Episode 12

Published on:

17th Jan 2024

The #1 Strategy for Selling More Painting Jobs w/ Tanner Mullen

Jason Phillips: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Contractor Freedom Podcast. I'm your host, Jason Phillips. This show exists to help small business owners like you escape the tyranny of Contractor Freedom and enter the bliss of Contractor Freedom so you can have the Time, Money, and Freedom to Live Your Life With Purpose Beyond Your Business.

As a certified human behavior consultant in DISC personality styles and motivators, I'll be sharing with you skills for life, love, leadership, and business. I'll also be connecting you with experts that can help you scale your business and your life. So if you want to build the business and life of your dreams, then you are in the right place.

Let's go. 

Jason Phillips: Hello Contractors! I'm excited to be here with you today. I've got a very special guest with you with us here who you can see on the screen and you're going to, you're going to want to tune in till the end because we've got some, we've got some awesome info that's, that, That impacts you guys, so many of you guys who are using a particular software for running your contracting business.

I don't know if you [00:01:00] guys know who that is if, what it is, if not, yeah, you'll find out, but I've got a feeling most of you guys already know. I already know what I'm talking about here. We got the one and only, got Tanner Mullen with us here today. Tanner's not only, he's I don't know if I could call him a serial entrepreneur.

But he's definitely a visionary. He obviously, you like that? Okay, yeah,

he Not only is the owner of premium, painting, but also Dripjobs automation software for contractors. And not to mention, he's got the painting contractors group on Facebook, which has, more people in it than a population of China.

Tanner, he's a giver and he's an all around great guy if you haven't interacted with him online

And so Tanner, it's my pleasure to have you on today, man. 

Tanner Mullen: How are you doing? I was saying, I'm so glad he started a podcast, man. I think this was, long overdue. I respect you fully and, I'm just excited to see what you do with it. Contractor freedom, all the good stuff, man. I'm happy to be here. I really am an honor 

Jason Phillips: me as well. I feel the same way about you. I'm glad we got to connect. I think we've only met in person, maybe like one time in passing at a PCA event. And we we've been on a couple of podcasts together before. I think [00:02:00] on, I would like that. So I, one of the things, one of my goals, again, this isn't about me today, but.

One of my goals is I just, I want to build bridges. I feel like our industry is too fragmented and that's adding to the contractors, feeling like they're on an island. And I believe that a forward thinking people need to unify, build bridges, work together, and we can make this whole community a better place.

So that's one of the reasons I decided to have you on today. Hey Tanner, tell us, obviously you're the owner of Premium Painting. And am I, did I hear before that, that, you grew up in the paint business? Is that 


Tanner Mullen: Yeah, I did. Actually, my dad was a painter by trade and you know, just as a kid going on the job site with him.

I remember in eighth grade, everyone else had summer where they'd hang out with their friends and I had get up at six o'clock and. Grab your white Dickies and your painter's shirt that had blue tape on it from the day before. But you know, it was, it was interesting. I didn't resent it, but I was like, I will never do this again.

When I went off to college, got into the professional things like car sales, and I was really heavy into the restaurant industry. At [00:03:00] 19, I was a manager of a restaurant that I couldn't, I wasn't even old enough. To drink the alcohol that they were serving, you know, so that was interesting because people would look at me and be like, you're too young to be doing this.

And I, I just always work seriously, Jason, you know, it was always something to me having a kind of like up upbringing. I just knew that that was my way out and it was something I could just. Put my attention in and focus on. And in retrospect, I look at it as a blessing, like everything to have hit so many different sectors.

Many people know that, you know, I was in the restaurant industry. I got to a point where so many things I learned, ordering, learning how to deal with vendors, hiring, customer service, but what I think is so valuable, and we'll get into this later about software, Jason is, with the restaurant, having to manage the back of the house and the front of the house.

How often in your business? Are you managing the back of the house and the front of the house? Having to relate to the cooks, the busboys, the dishwashers, but then having to be able to switch gears and be able to communicate effectively with the servers, the hostess, the customers. And that skill set alone has just always been so [00:04:00] instrumental in how I handle my.

Developers with drip jobs and the customers, but also my front lines, right, salesperson, customers. It's just interesting just being able to kind of just relate to people. That's what I learned most. So went through the restaurant industry, got into sales. So I packaged so much. Customer service, you know, together with, with the restaurant.

