Marketing Podcast

Why Strong Branding Matters for Home Improvement Businesses

40 Minute Read
In this edition of Your Concrete Success podcast, where we talk about Marketing for Home Improvement Contractors, we're joined by a special guest, Blake Dungey of Volt Coatings.

We explore the path to establishing a leading brand in the concrete coating sector, pricing for profit, the value of customer experience, and the impact of an authentic brand.

Blake provides insights into integrating his design expertise with the concrete industry, highlighting the crucial role of trust, authority, and storytelling in shaping a brand.



Topics Discussed

  1.  Importance of Brand Identity: Blake sets a high importance on authentic storytelling, aiming his branding to be a direct reflection of his interests and characteristics. He mentions that while there's a necessity to appear legit and reliable, being authentic allows a connection with the customers that could ultimately lead to loyal clients and increased growth in the company.

    2. Struggle of Expansion: Blake discusses the inevitabilities tied with expansion and how unforeseen issues emerged when increasing his crew size. He emphasizes developing quick problem-solving skills as a crucial characteristic to thrive in chaotic situations.

    3. Balancing Between Personal and Business Life: Stressing the importance of clear communication, Blake Dungey talks about his efforts to separate his work life from his family duties. He points out the need to find balances and setting specific boundaries to ensure being 'present' in all aspects of life without being overwhelmed.

    4. Setting Long-term Goals: Looking ahead, Blake shares his high-reaching ambition of seeing Volt Coatings as a $20 million brand. However, he reiterates the importance of focusing on what can be achieved presently, breaking down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks.

    5. Importance of Community and Accountability: In his journey, Blake highlights his reliance on a small group of friends who hold him accountable in various aspects of life, from personal health to business issues. He emphasizes that having a solid, reliable group to lean on during challenging situations has greatly assisted in his growth both as an entrepreneur and a person.

Audio Transcription

Hello my friends. Welcome to another episode of Your Concrete Success podcast. We have an amazing guest with us here today. Stay tuned. Make sure that you, you stay right where you are right now. If you're listening to us on YouTube, on Spotify, hit that subscribe button because we have the one and only Mr.

Blake Dungey with Vault Coatings, as well as our amazing concrete marketing crew, marketing manager, Andrea and Mady. Hey guys, to have you. Who's the real boss? The COO. Welcome aboard guys. Are you guys excited for today's show? Oh yeah, for sure. You know, volt Coatings is one of our favorite clients to design for because they have such a cool brand.

Mm-Hmm. And they're fun to work with. So this is exciting. This is a good conversation. Yeah, yeah, definitely. That's definitely one of those that are graphic designers are like, I wanna design for Volt, so it's exciting. Which, which brings us right, right into the man himself. Mr. Blake. Blake, how's your day going today?

Hey, thanks for having me guys. Day's going awesome. How about yours? It's going amazing. It's going amazing. So we got a great show here today and what we wanna do is, is have you talk a little bit about your story and. Vault coatings, like, you know, you, you are building, in my eyes, you're one of the top three brands in the concrete coating industry nationwide in the United States.

And I don't say that lightly, I don't say that because we know each other but from the creative aspect, from the impact, and most importantly, we're gonna talk about the, what the brand impact is internally as a company, as well as externally to the clients. It's something that's above and beyond the norm.

So just wanna commend you for that. But let, let's get to know the men behind the brand here. Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into the coatings industry and where you're from. Yeah, so from Minnesota that's where our business is located. We're about 20 minutes south southwest of the city's Minneapolis here.

And so kind of got into coatings by accident. My first profession, I would say was started off as a hobby turned, my first profession was graphic design and it started with a little t-shirt business. And, you know, just kinda. That led into me doing some design work, people asking for apparel design, went to websites, and kind of did a little bit of everything.

I would say I was an inch deep and a mile wide. And anything from a, a branding or from a, a graphic design perspective that you could do, I touched. So starting off with that, did did some work for some, some big brands, did a lot of action sports work. I'm, I'm a big fan of action sports. I grew up racing and motocross and so Oh, cool.

Nice. Just, just all action sports in general. I love the, the culture, I love the art, and so. You know, really my first customers were, were along those, those types of brands. And then towards the end of my, my professional design career, you know, when I decided to look elsewhere, it's, we were doing stuff for, did some merchandise for Red Bull, did some stuff for de Tour Monster Energy, Supercross among a, a lot of other brands.

And so that's kind of influence Volt, which we'll get into. Mm. And but really just kind of there was maybe five, six years ago, I just wasn't. I loved what I did. I did love the design stuff. Mm-Hmm. But I kind of just got tired of doing it for other people. Mm-Hmm. And I was like, man, I, I want to kind of take this experience and, and kind of put it all together for my own brand and how I, I, I kind of thought about some different business ideas.

I come from a concrete family, so my, my dad and my grandpa. They've owned a concrete business that's been around 40 years. They do flat work, so things like driveways, patios, and so me and my brothers, you know, we grew up doing that. We were the, the slave laborers. The, yeah, exactly. Free labor. Yeah. So, but I always admired the business my dad and my grandpa had.

And you know, I just remember. I met a man named Jesse Jesse Hodges out of outta California. He came to actually a Supercross race here, which is a motocross inside racing, inside baseball, football stadiums. And met him about two years prior to actually doing a coatings business. And when I started kind of looking around at some ideas, I was like.

My wife, me and my wife actually talked about it. I was like, Hey, what about this like garage floor coatings? This, this sounds something that's you know, it's fascinating to me. It's, it's a cool, it looks like a cool business. It had a lot of similarities of my, my dad's business. He does a lot of residential work and, you know, higher ticket items in and out for the most part.

It just, it just, I, I don't mind office work, but I also like getting my hands dirty, you know? Mm-Hmm. We, we grew up you know, kind of blue collar, blue collar family you could call it. Yeah. And, you know, I just started picking Jesse's brain and he came in, trained me did an install for over the course of five days I think it was.

And after that it was like off to the races. You know, I wow. All, all my business experience has really been self-taught. Some of it comes from books that you, you read the material, you apply and it works. And then other days you, you apply something and you feel like you got your, your ass kicked by Conor McGregor after 12 rounds and you're like, let's, let's not do that again.

