Michael Utley: Hey, welcome to the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. Hope you've been enjoying these episodes, whether you're getting this on YouTube or on iTunes or Stitcher or any of the other locations, you can get your podcasts. Glad you're here checking in with us today. We are excited today. We have a guest and this morning got through our technical difficulties and are now on the line with Tim Flood from Trico Painting and we're super excited. Tim, welcome to the show.
Tim Flood: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Michael Utley: Yeah, absolutely. So first off our regards on everything that's going on in California, how are you today on the wildfires and anything that's happening around you?
Tim Flood: So just basically a lot of smoke, but we're not in any danger where I live, but it's been miserable as far as you can't see across the street with all the smoke. So yeah.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Well, over here in Tennessee, we've seen the satellite images and it's just absolutely stunning. So best wishes to everyone on the West Coast and anyone who might be listening or have friends and family over there. We have a lot of clients on the West Coast and it's been interesting to hear different people's situations. And we've heard a lot of people say the same thing. We're not an immediate threat, but the smoke. Even I think Tim, you might've mentioned the other day couldn't see the building across the street.
Tim Flood: Yeah. That's bad.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Well good. We're going to talk about a little bit about the business side of things today. Of course at Dodgeball, we work with a lot of different types of customers, a lot of different industries, Tim works in the residential painting category, also does some commercial and some other types of work. But Tim, first off, why don't you tell us a little bit, what is Trico Painting? What do you all do?
Tim Flood: Well, we're primarily a residential repaint painting contractor in Roseville, which is just about 20 miles East of Sacramento. And been doing this business, this type of business since 2008. Prior to that, I was on the manufacturing side of the fence. I used to sell paint and run a couple of different paint companies.
I was a vice president of sales for one, but mainly our market is going out and doing either exterior, interior, or cabinet painting. And we do a lot of cabinet painting. It's about half of my business. So we specialize in that. Pretty well-known in this market for that skill set. So we focus on that as kind of our priority.
Michael Utley: That's great. And a lot of our listeners, a lot of our viewers are either people who have founded a business and they're trying to learn and try to get familiar with the marketing side of things. Or we found that we have a lot of people who are listening who are thinking about starting a business. What was it like for you and what was going through your mind that made you think, "I need to start my own company?"
Tim Flood: Well, before I started my own company, I was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a fairly large paint manufacturer based in Los Angeles. But my territory and my region was the Northern California market. And when you get to that level in your career, you have a couple of choices. You're not going to be owning the company and getting to be the president is rare. Plus there's a lot of different moving parts.
And at that point, I decided if I want to move forward and have a little more stake in what I do and the outcome of what I do, I need to start something on my own. And I talked to my wife and we had talked about doing something on our own for quite a few years. And of course the safety net of having the mothership take care of all of your ... if something bad happens, you always have the mothership to fall back on.
And when you're on your own, you're on your own. You don't have that safety net. So it's a scary proposition, but once you do it you're basically all in and you figure a way to make it happen. And that's what we did. It's been the best thing I've ever done really. I'm in control of my own destiny. There are some scary moments that go along with owning your own business. Sometimes you go without a paycheck, but for the most part, the livelihood that this business has provided to me has been pretty, pretty good.
Michael Utley: That's great. Yeah. The combination of fear and excitement is something that is sort of not for everyone. Of course, I have GoEpps is the parent company of Dodgeball Marketing, DodgeballSEO, and we're in our 9th year of business. And yeah, there are challenges. There are moments when you're not sure what heck's going on and how to go forward.
There are times when you have a lot of energy in one direction and something changes or a big contract doesn't come in or you lose a big contract, whatever it is. What are some of the things that have been hurdles that you've had to overcome over the years of running Trico Painting?
Tim Flood: Well, the biggest hurdles have always been what the economy's doing. Like right now, we've had some challenges with the COVID situation and we've managed to overcome most of that. Back in 2008 and '09, it was a severe recession. People weren't really putting money into their homes. They weren't really painting, they were more focused on eating. So that affected our business. The current kind of everyday day-to-day things that aren't macro or more of a micro situation. Our employees are always kind of a challenge getting good people to work, making sure they show up, having the personalities kind of fit into your values are kind of an important part of the way we run our business.
