Inbound Marketing Blog

002: How to make $70,000 in one day from one email, with Brian Young

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Brian is the founder and owner of Home Painters Toronto, a full-service home painting company. Brian started his business by cold calling and going door-to-door as a one-man army. But the digital age and a cultural shift away from door-to-door sales saw Brian's business go into steady decline in the early 2000's. Today Home Painters Toronto is one of the most successful residential and commercial full-service painting companies in the greater Toronto area. Since investing in Infusionsoft in 2012, Brian has grown his revenue 350 percent, expanded his team and was able to reduce his workweek from 80 hours to 65 hours, with time to pick up his daughter from school every day. Sign up now to be notified when Brian's interview goes live!


Brian is the founder and owner of Home Painters Toronto, a full-service home painting company. Brian started his business by cold calling and going door-to-door as a one-man army. But the digital age and a cultural shift away from door-to-door sales saw Brian's business go into steady decline in the early 2000's. Today Home Painters Toronto is one of the most successful residential and commercial full-service painting companies in the greater Toronto area. Since investing in Infusionsoft in 2012, Brian has grown his revenue 350 percent, expanded his team and was able to reduce his workweek from 80 hours to 65 hours, with time to pick up his daughter from school every day. Sign up now to be notified when Brian's interview goes live!


Samantha: And now prepare to get you digital. Okay, let's get started. I am absolutely thrilled today to introduce my guest Brian Young from Home Painters Toronto. Brian has been in the business of painting homes in Toronto, Canada for over 25 years. He started out as a student painter to pay his way through university and now runs an incredibly successful seven-figure business. It wasn't always an easy path though, and Brian suffered almost 10 years of declining business before a punch in the face from a prospect forced him to change and when he did he discovered digital marketing automation and Infusionsoft. Let's hear it from Brian.

So, Brian Young, welcome to the podcast. I'm so thrilled to have you today on our podcast getting our message out to the world about what Infusionsoft can do for small businesses. I introduced Brian a moment ago. He is the 2015 Icon Ultimate Marketer for Infusionsoft and an amazing guy, an incredible story and I really want to say welcome to the podcast.

Brian: Thanks for having me Samantha, it's my pleasure.

Samantha: That's terrific. Brian I'm going to kick straight into the interview because there is so much that I'd love to know from you and that our listeners would love to know from you. First of all, can you tell us a bit about Home Painters Toronto and your business and what does it do exactly?

Brian: Sure, we're a local residential and commercial painting company, mostly residential. And we've been in business for roughly 25 years working in Toronto and the greater Toronto area. That's pretty much it. Interior, exterior painting and handyman services are our services and we're servicing the greater part of Toronto. It's been a great run.

Samantha: Fantastic. It was funny, after Icon I was telling so many people about you and then when I was saying you were a painter they thought I meant an artistic painter, but you paint house and homes, right? And people's rooms and architraves and, you call them architraves there in Toronto?

Brian: No, it's called homes, residential, detached, semidetached.

Samantha: Okay, fantastic. And so you've been in business about 25 years, can you tell us how your business evolved? Because I love the story of how you got started in your business.

Brian: Sure, I started as a student painter. It's called Student Painter Works actually now and that was back in 1987 and I just wanted to find a way to pay money to get through school. So lo and behold, I did that for four years roughly and then when I graduated from university that's when I realized I didn't want to have to get a job and so I just kept doing it after that. And so that was pretty much it and it just kept going up from there for roughly 10 years. So that was a really good run. And cold calling and direct mail and long times were the main ways of distribution in terms of marketing back then.

Samantha: So, when you say, can I just understand this a bit better, as a student painter, is there a program for student painters? And do you work for another business or do you actually have your own business as a student painter?

Brian: Well theoretically you actually work for a franchisee company and they train you, teach you everything, support you. And it's a great experience, I would recommend it for anyone that's in university. They still have the program now, although I don't think it's as big as it was back then. So yeah, that's how it worked. And you worked for the franchisee and they would support you, teach you everything from start to finish, how to paint, how to do quotes, how to production manage and it's an awesome experience.

Samantha: And how did you go from there then, working for a franchisee to owning your own business?

Brian: Oh, well I basically, in 1991 when I graduated I didn't have a job. I was at university and at the time there was actually a recession, if you look back. And I loved, it was my dream to run a business and I didn't go into it thinking I'm going to do this for the rest of my life. But I didn't have a job and I just, it was the one thing I knew how to do. It was all about cold calling, basically. I was a pretty good cold caller back then. And so that's how it all got started.

Samantha: So when you say cold calling, you would literally land on someone's doorstep and knock on their door and ask them if they wanted their house painted? How does that even work? How do you do that?

Brian: Yeah, I would basically knock on the door. I would look for mostly exterior homes and so I would look for homes that needed to be painted. That's really easy, you've just got to look at the homes that are peeling. And I had a system where I would look at all the southern exposures where all the sun is that's where you usually get the most damage. So I would look at the homes that were peeling, facing the southern exposure and those were the big hints and then I would stop and I would canvass that strip of homes that needed to be done. I would just knock on the door and say, "Hi, it's Brian from Home Painters I was in the area doing painting. I was noticing your windows are peeling, I was wondering if you'd like a free estimate for painting?" And I would closely 45% to 50% of those leads and I would get about three to four a night. So I would close about two of those a night and the average job size was around 1,000 or so.

Samantha: Wow, and then did you paint the homes yourself at that stage or did you have someone that you had that painted them by that stage?