So it's definitely an up-and-down journey as an entrepreneur. Yeah. But, you know, five, six years into it, it's been really cool to see where we're at and, and how far I've come and how far, even just. Per the personal growth that I've been able to have it, it's been a business that's truly blessed me and my family.

That's amazing. I love how there's a connection between the design element and then there's so much design in concrete coatings. Mm-Hmm. With the colors and the details and that attentiveness. I, I love that connection. That's so cool. Yeah. So he, here's a, a beautiful story. You know, you, you grew up in the trades, you went out and went into the creative space and designed brands.

What, what were some of the biggest lessons that you learned designing, working with big brands like Red Bull that have it together, that they really have a strategy behind the brand and the movements and the, the goals, growth goals that they have. What, what do you bring into. The traits into perhaps your father's and your business that has helped you in, in this journey?

Yeah. It, it's evolved a little bit. So I'd say initially it was when I, when I first got into this space, it was like, okay, well what are my skill sets? Like I, mm-Hmm. I was able to, through, through my design business, able to, to communicate good and, and go out and, and communicate to customers, have conversation, build relationships, and, and do sales there.

So that, that helped out. But. As I got into space, it was like, okay, like I, I really dug into you know, I, I come from a family to where it's, if you're gonna do something, do do it a hundred percent. Mm-Hmm. That's great. I think for me it was, you know, let's, let's learn about these coatings. I feel like there's a lot of guys that get into this and it's just, they kind of learn some of the surface level terminology.

But yeah, I mean, I, I started talking to the, I didn't wanna talk to the salesperson at the manufacturer we were buying from. I was like, Hey, put me on, put me on the phone with the chemist. Like, I really wanna understand. These different coatings, why we're recommending 'em and, you know, and, and really just have that, that technical knowledge.

And so that, that was one thing that helped out tremendously. And we were able to be a, a really good install business. You know, in terms of, we had, we had production figured out. The quality of work was there. I'd say the, the second component was the design. And it was like, okay, what skill sets do I have that can set me apart from everybody else?

True. And so. With, with my design acumen, it's, I felt like I was able to create then epoxy at now, now Volt you know, create branding and marketing materials that. Made us, made us look way more legit. You know, like I was still, I was, that trucking that chuck in the truck guy, you know, my first, my first three months of this was towards the end of the fall.

I think it was 2017 or 2018. Yeah. I'd go rent this tiny little 12 inch grinder from one rental store. I'd rent the vacuum from another one. And, and that's how I got started. But, mm-Hmm. When you looked at our website, when you looked at our branding. We looked, we honestly, we looked larger than some of the companies here in Minnesota.

Yeah. That hadn't been around for 30 years. So it's, I think for me it was just, Hey, what's, what's a skill set that I have that, that I can leverage? Mm-Hmm. And, and just, you know, try to have that be a differentiator or, or a competitive advantage. Right. And so that, that really helped out of the gate. Speak a little bit more to that.

For the contractors that have focused so much in their skill in the application, in the beautifying of the surfaces, and they're, they're pretty much on top of their world in the game and you know, there's only so much you can do when you are the brand and you are the individual. But when you are making the business and the brand something bigger than Mm-Hmm, who you are as an individual that's something special.

How, how did. Developing the brand when you, when you were just starting out and putting a lot of focus, emphasis there, help you when it came to landing jobs or, or or getting more more leads or, or selling more floors? Yeah, I think it, the, the main premise, I just. I wanted to go out and do good work, you know?

Mm-Hmm. So, when I look at my dad and my grandpa's business, there's been around 40 years that thing's, weather, recessions, you know, they have such a great reputation, and you just learn the principles of, it's, it's not a really hard recipe. Right? Yeah. Like, it's, it's hard work, don't get me wrong. Mm-Hmm. But it's, you know, you, you, you treat the customer the way you wanna be treated.

You do really good work. You stand behind your work. So whether it's something that's in your control or outta your control, that messes up a job. You're not, you're not waiting for the customer to ask you, Hey, you need to replace this. You're going out and doing it. And, and you know, and then you just, you charge a good price to make sure that you can stay in business.

And so for me, the initial thing was I wanted to have a good brand, but it was all about the customer experience. Mm. And it, it wasn't like I, I didn't get that from a book. It was just from my dad's business. Go out and do the work well, and then the rest will fall into place from there. Yeah, you'll figure the rest out.

But it's, for me, the primary focus was you have to knock out these floors, you have to execute. And so it started with, Hey, this has to be a really good install. Yeah. And then you start looking at, okay, what other touch points do I have with the customer along their buying journey from when they reach out to you for a bid to when you give them that bid, you do the follow up, you get the job all the way through to that process is done and you're trying to collect a review.

For me it was just, hey, give a five-star customer experience, and that, that's still, that's our primary focus. That's our primary mission and for us it's, you know, as a business you wanna be profitable, but even with our team, it's like, Hey, what winning looks like to us is if we go out there and we provide that five-star experience and that, that that's not just going out in installing the floor, doing a really good job of that.

It's, you know, responsive communication on the front end all the way through from lead to the actual sale. They're gonna know what time our guys are showing up. When they're showing up during the process, we're communicating with them. So I was like, if we do that and at the end of the day we can go to the customer and ask them for a five-star review, and they, they give their testimony on that.

I tell our guys like that, that that's winning. Like that is yes, when we do that right, everything else, as long as we make good sound, practical business decisions that that'll take care of itself. But to me it, it, it started with just the, the quality of the work and the quality of the experience first.

And, and I think that's where some people get it wrong, in my opinion. Mm-hmm. You know, I, I didn't come from another, a service business. I, I'm like the school of hard knocks, so I'm learning this kind of the hard way, you know, I'm trying to re-engineer how the big guys are doing it. Yeah, yeah. And I think for me it was just, hey, let, if we focus on that, that's great.

To where, you know, now there's people that, yeah, you can get into it and if you know the strategy of, oh, here's what you need to spend on ad spend. You gotta hire this salesperson. You get this many jobs. But it's like, if the customer experience sucks, yes. And the jobs don't come out well because your technicians are poorly trained.

