More Leads Online Podcast Episode 010
Listen On your Channel
Nathan Young (00:00):
Hey everybody. This is Nathan Young, founder of more leads online and host of the home service leaders podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today. We are here with Zach Ausherman. Thank you. Who owns and operates Ausherman painting in Pennsylvania. Did I get that part right too? Awesome. Uh, and the company, I was like, I hope my notes are right. And the company has been around for over 40 years. Now, Zach, tell us about Ausherman what you guys do and how you got here.
Zach Ausherman (00:29):
Sure. Uh, so we are 42 years old. Um, the company I’m not, you know, my dad started it in 1979. What happened was he worked for another painting contractor in New York and, uh, TMI incident in Harrisburg, which is just a couple miles north of, of York, uh, happened. And his boss said, if you leave, you won’t have a job when you come back. So he left, um, he went, went south. Um, and then when he, when he came back to York, started his own business there for about like, I think it was 10, 15 years. He worked by himself, um, or with, uh, you know, a helper here or there, and then got involved with some different consulting in different parts of the country and was able to build the business. And basically by the mid to late nineties, wasn’t painting anymore, building the business.
Zach Ausherman (01:27):
Yeah, we just, we are now, uh, 12 painters. Um, we’re six crews. Um, we seem to specialize in a lot of older homes. New York is we’re two hours west of Philadelphia, an hour north of Baltimore. So they, the closer you get to the coastal cities, the older, the, the homes are, you know, it just makes sense. That’s where America started. So a lot of cool projects we’ve done recently. Um, we did a really cool project and Gettysburg get a, it’s just a really cool town. If anybody gets out this direction, I definitely recommend stopping there. Huge part of our history, of course. And we’ve done a lot of other older homes, you know, um, early 19 hundreds, that kind of thing. We I’ll be honest. We kind of fell into that a little bit just because I think we being as large as we are, um, we can take on those projects and you know, we’ll be done in a couple of weeks, you know, three or four weeks when the little guys that are two and three man crews, there’ll be there for three months, you know?
Nathan Young (02:37):
So there are some things that you almost like have to be a certain size before you can even get to say
yes to some things,
Zach Ausherman (02:44):
Right. And we know that when you get to a certain size project, we know who we’re competing against too, because we know the other contractors in the four county area that are big enough to bid and work on that project. When working on, when you’re bidding on smaller stuff, you could be up against the Chuck in a truck or whatever.
Nathan Young (03:06):
Absolutely. Oh, right. So your competition expands the smaller and smaller you go. I want to circle back to some of the stuff you’re saying about your dad and your family, because in our pre-show some of the things you said about that were really fascinating. I have those notes a little bit. So I want to dive into that thing you just said about competition for just a second. Now, obviously don’t say anything bad because who knows, you know, they might, they might listen someday, but you said you pretty much know who your competition are. How normal do you think it is to know who your competition is in your
space and how important do you think it is? Not necessarily to pay attention to them all the time, but like to know who they are and what they’re doing.
Zach Ausherman (03:42):
I think for me, it’s really important that you just know your market. It’s not necessarily your competition per se. It’s knowing your market completely knowing the tendencies. It’s kind of strange. I mean, we, we work in your, um, but then we also work closer to Harrisburg mechanics for camp hill area. And it’s amazing just the 30 minute difference in drive time and how, how different those two markets are. It’s no one those markets, I read a lot of different business books and I, I like Simon Sinek. And one of the things that Simon Sinek talks about is not worrying too much about differentiation or too much about your competitors. It’s knowing what you’re good at and promoting what you’re good at. Because if you do that well, you’re going to beat those guys
Nathan Young (04:32):
Just out of curiosity. Have you read the infinite game or heard him talk about the infinite game?
Zach Ausherman (04:37):
Yep. I would start with why an internet games. He’s coming to Lancaster in September. So I’m looking
forward to seeing him. Yeah.
Nathan Young (04:45):
I saw, uh, Gary Vaynerchuk in person last year and I have never been like much of a, I’ve never cared about this celebrity concept stuff. I admit to being just like nominally star struck when I saw him in person. And I can imagine feeling very much the same if I like got to see Simon Sinek, I would be like, oh, like, you’re the, for real, for real, like,
Zach Ausherman (05:11):
Right. Yeah. He was supposed to come last March. And then of course COVID hit gracious. I’m a member of a family business council here. I think they have 400 companies or something like that. I could, you can pull it wrong, but all over the area. And they, they sponsor these big events. Um, they have, yeah, they had Alan lolly, I think two years ago or old Ford CEO. Oh, okay. Yeah. Yeah. They do. They bring in some really good speakers.
Nathan Young (05:41):
That sounds awesome. Like, how did you get involved in that? I mean, is that something your dad did? Is that something that they sort of reached out to you? Like how do you get connected to a group like that?