Brian: Actually I had painters, I've never been a painter. I knew about painting and I was good at teaching painting. I know all the technical knowledge about painting. I know what to do, what not to do but I've never painted full time for significant periods of time.

Samantha: And so you would go and do all the sales and then you'd hand that off to your painters. Over the 10 year period, I guess, how many painters did you grow to?

Brian: Well, I started two to four crews and that was pretty steady for about, maybe the first, like when I was going to university as well for the first five years and then things kept going up from there until about, around 1997 to 2000 is when I started seeing marketing problems but things were going, I would say, four to seven, eight crews roughly.

Samantha: So when you say crew, how many are in a crew?

Brian: One to two guys. Usually I would have two guys in a crew. If there was something that didn't require two guys, like it was a small job, on the ground, no ladders, I would have one guy on the crew. Maximum three people on a crew but usually two.

Samantha: Okay, so do you mind if I ask? In that period then you'd grown it pretty well from nothing to revenues of ball park . . .

Brian: Ball park . . . I'm trying to remember, it was I think in around the hundreds.

Samantha: Okay.

Brian: Yeah.

Samantha: So you've grown it over the course of 10 years to the hundreds of thousands.

Brian: Yeah.

Samantha: And then what happened?

Brian: Basically in 1997, 2000 the internet kind of came into play and we were . . . at the time I didn't even have a smart phone, and I didn't even have a smart phone actually until 2012 so, it's another story all together. But so the internet came into play and we were, I was a good cold caller, like I said, and I just stuck to my ways and I was very stubborn about change. I didn't like the unknown. I was a little bit fearful of it and a little bit lazy, to be frank, because it's a lot of work to have to figure out how all this technology stuff works. So I was very ignorant to it and I didn't want to change. No website, no emailing, nothing and I just kept doing the cold calling and that was when I experienced the downward spiral of sales for significant periods of time.

Samantha: So when you say that you were resistant to it, were you simply ignorant of it and so you just thought, "Well, I'll just stick with my ways," or was it one of those things where you thought, "Maybe I should be checking this out but I'm doing quite well as I am, thanks very much, so there is really no need to change," or what was your . . . ? Was it active resistance?

Brian: Yeah, there was always part of me that knew I should change and there is always part of me that said there are better ways of doing this but the amount of effort and the amount of mental, and for that matter physical, brain power, it would have taken for me to change was not enough of a push for me to do so. So I just kept being, let's say, stubborn and focused on what I was good at.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: And I just kept working harder and harder in that way because I just was so scared of the internet. I was petrified, like, "Does this mean I'm going to have to go online and show pictures of myself?" And there was just a lot of negativity I associated to it.

Samantha: So tell me about that, that's really interesting because I think a lot of people in your kind of business feel exactly the same. First of all they're unfamiliar with the technology so there's the effort. Second of all, if they're not comfortable with the technology then there is the question of, "Do I have to pay someone else to do it and is that going to be a crazy cost?" But third of all is that, "Do I have to get out of my comfort zone?" And I really want to explore that because the time and the money are huge reasons not to do it but there is that whole personal resistance around having to promote yourself in a different way and yet you were so good at promoting yourself one-on-one. So I'm curious about that, like what were you worried about in terms of all of that?

Brian: There are so many things, you basically touched on a bunch of them. I was a one man show, I didn't want to have to hire. The costs of hiring someone to do website, the cost of having someone else helping with my marketing, the fear of, "Oh my God, now I'm not going to have a social life because my social life is going to be exposed because I'm going to be online, everybody is going to know what's going on." The fear of just so many things of the unknown, I could go down the laundry list, it was just so painful and I just associated so much pain to that.

And I had enough sales and I was doing well enough that I could kind of justify keep doing what I was doing for a long time so I just kept pushing that part and unfortunately, as you found out later, that enough's enough and that's when I had to change. And I see businesses every day, including my dad's business struggling with the exact same dilemma that I did and I don't want to tell them what to do and I'm not going to tell them what to do but when they do come to me I tell them the story and they're just going to totally, eventually fizzle out at some point, if it's now or later but they're just going to really hamper themselves.

And I see that, like, I'm a strategic coach right now and a lot of my colleagues are in a similar situation as I was about three or four years ago and they ask me, "So how are things going?" And I tell them and they go, "Oh, wow." And they say, "How did you change?" And I tell them I went online and I tell them I've done Infusionsoft and a bunch of other things and they just go, "Oh cool," and I could see that happening in their heads that, "I think maybe I should but oh, my God, no it means I'm going to have to do this, this, this and this."

Samantha: So tell us, before we get into what you have done, what forced you to change? You had all of those reasons not to change, was it a progressive thing or was it like an overnight, "That's it, I need to change things."?

Brian: It was a long, drawn out death of just declining sales. I had my sales at a certain peak and a certain point and it just slowly kept going down and down and down like a few percent every year and I could just feel the market not cooperating with me. So it was one of those long, drawn out things and for, I think, over five years I kept saying to myself, "Now when am I going to change now? What should I do?" I was asking myself the right question, I just wasn't getting the right answers. I was thinking so there has to be a better way to doing this. Obviously cold calling, I knew wasn't the way of the future but there had to be a better way and I just, although I knew, I didn't want to know in terms of going online.

Samantha: And so what caused you to make that step? What was the first action that happened that caused you to go there?