Then, then all that systems is, I don't know, it's kind of worthless to, to, yeah, totally. So. It's like you know, the restaurant. And now do you go to a steakhouse? If, if the service is really good, but the steak is crap, well you're not gonna go back there. And then vice versa. If the food's really good, but the service is crap, you know, you're not gonna go back there.

So there, there's a balance between those two things. Right. But you know, I'd rather start with a good steak and then bring in the service if we have to. Yeah. And that's so good. That is good. That's so good. Okay. I have a question about that. So it seems like the customer service element is very important and it's also something that when you develop a strong brand, you need, it's almost like your brand speaks your customer service and your brand.

They go hand in hand. But also there's other things that I find that are more achievable when you develop a strong brand. Mm-Hmm. So what have you learned in terms of developing a strong brand and pricing for profit? Yeah. I think where brand correlates to that is, you know, what you're trying to do is, is communicate trust and authority off the bat, right?

So to me, I, it, it really kind of hit me, I'd say around three, four years ago, you know, you or actually even, even like during Covid, COVID was a really good example of you know, as their digital estimates kind of became a little bit more popular, right? Like, Hey, send me square footage and pictures of your garage.

I'll give you a bit off of that. And it, it blew my mind to me. And when I knew we kind of had something was you go, you do this digital bid. Like there was times where I never even met the customer, my guys or myself. We went out and did the job. Customer wasn't home. But it's like no interaction other than maybe an email and a phone call.

And you not only provided a bid and like, I'm not talking a two, 3000 bid. I'm talking like eight, $9,000 jobs. And next day they're, there's, they're, you know, either wiring you or ACH transfer a credit card payment a down a 50% down payment without even meeting you. Right. And it's just like, I think that's, that's the power of brand.

Mm-Hmm. And, and you have to, you know, we have our reviews to, to add that, that trust there. But I think that's where brand comes in, comes into play is, is communicating that trust is why, why should someone choose you over somebody else? You know, what, what is your reputation? What you know, do you, do you have reviews?

Mm-Hmm. Are, are you rep, like, do you stand behind your work? You know, you could have this amazing brand, but if your Google page or Yelp page is flooded with one-star reviews, it's like, eh, this is probably not gonna use you. You know, so. Right. I think, I think that's probably been the biggest thing initially is just, just, you know, communicate or getting across that trust with the customer.

They know when they come to our website. They, you know, do their due diligence that, hey, we're, we're, we're a real deal for one of the, the main competitors in the area. And, you know, I think just being able to communicate, they're, they're gonna get that we're, they're, we're gonna deliver on the promises that, that we're making on our website, on our marketing materials, essentially.

Yeah. Because if you scrap together and throw together a website or you're, you're just randomly putting it there, it doesn't look legit. And then they're gonna expect that same kind of work when they, they're not gonna hire you. Right. So what do you think makes. Volt coatings look legit, even when you were just starting out.

Oh man. I think to me it's just, it's all about being authentic. I mean, a lot of marketing is storytelling. Mm-Hmm. And, you know, for us, I'm, I'm not trying to be something we're not, you know, you have a big, and it's not saying this is the wrong way, but when I had the opportunity of rebranding to Volt.

It was really I wanted it to be an extension of myself. I want to tie back into that, that heritage and that, that upbringing I had with my family, being in the trades, working with my dad, with my brothers in the field, my grandpa, and you know, just I think it, it just authentic storytelling essentially.

And so with with Volt, for me it's, you can see it like we do have a little bit more of A, an action sports theme to it. Yeah. Like it. How, how I wanted to, how, how I approach rebranding or when I wanted to do voltage. I love action sports. I love the culture. I, I looked at voltage. Hey, if I, if an Oakley or a Nike or an under Armour created a coat concrete coatings company, what would it look like?

And I think that's where some people I. When they start a coding business or any business, they kind of limit themselves to just look at what are people in that industry doing to where man get go, go to other industries, get inspiration. Like I'm, I'm all about looking at a variety of different brands and I think Volt.

And, and different industries too. I think Volt is really just, Hey, how can we take, pick and choose some of these things I like across all these different industries, whether it's footwear, fashion, culture, action, sports, and you know, wrap it and, and take a concrete coatings business and wrap it in that cloth, right?

Yes. And so I think it's just all about being authentic. And I know you guys have alluded to that on, on previous shows and, and podcasts you've done is you have to have that human element to it, right? Mm-Hmm mm-hmm. You, you know, you can have these brand promises of, oh, you know, 15, 20 year lifetime warranty, one day installs.

What, what makes you different? Who are you guys? Right? Yeah. So how are you? So for us, like one of our, you know, our, our customers are, are people like me. You know, people like our guys to where they're, they're outside. Skateboarding, they're out riding dirt bikes, UTVs. Mm-Hmm. And it's like, Hey, let's, you know, let's, let's dive into that.

You know, that's not to say we can't service everybody, but kind of the old adage in marketing, it's like, you can't be everything to everybody, right? Mm-Hmm. Like, you know, for me it's just, let's be authentic to ourselves. Let's be authentic as a brand, and. That should in theory, attract the customers that are just like us.

And, and it's done that, so, and I love that you enjoy your brand. Mm-Hmm. Because you're representing it on your jacket. You've got your cup. Oh yeah. I mean, that's the fun part. Oh, there you go. There you go. Because then you're literally showing it to the world and proud of it too. Not something that you're like, ah, yeah, our logo kind of sucks.

We're not gonna, we're not gonna put it out there very many places. Right. And, and, and for me, I just, you know, I wanted to be. When I had the opportunity to rebrand, it's, you know, this, again, it's not to say this is the the wrong way of doing it. It's certainly successful, but it's now, there's so many people doing the, the caricature logos and Mm-Hmm.

And that look like they're outta coloring books, and that's fine. Like, they're, they're, they're functional. They do perform. I will say that. But it's now, you see everybody rebranding that way. It's like, okay, well now this, this style, in my opinion, is gonna start to slowly become more of a, a fad or a, a trend.

