Talkin' Paint Podcast #10 - Where is the other 66% of the business? – Kolewe Customs

Talkin Paint Podcast Episode #10 – Show Notes

In this episode, host Gabe has an in-depth conversation with Justin Kolewe of Kolewe Customs at SEMA 2023. They delve into Justin’s journey as a business owner, his growth and struggles, and discuss in detail the business operations of his vinyl wrap and paint protection film installation shop. Gabe identifies several areas for improvement in Justin’s business, including marketing, administrative tasks, and operational efficiency, and suggests solutions such as hiring a dedicated person to answer calls, investing in marketing and working on the shop’s processes. Gabe emphasizes the importance of structuring and systematizing the business for continued growth.


About Detailing Growth

My name is Gabe Fletcher. I operate Ceramic Pro Pottstown aka Total Detailing in Pottstown, PA. I have been one of the fastest-growing Ceramic Pro installers across the US. I have a 20-year website development background. I built my first website when I was 11 and have been enamored by Website Development ever since.

Detailing Growth’s Detailing 3.0 is a program designed for detailers. I took my years of website, SEO, PPC and totally crushed our market. It was my proof of concept that I knew we could do it for other people.

Our company was started to help car detailing businesses scale by providing SEO services, web design, social media campaigns, training, and more! We offer many different packages that are tailored for each business’s requirements. There is no cookie-cutter solution.

Detailing Growth Links​

Episode timeline

00:00 Introduction and Meeting Justin Kolewe

00:20 Justin’s Journey in the Business

01:13 Understanding Kolewe Customs

01:53 Challenges in the Business

02:39 Sales and Revenue Discussion

04:28 Work-Life Balance and Personal Life

05:15 Business Operations and Advertising

08:06 Identifying Operational Inefficiencies

11:29 Re-evaluating Business Focus

13:13 Improving Business Processes

17:20 Final Thoughts and Advice

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Episode transcript:

(00:00) Hey everybody it’s Gabe from Detailing Growth and today we’re here at SEMA 2023 we’re hanging out in the West Hall we’re down here at Legend paint protection film and I’m hanging out with Justin Kolewe to be fair Kurt warned me that I was going to butcher your name no everybody does it’s all good my whole life has been that way it’s why I went with it it’s a little more rememberable that way I got you so tell me tell me a little bit more about your business and where you’re at

(00:25) in your journey I started back in 2011 yeah 201 10 doing graphic design work started doing stuff small things for a sign company ended up working for a Graphics Company for about two or three years then moved into a full rap shop and then slowly built that rap shop up and then I was like all right I’m want to do my own thing that was in 2015 I moved back home into Louisville and saw a big opening where no one was doing color change wraps vehicle wraps by any means and took a shot now it’s what 2020 I have three full-time installers 1500

(01:07) foot building and we are busy booked up till the beginning of December as of right now that’s good tell me a little bit more about what your business does are you only focused on Films what’s the name of your shop my shop name is CA Customs I mainly deal with just film vinyl wraps and color and clear ppf it’s my main focus are you doing Coatings not really I farm those out to another shop mainly because film is hard enough to do it right that is the guys that I have that came on have never touched them

(01:39) before and they’re doing full cars in two or three days tell me a little bit about how the business structure works now they’re coming to you if they want pain protection film and if they want a coding you do you sell it and then sub it okay so you’re not taking it on yourself tell me a little bit more about what you’re struggling with Now where’s where are you struggling in the business right now the struggles so it’s not getting new clients like I said we’re booked till the end of December I

(02:04) think right now my struggle is um keeping a structure time frame for each project uh they tend right now to things linger um not due to getting done it’s they are small things that need just clean up and it’s I’m the cleanup I’m the QC guy so I think that’s where I need to delegate a little better um who’s running the business itself me and I’m still doing installs so you’re a sales installer sale installer owner and Problem Solver and all okay I even take the trash out sometimes so it’s a little

(02:38) little hectic at times you said that you’re booked out two months and you viewed that as a good thing tell me a little bit more about what the sales look like in your shop what does your average gross sales look like per month 20 to 30 on average and that’s with just film just film and now is that you doing majority of the installing or is that them two the other two guys you have have doing are they fully capable full install they are capable majority of it some of the small detail stuff they’re