Brian: There was a number of small actions but the ultimate action was in 2011 I was canvassing this neighborhood and the client was, well the potential client was upset because I was interrupting his dinner and he really got ticked off at me. He shoved me, then punched me in the face.

Samantha: Oh no.

Brian: Yeah, and that was the ultimate game changer and I said, "You know what? I think that's it, we've got to do something different." Because even in Toronto now cold calling is kind of frowned upon, people are tired of it. People are tired of, sorry?

Samantha: And I'm really glad you mentioned that because one of the things that I think is fascinating about your story is that it would be reasonable to think, "Well, cold calling has always worked, why isn't it working now?" And what was going on in an underlying cultural sense was homes and businesses were moving away from cold calling so it became a far less acceptable practice. So culturally it was becoming less acceptable as well. Like, I couldn't understand well, if you've always cold called you've always had the gumption to go to someone's door and knock on their door and get business why is that not working anymore? But obviously all the time, and certainly even in Australia, over time cold calling has become far less acceptable to the home owner.

Brian: Yeah, people are, as you know, people are less talkative face to face. They'd rather do things digitally like through texting, emailing. They don't want to have to deal with sales people. In Toronto, for example, they have gas, people wanting to sell you furnaces all the time. And I think back in the 90s even they had encyclopedias, that was a cold calling thing.

Samantha: Yes, yeah, yeah absolutely. In Australia too, probably in the 80s probably more than 90s but yeah, yep.

Brian: Yeah, so that type of marketing is really dying, dying. And people are, there almost like blogs about how to avoid cold callers. About you have intercoms now and you can avoid them, don't answer your door. Anyway, so that was happening more and more. I knew people were at home, they weren't answering the door and I'm like, "What's going on here?" So as I said this way of marketing I used to be really good at was no longer working and that's when I realized that I had to change. I mean, this was enough was enough. My business was dying, I was laying off my painters by the droves, I've lost a lot of good painters because of that. My income was going down, my sales were going down and so I just had to change. And that's when I went online and I started searching for a business coach in terms of there had to be another way to do it. I didn't know how so I wanted to get someone to teach me how to do it.

Samantha: And so is that the first step you took, was look for a business coach to help make that change?

Brian: Yeah, I was really stubborn about that, too. I thought I knew everything, I thought I didn't want to have to pay someone, pay some crazy, obscene amounts of money for someone to teach me something about whatever, internet strategy. But I knew that that was the way to go because that's what everyone was saying. They were saying, "Oh I got this quote online from this guy," and I'd lose a lot of business to the competition that way. So I knew that was the way to go but I did have no idea about how to do it.

Samantha: And so did you find a business coach online?

Brian: Yeah, basically I . . .

Samantha: Yeah, tell me about that. Tell me about that experience.

Brian: Yeah, I went online and I just Googled business coaches or, I can't remember exactly, internet business coaches and so I found one. And it was, actually I found a few and a couple didn't quite, right off the bat, like the first conversation didn't go where I wanted to so it took me a bit of time before I found the one that I liked. And I think it was in January, I remember it was in December of 2011 I wanted to get started right away, I think it was around Christmas time around early December. He says, "No, let's do it after, in January." and I'm like, "Oh crap, I've got to wait a month." And so anyway I was like, "Okay, there has to be a better way," so I was really excited.

So in January 2012 is when we got started and we just basically went over everything from start to finish and just ripped my marketing scheme that I had built up in the last 20 years, I actually can't remember how long it's 20 years and it just obliterated it all. But I was at the point where I was willing to do almost anything.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: Like if you said, "Brian, jump over backwards and do some back flips," I would have done that if I had to.

Samantha: Obviously there was a bit of trust there in terms of that working relationship, yeah, desperate, okay. And so what did that, have you stayed with that particular coach?

Brian: Not that we don't drive anymore but I find with every coach they have a certain amount to offer and in the first say, three, six months, one year, whatever it is, you kind of get what you get from them and then . . . not that they can't offer you anymore but there is different amounts of information you get from every coach. So I've done some on my own, I've had different coaches along the way that have taught me different things.

Samantha: Did you build your online presence from there and your Infusionsoft application or how did you end up discovering Infusionsoft?

Brian: Actually he was the one that recommended an Infusionsoft and I didn't even know what CRM was. I thought it was just a database. Okay, fine I need a database because I basically, put all my, I wonder if I have it. Actually I'll show you . . .

Samantha: Yeah, that would be great.

Brian: Okay, I don't know if the podcast people can see this but I used to record all my customers on this.

Samantha: Yeah, just hold that up to the camera.

Brian: Yeah, can you see that?

Samantha: Yeah, that's fantastic. That's how you used to record them, because I was going to ask before how did you record who you'd gone to and who you hadn't?

Brian: Yeah, I used to manually do it and then when I booked the job I would highlight it.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: And then I would put the dollar amount at the bottom here so . . .

Samantha: Wow.

Brian: Yeah, so this is how I used to record all my leads and everything.

Samantha: Wow.

Brian: Yeah, now it's basically you need to automate a lot of your processes and we're going off here to automate. So it was, when I got first set up with Infusionsoft, do you want to get into that?

Samantha: Yeah, yeah, definitely. So he suggested that you try Infusionsoft and your understanding at that time was that CRM is a database so I'm going to just put people in a database. So I imagine you probably thought, "Well, what benefit is that? But I'm desperate so I'll do whatever he says."