Then I got into sales and I learned the art of negotiation. I learned the art of following up with leads. I learned the art of waking up and having to hunt for your pay with nothing in the pipeline and you're not getting paid unless you sell. That was interesting. Look, there was no cushion to fall back on.

If I don't sell, I don't eat, Jason. And then finally landing in life insurance, having to go knock doors. I learned the art of door knocking. I mean, all of these experiences, last but not least, I learned, you know, business and transactions and financing and all these things. And again, I can't attribute it to anything else, but God getting me ready for the painting business.

I don't know how I, that's how, that's what I landed on. [00:05:00

Jason Phillips: You know, it, it, it doesn't sound glorious, right? I don't think any of us, unless maybe most people don't grow up thinking, Oh, I dream of owning a painting business or being a contractor. It's like a fireman, a doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, and then a contractor.

But it's amazing what you said. It's like, you look back and I'm like, dude, that's incredible. You've had all of these. different experiences that are just added to the opportunity you've got now and that you're making a difference in the industry. I love that. I didn't know a lot of that about you. I'm glad you shared that.

So before you got into the software business, by the way, the whole analogy to me, it's an analogy for you. It's reality of the. Background in the restaurant business. Man, that analogy, I can just see that's on contractors. That's real. And that front of the house and back of the house, that sales and marketing and production, that's real, man.

I love, 

Tanner Mullen: I love that. And this is to bring that even closer to home. I'm sitting in the line restaurant and I think, have you ever worked in a restaurant? No, no, never. Okay. So. [00:06:00] You know, the back Jason is these are the guys that bust their butts and the front of the house gets all the tips, right? You know, they get all the glory, but in some restaurants you have to earn the respect of the kitchen, right?

Whether you're a server or whether you're a manager and my things is is like I wanted to earn that respect. I wanted to be considered a leader in the kitchen. Even though I didn't know how to cook, they saw me as someone that didn't overwhelm them with tickets because I needed things done. To be able to ask for things in a respective way and not be demanding.

To manage their workload without them getting stressed out. To see an area that's weak, whether they needed to be prepped, something needed cleaned. For them to see that I'm willing to jump in with my team to get it done. And I do the same thing in my painting business. It's amazing. It's like, even though I own the business, I honestly try to earn the respect of my team.

And I don't just try to do it once. It's important to me to make sure that they understand that my head hasn't gotten too big. I'm still there with [00:07:00] them. If I go to a job site, I'm looking for trash to pick up. I'm aiding them. What do you need? Do you need something? Good. I'm there. That's kind of how I've, I've transitioned from that.

And I, and it's always served me well, just earning the respect of the teammates, trying to showcase to them that I'm no better than them in any regard. I just happened to have learned different things and took different risks and I need them in order to continue. 

Jason Phillips: Man, that is so inspiring. That is so inspiring.

I look at it this way. I was never a craftsman. I was never a painter. I literally painted one house as my first week in training and I had this experience. I'm like, okay, wow, this is not my thing. I love sales and marketing at the time, but we need each other. We don't need a company full of Jasons.

Everybody needs to play their part. If we're going to build a bigger future for us all, that's the way I look at it. But at the same time, Hey, I'm, we, we call it executive itis and we don't need any executive itis. I get out, I get out in the field occasionally, not as much as I really want to. And every time I do, it's like a reality check.

I'm like, I remember what it was like trying to deliver these promises, trying to make this [00:08:00] sale, knocking on these doors, and I don't want to be too far removed. from the real challenges and pains that my people deal with day in, day out. So congratulations to you on being connected. Sam, you're probably more connected with the front lines than I am.

I think that's a good thing. I 

Tanner Mullen: enjoy it to a certain degree. You know, I also want to give them autonomy and I don't want to have to be. When I do show up to make it clear what your intentions are when you go to the job. I think for me, there's a bunch of different focuses that could happen. You can go there and impart stress.

You can showcase, you know, flex your muscle and do all sorts of things. You know, I don't have those sorts of insecurities. I'm exactly who God made me to be. I'm in the position that I am because of how hard I worked. It wasn't handed to me. Everything's been earned. Nothing anyone can say that that will change that.