(03:09) still struggling one installer I never have to worry he’s picked it up he’s been with me three years now and is solid the other guy he’s getting there he’s not there yet but he’s getting there okay you said you’re doing about 20 to $330,000 a month you essentially have two and a half installers you being an installer essentially no I had two installers because you’re half in the shop and you’re half doing admin right you have about two installers and you’ve got an additional helper we just brought

(03:41) another guy on too right now based on that number you gave me is it closer to 20 or is it closer to 30 closer to 30 okay how many days a week are you working five I’m I don’t work weekends or not open weekends the only reason why I ever go in a weekend is just to bring the car in I don’t let car sit outside it’s one of my big peeves sure now what about hours during the week what does that look like for you you need to be very very honest in how you answer this I I come in at 8:00 I get in the shop I

(04:10) leave around 5:30 6 o’ most days very few days where somebody can’t pick up their car until 7 o’clock I will stay but I’m not really installing I’m just doing paperwork stuff like that until they show up I’m only truly working till about 5:30 you have kids I just got a new kid yes congratulations girl yeah thank you what does that look like for you in your workload it’s CA fights it’s caus some Heche she wants me to be home at 5:00 on the dot to help her which is agreeable I’m sure I need

(04:46) to be there I don’t know what that looks like in the future I can only dictate what happens as of right now I try my best to explain to her this is how we make our living she’s a stay-at-home mom so it’s a one income house got to make the business grow to continue the growth and to get to a point where I’m not doing installs I don’t think I ever will be not an installer but I want to pull back a little bit and have them do all of that what is your process look like right now so before we even get to that

(05:19) in terms of your business and advertising where are you spending your money and what are you doing so you say 0 so Kurt has prefaced me with some of where you’re at in your business right and now you’re at a point where you need to scale because you need to put your effort elsewhere meaning at Hal yeah so that means that you now need to start making smarter business decisions right so what’s the so you said you just hired somebody else is that more shop help it is going to be fullon installer that’s

(05:47) fine it sounds to me like you got the work part of it done let’s talk about admin who’s answering the phone that be me how many times you miss it I’d say about 40 to 50% of the time no that’s a lot it is a sh that’s a that’s a shitload of Miss calls I am actually very good at calling people back I’ve actually gotten a lot of jobs because I do that how long does it usually take you to get back to people about an hour and a half on average couple people takes longer if I have customers coming

(06:19) in I’m talking to them can’t I don’t want to answer somebody’s call while I’m working with somebody so the majority of the time that’s where I miss the calls I hear that and I I hear a common theme recurring I’m I’m I’m seeing it happening in front of me I’m willing to bet that you feel like there’s not enough hours in the day yeah that’s a b and I’m willing to feel like that you can’t shut it off when you go home and I’m willing to bet that you feel like

(06:44) you that’s all you want to talk about and I’m willing to bet that the wife doesn’t want to talk about it yeah hi my name’s Gabe and I’ve been there without the kid but I’ve been there not knowing how to shut it off yeah not knowing how to separate worked and home and I’ve been where you’re at I know exactly what you’re dealing with now I’m not the expert and everyone’s situation is unique but I’m telling you is that you’re not alone in how you feel there’s

(07:11) a lot of people like that and it’s a side effect of this particular industry because it’s so display result driven yes and that naturally attracts people who want to control their environment you always want to be in control of your environment yeah yeah you want to make sure that everything goes how you want it to go also a recurring themed am I reading you am I reading you to filth at the so this is very common it just that’s just what this industry and this sector is right and the hack is finding

(07:46) the way that you can have somebody else take that worry on for you yeah somebody else can come worry about it and that’s always the challenging part who do I pick how do I do it how do I get there when’s the right time now’s not the right time I’m worried about picking the right people and it all goes around and around let me ask you the next question you say that you’re booked two months out and you’re doing about 30k a months that tells me that a for essentially having two and a half people to run the