And we want to make sure that when we're sending guys out to the job sites that they fit our customers' expectations. We don't hire guys that look like they'd been hanging out with Charlie Manson the night before. So those kinds of little challenges of just having the right guys, the right people, doing the right jobs, scheduling. Just the day-to-day operations can sometimes be a little hectic, but for the most part, we've got a good system. We've fine-tuned it. We've learned how what works. And we basically do more of that and less of the things that don't work.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. Any sort of business, even a technology company, a scalable technology company at some point you're dealing with people, and people are the most complicated part of any equation. You can have the environment, you can have the economy, you can have products, you can have changing technology and all those things are pretty engineerable.
But once you get into dealing with people, then you're into some serious complexity. Over the period of the history of the company, have you changed the mix of services that you've offered or has it always been this focus on what you have now?
Tim Flood: No, it was kind of interesting about, I would say six, seven years ago, we really just did interior and exterior paintings. Once in a while, somebody would throw a cabinet job at us and we really didn't have the skill set or the desire to do cabinets or kind of a tedious type of project. And if something goes wrong on a cabinet, something can go very wrong. So you're not just fixing one door, you're fixing the whole kitchen or even more if you've been involved in the whole house.
But what happened was, I'm kind of a workaholic type of guy and we did a cabinet job and I posted the cabinet job on Facebook. And Facebook asked me if I wanted to boost my post. I really didn't know anything about boosting or anything else about Facebook, but my wife was out of town. So I thought, "Well, what the hell? I'll keep going with this." And I boosted the post and I took my son to breakfast. And while we were at breakfast, my phone was blowing up on me.
Michael Utley: Wow.
Tim Flood: And he's like, "What's going on with your phone?" I go, "I posted a picture of a kitchen we did." And I'm getting I think I got about 600 requests just that day for estimates.
Michael Utley: Oh my goodness.
Tim Flood: And so I thought, "Okay, I need to dig into this and see what's going on." So I decided right then and there that we were going to do start doing cabinets and it literally became half of my business that year so. I went out and did a lot of research on cabinets, cabinet products, cabinet painting products, tools for painting cabinets, different types of equipment. We've developed a really sophisticated system for painting cabinets and it's paid off so.
Michael Utley: So was that a little bit of a good to great moment in the history of Trico Painting? Was that a turning point or was that one of four or five turning points?
Tim Flood: Well, there's been four or five, I would say. I mean, I couldn't really pinpoint right now, but I mean that was one of the bigger aha moments for us. Interior-exterior painting is if you're a painting contractor and you're doing residential, that's kind of your bread and butter and it's almost on autopilot. It's like, "Okay, we go paint a house today." But when we kind of jumped into the cabinet deal, first of all, back seven years ago, there weren't that many guys doing it.
So the competition was almost non-existent. So we were able to capture a demand for a market for that segment that was obviously high and ran with it. But then, my competitors started noticing us doing that kind of thing. And now I've got about six guys that I've got to keep an eye on, but we were kind of the guys that took the ball and ran with it first. And so we've got a little bit of headstart on everybody else.
Michael Utley: That's tremendous. It's funny when you have something like that, that happens. For us, it was one particular client who said, "Hey, we appreciate the SEO evaluation, but what could you really do to change our business?" And I came back to them with an answer and said, "Here's a plan to grow 20% next year." And it was that same sort of aha moment.
And I've talked about that in other podcasts, but looking back on sort of the history of my company, it's a surprise when things like that happen. Sometimes you don't know until later how big they are. But it sounds like you in the moment were able to tell 600 new requests for pricing, that's a pretty shocking situation at the end.
Tim Flood: Yeah, it was dramatic. I mean, I don't know if it was 600, but it was enough to get my attention and know that I was onto something.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. What philosophy or what approach do you take in developing your people and thinking about the people side of managing your business? What's your sort of framework for how you think about management?