Zach Ausherman (05:50):
There’s one, I, I think it’s maybe one of the grand granddads, you know, one of the older groups it’s been around for a while, it’s called the valley family council. Um, and then this group came out at Lancaster, kinda mimic them. They’re not exactly the same, but it’s called the high center. It’s uh, Dale high was the guy who started it owns a big construction firm, but they determined that it was a good thing to bring a bunch of family businesses together. We were invited by a builder that we do some work for. We don’t do a lot of new construction, but we’d help them on other projects. And then we actually have a penny
industry friend, um, in Lancaster that invited us to intercept some really, really good speakers. I remember one, they had the CEO of the basket and you, you wouldn’t think was a family run company, but it is, it’s not publicly shared or anything. And they’ve been around for, they said he was either the fifth or sixth generation, so yeah. Yeah. And just the, how many family members they have and how they allow you still have to start as a stock boy, even if you’re, if you’re a family, you got to stop or start from the beginning. And that was really cool,
Nathan Young (07:06):
Like nepotism. Right. We’ve heard about that. No. Okay. Well, let me come back to that in just a second. I’m fascinated by that. It also sounds like that’s pretty local, but I know some people. So, um, I live in the twin cities right now in, in Minnesota. I just recently got connected to someone who specializes in sort of like working with family businesses and especially in that and helping them to understand how to transition really well. And I grew up in a family business and our well, several, uh, for better or worse, mostly worse me and all three of my brothers did not get the transition done. Like we, right. Yeah. That’s a whole interesting, I won’t go down that road, but I’ll, I’ll bring up a little bit more about stuff that you talked about with your dad, uh, and taking over the business.
Nathan Young (07:51):
But I had a couple of other quick questions, something that I noticed when I was like looking into Ausherman in the first place, you know, we spent some time on Instagram. That’s kind of the place where we hang out social media wise. I spend most of my personal time on LinkedIn, but then for this, I spend a lot of time on Instagram. You guys post some amazing stuff. You mentioned a couple of cool projects and I saw one of those whitewash projects or lime wash projects that you mentioned. And I was like, oh my gosh, that looks like incredible. But I wanted to, I wanted to not just point at like how cool the bell tower was or how cool the Limewire project was, but it seems like you guys spend a solid amount of time investing into your Instagram account. Can you break down how that has helped the company or maybe not helped in the way that you thought it would, whether that’s with hiring or, or with marketing, or just like, how have you seen that investment play
Zach Ausherman (08:46):
Out? Made it really easy when I think it was a couple of years ago when Facebook bought them and then they made it pretty easy to have posts, um, run from Instagram into Facebook. Um, so that’s kind of why we started in that, in that space we used to do, um, just basically Facebook. Um, when I first started, I came to work for my dad about five years ago and it was very scanned. They didn’t put much on and they put a lot of articles and stuff on that just didn’t resonate with anybody. It was just kind of silliness a waste of time. We have, there’s a couple painting companies around the country that are really good with Instagram, and I kept seeing it and kept seeing like, okay, I need to figure this out. I need to figure this out. So, you know, two, two and a half years ago did it took the leap and, um, it did make it a lot easier. Like I said, most of the posts that you see on our Instagram go right into our Facebook. And that’s important for, again, it goes back to knowing your market. Um, Pennsylvania is the second or third oldest state in the country meeting age of person, right? So there’s, there’s reasons for that. We, we don’t tax pensions and retirement funds, so might as well stay here and not get your money taken, but
Nathan Young (10:08): I can see the draw.
Zach Ausherman (10:12):
Um, so what that does is, you know, most that the audience on Facebook is older for the most part now. So that’s kind of why it still was important that we were in that space. My audience on Instagram to be honest, is more, uh, painting contractors. Um, it’s, you know, it’s people around the country and some of that was just going on there and following other guys and they follow you back. And then you, you know, you create the community there. I do think that it will pay off. Um, I’m not one of those people that, you know, I need, uh, an ROI right away. I know that some of the stuff that you know, we’re going to do is gonna take a little bit to, to catch hold and, and go. But like I said, w the difference in my two markets and do think that my Northern market, my Mechanicsburg and Camp Hill market is a little younger. And I do think we have seen some more Instagram push from them. So
Nathan Young (11:08):
You said something just now that caught my attention at, which is that you’re saying, I don’t need an ROI on this right away. So now more leads online. We specialize in search, right? So we do web design and local search, and that’s organic SEO. Right. And we also do paid search and local service ads. So we break that down, that conversation into ROI all the time. So whenever I talk to somebody who’s thinking about getting this stuff, I break it down. And I say, what, what kind of ROI are you looking for? You’re looking for a short-term ROI. You need to invest dollars. You need to turn cash now, right? Like, uh, you want to put something in and he has something money back, have something out in a week or two weeks or a month, or are you looking for the long game? Which eventually is a lot cheaper. Right? You build up that brand, you build up, eventually it starts, uh, and it probably has staying power. So as you thought about marketing, you’re clearly playing a long game on the Instagram side. So I’d be curious. How are you thinking about those two things that long game and that short game, and like, how are you juggling those two right now? Like, you don’t have to give us your secrets, but maybe one,
Zach Ausherman (12:22):
I haven’t read it. It’s actually sitting on my table here, but I am Gary Vaynerchuk. You brought him up, talks about jabs and right. Hooks. A lot of my stuff is just jabs. It’s just, you know, putting pictures out there, beautiful projects. And, you know, I wa one thing I do try to do a lot of, um, because I personally don’t have a lot of painting experience, um, is I try to give credit to my guys, you know, all the time, they’re the ones out there dealing with the heat and dirt and all that stuff. So I try to do that as much as I can, but the, uh, the jab and the right hook. So it’s, even today, if you look, um, this morning I did a, I did a right call and that right hook was just letting everybody know, listen, we are into September.
