This is the story of the worst professional experience of my adult life (so far).
From January 2013 to September 2015 I ran a house painting franchise through Young Entrepreneurs Across America – a company that provides real life business training for college kids by giving them the physical and mental tools to be able to run their own small business.
The story starts in mid – March 2013, I had just turned 21. It was a bitterly cold day in Columbus, Ohio, the kind of cold that sinks deep into your bones no matter how many layers you were wearing. In other words, a perfect day for training some cold callers, knocking on some doors, and growing my business. About 4 hours in, my cold caller (Ryan) and I come to a corner with a big stucco house. A car passes us and pulls into the driveway. I told Ryan to man up and go ambush the lady getting out of her car and ask if she needed any painting done. He refused, and to show him what a big baby he was being, I walked right up to the black lexus right as the door was opening. I talked to the lady, we’ll call her Mrs. G, who stepped out for a minute and she agreed to give me her contact information in case she needed painting done this summer.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the single act of approaching this car would set off a chain of events that would cost me about $2,000 and lead to the worst week of my life.
I called to schedule a free estimate, but completely missed it due to a lack of organization – 100% my fault. It was like the universe was pleading with me to stay away from this house, but I pressed on. I called, apologized profusely, and rescheduled the estimate for a few weeks later.
The new estimate was scheduled for the first warm day of the year — sometime in mid-April — when you could legitimately wear shorts and a t-shirt and feel comfortable. The previous winter was “polar vortex” brutal and I was ecstatic to FINALLY be out in the sunshine without 45lbs of clothes. I went over to Mr. G’s house and met him and his wife. I was in such a good mood because of the weather I connected with both of them instantly. I found out that they had 2 kids in high school who played lacrosse, so we talked about that for a few minutes. I walked around the massive 3 story stucco house.
Now, those of you who have painted before… 3 story house, dry stucco, color change, both homeowners were lawyers…. You already know how this is going to end.
I didn’t book the job right away — it took 3 weeks of following up every week for them to agree to the $2,700 contract. Another sign from the universe to stay away… but I continued on unaware of what was about to happen.
The job was scheduled for mid-June — a good spot in the schedule because your painters have had a few jobs under their belts and you are in the swing of things from a logistics and organizational standpoint. That’s the idea at least.
By this time, I have 4 painters on my payroll, one of which was out of town for this job. The night before the big job, I text the other three the address for the next day.
I promptly get messages back from two of them that they had found other jobs, and were kind enough to let me know the night before one of the biggest jobs of the year. I scramble around calling friends and hiring off of Indeed and Craigslist, and scrape together 3 people to come out to the job the next day for on the job training. Crisis averted! After a brief moment in the panic zone, I’m back in business.
Everything is going to be OK! Right?
Part 2/2 coming tomorrow, hope you enjoy!