And you know, now it's like, okay, the customer, who am I gonna choose? Am I gonna choose the caricature with these? Again, it's, it's not to mm-hmm, dismiss those guys, but it's like, hey. You know, don't be afraid to look inward at yourself. What are your interests? And yes, I mean, I know a, a painting company that they're out of Pennsylvania, awesome guy, Christian Militello.

And, you know, he's, he's a big fan of baseball and his base, his, his painting logo is kind of like the MLB silhouette, but with a guy with a paint roller and. That's cool. He plays into that and it's just, it gives a brand personality. It kind of lets people in on, on kind of who you are as a company and, and I think that just goes a long way.

Even if they're not interested in baseball, they're not interested in action sports, they can appreciate that authenticity coming from the, the company they're looking at. Yeah. When, when you have the ability to live your brand. And your brand and who you are, it's like your brand is an extension of who you are.

You're able to step into it in power, not because someone you read it from a book that you need to follow these questions and you answer some of those questions and now here is the best brand. Or you go to chat GPT, Hey, gimme a brand name for this, but it's an extension of who you are. That's, that's where the superpower this, there's something that happens where.

When other people can feel that and sense that that's more than just a logo, that's more than just you saying you are the brand, but it's, it's really an extension of who you are. And you get to attract more people like that. I love that. We were literally on a call right now with Mike Aguilera. He was, he was giving feedback on big brands, built a $70 million business exited and he was giving us feedback on, on brands, and that's.

Part of we are having conversations here internally, how do we support our clients? But he was saying the biggest difference between those brands that fall flat on their face, which he literally mentioned the. Cartoon, Logos and all that. He literally said, well, that's not necessarily an expression of the business owner, entrepreneur, CEO, the vision of the company.

Like, you know, they're designing that from the outside. When you're able to build it from the inside and spend some time alone thinking about your story, thinking about where you come from, thinking about what drives you, thinking about like what do you want to create and you build some sort of alignment.

In purpose in that. Boom, you hit a home run there. Man, this, this are, this is a great, this is good. Great show. Anything else you guys want to ask here? Well, I'm curious to know real quick though. Yeah. How long did it take you to nail down? What your brand name logo, like color scheme, I know you were in that world for so much.

Was it just in the back of your head and you're just ready for it, or did it take you a long time to settle in on it? It's so weird. Some of the best logos I've ever done have been made, like, I think I made this vote logo in probably five to 10 minutes. And so granted there was like iterations of it, but.

You just kinda wake up one day and, you know, I have a Pinterest kind of mood board where like I just, again, I'll pull inspiration from, you know, different, different brands and stuff. And the word vault, my, my wife actually came up with and I, she just kind of pulled it out of thin air. Wow. And then my favorite color is lime green, so that's why like, you know, my, I'm a huge lime green guy right here.

I wish my lime green lighting worked in the back. It kinda looks yellowish, so that's why it's blue right now. But you know, I just kind of whipped it up and then I'm like, Hey, that looks cool. That sounds cool. I liked how short the, the word volt was. Mm-Hmm. I liked how edgy the logo looked, and then it was like, Hey, is the domain available?

Is the email, you know, all that available? So I kind of did it backwards, but it was just, again, it, for me, it was just as I was designing, I'm like, man, that looks cool. Yeah. I'm gonna run with that, you know? And not, not a whole lot of strategy behind it. I'm not sitting there, you know, at, at first when I decided to kind of choose that, I'm like, man, am I gonna.

What's the 60, seventy-year-Old grandma gonna think that's looking for a dog. It's, it's so funny. Like we've had, I've had more customers that are above the age of sixty-five ask me like, Hey, can I get one of those vests? Can I get one of all? Adorable. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And you know, there's one guy, he actually just commented on one of our, our, our Instagram posts recently, and, you know, we finished this floor, I think it was like a big $8,500 job. Yeah. And he's like, Hey, can I get one of those hats? I'm like, yeah. I email my apparel guy. I was like, Hey, I need, you know, three double X Carhartt sweatshirts. Three. You're back into the merch game now. Oh man. I, I sent him a Tumblr.

He got like a good, a pretty good-sized goodie box from us. And I was That's nice. And that was, that was so cool. And I think as you guys talked about, like. Designing from or having the brand come from within. It's just, again, you, you get that passion. I mean, I, I, I love our like apparel. My wife probably gets sick of me.

She's even said it. She's like, Hey, if we go out to dinner, she's like. Can you maybe put on something other than a volt shirt for day one night? And I'm like, God, you're like, it's gonna be lime green though. Yeah. It's gonna be lime green. Right. So I'm gonna look like a safety cone inside a dress or whatever.

But but no, it's, it's, it's just been a fun, fun experience. And, and I think again, just that authenticity like that, that's what matters most to people. Yeah. Yeah. And, and if you can speak to you know, when you started rebranding, you know in that transition, was it instant? Was it like, Hey, I'm gonna rebrand from one day to the other?

Was it a slow transition? How did it work from the back end? You gotta move the website. I mean, website, yeah. Truck trailer wraps. What, what was that like for you? Yeah, it's you just kind of do it as you go, or at least I did. I was just like, Hey, I, I remember coming up with it. You know, I, I, I made the decision probably.

End of October, I wanna say. And then I'm like January 1st and stupid to me to launch on January 1st. 'cause it's like I'm literally having to stay up till me and my wife can probably out at, at 10 30 at night. That's how you celebrate New Year's. Yeah, we we're celebrating the New York New Year. We're not on central time.

I'm not saying, there you go. So I'm like, damn it. Now I gotta, you know, change out this you know, post this, post that as soon as it strikes midnight and, but yeah, it was just kinda down. I was like, okay, I gotta get the emails forwarded and I gotta make sure that we have a new website that's up and running.

We, we built that out and then yeah, then you're kind of like looking at your trailer. We, luckily, we just had one trailer at the time, but you're like, man, I gotta strip this trailer wrap that cost me, you know, twenty-five hundred bucks or whatever it was. And, and, but it's, you know, it's just you know where you're going and it's, it's again, the excitement of just something new, something fresh that, yeah.