Zach Ausherman (13:06):
Now, if you want exterior painting done, you’re going to need to call us. Well, we boost those ads. So there’s probably five or six a year that will boost. Um, and it’s just basically getting ready for the next season. So, or finishing up the current one. So in a couple months here, maybe even within the next to eight weeks, I’ll probably put a call to action out or interior work. So, I mean, it’s, it’s just trying to stay, trying to stay ahead, um, that way. And in most of the time with the right hooks, we do, you know, we boost, we boost them just trying to get more people, more people in the loop. So
Nathan Young (13:43):
We know it’s June that I’m looking at this post. These are some freaking gorgeous homes and projects, by the way, as a consumer, because I have a house and, you know, uh, we actually had ours painted like last week. These are awesome. I love seeing pictures like this, like showcasing. You’ve done several
before and afters and I, every single time I look at those, I’m just like, oh my gosh, that’s exactly what I want to see. You know? Like, but yeah, this post is this post, is that right hook? Like, it’s, it’s right here. Here’s your website, here’s your call to action. Here’s letting people know like, yeah, this makes perfect sense to me. And you said, you’re going to boost this, something you said in our prep call was like, if it’s resonating, let it resonate. So you’re like, yeah, if it’s working, put some money behind it, let it, let it keep working. Oh yeah. That, I said that to somebody else later that day. I think I’ve said it two more times since then. And I was just like, so like, oh right. Yes. After you said it, I was like, duh. Um, right. It really did strike me. Okay. Well, so you’re doing these things. That’s your right hook. That’s sort of like, would you say that’s one of your short term ROI? Like you’re making an intention, right? You’re saying, Hey, book something.
Zach Ausherman (15:08):
Right? Right. So being in business for 42 years, I would say probably almost half of our, of our projects are from past customers. So I mean, it it’s, I need to fill that extra space and we are growing, but a lot of my, even these right hooks are nothing immediate. Um, you know, it’s September and October that we’re looking to fill, but it’s important that I keep people in the loop with that. And we are one of those contractors that will move a bunch of people to fit someone in fast. It’s amazing how many calls we get that people think that we’re plumbers or something, you know, we can be out there in a couple of days. It’s just, it’s not us. Not us. Majority of our stuff is, you know, mid to long-term.
Nathan Young (15:56):
Okay. Well, and so you just said something that is also on my notes, which is like, you have a certain amount of guys and you, the projects that you do take on generally do take a little bit longer. And so you have to plan out a little longer on some level. People would think that there’s some luxury to that, right? Like, oh, well, we, I know we’re booked out to whenever. And so you can be thinking ahead a little bit. I actually would consider that fairly stressful, because it means that you have to be thinking about hiring three months ago for October, you already have had to figure that out when right. Cause you don’t have brand new jobs coming in where you’re like, oh, I can just bring in a guy and then they’re going to be busy right away. And like, no, no, no, no, no, no. You’ve already got this planned out and you’re not going to be able to book more. And so it seems like you take everyone being on the bus, being in that right seat and like everyone rowing in the same direction, like pretty seriously. Can you help me understand like how you got there?
Zach Ausherman (16:59):
Yeah, we do big time. I can’t remember what the statistics are, but you know, every bad job you have that person tells 10 people or something like that. Every good job you have, it’s two or three that, you know, they’ll tell that’s just human nature. I guess. So quality is number one for me. And I don’t want to ramp up so fast that you know, that we lose that quality. We could probably be honest have 15 or 16 guys, but that would mean, you know, compromising on some things that I don’t want to compromise on. I don’t have the infrastructure we have, I have a sales guy and two office staff right now to really support that or be some guys floundering. And honestly I know quality would go down. So that’s, that’s really why. Yeah. We were just not, I’m not willing to bring a bunch of people in just to have bodies.
Learn the 6 things to do before hiring a marketing agency
Nathan Young (17:54):
And you’re saying that’s not just a growth strategy and it’s like a growth strategy, both short and long- term right, because you’re saying I’m not willing to just bring people in to potentially take on a couple of
extra jobs to make quick cash. Cause you’re thinking longterm. And you’re saying, because if they don’t do a quality job, I’m actually going to burn my market and that’s gonna hurt me later. Right. Wow.
Zach Ausherman (18:19):
So we’re not a huge, I mean your is I think the is 450,000. So our market’s probably three quarters of a million, a million people. So I mean, it’s not small by any means, but it’s not, it’s not a large, a huge market either. So it’s, we’re in that middle where if we do, you know, a brick too many times, you know, people are, are going to know that. So it, it will definitely hurt. The other thing I take into account too, is I want my guys out work year round. So I don’t want to overstaff that. I have to lay a bunch of people off in the winter. Now this last winter was weird. We, we sold out the winter, mid January and that’s, that’s really strange for us typically we’re only about two or three weeks ahead, um, in the winter because a lot of homeowners do their own interior painting here.
