Sunday, February 19, 2017

2nd year as a first time business owner

If you haven't read the first post on my first year as a business owner, go check it out first:
Went to the Philippines during the off season where I volunteered at a youth rehab centre and surprisingly the kids wanted to learn to paint, so thats what we did for a large portion of the day, in between basketball, chess and baking. 

So second year running a painting business as Ciaran Olsen Boss Painting. Its still exciting because your not sure if your 1st year was a fluke with its success (not really but sort of). So I showed up back from New Orleans where I got some awards from my first year as a franchisee owner, ready to get started knocking on more doors.

Whatever I write in here keep in mind it was very hard, I had to spend a lot of my own money into any success I had, and I wasn't guaranteed of anything, and you always forget to write the bad times in your own blog.
grateful to earn a award, mainly because it meant a free trip down to Austin Texas at the end of 2016

At first I didn't have a marketing team set up in January (People to knock on doors with me to get customers), so I convinced a friend to come out in the rain with me to go recruiting, of course she isn't that good of a friend because I had to pay her...

To my pleasant surprise, I ended up going on a tear in my first few months of selling and booked a lot of work, for a while being first in the whole company of about 150 in sales. I posted an add to recruit marketers that worked quite well as it got me exactly who I wanted, and even got me an interview on the JACK FM morning show in Vancouver:

Dreadful door to door sales job (Dunbar/ Kerisdale) hide this posting

© craigslist - Map data © OpenStreetMap
compensation: $12/hr+ Comission: $17-40/hr
employment type: part-time
Marketing position still available due to lack of interest and people quitting immediately
(real job, not a joke)
Description: Walking door to door with a team of 2, your partner has a horseface, is tall and skinny, and has more acne then he should for his age. You knock on strangers doors most of the time after dark, and desperately try to convince them they need to paint their house and get their contact information to set up a long and tiring appointment with a business owner, who is way to enthusiastic and excited about paint. Often you will go through hours, days, even weeks with nothing but no's, doors slammed in your face, people pretending not to speak English and dogs barking and snapping at your heels. Please don't slip on staircases, we can't afford a law suit!


- You have to be willing and able to walk
- Have unobstructed breathing
- Own, wear and afford clothes that have no stains, are not black, have no tears, rips or cleavage. Any Turtle necks will be asked to leave immediately, as well as onesies.
- Be able to present your hairstyle in a way that is non offensive yet stylish
- Give up two evenings of your life a week
- Be okay with constant rejection
- Show up ready to work before your shift starts and sometimes stay late to make sure you have completed your job.
- Be able to stay enthusiastic even when it seems there is no hope!

If you are interested in this job please write me a email or call me telling me why you would be perfect for this job and why you like being rejected, giving up your evenings to work in terrible conditions.

The one benefit of this position is if you can deal with the negatives and meet the above requirements you will make a lot of money and gain a ton of skills and make some new friends! 
(End of Ad)

So that was one of my ads. I posted this because I was tired of hiring people trying to make the job sound awesome, and then people running away after the first door (this actually happened, and I feel like a chump as I drove for about an hour to go pick this kids up to bring him with me for training). I hired about 4 people off this add, one who was responsible for helping me book a ton of work. This was his response to the add: 

Dear Ciaran,

I am writing to you because I believe I am the perfect candidate for this position, which I will demonstrate by showing you how I meet each of the requirements.

1. You have to be willing to walk.

I have twenty-two years of walking experience under my belt; I am anatomically built so that I have the capability to walk long distances, I own and operate my own set of legs and can use them with efficiency and expertise. I often go on walks for my own enjoyment and exercise, and I am happy to do so as a requisite for the job.

2. Have unobstructed breathing.

As a skilled saxophone player of nearly ten years, I have developed the ability to control my breathing to the most precise degrees. I have never had any respiratory related illnesses or diseases so you don’t have to worry about me falling behind or fainting on the job.

3. Own, wear and afford clothes that have no stains, are not black, have no tears, rips or cleavage. Any turtlenecks will be asked to leave immediately, as well as onesies.

I am happy to inform you that I do not own any turtlenecks or onesies, although I do have a couple of overalls (that was a joke). I am able to dress professionally while comfortably enough to walk long distances.