You just, again, you just, some of, some of the stuff we got right, some of the stuff, it's like, oh shoot, we forgot to do that. Let's, let's get that done today. So, yeah. Yeah. And then did, did you change your social media handles on the spot at midnight? Were you changing your social media handles or you left them?

So Facebook, yes, but actually, so before I. Decided on Volt. I have like, I have a couple dummy Instagram counts. I'm, I'm like hardcore entrepreneur. It's, it's, it's almost a fault of mine to where if you don't like the idea I have right now, don't worry. I'm gonna have a new one 10 minutes later. Ugh. Yeah.

So I have, I probably have 10 different types of brands, different companies on, on a folder on my computer, but on one of the dummy Instagram pages, I changed it over the volt coatings. I posted some of the images, no one's following. It's like, I just wanted to see, hey, how does this all look from a social standpoint?

Mm-Hmm mm. Instagram has like, once another page takes that name, even if you change it. Yeah. You're locked outta using that name for 30 days. So luckily, like literally January, I did it unknowingly and then I went to go, kind of start to change the page just to have it done. But I was gonna keep keep the main title on Instagram.

Like you could do, you have to, you can change the handle, but keep the description the same and. Luckily, 30 days was January 1st. Oh my God. No, I had post, I started posting stuff like, oh, you know, you know, 1, 1 20 20 or 1, 1, 20, 23, it all drops, right? And then I'm like, oh shoot. Like this is gonna suck if I can't have the bulk coatings Instagram handle till like January 3rd or January 4th.

So but yeah, we did change those, but that was that was, caused a little bit of stress temporarily. Yeah. Oh, that, that's good to know. That's good to know. And fast forward from a, a customer's perspective did did anyone ask you anything? You know, as far as customers goes, you had leads in the pipeline going through it.

So you're not who I called. What happened, what happened to you guys, you know? Yeah. So I did do like a 12 months transition phase where it's like that's, Hey, Google my listing, or our website, or Google my business, whatever, our website, all that stuff like. I did put, you know, volt coatings and then parentheses, like formally known as epoxy, even in all the emails.

And I think we maybe had, you know, over the course of last year maybe less than 10 people ask like, Hey, why the change? Mm-Hmm. And, you know, for me it was just kind of the, the biggest thing was coatings is evolving. A lot of people think of their garage, the terminology is still kind of. I want to get my garage floor epoxy.

Mm-Hmm. Even though you're used to polyurea polyaspartic, that's the only way people talk about it in the everyday life, right? That's right. Yeah. And so I just, I think that's evolving. And so the reason I went with coatings is we, you know, with it's not, we're not just using epoxy. We got epoxy, polyurea, polyaspartic.

There's urethanes. And you know, it's kind of, when you talk to these people, it's, it's like granite countertops. You could have Danny's granite countertops. Well now there's quartz, now there's marble, now there's Cambria. Like there's all these different ones. And so it's just, that's smart. Yeah. It wasn't you know, as long as you're not saying like, oh yeah, we're with the better business Bureau.

We got a couple complaints and we just want to bury that name. You know, so it's just like, that'd be a bad reason to rebrand. It's just a simple rebrand and. And I mean, a lot people do their due diligence, man. You get a couple that they're you know, they're like, Hey, we're not seeing volt coatings on registered for with the Secretary of State.

I was like, it is, it's under a DBA. Here's the link for it. Oh my goodness. Yeah, they were digging. That's maybe like two people, but I'm like, Hey, like, you got a lot of time on your hands. You gotta come work for me. Yeah. Like, you gotta cover your bases. You're really, and of course those people, it's ones that it's, a two-car garage, like, you know, your lowest ticket that you're gonna have throughout the year. Mm-Hmm. That's funny. And so it's, it's, it's kind of funny, but you're right. Like epoxy if that, if that's your main name, and then you're going in and you're like, we don't only do epoxy. They're like, why is that your name?

Then it, it is kind of a, a confusing thing. So I get that a lot. Mm-Hmm. Love it. Love it. That's good. Yeah. So speak to us full coatings. What's in store for the future? Do you have, expansion plans for the brand. Can you talk a little bit about that? Yeah. So I'll, I'll kind of start like high level, you know.

Mm-Hmm. High in the sky numbers a little bit. Sure. That's what they look like on paper, you know, but you know, five years out, you know, this is, it's very aggressive, but I'd love to be, I think Volt could really be a, a $20 million brand. Yeah. In absolutely, primarily residential coatings. Yes. Just the systems we're getting out, the playbooks we're developing, things like that.

And just, you know, as you. As you start to grow and learn these things, you start to be able to, to, you know, scale a little bit faster than you did in the past. Next year the goal is to go to, to four crews, or this year, excuse me, this year, 2024, we're going from two crews to four. And so you know, it's have some hard goes in motion, but it's also one of those things like, Hey, let's, let's see how marketing plays out.

Let's see all these pieces coming together. We're not, you know, we're not forcing. The issue I think for me is some people, they, they want to grow in the blink of an eye at the light switch, and I'm like, Hey, let's just. Let's grow at a control pace where we can maintain that customer experience. You know, granted, there's gonna be discomfort, you're still gonna be pushing through challenges and obstacles, but that's, that's the near, near goal is for crews by next year.

We, 2025, we wanna open a second location. So we're looking in that, and that's something that we're actually going to open ourselves. So we're not doing any licensing or franchising, things like that. It's stuff that the first three locations we want to be able to kind of Greenfield and start ourselves and take some of our employees.

And the biggest thing for both, like one of our biggest things that I talk about when I'm recruiting people is, is not just wanting to offer a, a job for a technician or a crew lead. Being able to offer people a career path and good. And that's part of the vision. It's like, hey, let's take you from a a technician up to a crew lead, you know?

If you want to be a project man, like, if you want to be in some of these seats, like I. As long as you got the right attributes, like we'll train you on the skillset. Mm-Hmm. And so the first, first three locations, we'd like to plan ourselves and grow those. And then the fourth one will probably be through, through an acquisition.