Zach Ausherman (19:12):
So the market, the market shrinks, there’s only so many, you know, church jobs and that kind of stuff inside that you know, where everybody’s itching for. So I guess it’s important to me that we’re not laying a bunch of people off. That’s just, it’s not good for morale. It’s not good for continuity teams that good for a lot of stuff. So that’s the other reason why we don’t ramp up a lot. Now I’ll be honest. We, we do try to get maybe one or two college kids to help us out, um, in summer. And that, that really helps because you know, they go back to school in September. So then I, you know, I don’t have to worry about keeping them going well,
Nathan Young (19:51):
That makes sense. Okay. So let me, everyone around is talking about a hiring shortage. I’m not just talking about home service guys now and realistically home services and the trades have been talking about a hiring Sportage for like 40 years. You know, like I grew up in with people being like, we need to get more people in the trades and I believe it. And I was in the trades, right. So I was a bricklayer. I was a union bricklayer. And then the company that I was with left the union and won’t go down that path. And so I like, I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. So we’re, we’re talking about it in like hyper crunch time right now. Like there’s no one, no one can get anyone. And, but you actually brought on a few apprentices this year, like, okay. So you’re pretty considerate about this. Like tell us how you, how did you find them? How are you training them?
Zach Ausherman (20:44):
So, uh, we did one big hire for us. I can’t remember exactly. I made it been January, February, something like that. So, you know, with us having the winter sold out, we were advertising for people in January. And that’s, that’s huge. If you can do that. Um, and you can pick off some experienced guys who know for some reason that company is not selling or, you know, something’s happening where they’re not happy. Um, that’s a really good time to go after experienced people. So we did have one guy that’s spiriting my stuff up north, which is great. Uh, we just put some ads on Craigslist. We did some stuff on Facebook. I’ll be honest. I have the same. And you, you, you could probably see one of my one or two of my ranch, your social media that have the same thing that everybody has.
Zach Ausherman (21:31):
I mean, there were times where it’s amazing to me, but there’s like three or four in a row. Didn’t show up for the interview. Why can’t you just, it takes two seconds to call and just say, Hey, I’m just not
interested. You know, it’s amazing how many people do that. I even had one, she applied last year, sometime didn’t show up for the interview, applied again. I brought her in for the, for the interview and I was trying to figure out my timing. And when I would tell her, you’re like, you know, you ghosted me, uh, like six months ago. Right. And I told her at the end and it, it wouldn’t have worked anyway, but they were like, are you kidding me? Like this I’m real. I’m a big believer in karma. And if you do that kind of stuff, you’re going to get bit, you know, just be open with people.
Zach Ausherman (22:17):
But a lot of the younger guys that we’ve gotten, I mean, some of that is, you know, putting, giving the credit to the guys through Facebook and Instagram and all that. I think a lot of the younger guys will, you know, when they’re looking at places to work there, they’re looking at that kind of stuff. Um, they, they want to know that it’s not all about me. Uh, and it’s not all about me. I wanna make sure that they get credit. And so in my lab, in my five years, I’ve only yelled at my guys twice. Yeah. Yeah. I’m pretty, I’m pretty even keeled guy. Uh, don’t get too excited about much. Don’t get too down about much. So it works. I think a lot of the trades and it is slowly changing. It just has to some of the issue with them not getting peoples cause they’re. Don’t be an. I mean, I see some people online, you know, that are and moaning about not being able to get people. But if you look at their personal pages, they do silly rants and they do really crazy stuff. And well, no wonder. I mean, people can tell you pretty easily that you’re a jerk. Milo, do you want to come work for you? I’m
Nathan Young (23:32):
Going to take 20 seconds and I’m going to say this. So I worked for my brother and my brother once or twice, he flipped out. But in general, we had a pretty high stress work environment. We were doing a lot of, in a lot of big things. Like my last project was installing. So I was, I was a bricklayer by skillset, but basically did terrazzo and tile. And my last project was like 50,000 square feet in emergency rooms and in a hospital downtown, like this incredibly high traffic hospital. And so I’m project manager on this project, like we’re talking super high stress and I have to give massive credit to my brother cause they give him a lot of all the rest of the time. Cause he’s my brother. He did not do that. Right. Like he was a fantastic guy to work for. And he still works with some of the same people he’s been working with for 15, 16 years. But I think I’ve had 16 guests, the show and we’re, I mean, swinging 10 for 10, for the reason you can’t keep your dudes is because you’re an. Right.
Zach Ausherman (24:40):
Right. It’s not, it’s not that hard. I mean, it’s important to me so that I get to know them a little bit, you know, know where they come from, know a little bit about their family. I’m not going to be best friends with them. You know, that’s not, that’s not what I’m going to do, but know a little bit about them. Know what their goals are. No, no. Where they want to go be incredibly happy when they are enjoying their work and praise them for that. What I’ve found is there’s a very small subset of people that really enjoy it. There are. Um, and if you find that person fricking latch on, you know, I think, I think that happens in the other trades too. I mean, I can never imagine changing plumbing and dealing with all day. No, thanks. You know, enjoy that kind of stuff.
Zach Ausherman (25:37):
And I think with the shortage, you’re also seeing, you know, wage pressure, you know, I have had to increase my starting wages and stuff and that’s okay. I mean, we, our rates are going up too on the other side. So it’s okay that I even talked to my guys just this last week with the economy being the way
it is, the opportunity for side work is just amazing. You know, they they’re getting work all over the place and I just told them just, you know, be careful, you know, you also need to be open and honest with me. We’re not going to do the conflict of interest stuff. Um, but you know, be careful that you’re doing everything on the up and up and everything that way too. So, um, yeah. Yeah. And I think they respect me for that. I’m not gonna, you know, I know you guys are doing it. Yeah. Just be open and honest with me.