Brian: Yeah, and that was the other thing. I was never used to recording people's email addresses, I thought, "Oh my God, you mean I'm going to have to ask them to write out their email addresses every time?" I would get their name, phone number and address and that would be enough for me. So that was the first challenge, was that I had to change my habits about how I would get information from people.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: And then the other thing was it was really tough because I didn't know what automation was, I didn't know what its capabilities was. I was very stubborn to that. But again he was just basically Mike was actually, his name was Mike Torgerson he was actually really good at clubbing me over the head and saying, "Brian, what the France is going on?" We're allowed to say that, right?

Samantha: Yeah, yeah, I love that.

Brian: And he used to, on a continual basis club over the head saying, "Brian come on, come on, come on," and I'd say, "No Mike, this can't be done," he says, "No Brian, this can be done and this is what you're going to do." And he would just club me over the head religiously every meeting we had to change me because that's what it needed. I just needed clubbing over the head.

Samantha: So at this stage, were you still going door to door but then instead of doing what you're doing you're asking for email addresses so that you could market to people or how did you fundamentally change things right away or how?

Brian: Absolutely, actually how it worked was January I remembered I had trouble implementing Infusionsoft at first, the first couple of times it didn't work, it was just a mess. The other thing was mentally I needed to change my processes mentally so that took a while. And so it was tough. And that's when I met Kelsey and I met him actually at a men's group thing in Puerta Vallarta. So when I met him, this was in, I believe it was in March or April of 2012. I met Kelsey in, he is with Hired Guns Solutions, by the way.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: And things went really good from there. I went up to his room, we were having a beer and he was showing me the power of pay per click and the power of Google AdWords and then how that could integrate with Infusionsoft. And I was just blown my mind and I was just unbelievable. I felt like a new surge of life just went into me, like it's this lightbulb after lightbulb after lightbulb. And I won't forget that conversation I had with him. We were on his computer and he was showing me on his spreadsheet how it worked and I'm like, "Holy Moly." And that's when I said, "Dude, you have to help me." And at the time he was working with Infusionsoft so he wasn't allowed to so he said, "I'll do it for free, I'll take that and do it." So he did it for free for so long until later on when he left Infusionsoft I could eventually pay him but, yeah. So that's how . . .

Samantha: That's fantastic. So when you first got Infusionsoft, and I'm not sure of the timeframe between when you first got it and when you met Kelsey.

Brian: Right.

Samantha: I have heard an expression and I love it because there are so many people that are doing this right now and they need help with their implementation with Infusionsoft. They feel like they're making a donation to Infusionsoft once a month because they're not using it. And in fact an amazing new client signed on with me just about two or three days ago and he was like, "I've got one campaign, it's not working properly. I'm just paying out all this money and it is doing absolutely nothing." And he has a huge database of contacts that he is just, he is only using Infusionsoft for new people that sign up with him and it's just like, "Oh man there is so much opportunity here." So I'm really excited about looking forward to working with him but that feeling of, "I'm just not using it." So Kelsey helped you overcome that?

Brian: Yeah, like I said, it was three months of struggle and I wanted to quit because I didn't think, well, I wasn't using it properly. I hadn't changed any of my bad habits about not getting people's email addresses so that was the other thing. He helped me change my, let's say my habits, because I had a lot of bad habits. So that's probably the first challenge you have with business owners I'm sure, Samantha, is that they have bad habits.

Samantha: Yeah, we all have bad habits.

Brian: Yeah, exactly. So you have to change the way you enter the data, how you use the data and of course how you're going to eventually market the data to the client. So that took a while. But as soon as Kelsey showed me the power and what I could do with it I was like, "Okay, I'm changing right away." And then I started changing exactly how I got people's email addresses. Now even people sometimes don't want to give us their email address so I have some little tricks that I ask that to get them to give me their email address.

Samantha: Fantastic, and so how do you actually engage with customers now? Like as in that first interaction you don't go door-to-door anymore?

Brian: No, I haven't gone door-to-door. Actually I really wanted to, I felt like I was really guilty for doing it the easy way. So I felt bad. So I would still cold call once every two months just so I would stay sharp. And now it's like, "No way, forget it." It's too easy, this is too easy I'm getting leads.

Samantha: So how do you do it now? How do you get leads now?

Brian: Yeah, well the first thing I did was in 2012 I got a website and that took about two months to put together.

Samantha: And is that

Brian: Exactly, And we've revamped it since then so this is our second launch. So if you Google it now, that will be our second edition. And I got an SEO guy to work on my on page, off page as well and that's a whole 'nother story. And then through Kelsey I got pay per click, I had this guy for pay per click. And then I got Infusionsoft. I went online and I did this a but myself actually I just started Googling how painters were doing things and I was starting to use the material that Mike taught me as well and I just found so many online resources you could join. Directories, review sites such as Home Stars, that's our biggest lead source to date. And then from there the business just started taking off beyond, like I remember early April once I hooked up my Google AdWords campaign I was getting leads through the year and I just didn't know what to do with them all. And that was the other challenge, was managing all the new leads.

Samantha: Because you had laid off most, if not all, of your painters?

Brian: Yes, and that was . . .

Samantha: So then you grew what, at a pace that you weren't anticipating?

Brian: Yeah, it was crazy because I was still a one man show doing all the marketing, all the administration, all the production managing. And so I had a flood of leads coming in from everywhere and I just, managing that inflow was a real challenge. And I was working like 90 hours a week just to keep up with things.

Samantha: Wow, wow.