So so those are just kind of like, kind of surface level goals to an extent. And then as you get into that, obviously this year going to four crews, there's, a lot that you break down. You try to break it down into ninety-day increments of like, Hey, what do we have to do within the next 90 days to accomplish this section of the goal?

Right? It's a little bit like the adage, the how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time, right? So, so that's the, that's kind of the far goal and then the near goal to an extent, because you don't know what you don't know. You've never had four crews before, so you don't know the new pain points that'll come along the way like you did when you went from one to two.

Yeah. And that, that was that was an interesting lesson last year. You know, it was, I, I talked about it on a podcast with Tim C. at Decorative Concrete of Virginia and. Our, our biggest challenge last year, like at all the things I thought of, like you want to cover your basis, you're playing at devil's advocate, like, Hey, where could this go wrong and how can we correct that before it even happens?

And the stupidest thing going from one to two crews was we got a couple days where like we forgot, we forgot to put low rollers in the trailer or paintbrushes or so-and-So had two hand grinders in this trailer and then no one had hand grinders in the second trailer. It's just stupid stuff like that.

And that's where I realized like, as you grow, and this would be advice I'd have for anybody going through the next transition or next phase of their business, next phase of growth is just, just get ready to solve problems quickly. Yes. As, as long as you have that mentality, that's it. Like there's gonna be stuff that pops up that you can't plan for, that you can't, you, you wouldn't even have thought of.

Just get ready to, to solve it as fast as you can, and that's, that's the best thing you can do. Yeah. Have that margin of knowing, hey, there's gonna be some unexpected ready for it. Oh yeah. Yeah. That's good. So who does Blake have to become for that $20 million CEO version versus the way that you're seeing yourself operating on right now?

Like, what are some of the things. That are between where you are right now and the $20 million that you foresee as an individual? As an individual. Yeah. This, this year, so my new Year's resolution, I guess you could call it is really working on discipline. And so, you know, and then, and really I'd say really leaning into discomfort.

That was one thing I learned last year is, you know, when you go to buy that second trailer, when you go to buy the second truck, you know, it's. You know, it's, there's risks there, right? Mm-Hmm. Like, it, it could all go sideways. It could not work out. And you know, I think for me it's just first thing discipline is, is you know, getting uncomfortable doing the stuff that you maybe don't want to do, but has to get done regardless of how you feel.

And that, that kind, that starts at my, you know, even myself, like, I have a, a group chat with a couple buddies where it's like, Hey, every day we gotta get a workout in. We gotta make sure that, you know, from a dietary standpoint, we're, or nutrition standpoint, we're on point. For us, it's, it's kind of a faith group.

So we're reading our Bible, we're reading a book. That's awesome. You know, we're, we're calling each other out, right? Like, if it's nine o'clock at night and you haven't gotten your 30 minutes of cardio in or whatever, it's, I don't care what is, I'm gonna be on you in the group chat. I'm gonna be calling you until you show proof that it's done.

That's awesome. Just kind of, just, just personal growth, personal development there. The, the biggest thing with myself outside of that, and I, I struggled with this last year, is. Going from that owner operator to where you're, you're, you're kind of working in the business, working on the business. It's, it's, it's a, it's a balance.

You kind of find out like you're wearing, you know, six to eight different hats at the very beginning. Yeah. Yeah. And so you get used to being a busybody where right now it's, it's okay, hey, what? Having clear intentions and, and having intentionality of what are the tasks I'm getting done today? And, and being very productive on those.

And if you get those done at 11 o'clock, great. It's fighting that urge to just be working on 12 different things at once and. You might think like, oh wow, I'm being super busy, I'm being productive. But you start looking at the results, you're like, I didn't get anything done. I got 12 things, half-assed today.

Mm-Hmm. So I think that's, that's been the biggest thing for me is growing as a, as a leader. And then just really, really into kind of that, that CEO role integrator role. Some people might call it, is just being, be, have, having clear focus, clear intentionality behind your actions, making sure that you.

Again, you're not trying to eat the whole elephant at once. It's, Hey, what can I, what milestones can I get done today, tomorrow, this week, this quarter? And you have, you have a focus of the long-term goal. Yeah. But you're breaking down into bite-sized chunks and you can see that, that, that progress getting made.

Right? Mm-Hmm. So it's nice to have a path forward because otherwise you're never done at. Each day. Mm-Hmm. You think there's more to be done every day? Of course there is. I mean, you have to decide, okay, if I got everything done today and I'd prioritize didn't task it out, then I can actually be done for the day and spend time with my family and, mm-hmm.

Have margin in my life, so That's awesome. I do wanna ask you, you know, you're talking about your accountability group now, where those businessmen that you just so happened to know, or how did you guys find each other to, to build that group chat and to have that accountability structure? So this one is actually a group of, one of 'em that's a, that's a coding buddy that that I actually mentored from the very beginning, which he's he's been a great friend of mine ever since then.

And then the other two are just two of my buddies from basically high school. We've known each other forever. Wow. You know, we all have young kids. You know, I got, I got 407, so we're, we're busy here at home and. And you know, a lot of us kind of have, are in the newborn stage to an extent as well. You know, my, my youngest now is, is a year and a half, so we're slowly getting outta that.

Mm-Hmm. But you know, for us it was just making the commitment to where, you know, anyone that's had a newborn, you start to, you know, they're on their own routine and it's like, man, you, you get home and it's, you know, you get them to bed, it's eight o'clock. You're like, I don't wanna work out right now. I don't wanna read right now.

I just, you just wanna zone out to Netflix, honestly. Yeah. And, and just for us it was. You know, all all just kind of making that decision of like, hey, no, like, you know, we set these priorities now, it's, we gotta take care of ourselves first so that, you know, you know, serve ourselves first, take care of ourselves so that we can be our best for others.

Right? And yes, I think it's just this ability of. You know the, the devil tries to creep in, tries to, you know, creep in, fear in your life, doubt in your life, and make you second-guess yourself. The devil's the one telling you like, oh, you can relax, you can, you can what NetNet Netflix and hang out versus doing a, a 30 minute ride on the Peloton, or 40 minute Ride, whatever.