Nathan Young (26:33):
Right. If you have this skill, I know you’re right. I know that there are the sort of like Chuck in a truck jobs look, we’ve trained really well. Like you have the reputation, we know that you do good work because that’s why you’re on the team. So we also know that like, you’re painting your neighbor’s living room. Like we get it. We, we know it’s happening. That’s fine. Do it, but freaking do the, do it, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. And just being, just being candid about that has got to get you. So
Zach Ausherman (27:07):
I mean, our handbook originally said you had no side work allowed. I’m like, are you kidding me? Like, come on, let’s live in reality a little bit here. Like they’re going to do what it’s okay. You know, like, like I said, they just needed to be careful. And I told them all too. I mean, there are a couple of things, like if I know that you’re dragging because you’re doing too much, we’re going to have a conversation. I mean, we just are, one of the things oddly running into is someone like guys are almost getting so used to me saying, thank you. And I appreciate it. And all that, that if I forget to, I actually actually hear about it a little bit, which is weird. It’s it’s not a bad thing. It’s just, I guess it’s just human nature. You get used to certain things and then when you don’t hear it, it’s like, oh, oh crap. Would the heck? Did I do? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I, you know, I have bad days here and there too. What I forget, you know, this or that, but yeah. Yeah. It’s been weird. A little strange lately.
Nathan Young (28:05):
You, I guess like, just thinking about that as a dad, even, right. Like having that consistency. If my daughters have two really young daughters, if, you know, if they ran up to me and they showed me, you know, dad, I look, I, you know, I painted this picture and I was like, uh huh. And then just, you know, if I didn’t say like, oh, that’s very nice. Like that’s great. It would be like, what’s happening. [inaudible] out of that. I’m proud that they know that they can come up to me. They can get that affirmation and they can walk away. Cause not everybody gets that. And so you, you mentioned something, but now I’m thinking about, um, dads and uh, being one and having one and whatever you actually, and you mentioned this in the handbook, you actually took the business over from your dad recently. Uh, tell me more about, I mean like again, I, I sort of said this at the top, but like, so I have a dad who is in business and I also was sort of in that attempt along with three of my other brothers that did not go so well.
Zach Ausherman (29:10):
Well, I mean, I’ll be honest. It was like a rollercoaster. There are certain days that, that were really good. Sometimes it was just really rough. I got a degree in business and political science from junior college. It’s a small college close to Penn state here in Pennsylvania. I worked as my first real job was as a lobbyist in Harrisburg. Our state Capitol things were just weird there. I mean, I, like you said about being star struck. I never, I never really was star struck by those guys. Like they, that they wanted you to fallen all over them and I just, I couldn’t do it. Yeah. So didn’t work for me being in that industry. And then, then I took it another side tour. I worked in the equipment industry for a little bit. Things just were
happening with, um, with my dad. And every once in a while, you know, he reached out to me every two or three years and say, Hey, you know, you, you know, just wanted to let you know, be really cool if you come work for me, blah, blah, blah.
Zach Ausherman (30:07):
You know? And it just happened that I lost a position in, in the equipment company that I was working for the same time that things were happening with my dad’s business. So took a little bit of a chance. I worked in the field for about eight months and then I came into the office and started doing, um, estimating and project managing and, and all that good stuff we worked together for probably almost four years, something like that. And as of January one, he’s officially retired. Um, yeah. And you can, you can kind of read a little bit into that, that, you know, there were, or it’s just easier that he’s retired. It’s going to be better. It’s going to be better for our relationship and everything going forward to, um, cause we, you know, I, yeah, I only yelled at those guys twice in the last five years, but him and I had him and I had some screaming matches for sure about different things. So, you know, and that’s, that’s tough. It’s a tough thing. And I’m an only child too, so there’s no, yeah. There’s no other person to us. Yeah.
Nathan Young (31:15):
He didn’t get to take a crack at it and learn for the first time.
Zach Ausherman (31:19):
Right. He’s he’s an or whatever. No, none of that. I can’t, yeah. I couldn’t go to my sister, brother
commiserate with that, so.
Nathan Young (31:30):
Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. Right. If I, yeah. If I ever needed to blow off some steam, right. I can call it a sibling. Okay. Well frankly, that’s just fascinating and an incredibly impressive, I mean, being a second generation, people talk about family business and as it’s sort of like this bastion of something to be impressed by it. And I think it is, uh, being my family has lots of little businesses. We might not have been able to take over from my dad, but he really inspired each one of us to start something on our own, looking at things that are second generation, third, fourth generation, like you mentioned in this group, you’re part of like knowing what that takes, what you have to go through to get there. Like you personally, me having failed at it, frankly, I’m constantly just in awe of those people who are, I’m like, oh my God, it’s amazing. You were able to make that transition. Like I want to ask you about this and then I’m gonna move into the, our 1, 2, 3. But you specifically said like, you’re kind of always staying involved in painting contractors, associations and talking about like all ships rising. And tell me a little bit about that. Like how do you stay connected within the industry?
