very busy year, eager to have it all done.

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