Brian: Yeah, 90 to 100.

Samantha: That's crazy.

Brian: Yeah.

Samantha: And you have a little daughter, right?

Brian: Yeah, absolutely. That's another one of my challenges, is raising her. So at the time I believe she was two years old, yeah, so I really didn't get so much time to spend with her because of that. So that was one of my big things, my big "ah-has" at Infusionsoft, the biggest challenges that I overcame was I managed to automate a lot of my processes, create the system so I won't have to be doing everything myself.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: And have a platform that my staff could work off and I can organize people in different roles so now I can spend a lot more time with her.

Samantha: So pretty well from January to April you saw things change, is that right?

Brian: Yeah, yeah and things were just like starting slow. Like as soon as I got the website it was nothing really fast happened right away but once I got my SEO in place, which took about three months as well as my Google AdWords and then the Google review sites, sorry, not the Google review sites, the like Home Stars, Yelp and Google Places is what it was called back then and things went through the roof. I was getting emails and leads after leads and just managing it all was the hugest challenge.

Samantha: And so is that what you use Infusionsoft for now, managing all of those leads and that sales process?

Brian: Absolutely. We have different ways of qualifying them, too. We qualify them through a two stage opt-in process because now we can't take all the leads that we have. The ones that, let's say, don't pass the qualification stage we automate that part, we call it WSEP, we'll send email pictures. So we have an email nagger that actually throws out three emails and asks them for pictures and we can quote them that way.

Samantha: Okay.

Brian: Yeah, we'll be getting dozens of leads a day so the ones that we can't get to, we'll at least get them through that.

Samantha: So they send you photos of the home and what it is that they are asking you to paint? Is that right?

Brian: Exactly, they'll give us measurements, pictures and that's enough information so that I can at least give them a ballpark of what to expect.

Samantha: Okay, so that's how you quote?

Brian: That's how I quote the ones that we don't have, that don't meet our criteria for our sales person or myself to go to do a quote for, exactly.

Samantha: Okay, and then what else does Infusionsoft do for you then?

Brian: The first thing we did was we broke down the stages. This is the other thing that Infusionsoft does for me and I didn't know it was going to do this for me. It actually gave me a process, because I didn't have a process at the time. So it broke down my business stage by stage by stage by stage, which is amazing because once I did that I could make sense of okay, well we're getting bottlenecks here, I'm not getting past this stage. So I would start chipped away, getting them to the next stage. The other thing it did for us was that it qualified what kind of client do we want. Do we want this kind of client or that kind of client? And so that was a great thing was that it qualified the types of clients we were getting and which ones we could service. So now we have a way of, let's say, nurturing each one of those types of clients in that certain type of way.

Samantha: Yeah, and so just in terms of that process and, if you like, the bottlenecks that you were talking about, one of the things that I found really powerful about Infusionsoft that a lot of people aren't using particularly well is the information that comes out of it. Like not just managing people through a process but being able to analyze where they're stopping in that process and where people are falling out of the funnel and just not going any further. Is that what you mean by looking at your sales processes and looking at the bottlenecks and the way things weren't quite going right?

Brian: Yeah, the thing with Infusionsoft also is we can measure almost everything.

Samantha: Yes.

Brian: So we found that clients were, let's say, canceling the quote before we even went to see them so I would eventually say, "Okay, we've got five . . . " Or I would call them and cancel these before once you see them, "We got five this week, why was that?" And they would say, "Maybe it's because we didn't hit them fast enough or they didn't know, or they got some other quotes before us." So we would figure out why and then eventually we'd try to, it dissected our marketing to the point where we'd be able to maximize every lead so we would be able to maximize every lead to, we could serve them and try to get that lead closed every day as much as possible.

Samantha: So in fact you've got a far more detailed view of what you need to fix in your business and that information is telling you and it's actually refining your process and you're actually getting better and better and better as a customer service organization because you're trying to work out why didn't they get from step B to step C? Well, maybe we weren't fast enough so let's change our processes to respond quicker," and that kind of stuff, is that what you mean?

Brian: Absolutely, absolutely.

Samantha: That's amazing, go on.

Brian: And then once we would be able to qualify where they were we could find out why they, and this is the other thing, we could automate a lot of this so we didn't have to physically call every customer and say, "Why did you not go with us?" So we'd have through gravity forms we'd say, "Okay, you decided not to go with us, can we ask why?" And then they'd go to the website through the, this is all automated, and they would give us the reason and then we could find out . . . Actually we could even take that a step further and then once we find the reason then we can put them in an email sequence based on that reason because we basically broke it down to I believe it was six main reasons they didn't go with us. So we could find out through email drips and follow up we could find out what we could do to nurture them back into a situation where they could buy from us. And we've been able to retrieve a lot, not, I think we haven't done the stats yet on that but we've been able to retrieve a lot of those leads that said, "No, we don't need a quote anymore," and we've been able to put them back into our buying stage. Or we can follow up, let's say, "Oh, we decided we're not ready for it now." "Well when will we be ready for it?" "In three to six months." So we could follow up in three to six months where we normally would just lose that lead and not contact them again.

Samantha: Wow, that's amazing. The power of caring enough to follow up is actually driving more sales from people that had pretty well dropped out of the funnel.