Zach Ausherman (32:39):
Probably late eighties, late eighties, my dad got involved with a PCA. So the painting contractors association, there was a local chapter still is, but doesn’t really meet. And then there were a larger regional groups and then they have the national group pretty early on being as small as he was. He realized that, you know, the one or two contractors that knew what the heck they were doing, why wouldn’t I, you know, go and ask them, Hey, how, how would you do this? Or how would you tackle that? Yeah, there’s a commercial painting company in Lancaster. So, um, about, you know, 40 minutes from us, 45 minutes from us that I used to call the owner of that company, uncle, uncle Morris, you
know, we were, you know, that close, you know, we we’d, um, go to Philly’s games and do all kinds of different stuff.
Zach Ausherman (33:32):
And at that point it seemed like information was flowing from amongst, uh, different contractors and, you know, things were good. And then it seemed like for some reason, maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago that a lot of that stopped. And a lot of people got, you know, a little more siloed, a little more scared to, you know, I don’t know what I was scared, but didn’t want to share anything about what they were doing. Our, you know, what best practices would be or anything. They were just holding, holding it to their chest. But right now it seems like in the last, you know, five to 10 years, probably more fun. There’s a good group of younger, any contractors around the country that are really pushing to, you know, collaborate more and help each other out. And even some local, I mean, here in Mechanicsburg, there’s, uh, a really well-known, uh, cabinet painter.
Zach Ausherman (34:26):
Um, and she, you know, I’ve done trainings with her and you know, she’s done different things for us, so why not? You know, why not help each other out? I, I think one of the things, again, it’s, you know, it’s one of those mid to longterm things. If we help each other out the guys who are reputable and the guys who were care and all that stuff, I think it makes the industry come off, better, look better to the consumer. And it kind of leaves the crackheads behind a little bit more. You know, one of the thing, things in painting is the barriers to entry are just incredibly small. I mean, you can go get a ladder and a bucket and a paintbrush and go sell a paint job. I mean, it’s that easy? So it it’s important that, you know, the guys that have been doing this for a while, or even the guys who are starting in our, you can tell, are taking it seriously, that you know, that we’re hoping each other and that we are getting it out there, that, you know, painters, aren’t a bunch of drunks and you know, all that stuff, that’s just was a stereotypical thing that a lot of consumers, no thought my senior crew he’s been with us for 32 years.
Zach Ausherman (35:39):
So I’ve known him since I was, yeah, I’ve known him since I was six, five or six. He won the craftsman of the year award at a PCA last year. And that was huge for me because Jody was, you know, one of the reasons the company is what it is. I still remember. He talks about a story where we were working for a lawyer and the lawyer said, well, you know, I’m a lawyer. You guys are just, you’re just a painter until you said, whoa, hold on a second. I’ve been doing this for, I think at that point was 25 years. Yeah. There’s maybe eight people in the, this four or five county area that can do what I can do. Yeah. How many people in this area can do what you can do? You know what I mean? How many hundreds of lawyers are there around you that can do what you can do? There’s the difference. So don’t tell me that I’m just a, just a painter because I can do high and stain work. I can do beautiful stuff that would take you years to learn how
Nathan Young (36:42):
To do that guy. Apparently has never tried to stain anything, uh, as someone who has sanded a floor and stained to table in my day. Holy. Yeah. It looks easy. Yeah. You just brush it on, right? No, no. Well, that’s a fantastic story. And just really, yeah. I mean really powerful. Like it really speaks against something that we sort of deal with all the time, which is there are bad actors in every industry, right? Like w I mean, we know that lawyers get a bad rap because they do. We also know that like, yeah, uh, you said it like painters are, you know, or they’re just a bunch of drunks, or they’re not going to show up or, you
know, every roofer, it’s a scam artist. And like, I’ve been there, done that. Right. So like, not only have I been in the trades now I’m in search marketing, specializing for home service companies.
Learn the 6 things to do before hiring a marketing agency
Nathan Young (37:39):
Like w uh, I’m in the biggest sham industry, like, right. Like we talk about this all the time. We’re like, yeah, well, we do our best work for companies that have already fired three other ones. We get it. There is that perception that you have to deal with. And like you said, it’s really playing that long game of being like, look, we know, we know what people say, we get it, we own that. And we know we’re going to have to deal with that. And we’re going to have to dig in our heels and we’re going to have to do a great job. And, and building that reputation and staying consistent is the thing that’s going to get us around that. And it sounds like you’ve, you have done all of those things, like the way that you hire, the way that you think about the vision of the company, the way that you’re thinking about longer-term planning, the way that you were able to actually make that transition, w like everything speaks to you’re holding line on quality. You know, that if you do that, and you’re hanging out with other people who are also pushing a high quality that the let’s call it, the good ships will rise. And the more that the good ships will rise naturally, it’ll be known that there is good in that trade, that there are people who do fantastic, and that elevates the trade overall. And that’s what we all want. Right? Like we all want to stop being perceived as shiesty, going to take your money and run people. Yeah.
Zach Ausherman (39:06):
Until I tell them my guys, not all, as, you know, I remind them, you’re here, here and there. You know, it, it’s not all about having that project be a hundred percent quality either. The two biggest things that customers complain about with contractors is they’re never on time. You know, they never communicate if they’re going to be late or whatever. So, you know, even when me and my sales guy go out and do an estimate, and we’re running five or 10 minutes, but we’re making that call, even if we’re going to be two or three minutes, we’re going to say, Hey, you know, I’m just around the corner. I’m sorry, I’m running a little late. That’s huge for people. It’s amazing. How often you say that you hear, well, I really appreciate that you called and now they’re just not used to that. And then the other thing is cleanliness.
