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Nick Lopez

LIME Painting

Nick Lopez

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I have the CEO and founder of line painting, Nick Lopez, Nick, how are you doing?

Nick Lopez  0:15  

I'm doing fantastic. How are you? I'm good. I'm doing great. You know, painting, I think what we're going to talk about today is something that everybody needs. I just recently purchased a home, I don't think you realized exactly how much you need and how often you need it. But before we get into line painting, let's introduce the world who is Nick Lopez.

Oh my gosh, well, depends on what hat I'm wearing. But I'm very much a values based person. My four F's are my faith, family, friends, and franchising says pretty much my world business, franchising, high performance, personal development, this day, these days, I'm helping people realize their dreams through entrepreneurship, by becoming business owners are really transforming their careers through the sales roles, and in other positions that line. So, you know, I have the absolute honor of helping people level up and, and change their life and, you know, create a reality for themselves that that they want, and in doing it through our platform, and the value that we give it line. Yeah, let's let's

Gabriel Flores  1:44  

get into that. What exactly is line painting.

Nick Lopez  1:49  

So line painting is the nation's largest luxury painting and coatings company. We were founded in 2013, in Denver, Colorado, but I actually started my painting career. 15 years ago, I was a freshman at Michigan State, and ran a paint company there for five years never thought I would own a paint company, or scale one nationally, and the opportunity just kept growing. And it became pretty clear that you know, the value that I was giving, in a very underserved and fragmented industry, you know, I, I really liked that threshold, that baseline that I was competing with just showing up answering my phone doing good job, and I was crushing it. So you know, back in college, that was something that I felt good about competing in. And I just had to get over the fact that I wasn't going to be the commercial real estate developer development person that I thought I was going to be. And, yeah, this this path of, of working in contracting and blue collar, I've absolutely loved it. Specifically what we do working on luxury estates, really the top third of home values in a market, you know, I've really fallen in love with the process of going in those folks homes, getting to know them personally building those personal relationships. In, as you're mentioning paint, right? You're painting an exterior and interior, it's very transformative, you have immediate gratification and doing it on your multimillion dollar estates. For me, and the folks at line at line that join, you know, that's very gratifying. Giving that very basic, straightforward need that whether it's a, it's a booming economy or recession, you know, Home Services, and specifically painting. And when you're talking about putting a protective coating on an estate, all of a sudden, it's a need, it's not only a wine in that it looks great, but it is probably one of the most satisfying services that you can have on something that you own. But you know, as you start really looking at paint, it's a type of coating. It's one of many different coatings, and it protects surfaces from sun and water damage. And when you have a really expensive home, you know, all these surfaces that make up the estate, each one turns over deteriorates. And, you know, we're able to educate clients on the fact that look, paint is just one of many different coatings, and all these other surfaces are also deteriorating. And so this is the process for how it works. Here are highly vetted solutions. You know, we're, we're working with a demographic, a buyer that wants to pay more to get more they care about quality. And so that's our positioning. everything that we've done about line painting has been building the business to bring that particular consumer the most value as possible. And it really started for me back in college.

Gabriel Flores  5:14  

You mentioned college when you went to Michigan State you also mentioned briefly, you mentioned real estate. Now, I'm assuming what what did you go to college for one? And then two, how did you get into painting?

Nick Lopez  5:28  

Great question. I went to college for business, I was a marketing major. And the program I was talking about was at the University of Miami, and in particular, as a master's degree in real estate development, and you also get your GED. So ultimately, you would get into real estate development. And again, that was the sexy job title for me. Yeah. Oh, yeah. But yeah, this industry just kept wooing me along.

Gabriel Flores  6:00  

So so how did you get into the painting industry? Did you kind of do it as a side hustle during college?

Nick Lopez  6:06  

Exactly, yeah, my dad ran a concrete business. And so in high school, on and off, it worked for it. And so blue collar is in my blood, most certainly, but had the entrepreneurship bug as well and, and wanting to go to business school and a lot of folks don't necessarily use their degrees, I used 100% of my degree. Once I learned about franchising, that was midway through school, really, right before I started getting in my business major. And in sales program and marketing degree, I really just baked everything I learned in the classroom into the, into the business model that, you know, back then a mentor introduced me to this idea of franchising by a book called The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. And that's where I learned about systems and processes and replicating the same service, and doing it through the franchise model and working on the business, not in it. So everything was about systematizing and preparing to franchise. And I had time on my side. So I was able to be methodical and and intentional about progressively building infrastructure, and proving out the business model. And then learning about franchising and everything else prior to even franchising and in, in 2018 when we started expanding through franchising.