So when I go to the job site, I make sure that promises are being kept, but I also, the step further in my focus is to connect with these people that have been placed in my life. I want to connect with them. I want to pull them aside. It's funny, man. We'll go for a walk around the property that [00:09:00] whatever house I'm working at, we'll walk down the street, but we're doing a barn.

We walked up the hill and sat in the stalls. I just find time to pull eyes away and just, Hey, how's it going? How do you like working here? What do you think I could do better? What are you striving toward? These are things that I've done since the very beginning. And if you don't hear about it or talk about it as a leader, other people won't really understand how valuable this has been.

I'm sure you do the same stuff, but that's what the secret had been for me, at least of how I've been able to maintain consistent results. Now I'm not a major huge company, but what I can say is that I don't have to check the time sheets every morning. You know, that's an indicator of what I've been able to harness in my 

Jason Phillips: company.

When you have those types of interactions that you're describing and you leave, your people feel empowered, they feel valued, they feel heard. And rather than, man, I hope that guy never comes back out. I hope that never happens. You know, one of the things that I want, For me is that every interaction, even if I'm having to correct someone in every interaction, I want [00:10:00] my teammates to feel inspired and hope of a better future for us all.

After every everyone, I don't want anybody to ever think, man, Jason's, he's got his critical eye on me. I messed up or what he's critical. I really don't want that to be, I feel like we should be able to have open and honest conversations. But my job is to build people. And my philosophy is that, that when we build people, the people will build the business and the growth will come naturally if we build the people.

One of my favorite, and that's so 

Tanner Mullen: cool. I love hearing you say that. One of my favorite sayings is if I make your business, my business. Please make my business, your business. And I feel like it's a fair exchange and I think the right teammates value that. 

Jason Phillips: Wow. That's really nice. I would have to agree.

Obviously when you started your company, there was no, no drip jobs as a contractor, business owner, what. Like what gaps in technology did you see at the time? 

Tanner Mullen: Well, you know, what I realized was is that when I sold cars, I had a database and that made it easy to contact people [00:11:00] that I wanted to contact. At the time I wanted to contact them.

And when I got into the painting industry, I tried to find something like that, but it didn't seem like anybody really had a. Sales mindset when building their software from what I gathered, it was painters, nothing wrong with that, but not painters from that have been heavy in sales. So they built really cool painting related features and things like that.

But when I use the software, I'm like, this is still missing the critical component of nurturing leads. and Automations that make it easy for me. I'm not going to say this. Well, I guess I have to, I'm lazy, but I'm not lazy. Like I don't want to do work that I don't have to do that. I can get a computer to do for me.

And that's just, I guess the generation I grew up in is that we just understand that there's easier ways to do things and I'm going to find that way. So I kept hitting a roadblock. I'll tell you one of my strategies when I first started my business, Jason was to buy lead. Now, when people hear that, they cringe.

For me, of course I'm gonna buy leads. I came from car sales, life insurance. All I know is leads. I need leads in order to grow a business. Hello? And [00:12:00] you're telling me all I have to do is sign up for this program called HomeAdvisor, and they're gonna send me people that want painting jobs? Do you realize, Jason, that I was handed a stack of 200 potential leads?

That came in through the service department that I had to call and see if they wanted to upgrade their vehicle. And you're telling me that home advisor is going to send me someone that wants painting. And all I got to do is show up and give them a price. Are you kidding me? So for me, it was a no brainer, but what I found was is that when these leads would come in, of course, I would be charged right away and it would be like 70 bucks, a hundred bucks.

And I would be busy. I'd be driving, I'd be doing an estimate. I would be painting early on in my business. So the more time that goes by, of course, the less chance we have to get that customer on the phone. So I would call maybe like an hour or two hours after and thinking that like, they're still interested.

Like they submitted the information and I wouldn't be able to get ahold of them. I'd be like, well, what do I do now? Call again, call again. And maybe by that time they just got through with phone calls. They know, know what's coming and they kind of just [00:13:00] retract. So then I'd send an email thinking that, you know, they would.

Be interested in engaging through email and then even a text message. And I was doing all this manually and we're talking, I was getting leads. So I'd have to do this for every single lead that came through. That was the biggest bottleneck. It was organizing the leads, following up with the leads and advancing that lead through the pipeline, getting them to take the next action.