Mm-Hmm. And just having someone that's. That's there for you and telling the, telling you the things that you don't want to hear, right? Yeah. That's the thing. You know I told, I told one of my buddies the other day, he's traveling for business and we all posted, we got our workouts done and one of my buddies, I'm gonna throw him under the bus Dylan at the hotel.

He is like walking by the gym to go to go to his room and I word-for-word. I could show you the text. I said, Dylan, if I don't see proof in the next 30 minutes that you just did 15 minutes of cardio, I'm gonna come slap the shit outta you. I'm coming for you. Awesome. Yeah. Everybody EI think it was us all deciding is you know, our friends group.

It's, you know, it's okay. You need people to share the negatives with, you need people to share like what you're actually going through. Mm-Hmm. You know, I feel like you can get together with friends and be like, oh yeah, everything's going good. The guys are busy. It's like, no, I need a core group of people.

Mm. Not a lot. I need two guys to where it's like, hey if I need a shoulder, like, can, can you be there for me? If you need one, if you need an ear to ear for me to listen, like. Talk to me. Like, tell me, tell me all the stuff that might be going wrong. 'cause like we all, we all have those values, right? Yes.

And I think so many of the times, like you find your closest friends, like you're kind of shielding yourself. You don't want everybody else to know what's going on and, Mm-Hmm. But it's like, man, really being able to dive deep with a group of people and, and actually know what they're going through so that you can provide words of wisdom, words of encouragement, and.

And again, that accountability. It's like if, if one of your friends is, is o is overweight, and this may sound rude, it's like, hey, hey, you're not making healthy choices, right? Like, yeah. You should be at your best so that you could be at your best for your wife, for your kids, for your, you know, for your, your colleagues, whatever it is.

Like, and I think that's, I'm a big man of faith, whether you believe in whatever you want to believe that that's my faith there. And it's like I I'm, I'm, I'm an imperfect human, but you strive to every day as like, if you were to show up with God and say, Hey, God did I? You know, did I do everything that, that you created me to do?

Did I give it my all? And so did, yeah. I think just reflecting on that every single day in the back of your head of, Hey, did I, did I give it my all the day if I did, and even if the cards didn't land my way, it's, you know, maybe God, you know, he's shielding me from that, right? Yeah. So you know, but I think that's, that's where the group, it's not necessarily business people you know, there, but it is in interconnected of, hey, this is not only gonna help our, our personal life, our family life, but it's also gonna carry into professional life, right?

Mm-Hmm. Yes. Just working on those core, those kind of core characteristics or core values and, and principles that, hey, that's what you're gonna utilize to, to operate yourself on a daily basis across the different disciplines. I. Love. I love, I love that. That's awesome. One of my mentors Garrett, J.

White, he's like, man, you guys come here to get kicked in the dick so that you get, you get your shit in order. He talk that way. That does not sound good. God does not. I know she's probably gonna take it out. She's gonna be like, she'll explicit content. This will be edited out. No, no, you gotta leave it.

But the thing is, you gotta have an environment where, where you can be real. Because that's going to help you grow as an individual. If you keep bottling everything and everything's together, you know, and you're telling everyone you're doing great, business is booming, et cetera, but you're dying on the inside.

  1. I mean, there's repercussions to that. Even the Bible talks about that confessing to one another. Mm-Hmm. And, and in one environment. So, so building that brotherhood or that environment, 1, 2, 3 of other individuals that are in the same place looking to grow spiritually and body. I would love to hear.

Your take with your growth goals here, how do you find the balance with family? You have young kids. We are all in the four kid club right now. We are really? I have four kids. We have four kids. We have four kids. Have four kids. You have four kids? Yeah. Mm-Hmm. That's no joke guys. Four kids is no joke. So yeah, I'd love to hear that too.

Especially like under seven, right? Yes. Yeah. Under seven. Yes. How do you find a balance to be a father and husband and yourself running a business aggressive goal? Speak to that please. It's that's, that's one thing I battle with, right? Yeah. And it's, it's conversations I, I have with my wife and having her hold, hold accountability to me.

And, and again, it's, it's just, I think for me this year, it's trying to create, create that separation between the two to an extent of, hey, as a business owner, it's, it's, it's constantly on your mind, right? And I think for me, it's having to get better at, at turning it off and setting limits right to where it's, I'm one that, hey, if someone calls me at seven o'clock or I see a lead come in, it's, I'm so used to getting to that, right?

Because it's like, Hey, I, I want that opportunity. I want, I want that to, to to help the business, things like that. But I think you. You just gotta do your best. I think deep down, you know, and I know, like, I know there's days where it's like, man, I, I need to be more present, right? Mm-Hmm. I need to reset.

And it's, and it's, it's that constant tug of war of some days you do it right, some days you're not the best at it. And you know, I'm, I'm imperfect in that way and that that's a huge thing that, that I gotta work on. But I think you're just trying to. I'd say maybe create some boundaries with, with your family as well, or, not boundaries, but some, you know, my, my wife understands like, Hey, this, sometimes this isn't a, a nine to five job or an eight to fourth job.

Like it, there's hours that it can carry over. There's days where it's like, yeah, I have to jump in. Like, there's some understanding that's gonna happen at times. Yeah. You know, for example, if this, this project, the guys they're working on today, if they said, Hey, like, we, we need help on this, then it's like, I'm gonna dive in there with them, and if we have to be there till eight o'clock at night, 10 o'clock at night, 12 o'clock, like.

I'm gonna be there. Right. And so I think you just have to be in alignment with your spouse and with your, with, with people around you on that. Yes. And so, but, and I think just being present, it's like, dude, get home and, and again, this is something I have to work on myself. I'm guilty of it. It's like, get home, throw the phone in the box, like be there with your kids.

You don't need to be scrolling social media. You don't need to be checking the Mm-Hmm. You know, the, your reporting on your CRM, things like that. It's. You know that, that that can all wait. And, and I think mm-hmm, what's given me a lot of peace and some of my faith recently. And it seems like God keeps putting this in front of me.