Zach Ausherman (39:50):
You know, we hear it all the time, you know? Well, I had to take, you know, so much time to clean up after you guys were gone or whatever. And like, my guys are really big about making sure that stuff is cleaned or at least communicating to the customer. Hey, is it okay that we leave this stuff, you know, over here for the night? Cause we’ll be back to work on that room in the morning or whatever. Right? You don’t want to have them have to do a bunch of cleaning, you know, after you’re out. So that’s huge too.
Nathan Young (40:20):
I could spin off a whole thing about like communication and expectations and sort of how we’re being trained as consumers to, to get not just regular communication, but almost over communication from every other place. Right? Like I get a text or email update from Amazon or from door dash or from right. Like the stuff that I interact with every single day, all the rest of the time is keeping me up to the minute, you know, like Domino’s tracker style.
Zach Ausherman (40:50):
Well, I mean, you probably have a medical portal, you know, that you go on and you can see where if you had a test on or whatever, where that is. I mean, I don’t think anyone’s built that out, but I mean, that’d be kind of cool down the road that, you know, Hey customer, you can go in and on the portal and see where things are, the guys can post on there or whatever, something, something easier. Um, I think it has to be a passive thing, you know, has to come in that they don’t have to do much. The CA is nobody wants, nobody has time or wants to, you know, have to be active to know what’s going on.
Nathan Young (41:25):
That’s right. And yeah, and I don’t, I don’t have to log into anything to see my tracking updates from ups. Right. Like, so, but that’s a fascinating idea. Uh, I’m going to go talk to some people about that. I’ll give you full credit. Uh, 5%. It was X idea. Okay. I want to get into this new thing I’m going to try to do. We’ll see. So bear with me, give me a little grace, but we’re going to wrap up with a, what I’m calling the 1, 2, 3. And so I’m gonna ask you one and then two and then three questions, uh, along three different lines. And so you don’t have to think very hard about them. You can obviously answer as honestly as you want. So the first question is what’s one book people should read to help them grow their business.
Zach Ausherman (42:06):
Probably Traction, I would say is the biggest one that sets a structure. I really like start starts with why, cause that kind of helped me with Simon Sinek starts with why. Cause that kind of helped me get to our core values and talk about why we’re doing what we’re doing. Um, that’s all good stuff there. Well, it’s a really have a structure and really, you know, not have issues just last forever. I mean, deal with them is, uh, Traction’s uh, probably the best one for that
Nathan Young (42:39):
Hyper biased obviously. Cause I have like multiple copies of Traction sitting behind me on EOS user manual. Uh okay. Who are two partners that you would recommend any painter have? Let me define the question. Just a smidge, which is I talked to a solar company recently and I said, who are the two partners you’d recommend any solar company have? And he’s like, you have to have an electrician and you have to have a ditch Digger. And really you should also have a roofing friend because solar guys are not actually roofers. Like everybody thinks that sort of goes back and forth, but it doesn’t separate. So same question to you. What are two partners you’d recommend every painting company have on call?
Zach Ausherman (43:22):
The first thing is a color consultant. We started using a color consultant couple years ago and it’s huge. Um, especially women law for her. She comes in and helps them out. And even when we’re doing an estimate, you will say, you know, even if you know, are you really close to picking your colors? Cheryl will just help you out. You know, she’ll just, you know, make sure that you’ll feel better, that she’s telling you you’re on the right track with it. So that that’s huge for us. That’s been great for us. I think it’s actually helped our business to be honest. Uh,
Nathan Young (43:58):
Yeah. That’s a brilliant idea that I would never have thought of it.
Zach Ausherman (44:02):
Yeah. It’s amazing. I mean, people that’s, that’s the toughest thing inside is just figuring out what the color, what colors you want. The other thing probably you probably switching to the, um, well, um, we
just kind of partnered with, uh, power washing company. Yeah. We used to do all our power washing, um, in house, but we’re not, we’re okay at it. Um, but it takes longer for us than it would be for professional. And in some of the areas that we go to, they don’t are, they may be off Wells or other and we just can’t, you can’t pull water from a well, you’re going to burn their well out. So these guys come with a big box truck and hot water and they go out it and honestly they’re cheaper to the customer than we would be to the customer. So that, that that’s been great. Probably the third one that you said too, but the third one is having, having some kind of trim carpenter, um, or something that, that can come help deal with rotten wood and all that. Especially when you work on older houses, you’re going to have that. So that’s
Nathan Young (45:08):
Awesome. Again, I talked to Marty about this, but it’s really just about that. Like serving the homeowner, right. Instead of leaving them sort of being like, well, you know, that’s not our job to be like, no, we’re going to serve you. And it like tying it back to something you said before, I’m derailing myself. Uh, you, half of your customer base is people who you’ve worked with before. So like of course it would want to take super good care of them. So, uh, what a fantastic set of potential partners. Last question. ..
