Participants: Annie Newton and David Mumm
January 25, 2018
What would you like us to do for you? What is the purpose and scope of the project?
Our principal goal is to tell the 4 Seasons Color story in a compelling way. The internet age has made our story and our online presentation more critical than ever before. Our website and social media need to represent our product accurately and invite customers to make contact or even make a purchase online. Word of mouth, while still significant, is less important than it used to be.
The Walla Walla Market: Walla Walla is a boutique market where word of mouth is still a vital source of new business, and there are a wide range of projects from simple repainting to high-end new construction.
The Tri-Cities Market: Our customer in the Tri-Cities tends to be practical and analytical. There is often an engineer living in the house. They are living in their homes for an average of four years, and they wish to maintain their investment for resale. They will learn about us from our website and decide to make contact after that. Matt often impresses the engineer types with his knowledge of paint specifications.
We do retain 70% of our customers. However, that’s not enough for growth, so we need to expand our marketing to reach new customers.
Our past focus has been on survival, not growth.
We have learned a great deal about our strengths and weaknesses. Our management team of Matt and Annie are much more united than ever before. Annie used to wonder if she could make money, but now she knows how to make money, and the question has advanced to “Can I make money elegantly?”
We have also learned that top quality craftsmanship is needed for only a few projects each year. We have a team who can achieve excellent quality level-five craftsmanship, but we don’t make much profit on level-five projects. Instead, we make most of our profit on good quality level-three projects.
Now, our focus is on growth and success. We are working to develop a scalable business model so we can expand with partnerships in other communities.
It’s time to update the look and feel of 4 Seasons Color marketing materials. We are impressed with the simplicity of the message used by Wow 1 Day Painting.
What does success look like?
First: We’d like to establish a reserve account. At the current rate of savings, we’ll be there in four months.
Second: Current annual billings are at 1.8 million dollars. We’d like to more than double our billings in the next five years to reach four to five million in annual billings.
Third: Instead of making all the sales, Matt would like to coach a sales team. Annie sees her role as an executive who will manage territories and coach leaders.
Fourth: We will expand our service to the following three markets:
Industrial, Commercial, and Home Owner’s Associations. Details follow.
What projects should be included initially?
- Plan: Create a list of goals. Develop strategies and tactics necessary to meet those goals.
- Brand Story: Develop 4 Seasons Color story.
- Logo: The badge logo has served us well for the past 16 years, but we are open to an update if a change serves our story better.
- Identity: If we update the logo, we will need to update identity items.
- Vehicles: Vehicle advertising has been hugely successful. Our vehicles are looking a bit tired (the expected lifespan of vinyl is 5-7 years). They may need an update.
- Photography: We need new photos of the team and recent project photos.
- Website Development: Include well-developed blog and online store within a website that actively tells the story of the 4 Seasons Color brand.
- Website Maintenance: I always add this because a successful site must be continually nurtured.
- Email Marketing: Grow the list and keep in touch with established contacts.
- Social Media: Build a social media presence.
- Traditional media: We are extraordinarily successful when we appeal to a neighborhood where we already have one project going. We can reach out with door hangers or direct mail. We should consider the Every Door Direct Mail product that covers an entire postal route in neighborhoods where we are working.
- Video Storytelling: Video production is not expensive these days, and it is a compelling storytelling tool for the website and social media.
- Recruiting Materials: Our recruiting is focused on presentable workers who do not smoke and have no visible tattoos. Great recruiting is a big part of our product. We need an attention-getting presence at area career fairs.
- We also need to develop a reactivation campaign featuring a newsletter, coupons, and a free one-hour touch-up.
What limitations or constraints do you have? What elements or colors or other personal preferences must be represented in this project?
We don’t have many limitations. Let’s pay attention to cost and work with what we have to some degree. We must communicate clearly to our clients.
Our green color is unique and has been an asset for us. Blue is a reliable trust color.
Where will additional materials that we do not create come from?
WWU Intern: We hope to have an intern who can do some writing, social media, and basic design stuff.
SEO: We are pleased with our SEO guy.
Website: We may be locked into our current provider, or we may consider David Mumm.
What are examples of projects of this type you have seen that you think are effective?
What are the goods and services your business provides?
We apply interior and exterior coatings to just about everything and do some carpentry (we don’t promote carpentry). We paint new construction, commercial buildings, and will soon paint industrial facilities as well. We do residential repainting as well.
We have a lacquer booth for dust controlled applications. We also power-wash and refinish decks and floors.
We also have a permanent location and a long history of great work. Our crew is clean, non-smoking, well trained and focused on customer service.
What makes it different, unusual, or unique?
Well trained, competent, clean, and non-smoking staff. Our customer service and client communication is outstanding.
Yes, we are top-quality master craftsmen. Yes, we know coatings and color. Yes, we stay on time and on budget. Yes, we don’t make mistakes. BUT, what really makes us stand out is our attention to customer service. We are careful with a client’s home, yard, and possessions. We communicate well, and we go the extra mile to do something extra every day for every client.
We have a large staff, and that helps us take on large projects that the little guys can’t even consider.
It's time for a significant change from our previous focus on craft and quality. We are most profitable on level-three projects. We need to focus our story on outstanding customer experience, adequate quality, quick service, and affordability.
What makes your business special among similar companies? What similar products or services are currently available and how good are they?
The main threat to our business is low price competitors who, often, work below the radar of the tax and safety system. These short-term operators can take jobs from us, but usually only when the customer's principal interest is the price.
Our online presence, reviews, and testimonials show how different we are. We pay attention to reputation management that really helps.