Brian: Yeah, that's the other fear that I had, and I didn't want to upset people. Or I didn't want to tick people off and I always said, "Well, I don't want to bug people." And I'm finding that there are maybe one out of, I think, 20 or 30 that might say, "Oh, can you please opt me out." And we do have an opt me out thing at the bottom of every email so they can opt out.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: Some people don't even know how to do that so we'll unsubscribe them but one of my biggest fears was that I didn't want to tick off my customers. But that actually was the opposite, I was thinking, "Oh, thanks for the update, Brian. I know we're wanting to do this." So I almost feel like they're talking to me, "Holy Moly, this is amazing." So it actually did the opposite, people were happy that I contacted them. And so it . . .

Samantha: That is so true. And I can't tell you how many times I tell my clients that. I mean, if you're not getting in touch just to sell them all the time, you're actually trying to help them solve their problem and you're staying in touch, you care enough about them to stay in touch for when they need that problem solved, none of your competitors are doing that, no one is doing that. And what happens is, you know yourself when you buy something you think, "Who was that I was dealing with months ago? It's time we actually painted the house. Who was that? Actually I can go back to my emails because I get a regular email from them once every couple of months. Oh, that's right, his name was Brian." And it's like, "Thanks so much for staying in touch because you saved me all of that time going to have to try and find, discover, learn if they are the right people for me, get a quote, all that sort of stuff." It is just, people really appreciate it if you're not spammy.

Brian: Yeah, exactly. That's the other thing, was I wanted my content, I was really picky about the content that I wanted to put out because I know my customers inside out because I talk to them all the time. So if there ever was an email that went out that got a negative response I would pull it right away. Okay, get rid of that. And lo and behold, the times I did have someone else do my emails sometimes it would get a bad response. I realized that, okay, I'm the only guy that can kind of, like, tailor these emails so that it's not going to seem spammy. So now that's what I do, I'll have someone else do the copy for me but then I'll always edit it before it goes out because I know what they're going to be thinking and I always ask for feedback. So I'm really careful about the content that we put out so that it's not spammy.

Samantha: And that's because you're in a privileged place. You were saying before that people who still don't want to give you their emails. Their email is their private place online and they do not appreciate crap in their email.

Brian: Yeah, and we actually have a sequence for those types of clients.

Samantha: Oh, really?

Brian: Yeah, it's like repeat business client. I don't want to put them through the same sequences so when they come back and buy from us again I'm not going to put them through the whole sales spiel again so it's basically where we only touch on the most important clients, like we're starting the job tomorrow or if it's during a job we'll say, if there is an update, "How is the job going so far?" Those emails are important but I'm not going to get them on the sales stuff because people will just think I'm being, I don't know, too forward that way.

Samantha: Yeah, and that's a nice thing actually I didn't realize. So you're also giving them their status updates on their jobs. When you're starting, reminding them that you're coming tomorrow, asking them how is the job going and all that sort of stuff. So they're getting a sense from you that you're taking a personal interest in the job even though you've got a crew out there.

Brian: Yeah, that's actually been one of the biggest things, because right now I have roughly 20 something crews going and I don't have time to manage every job or call every customer every night to make sure things are going well. So I do, we call it "jobs in progress" we just came up with this actually where we shoot on an email the day after the first day and it says, "How is the job going?" It has my signature so it looks like it came from me, and it kind of did, because I do want to find out how they came and I'm getting some amazing responses to that. Because sometimes what happens is something will go wrong, there is garbage on the job site and it kind of upsets the customer because the average job size for us is about three to five days and then at the end of the job they say, "Brian the guys have been leaving junk around the whole job site the whole time." So we can catch that right at the start now and get our production manager on it right away if something is wrong through automation. And that's been amazing for me.

Samantha: Yeah, so you are using Infusionsoft, not just for your sales but for your entire operation of your system and for your process improvement and your job improvement and quality and everything else?

Brian: Absolutely, and the other thing is during certain stages of the jobs, like for example, once we've completed a job we have a follow up process in terms of collections. Administratively we have reminders now for us because managing anywhere from 15 to 30 jobs a week and then reminding and knowing when to collect is near impossible. So now we have administrative emails or tasks assigned. So that has really been able to organize us.

Samantha: That's amazing, and sorry I want to pick up on something that you mentioned before. So at your peak, if you like, shall we call it the prior business? Because it really is a new model that you're operating under now, but at your peak in the prior business you had a something like five or six crews going around, is that right? And then now you've got 20 within three years of implementing Infusionsoft?

Brian: Yeah, we increased our sales about 350% and our goal every year is to increase about 20% to 30% on the previous year, which is pretty significant.

Samantha: That's incredible.

Brian: So yeah, because of that we're always improving our processes and it's always that work in progress. But it didn't come without a ton of hard work.

Samantha: Well, this is the thing. Can you tell me one thing, I remember at your presentation, and I may have the numbers incorrect, but you mentioned something about the $70,000 email.

Brian: Yeah, that was the . . . Like I said, I was really fearful of upsetting the clients and I didn't know the power of Infusionsoft and I was fearful of it as well. So long story short, in our slowest season, which is around Christmas time, winter time no one wants to paint. So, I believe it was Kelsey, a combination of Kelsey and my business coach said, "Brian, we need sales." So what we did was we threw out an email that's called the $70,000 email. It's basically offering them a free TV for any job over, I believe, it was 1,500 and 2,500.

Samantha: Wow.

Brian: Because we realized through Infusionsoft that our pay per click lead was costing me about $200 and something, so by offering them a TV at $225 I believe the cost for us, it was actually saving us money.