Tim Flood: So our management is we're big on education and communication. And we look for guys that kind of fit our structure. They're family guys. They're typically in their late 20s, 23s that have a little more at stake as far as bills to pay and things like that. They're not jumping from company to company looking for the next dollar or looking for the big raise and all that stuff. Most of my guys, a big majority of my guys have been with me more than 10 years. I had another company before this and I've got guys that came from that company to this company. I've got one guy has been with me 22 years.
So there's loyalty on both sides of the fence with my employees. We treat them like family. They consider us part of their family. We go to a lot of their family events and they come to a lot of ours. So it's a good fit. The communication, the education part is just part of making sure that they have the skill set, the tools and the understanding of what we expect on each job.
We basically have each crew foreman has an iPad. When we started a job, he's got all his documents on that iPad of what's going to happen to that job, when we expect the job to be done. All the different things that kind of go into making sure that job runs smoothly and we finish it on budget. So I'm not sure if all of this is kind of making sense.
Michael Utley: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh no, absolutely.
Tim Flood: But that's kind of how what we do with our employees and how we manage our employees.
Michael Utley: Yeah. What I'm taking away is that you're creating a culture that is very tight-knit. And you and I share a common experience of having worked for other companies and then having started businesses.
How would you contrast the culture that you absorbed or were around or worked in before you started your own company and then the culture you've created? Had they been similar or different? It sounds very different to me so far.
Tim Flood: Yeah. It is different. I mean, we try to take our employees' considerations or feelings into how we run our business. When you work for a big company or bigger companies, you're more of a number. You're there to produce and they're really not interested in anything else as far as you're producing, right? You're either selling or increasing numbers or whatever your job title and description is. It's basically as long as you're doing that, everything's good. You don't do that, you got a problem, right?
We have a different philosophy as far as we want people to produce, but we also want people to be happy with what they're doing. And so we kind of try to keep an eye on what's going out in the field. We keep our ear to the ground. We're listening for, "Hey, this guy is not happy." We try to make sure everybody when we have crews that they fit together, that they're not constantly stressed out because they're working with one another.
So for the most part, when we build a crew, the crew stays together for kind of life. It's like a marriage. And so I've got crews that have worked with each other, three guys have been working on the same crew for eight years and it's a good fit because everybody on that crew knows what they're supposed to do. There's not that blame game that goes along with somebody, a new guy showing up and he's not doing his part.
Basically, these three guys know what they do. They assign each other the jobs to do and then they get the job done. And on occasion, we have a situation where the marriage isn't working and we have to step in and either plug a new guy in or make some other arrangements. But really, it's just trying to make sure that we keep an eye on and listen and accept their feedback, what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong.
Michael Utley: That's good. So yeah. So more along the lines of that tight-knit group, a focus on the relationships, the relationships between the individuals and how you can have them really prepared before they even get to the job site to deliver a great experience to your customer. So that's tremendous.
Well Tim, this has been great. Last question. We'll wrap up with this. What's next for Trico Painting?
Tim Flood: Well, what's next? We're trying to get my 24-year-old son to take the company over so I can go fishing. That's what's next.
Michael Utley: That's tremendous. Well good. Yeah. We'll interview him in a couple of years here on the podcast and see how that's going, but that's good. Tim, this has been outstanding. Thank you for taking time with us today to be on the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. This has been episode seven. And again, to all of our listeners and viewers, thank you for participating. Please message us. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request interviews or topics that you want to see covered on the podcast.
We've had thousands of people listen to the show and so we're really thankful for everyone who's out there. This is a new format. We were doing this over at Search Primer Podcast and it was just for painters, but we broaden this out to a larger business community under the new name DodgeballSEO and added this video format instead of just doing audio.
So Tim, thanks for being on the show today and sharing with us some of the really unique insights that you've had into team building and culture. Those are going to be some of the things that I know people are going to get from this. You've got a really unique perspective on things. And even though this is a short interview that really came through. So thanks so much for your time today.
Tim Flood: You bet.