4. Be able to present your hairstyle in a way that is non-offensive yet stylish.
I have had random strangers compliment me on my hair, and have been referred to as “that guy with great hair” on multiple occasions. Having previously worked in office settings, I understand the importance of looking presentable and personable.

5. Give up two evenings of your life a week.

This will not be an issue at all but a welcome change of pace as my evenings are mostly spent between watching Netflix and playing video games.

6. Be okay with constant rejection.

Just ask every girl I have ever talked to when I was in high school.

This post could go on forever, but everyone except my dad and mom have stopped reading this, so I will just talk about some of the highlights and funny moments of the year:
Definitely took this picture when the homeowner wasn't looking, but one thing that makes your job better is when you hire really happy people who love life!

Got a call in lead meaning someone called me looking for a quote on painting. They spoke Mandrin, so I brought my trust translator, who also has stylish hair and plays saxophone. We show up at the house and the family is waiting outside on the front lawn for us. We walk around the house, the kids who are about my age talking in English to me, telling me what there father wants who was present but didn't speak English. After we are done the walk around, they tell us to follow them, and they jump in their very luxurious vehicles and drive off. We run and jump in are car to follow them, me hoping we don't run out of gas, as I didn't fill up and the empty light was on. Zig zaging in and out of small streets for about 5 minutes, they pull up in front of a very nice house, and open the gates. At this time I am very excited as this will be a great job if we can get it. Again same process as last estimate. They then request that we bring pictures of the house in the desired colour they want to change it to. We say "why of course, didn't even have to mention it" meanwhile I have no idea how to do that. They ask when I will bring my photographer to take the pictures, fast on my feet I tell them the translator is also a photographer and we will be back tomorrow for the pictures. We grabbed one of my roommates old collector cameras that doesn't work, and went and took pics with are Iphones, behind the collector camera as a decoy.
The following day we go to meet the family to go over the proposal. The dad stares at the pictures of what the new Colours would look like, and is stone cold. He then goes on to speaking a language I don't understand, and I can tell he is angry. He throws the papers aside, says they are crap, and we apologize profusely and eventually he gives us a second chance, and then come back the next day with better pictures. Then long talks in the contract begin and after a few days are awarded the houses. It took us a very long time to paint them all, and I got yelled at a lot, but we pulled it off and are proud of it. There would be days where the homeowners were yelling at me then we would be laughing later together on the same day. Moral of the story is it was worth thinking on are feet and faking it until we made it, as it was a lot of stress, but we got better because of it.
Aint she purdy?

One of our staff events, a bbq. A big lesson in getting buy in from your team is to treat them well and get them having fun with each other so they are less likely to quit when times get tough, and yes people will just quit, you learn a lot about the work ethic of our generation when you hire them. Some are great and extremely hard working, and some not so much, and often times for good reason, but not always 
There were a lot more headaches in 2016 compared with 2015, as the business grew by almost half, and at one time we had 22 people working in the business including painters, marketers, sales persons, translator, secretary, and telemarketer. Big learning was to hire people based on character as well as ability, as there were a few workers who were smart people, and not right for the job, and it ended up causing more work and problems then actual production. 2017 is already underway and I am way behind where I was last year. Working on getting out of a rut, and will update in a bit. 
removing wall paper and then painting over. The customers wanted it done quickly so we stayed over til 2am one night working, and then we got in trouble for making noise.... As a business owner you take all the responsibility of anything that happens in your work, and rightfully so.
Sales is something before getting into business I never thought about doing. I really attest any success I have with it to my experience as a social worker, as well as through backpacking, hitch hiking, and couchsurfing. As when you couchsurf you are basically selling yourself to your host to convince them to host you, as well as with hitch hiking. Further when you are in someones personal car you don't know, you find things to talk about quickly as to not make the ride awkward. This also helps in sales as your trying to sell a paint job to someone you don't previously know. 

As you can imagine if you have been following this blog over the years that painting houses doesn't really suit me. It is starting to become mundane, and I am constantly looking for ways to keep things interesting, as I am sure you know if you have read this far. One lesson I have learned is that most things in life are not that exciting, and you need to do normal everyday things and put your own twist on them, and do your best to surround yourself with good people.