Zach Ausherman (45:37):
Going on with that a little bit. So, um, you have to be a little balance a little though, because one thing, what we found is that if we do too much for them and something goes wrong and then it’s all on us. So what we try to do is, you know, refer people to the good partners to take, you know, take care of them and not wait rather than I don’t want to be a builder. I don’t want to have everything under one roof, but I’d rather specialize in painting and just do that. Well, let everybody else do their thing.
Nathan Young (46:09):
You have a stack of these people’s cards and you hand them when they, Hey, here’s this issue that came up. We can, we can say this is a, this is a quality referral. They’re not, it’s not my company, but I feel very confident that this person can take care of you. And then you can hand that card.
Zach Ausherman (46:24):
Plasterers are huge too. They’re okay. They’re not, there’s not so many of them around anymore. You
know, they can do good plaster work.
Nathan Young (46:33):
Oh man. I’ve watched some of those guys on Instagram and I’m like, that’s amazing. Uh, it’s almost like you have to know a little bit about it in order to be impressed, but some of this stuff, some of these guys are freaking amazing still. Okay. Three predictions. So I’ll break this down. Can you make one marketing prediction that you think we will see true in 2021 and 2022 specifically in the home services. What’s one thing that you would be like, guys, we got to do this with our marketing.
Zach Ausherman (47:06):
You starting to see already. And I think it’s been written a lot about, but it’s using more video, big time. I think it’s sort of, the momentum is slowly increasing with it, but yeah, definitely, definitely doing that. And then I think it’s just staying up on the platforms. I mean, I don’t, we’re not into Snapchat or anything like that. I think that’s a little too young, but I know guys that are into, uh, what’s the one based out of
China. I can’t remember the name. Yeah, yeah. Um, done one or two little things there, but um, I don’t think anymore. And that’s, again, if I get into that, it’s going to be a long game. You’re not going to see much of that right away. I’m
Nathan Young (47:43):
About to talk to this guy, Mark Jones, who is pool guy. And I would have agreed with you all the way up
until Mark Jones and then bark Jones apparently got 2 million followers in like three months,
Zach Ausherman (47:56):
Tick, tick, tick, tick. Wow. Freaking
Nathan Young (48:00):
Insane. Uh, his videos are straight baller. Like they’re just so good anyway, actually plays to exactly what you’re saying. Okay. What, uh, another one, which is hiring, what’s your prediction for the rest of the year and for 2022, as we move into that, what’s one thing that you would call out like, Hey, we gotta do this.
Zach Ausherman (48:20):
I’m not a big trumpeter of myself, but I do want, I would really like to see other contractors give more credit to their guys. Um, and I really think that’s something that a lot of them are missing. And if you would do that more, I think you would have better hires and you would attract more people to come work for you. Um, now I know there’s some older painters and stuff that don’t want that attention. I get it. But you need to explain that to them that this is important. And these are the reasons why, yeah.
Nathan Young (48:54):
Fantastically well said. And the last one is painting specifically, what’s your, this is what’s going to happen for painters in the rest of the year and what we’re going to see next year happen, buckled down guys, this is what’s going well, this is my predictor.
Zach Ausherman (49:08):
I think you’re going to see a little drop-off and I, because of COVID and everybody’s sitting at home and it was amazing how many people called us and said, you know, I’ve been looking at this wall for years and it’s just not what I want, but you know, I’m home all the time. I think I really want to take it taken care of. So we, you know, we got a lot of that and now that things are starting to open up again, I think you’re going to see a lot of the home industry dollars, move back into hospitality, you know, move back into going on vacations and all that stuff. But I mean, it’s kind of market specific because I know some markets are going to be down and all that, but I think for us, we’re still going to, we’ll still stay steady. Um, there’s a lot of new construction in our area. We don’t do new construction, but they will be our customers. I think we’ll just, for me, it’s all about organic growth, you know, just steadily or organically growing. So I think that’s, that’s where we’ll be.
Nathan Young (50:07):
Awesome. Fantastic predictions. Obviously, if we’ll follow up later, right. It’d be like, Hey, this is, uh, you were so right. Um, except for that one thing, right? Zack has been amazing having you on the show. You were super cool during the pre-show you were awesome on the show. Like I’m so high for what you
guys are doing. Your is freaking cool. And I glance at it every couple of days just because I like seeing that fantastic work.
Zach Ausherman (50:34):
Um, I got a little better for you too.
Nathan Young (50:43):
Got our beards on. And so as we wrap up, where can people find Zach? Where can people find
Ausherman? Who’s just telling me a little bit about it.
Zach Ausherman (50:53):
So yeah. aushermanpainting.com. So my last name is A U S H E R M A N. Um, and then painting of course. And then it’s Ausherman thing. It’s an Ausherman painting on Instagram. Same thing on, on Facebook. You can find me through there too. I’m connected to all those accounts. So yeah. All good stuff.
Nathan Young (51:14):
Fantastic. Once again, it has been amazing having you on, I can’t wait to follow up with you on these predictions and you know, eight months and we’ll see. Thank you so much, everybody. I’m going to quote my friend, Erin, thank you so much for listening and for the privilege of your time.
CEO Yale Appliance and Lighting
Yale Appliance + Lighting is a family-owned business in operation since 1923. Now with three 15,000+ sq. ft. showrooms featuring the best products and an unmatched product selection. Yale strives to offer superior customer experience from beginning to end.