Home Painters Toronto Touches Up Its Marketing with Infusionsoft
When Brian Young founded his company, Home Painters Toronto, in the late 1980s, marketing came in vastly different packages from what w're used to today. Young, a burgeoning entrepreneur and student painter fresh out of college, was able to get a decent amount of initial business from minimal advertising. "We'd market through cold calling, sign distribution, and direct mail," Young says. "There was no technology at all, back in '87–'91." This bare-bones approach got the company through most of the '90s, but when the Internet started to take off in the late '90s and early 2000s, Young saw a steady decline in revenue that continued for the next decade or so. "That’s basically when my business started going downhill," he says. "Things were going really well for about 10 years [up to that point]."
Young tried to adjust. When potential clients stopped responding to direct mail, he stopped sending it. "How many fliers do you get, and how many do you answer?" He jokes about it now, but at the time, he says, he could feel the market working against him.
In 2011, Young—by his own admission something of a Luddite, and resistant to change—understood that he would have to act quickly or he'd be left in the dust. He says the moment of truth came when he was actually punched in the face for canvassing a client's house during a dinner. "I realized that I had to change or else my business was going to die."
Young turned to his business consultant, who recommended a total shift toward technology.
Employing from four to eight subcontractors depending on the time of year, Young's business was still small. Infusionsoft, a CRM vendor that caters to businesses of 25 or fewer workers, made the most sense to Young; it offers marketing automation services to let owners free up time for other areas.
Once the software was installed—a couple of people helped him set it up—it took Young a while to learn how to use it. "I was discouraged," he says. "I struggled with it for at least three months." Under the guidance of Kelsey Bratcher, an Infusionsoft certified partner and marketing automation expert who offered to help free of charge, he got the hang of it within six months.
Over the next three years, Home Painters Toronto would see remarkable growth. His last documented annual revenue before Infusionsoft, at the end of 2011, was $375,000. In 2014, the company raked in $1.3 million, a number he hopes to see grow to $1.8 million by the end of 2015. He now has eight in-house employees and 25 to 30 subcontractors.
Just four years ago Young had no way of keeping track of his clients or following up after a job was done; now he estimates that his client base has expanded from 200 to 6,000. "Before Infusionsoft, I wouldn't even keep in touch with them," Young says. "[The only records we had were] on paper, and at the end of the year it would be thrown beneath all my taxes and everything. I had no database. Now I'm catching every lead and [engaging] every client; I'm trying to get their email, following up with them so we can market to them."
Customer satisfaction isn't an area he's struggled with per se; he estimates—based on referrals and the number of bills paid seamlessly—that he had an 85 percent satisfaction rate prior to Infusionsoft. But now he's at a solid 98 percent—he measures it online.
Young says that he's still no tech wizard, but that's why the simplicity of Infusionsoft appeals to him. He hopes to leverage the improvements the company is making with mobile payments. Likewise, he appreciates the company's efforts to simplify the act of writing and sending more compelling emails that will attract future customers.
All of these tools will come in handy as Home Painters Toronto expands. The company is in the process of moving out of Toronto and into the surrounding suburbs, since the revenues have hit a plateau in the city—where, he reports, he has saturated the market. —Oren Smilansky
SINCE HOME PAINTERS TORONTO BEGAN USING INFUSIONSOFT, IT’S SEEN:
- a 350 percent increase in annual revenue since 2012;
- a 13 percentage point lift in customer satisfaction ratings (from 85 percent to 98 percent); and
- a growth in clientele from 200 to 6,000.