And then a. And me running around, painting, estimating, picking up paint, managing my crew. Oh, it just was, it was a, it was a hassle. And then on top of that, I had eight different applications. I was juggling, trying to make it all work. I 

Jason Phillips: wish that you had drip jobs when I started. I, man, I'm a pretty techno geek and I wrote my own CRM back in the day.

Microsoft servers and everything. Yeah, I did. It was great, but it wasn't cloud based and that's when I eventually got off of it. And wrote all kinds of code. I had various automations in there, but you got to remember. I started when most companies didn't even have a website. Okay. And the paint stores, most of them didn't even have computers or were just starting to computerize back in the nineties.[00:14:00

I'm showing my age here, but I feel like, you know, what you're seeing in the mindset you brought into this and Hey, it's great to have estimating software. It's important to have estimating software, but nothing happens until something is sold. Right. And we know it, it's the speed to lead is vital. It's almost like the game of conception only one.

And so getting that lead out there. 

Tanner Mullen: It's crucial. You got to understand, like, and I teach this, I say, you know, understand it from the customer perspective, right? You know, especially with these lead generators, these aggregators that, you know, they go on this website after seeing an ad, maybe they really wanted it done, or maybe the ad convinced them that it would be worth investigating.

Right. So they go through this. This questionnaire that has probably been psychologically evaluated by the top psychologists in, in the way human behavior works, that got them to step by step, put in little bits of information all the way to the point at the end where it says, okay, great, three contractors are going to be calling you.

Thank you. You know, I didn't, I didn't [00:15:00] know that that was going to happen. I thought it was just going to tell me a price, right? So I'm a student of the game, you know, and what we want to do is lower that trust barrier and capitalize on interest. You have to, because they're going to be as excited as they've ever been within the first, maybe 10 minutes.

And then all those thoughts start creeping in. I didn't take my family on vacation for three years. And I'm thinking about spending 10 grand on a paint job or, Oh, great. I got to invite strangers to my house. I just watched the news last night and X, Y, Z happened. I don't want it to happen to me. I just heard about Joanne next door, who her roofing contractor, you know, left a hole in the middle of a roof, right?

So the longer you wait, the longer these thoughts creep in and these And the excitement just goes down. So we wanted to create something that instantly sent a text message, instantly sent an email to the customer within seconds of them submitting the lead. And what I did was, is I built in a one off system early on.

So before DripJobs, I created a system that did this. By patching together four or

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About the Podcast

Contractor Freedom - Break out of Contractor Prison
Earn the Time, Money, and Freedom to live your life with purpose beyond just running your business.
Embark on a transformative journey with Jason W. Phillips, the seasoned owner of the multimillion-dollar Phillips Home Improvements, on the Contractor Freedom Podcast. This podcast is an oasis for small business owners seeking an escape from the all-too-familiar Contractor Prison. Our mission? To help you find your way to the bliss of Contractor Freedom.

With Jason's rich experience and certification in human behavior consultation, this show aims to grant you the knowledge and insights required to not just run a business, but to do so in a way that complements your life. You'll discover skills for life, love, leadership, and business that will empower you to live with purpose beyond your everyday work.

The Contractor Freedom Podcast doesn't stop there. Jason will introduce you to a host of experts who have mastered the art of scaling businesses while balancing personal life. Their stories, experiences, and insights will provide you with the tools necessary to build the business and life of your dreams.

If you're tired of being shackled to your business and yearn for the freedom to live your life while succeeding professionally, then you're in the right place. Join us on the Contractor Freedom Podcast, and let's carve your path to freedom together.

Subscribe now and step into the realm of Contractor Freedom!

About your host

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Jason Phillips

Meet Jason Phillips, a visionary entrepreneur who transformed his one-man show into a thriving empire. His journey from struggle to success with a move into roofing and gutters, his company skyrocketed, earning a spot on the Inc 5000 list five years in a row. Overcoming roadblocks, he reinvented the business, achieving astonishing results. Now, he's dedicated to helping other small business owners to break free by helping them foster a team built on trust, faith, teamwork, and excellence. Join him to create "ABLE-Systems" for scalable, repeatable success and customer satisfaction. Don't let mistakes drain you; let Jason guide you to new heights!