(08:16) shop and you’re doing only 30 grand booked out at two months that tells me that you’ve got a massive hole in your operational efficiency huge hole somewhere if you’ve got two film installers meaning you and somebody else along with a helper that can help prep you ought to be touching on 40 to 45 Grand a month no problem say you’re doing $30,000 a month right and 12 months that’s $360,000 right so I’m GNA borrow a take from Mike and Ray at autofilm Mastery and put this in front of you if you’ve

(08:47) got two installers that you would consider of operational efficiency and know what they’re doing that means that you and your installers should be able to do one full front a day one full front a day each right so that’s $4,000 a day let’s assume the full front’s two grand right two full fronts a day 5 days a week that’s $20,000 a week times 52 that’s a million dollar a year obviously holidays another things fing into account so now you tell me where you’re tell me if you’re operationally

(09:20) efficient or not yeah I’m not you’re not right because at $1,400 a year one full front per installer so two a day and you’re doing right now $30,000 a month where’s the other 66% of the business dude yeah where did it where’s it at so now hearing this right now hearing the numbers and we see this and we take and we look at where saying you’re booked out for two months that tells me that something’s not right on the home front so now you’ve you’re armed with this and you see the big gap right cuz you don’t

(09:50) know what you don’t know until you know it and that’s okay that doesn’t make you that doesn’t make you a bad business owner that doesn’t make you a bad installer or operator or entrepreneur because there’s levels right and you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it and now you’re armed with this information right so hearing that what’s the first thing that comes to mind that’s the that’s causing that what is it me your business it’d be time things that are taking longer than

(10:19) they should such as like the just average install time the ppf guy two sectors I vinyl rap and I ppf ppf I am very confident my one guy can do two maybe three Teslas in a day very confident in that he’s done it now how much does that full car fetch you Teslas uh mat is at seven gloss is at 65 okay you’re I mean you’re right on the money that’s what we do frontals we do for 2350 okay so it’s not it’s not necessarily a matter of charging not enough correct that is that sector the WAP sector which I’m mostly in and my my

(10:59) now two helpers one installer one helper sorry and then myself that’s where things are going slower and why is that I don’t know what type of rap are you doing is a typical full vehicle how long does the average full vehicle take you how me or them you me on average say a Tesla just keep consistency final WAP three days and you would how much would you charge for that vinyl WRA 45 to 5 depending on what accents they did are the lights going off are the lights going off yeah we’re focusing on the

(11:32) wrong things you we’re focusing on things that have such a low profit margin in comparison to what your time is being spent on $4,500 for a job that takes three days worth of your energy you could be turning two full fronts a day in that three days and make more than double that amount of money it comes down to a divisions in your business are spread thin B you might not be charging enough enough for vinyl although vinyl typically has a lower cost entry because of its materials unless you’re focusing are you focusing

(12:07) vinyl on B2B or B Toc you business to business or business to customer business to customer there’s always Johnny Rocket around the corner who’s going to slam film on a Tesla in 87 bajillion pieces for 2500 bucks hearing this information what makes more sense honestly it makes more sense to go full ppf and I’m not here to tell you to change your business model because if you got one skill set and you know you can do it that’s but that tells me that you don’t have the marketing presence to

(12:38) back the film the paint protection film side of the business so that means somewhere in your operation here like investment money needs to come in advertising money needs to go in so we can boost Revenue up right because you say that you’ve spent 0 and you’ve built the business to $30,000 a month over an extended period of time with spending Z and that’s fine you’re at the ceiling right now you’re at the ceiling of what zero marketing dollars gets it marketing dollars is now going to be what but

(13:10) boosts you up to 50 60 $70,000 a month first thing you’re going to need to do just from hearing what you’re telling me is you’re going to need to either get somebody else answer the phone which isn’t a big deal you can hire somebody for 10 to $12 an hour to do that yeah and just answer the phone and play connector right the person that does LE that that can answer leads can J they don’t need to sell they just need to answer the phone thanks for calling Justin Customs because I don’t want to