Samantha: Yeah, because it's a converted lead, right? Because you only pay that out when you convert. So you sent that out to your list that that you had started to accumulate?

Brian: Yeah, exactly. And I got a response of $70,000 in sales in less than 24 hours.

Samantha: Wow.

Brian: Yeah, that was the first email blast that I ever did in my life and it just blew me away.

Samantha: Do you remember how many people you sent that to?

Brian: Oh God, a couple of thousand I think.

Samantha: Wow.

Brian: At least.

Samantha: So relatively small list. For anyone starting out that seems like a huge list but relatively small.

Brian: Yeah.

Samantha: And from that small list you got $70,000 worth of work in 24 hours.

Brian: Yeah, and we keep getting drips now and again with that email and holy cow, how do you respond to that? Yeah, we still get sales from that but it just, it kind of opens the communication too with your client because that's not an email you normally get for a paint job. So that kind of puts us at the top of their head when they're thinking about painting next time, too.

Samantha: That's amazing. Do you . . . oh I was just thinking about something then. In terms of your pay per click marketing now, do you find that you're getting better value out of it because you're also getting free marketing to your existing list? How does that rate now, using . . .?

Brian: Actually to be frank we've turned it off and the reason why is because we have so many leads through Google Organic and our review sites and our repeat clients and this is a busy time of the year, too. So we turn it off basically once a year.

Samantha: So in essence you're not paying anything for marketing?

Brian: No.

Samantha: Oh, that is amazing.

Brian: Well, we pay it through different ways but not through pay per click.

Samantha: Not direct marketing, type of dollars.

Brian: Exactly, it's just through Google Organic and through review sites. And we do spend a lot of time updating our websites and blogging, that's the other thing.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: If you Google painters in Toronto we're I think we're top one, two, three on pretty much any search so we've really built this out strong. And my goal is to make it the most informative website for any client that's looking for painting so that's one of the reasons why we rank amongst the top three on the most searches. And I'm sure things like Icon helps as well.

Samantha: Yes, for sure. What sort of things do you blog about in terms of content and stuff like that?

Brian: Yeah, we like to show first of all, a lot of "how to's". How to do this, how to do that. And we like to also blog about information on painters like how to find a painter, what to look for, what not to look for. So it's mostly education, it's not selling. It's mostly education about educating the client what they want to hear and because I'm so close to the market I can find out exactly what they're looking for. Like if I get maybe five to 10 leads a month on smokes stains or on a leaking roofs because it's April when there is spring when the ice is melting then we're going to blog on it right away.

Samantha: Yeah, right okay. So it's all of those things that are, I guess, people are specifically Googling for, like how to fix smoke stains, that kind of stuff?

Brian: Exactly, yeah how to . . .

Samantha: When I think about actually this door behind me has just been painted in the last couple of days, funny you should say that.

Brian: Oh yeah?

Samantha: And I've got these marks on the wall here where I've had my office chair up against the wall as opposed to, and I was sort of thinking how am I going to fix that? Am I going to have to paint the whole wall, and that sort of thing? But it's that kind of stuff that people would be Googling, like how do I get rid of . . . what is that? Dent in walls.

Brian: Dents in walls, plaster.

Samantha: Yeah, yeah.

Brian: Plaster, yeah.

Samantha: And do you have customers take selfies with their newly painted home and post it on your site?

Brian: Actually we do and we ask them when we do before, during and after pictures especially if it's a unique project. So we get a lot of that. And the other thing, our photo albums so we try to update those regularly. We're starting to do little YouTube clips so when we're doing the job we can say, "Oh by the we're Home Painters Toronto, we're just doing this bathroom right now or this nice 3,000 sq ft house," so we're trying to update them that way and so we can place amongst the, whenever people are Googling painters we're always there.

Samantha: Yeah, fantastic. And so obviously it has really turned your business around, how has it changed you and your life?

Brian: Like I said, it's because I've been able to hire the right amount, the right people for the right jobs, I've been able to free up so much more time although because we're growing every year, it's always a challenge making sure you keep that balance. But now I have the option to work 80 hours a week, if I wanted to, or work 50 hour week or 40 hour a week, so now I have the option. And right now I'm choosing to work more just because it's our busiest but I can literally, I was just thinking last night, "Next week I feel like going to Halifax." So I can travel it's just a matter of finding someone to go with me.

Samantha: Yeah, because everyone else is working their butts off and don't have the flexibility.

Brian: Finding people that can travel with you on short notice.

Samantha: And do you find that you have more time for your daughter now and that kind of stuff? I know it's your busy season at the moment but does that flexibility allow you to be around her more often?

Brian: Yeah, that's been amazing. I have this called high alert because sometimes my ex takes her and then I take her certain days, so I have this certain thing where, a backup plan so if I get called two hours before I need to get her I can do it so I have ways of doing that. Whereas before I would be the only sales person in my company and now I have one person full time and one person kind of part time selling for me so I can call these people and get them to show up with the quote and do things for me when I don't want to work.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: So that's been phenomenal. And I can pick her up any day I wanted to. Right now I'm picking her about four days a week.

Samantha: Wow, that's incredible isn't it?

Brian: I see her four days a week so that's amazing.

Samantha: Yeah, terrific.

Brian: Like before . . .

Samantha: Sorry, before? Tell me about before.

Brian: No, I was just going to say whereas before I would be handcuffed by my business. I'd be like, no I have to do this leads, I can't just not show up. So like I said, my business was my prison in a way whereas now it's my freedom.