It's like, if if God has it planned for you, then, then he'll, they'll, he'll, he'll show you the way, right? Yes. He'll remove people, he'll remove obstacles, he'll make it happen. And I think for me, it's, it's sometimes there's that guilt of if you're not working, you feel like, man, I'm, the business isn't making progress.

I know like that. It, it creeps in. Like, I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And I think where I've been trying to realign is like, Hey, if I approach my day a hundred percent, if I conquer all the tasks that I set and I did all the actions I needed to do, and then as long as I know that I've did that, I can have peace knowing like, okay, God, if it's meant to be, it'll be there for me.

Mm-Hmm. If it's not mm-hmm. Then so be it. And again, I, I think we all get confused too at like, we, we gotta make this stuff happen. Like we have to grow this business to four crews in a quarter. Y you mm-Hmm. You have such this, you, you, you have this perspective of everything has to be done right here and right now.

Mm-Hmm. Where it's like, hey, the goal could be 20 million, but it's like, hey, the goal could be 20 million in 10 years, right? Yeah. Like you could spread out a little bit more. Just, just focus on your own journey. It's so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing, and so good. Just focus on your journey, focus on your actions.

As long as you're putting in a hundred percent to your family, to your kids, you know, you know when you're being present, you know when you're not. Yeah. Mm-Hmm. Just have that accountability with yourself and, and I think, god will take care of the rest as long as you do the work that you need to do.

And he'll, he'll lift that burden off your shoulders. Amen. Oh, that's so powerful. That's so good. Yeah. I believe communication with your spouse is the number one thing, especially as an entrepreneur. Does your spouse work with you? Does she work in any capacity or she's my my soundboard. So she tell me, being an idiot, and tells me when I'm a genius.

They know You said that's valuable. You're pretty much, you're exposed. She's your personal coach with the queen. Yeah. It's so funny, like I'll fester on something for, you know, a week at a time, two weeks at a time, and I bring it to her and. And like two seconds. She's like, just do this. I'm like thanks, thanks Meg.

So, but my, my wife is awesome. She stays at homes with the kids and, you know, honestly, that's that, that is a full-time. Yes. Job. It's, it's a lot. Especially for those ages and that season. That's what I did for business. Big shout out this episode here. To every spouse of every entrepreneur. Mm-Hmm.

That's here in the home improvement, concrete coating space. 'cause you, you're doing a lot and I want to commend you, and I've always said this. Here and I'll, I'll always say it. I was pretty much raised by my mother and she was a business owner, but she had to be also like a mother and all that. But still just the amount of work that needs to be done to be present and also deal with the BS that we bring.

Home from the business, etc. It's a lot and you're going through a lot, so I wanna commend you. And it's just a season too. Mm-Hmm. Like, it's not forever. The relationship is not gonna be like this forever. Sometimes you have growing pains and you have to dive in. Last night, I, I got, I stayed in the office until about one in the morning, two in the morning.

Mm-Hmm. I didn't make it Two. Our date night bar, I told Mady out. I promise you, I'll make it up to you this weekend and we're gonna have a great time. I just got, I just have these deadlines and like she understands and she's like, okay, well you do your thing and you know when you get home, we'll take care of whatever you need to take care of tomorrow.

And but it's communication. That's the whole thing. Right? Sometimes we, we might fall short on expectations of other people if we're not communicating. Mm-Hmm. We can't read each other's mind. You have to actually say it out loud. That's pretty much it. Yeah. Mm-Hmm. So big shout out to every spouse.

You are the reason why we are moving forward. Like seriously, there's a big fuel that we get. And for every business owner, entrepreneur, if you are the leader. If you're the leader of your company, you're actually the leader at home as well. So you gotta show up. You gotta find a way to show up every single day.

And that's, that's the one thing is where do we find the balance? I find my balance in God, in Jesus Christ. I find my balance in prayer. I find my balance in taking care of myself, my health. I have, I have my balance with Mady with my children, spending time with them. I have my balance with learning and growing and development.

Queen and finding that momentum and rituals on a daily basis. That's what it really comes down to. And it's a game. It's a game. And something i i, I wanna mention here that, that was big, is focus on your journey. Like, oftentimes we're just focused on everyone else. Hey, this guy's growing by 200% this year or last year.

Mm-Hmm. And like this and that, you know, he's acquiring this company, that company, and I wanna grow that way. Sometimes if you try to compete at that level and you don't have the skill sets, et cetera, you haven't developed. You are too premature. You're gonna crash and burn at some point in time. It's a lesson that I've learned myself in a real way.

So man, this was a great episode. Anything else you, you guys wanna chime in on? No, it was awesome. It was so good in terms of like the journey and, and all the things that we talked about. It wasn't just, you know, how to the business side of it. It was a very well rounded, beautiful episode. I really enjoyed having this time with you, Blake.

Thank you so much and I actually have some little stickers coming your way that I made for you. So I'll send those stickers some, you know, little, little movement on the Instagram there. Look for volt stickers. Where can they find the stickers? Well, you just go to, like, now you just go to Instagram, you go in the little sticker giphy section.

You type in volt coatings and you'll see a couple Oh, you got 'em in there? Oh, way. It's live now, so. Oh, name. I like it. Beautiful. Hey. Blake, thank you for coming through here. Your Concrete Success podcast has been a blessing and an honor to have you with us and to also be a part of your journey and to, to experience and witness that.

See your growth. I can't wait to see what happens in the next five years and the growth that you are embarking on. I know that you are gonna crush it. Know doubt about it. Anyone else listening to this podcast here, your Concrete Success podcast, YouTube. Instagram, Spotify, apple, Amazon, you name it.

Find us, connect and give us your feedback. We wanna bring you value here to help you grow yourself, your business as an entrepreneur. Get more leaks, book more estimates, and sell more jobs. I'll see you guys on the next one. Thanks for tuning in.

Danny Barrera

Danny Barrera

Founder of Concrete Marketing Crew. Author of the up-and-coming book, "Sell More Garage Floors". Contributor to the Concrete Decor Magazine. Host of Your Concrete Success Podcast. We're on a mission to elevate the concrete coating & decorative concrete industry.

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