(13:39) butcher your name again thanks for calling Justin’s Customs how can I help you oh yeah I have a Tesla mon why I want to get paint protection film okay no problem what’s your name and your email and then I can pass you over to Justin who can tell you all about the prices right she doesn’t need to quote the prices she doesn’t need to sell all she has to do is provide you the information in a structured Manner and she can say hang on one second let me see if he’s in his office hold see you’re at Justin there’s a customer that

(14:07) wants to talk to you right and if you’ve made the right decisions you can have earpods in and then whatever Enterprise phone system you’re using hopefully you have that if you don’t put that on your list she transfers the call to you you answer it on your phone you can keep squeegee and film and all you have to do is talk so using something like ring central super easy super affordable everybody that has a phone in your business can have their own extension an internal messaging system so you’re not

(14:36) relying on group text messages text messages anymore so there’s a lot of different pieces how this can come together okay number one investment into marketing like needs to be like yesterday’s right finding or fine-tuning shop process in terms of how things get done and when and how long they’re expected to take to get done that’s super important number three getting somebody to answer the phone and ensuring that every single lead and every single phone call is answered all day long no call backs this is why

(15:10) that’s important you told me that people commend you for getting back to them and all that right say typically takes me an hour what if I told you that for every minute that you wait after five minutes after receiving the lead your chance of converting them drops by 80% converting them meaning making contact and having them be interested for every minute after that that first 5 minutes your sales conversion capability drops by 380 so it starts going negative right because businesses buy almost 70 to 80% from the first person that they

(15:43) talk to so if they don’t talk to you they’re going to call the next one and they’re going to call the next one and they’re going to call the next one so now we’ve got holes in our sales process we’ve got holes in our marketing process we’ve got holes in our efficiency so what’s the first plan of action when you go home now probably get a marketing plan into action of some sort how does this make you feel heing all this is it does it feel like you knew it I knew it but you didn’t quite understand the how

(16:10) the pieces work together it’s more or less I was afraid to put Marketing in and then be six months out or eight months out i’ been four months out at one point and I thought I was gonna jump out on the skin because I didn’t know how I was going to get it done and if people were going to wait five months to get a car done and they’re not no no this industry it’s can you get it done two weeks three weeks that’s a long time for a car to go down the road to get rock chips to have a color put on you

(16:43) want to be at two weeks Max that’s where you want your business to be that’s a very comfortable maybe a month if you’re really slammed that’s at like Peak summer season I think that if you worked with an agency even if you didn’t work with mine and you worked with another agency and you formulated a long-term plan you work you’re already working with a quality brand you’re working with Legend right these guys do good work they have a great film they have a great product they have a good support system

(17:10) they have a good rep system and it’s a product you can trust now we just need to put the rest of the pieces in place yeah no it makes sense but sometimes you need to hear it from somebody else to lay it out for you A lot of people don’t want to accept the fact that their business could be doing better and they don’t like the fact that it’s lay at their feet listen if at the end of the day if you’re happy with that and you like where you’re at and you like the business you like your work balance

(17:37) that’s great but I know that now that you got a kid now we got to start talking about saving money for the kid and making sure the kids take care of long term I should be calling it baby cuz kid sounds really just disconnected she is a baby she’s only 17 months old we got to start we got to start thinking of her now it’s time to transition from being a grinder holic installer that is just wearing the grind like a badge of honor because let me tell you there’s zero honor in wearing that grind badge

(18:08) none whatsoever because capitalism tells you should be grinding like that right and that’s the flaw in capitalism capitalism is grind you into meat to avoid that you need to use the rest of the system to scale and step up above the grind type of mentality and that’s where I think you’re at every company has those levels that those walls that they hit and sometimes they meet people that can make them break through that wall sometimes they can make them see that wall and figure out another Avenue I hope I can break

(18:44) through this wall and go forward and figure out a way to make that million whatever listen two guys one full front a day 5 days you can do that I know I can do that got to have the right marketing got to have the right structure it’s all about structure and systematizing it so that way you can disconnect and that’s when life really you can really get a chance to enjoy your own life is when you don’t need to grind 247 listen uh I hope some of this was helpful for you I know I’m sure it will be super help of our podcast listeners
(19:17) thank you for being willing to be open and being part of the process hopefully we can work together with you here soon

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