Samantha: Wow, that's amazing. And what would you tell someone, because our listeners are people that are where you were and they're hearing all of this and they're saying, "Well that's all great for you because you were able to pick it up and you were able to find someone and yada, yada. But I'm fine thanks very much even though I'm getting declining sales year on year." What would you say to them in terms of what they should do?

Brian: Yeah, there is a couple of things. First of all is I think I was probably as dinosaur as tech-dumb as anyone else out there. I didn't have a smart phone, I had one but I didn't use the data on it, so there's another story. I had a Blackberry that was just, you know how slow the browsers were years ago?

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: So I didn't even use it for anything. I had a computer but I didn't even think of using it for my business. I didn't know what CRM stood for, I never knew what it was. I didn't know anything about internet and just through hard work and the proper coaching and determination and just the faith that you can do it. If you have those things then anyone can do it. Because I mean, I think I proved that, like I said I'm pretty tech-dumb, that if I can do that in three years, and it doesn't have to take three years, it can take six years, it doesn't matter when you get there as long as you get there. And the other thing is, like I said, if I can do it I think anyone can do it. The other thing is think baby steps. So even though there is this world of unknownness and that's fine. But if you can just take baby steps and just, for example if you don't have a website say, "Well, maybe I should start a website." And then maybe do one yourself on iMac, that's what I did. I started one on iMac and then I realized, "Oh my God this is impossible, I can't do it." So then I paid someone to do it.

So just start small baby steps. And that's how I started. And if I give you an example, the first baby step when I implemented Infusionsoft Kelsey was we got an email, I don't know if it was email or text, from a client saying, "Yes Brian we're good for that appointment for 7 P.M. That was my first big win, or a little one if you want to call it that, and to me that was huge because I would always have to call back clients. Through my fingers and call them. And that was amazing, I was like, "Wow, so if I can basically get clients to call me to set up appointments once they figure out that then I can maybe nurture them to give me a call back if they're ready to go with me."

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: So I don't have to call back every one of these clients I bid on.

Samantha: Yeah, so you're thinking of how much time it would save you just not having to call the clients.

Brian: Exactly, so the littlest thing in your sales process or in your business if it can nurture, just think small stages and then eventually it opens up new worlds. So that's what it did for me. That little win opened up new worlds in terms of what it was capable of. So I didn't start off with the $70,000 email, it too me a year to get to that level.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: So if you can just start off thinking well maybe I can opt, or maybe qualify if their budget was $500 or $1,000 or if they're ready to sell or if they're wanting to buy, if that was your business real estate, you know what I mean? So those little things, those little bits of information that you can automate well then it just opens up new worlds and then you can build on that. Because I put roughly, between me and Kelsey we put about 350 man hours into this app for infusion time.

Samantha: Yeah, well.

Brian: And now we do it like two hours a week so it's kind of a religious thing in our schedule where we meet and we just improve upon things.

Samantha: Yeah, and I guess the point there is it is a lot of work, right?

Brian: It is a lot of work.

Samantha: And particularly once you start to get those wins and you start to realize what's possible, because I imagine you're like a lot of my clients which is, "Can I do this?" And it's like, "Yeah, of course you can," "Can I do that?" "Yeah, of course you can." And so as they start to, so we teach them how to use things in the first instance, much like Kelsey, but then they start to think, "Woah, I can actually, maybe I can start thinking about how I can implement processes myself," once you see what's possible with some of the smaller things, which is amazing.

Brian: Absolutely. And be patient, it takes time, it takes effort. You have to change a little bit of your habits. Start off changing your habits. Getting emails was the first big habit for me.

Samantha: Yeah, yeah.

Brian: So it does take a little bit of pushing.

Samantha: I'll have to get one of those Kelsey clubs I think to club you over the head, or maybe it was Mike that was the clubber. So one last thing, or two last things, are you on social media? Do you use social media much to do your marketing?

Brian: Yeah, pretty much. We have a website, we have Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, let me see, I've lost track. Pinterest, we've got all, Vimeo, YouTube, Google Plus.

Samantha: Wow, so you're everywhere?

Brian: Yeah.

Samantha: And so how do people find you? So we've got and what about Facebook and Twitter handles and things like that? How do they find you there?

Brian: Actually the best way would be just go to Passionate Brian, B-R-I-A-N, passionate,

Samantha: Yeah.

Brian: And we are in the process of revamping that as well but you can also reach me directly through email right there as well.

Samantha: Fantastic, all right, so and if you're in Toronto and you need your house painted then definitely go to

Brian: Yeah.

Samantha: And Brian, thank you so much for your time today. There is so much I'd love to spend some more time on in terms of having a look at some of the campaigns and your $70,000 email and stuff but perhaps another time.

Brian: No problem.

Samantha: I can't tell you how much you have helped our listeners just hearing you go through that process and hearing that struggle and particularly those early thoughts around why you wouldn't do this because there are so many businesses out there that are capable of so much more expanding their markets and so on that are thinking exactly the same thing right now. So I really appreciate you sharing so much of your story and I can't wait to hear how it's going in the next 12 months and beyond. So I really appreciate your time today.

Brian: My pleasure Samantha, it's a pleasure.

Samantha: Thanks so much. Well that was Brian Young there from Home Painters Toronto and Infusionsoft Marketer of the Year for 2015. We're so privileged to have had him on our show for one of our first interviews and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did interviewing Brian.

Topics: Podcast


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