Who is doing it right:
In Tri-Cities, Smile-A-Mile Painting is doing a lot of things right. But, wow, are their vans ugly.
There are a lot of large firms who appeal to facility managers. They include:
Who is your current primary audience? How much do they know about the product? What are their attitudes toward products or businesses like yours? What motivates them?
Walla Walla area:
Our key audience is a white, 45-year-old, woman who works at home. She is educated, practical, emotional, and often particular. She is connected to the community through clubs and volunteer efforts. She is interested in the process of painting but does not know much about the details. Her husband is an educated professional. She makes the decision, but he will review the contract. Craft and customer service are essential. Our bid rate is $42 to $45 per hour.
Decisions in this market are usually made by middle-aged men who are technical and interested in the specs of the job. He often has an engineering background, and he likes to see the MSDS sheet. We win the project every time it comes down to the technical specs of the job. It is important to note that women in Tri-Cities are almost always our first contact, but it is the man who decides to buy. Tri-Cities has a much more significant middle class than is found in Walla Walla. Our bid rate is $32 per hour.
Common to both markets:
As noted above, we hope to expand our service to the following markets.
Industrial coatings is the new market we are following. Often these projects result in annual maintenance contracts. We’ll need significant new equipment to complete these projects. Industrial clients include utilities, government, Fortune 500 companies, and the like. Regional clients might include Railex, ConAgra, Simplot, Boise Cascade, and similar facilities. Note: We will likely add floor coatings to our ever-expanding list of services. To get into the industrial coatings marketplace, it is essential to have an excellent safety record. We have a perfect State of Washington OSHA safety record. Our record is .06. It is required that a contractor have less than .10 to get into Con-Agra. Other industrial clients have similar requirements. Decision makers are all professional men aged 55 and above.
Property management companies can be great clients. Managers work for an investor or a group of investors to maintain a number of buildings. Once we have one project, many more may follow. We are licensed and bonded, and we can use these big jobs to hide trainees. Property managers are an important target. We have one that is worth 200k of work each year. Our average sale to property managers is $3,700. We currently have three in Tri-Cities and two in Walla Walla. Property managers are very busy people. We add value by making paperwork easy to pass on to an owner. We run the job by assessing the maintenance scope of work FOR the manager, and they can pass it on to their customers. The split is 50/50 men and women. They are fairly sophisticated, and some are as young as the mid-30s. Most are building their own portfolio and cash-flow and will step out of the role of property manager by the age of 55.
Project managers move to a large job site from another town and spend their days in a job shack at the site of a large construction project. They are generally men over 40 years-old. They are sophisticated and often have a college degree in construction management. Their job is to represent the property owner.
We will also expand to serve more small commercial clients such as churches, wineries, schools, retail and such. This is a broad market that includes architects, designers, builders, and every kind of small business. The demographic profile is comprehensive.
Most general contractors build two or three homes a year, and they are on the job site daily. They are all men. They started as craftsmen and generally don’t have much business experience or technical savvy. They are scattered and running. They want us to communicate well, provide the workforce, and meet quality requirements. They don’t care much about the appearance of the crew. The older guys are unwilling to put up with BS. The younger guys are often willing to accept massive risks and will employ less reliable sub-contractors.
Home Owner’s Associations:
HOAs are protecting their investments and often have repeat projects and/or maintenance contracts.
Note: We don’t tend to do new commercial construction. Bids can take forever, and profit is often limited to around 15%. We may offshore the bid process, and then we could land some of these projects.
How will the user be better off using your product or service? Will he or she save time, effort, or money How important is this product to the consumer?
The key benefit to choosing 4 Seasons Color is our outstanding customer service experience. We deliver the right quality at the right price at the right time. Plus, we go the extra mile to do the extra things that improve a customer’s experience.
Customers save time because of our efficient bid process, quick project turn time, and the fact that it is done right the first time. Customers often save money and effort as well for all of the same reasons.
Coatings protect investments and make a home or business inviting. Those factors combine to make our service vital to our customers.
Another key way that our customers benefit is from the quality of our crew. Everyone speaks English and is well-trained in customer care skills. Nobody on our team has visible tattoos or a smoking habit.
Our key drawback is the price. Customer’s don’t look too closely at exterior painting projects the process is happening OUTSIDE, so it is easier to tolerate imperfection. Interior projects are in the customer’s space, and they scrutinize the end product much more closely. In other words, we can save time and save a customer some money more easily on an exterior project.
It’s interesting to note the drawbacks of using our competition as well. They often sell a higher quality material but deliver an inferior product. They also tend to over schedule themselves, which can mean months of delay. Our competitors usually work under the table, and they do not contribute to the community or pay the appropriate tax. They don’t invest in people, training, and safety.
Most Important Point
What are the top ranked benefits of your product or service?
We are clean: Our crew is clean. We don’t smoke. We don’t look like carnival workers.
- We are capable: We are well trained and competent. We know coatings and color.
- We are careful: We will protect your home and possessions.
- We communicate: Everyone speaks English. Our customer service and client communication is outstanding.
- We are caring: We take extra good care to go the extra mile for every client every day.
- We are quick: Our large staff keeps us on time and makes us capable of moving quickly on large projects.
- We have a large staff, and that helps us take on large projects that the little guys can’t even consider.
Our new focus is a big change from our previous focus on craft and quality. We are most profitable on level-three projects. We need to focus our story on outstanding customer experience, adequate quality, quick service, and affordability.
If you could choose only one thing the viewer remembers from your advertising, what would it be?
Our quick and clean crew offers outstanding customer service at the quality you expect.