Gabriel Flores  7:37  

So let's talk about scaling. Because I think there's probably a lot of entrepreneurs listening, who would love to get to that point where they can, in fact, franchise their brand, right? Because that's kind of like the ultimate goal for a lot of people and then maybe it should be for most, how did you get to that point?

Nick Lopez  7:56  

Through many, many years of preparing the franchise, and, you know, I knew, Okay, if I get done with college, I'll have five years of working in the business, quote, unquote, in the laboratory, and really able to break things and intimately understand at the ground level, what does the consumer want? What are the employees want? What are the pain points where the value adds? where are the bottlenecks in being diligent and methodical patient about that? You know, I moved home to Denver in 2013, started lime, we grew it to a couple, well, we grew it to a couple million dollar location, and that was over four years. So in that process, we made the business model more and more differentiated, we created more value through services, really going from just paint to coatings and surface restoration. Today, we offer 40 services, but makes us very sticky a lot of value in the market. And again, that was a lot of breaking and systematizing. And, and failing forward. You know, when you're vetting out highly high grade solutions for, you know, luxury estates, you're gonna mess some stuff up. And, and I need to figure out what is the best way to do each service that we offer. And that takes time. So you know, spent the four years really standardizing the business, and then I joined an organization called the International Franchise Association, and they offer a lot of education. It's a phenomenal networking organization. But if you're looking for anything franchising, international franchise Association's where you want to go, so I joined. I traveled around the country for about a year and a half. They offer a lot of different credits that you can take to learn about franchising, and that was something that I have Appreciate it about my degree in in college was that I actually used it. And I benefited greatly from it. And our employees. And the model just proved itself out because it was built on systems and processes that I had learned in college. And so I knew I didn't want to win franchising, I didn't want to figure it out on my own. Again, figuring it out and becoming successful means failing forward. So I wanted to go and learn from people that had failed forward already in so that that process began. And then you fast forward a couple years down the road, and we on boarded our first franchise owner, and and then subsequent next few, and those were our legacy owners. So for 2018 2019. And again, took our time scaling, figuring out, okay, where did it not work so well, from our corporate locations to our new franchise owners were the bottlenecks there, and really leveled up the business to be easier for the average owner. Right, not perfect. But that much more systematized to make the business easy. For the average franchise owner, I shouldn't say easy, but more relatable, and more turn T. And that blueprint is more tailored for the average owner. So you get a good feel for that with your legacy owners as initial owners. And then from there, we knew that we had a business model that not only provided a ton of value to consumers in the market, but that was going to provide jobs and communities and empower folks to be employers, and together to be able to work in the market to deliver our service. And that's awesome. For all the reasons that it is. But again, you know, it's just that methodical, intentional process, and doesn't necessarily happen overnight. And I can't speak to it happening overnight, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. So, you know, I got into scaling and growing nationally, and doing it through franchising. In August of 2020, we had seven locations. Today, in q2 of 2023, we have 80. And so I can speak to his story of providing value. And I guess that's probably what I just talked around is it's providing value to the consumer in the market. And it's providing value to somebody that says, hey, I want to get into business ownership for myself. But I don't want to be in business by myself, I don't want to start something from scratch, go through all the trials and errors, figure it out, that you know, pull out my hair, loosely invest money, lose money, you know, all that good stuff to start something from scratch. You know, somebody that wants to be in business and do it through franchise ownership, is there value for that individual? And, you know, if you can say yes to both, both of those things, that you're providing tremendous value to consumer, tremendous value to the franchise owner. Then, you know, that's a viable business model, that would be successful scaling through franchising.

Gabriel Flores  13:36  

You know, you let's let's you I'm gonna unwrap some of this stuff, because this is some amazing stuff right here. So one, you kind of talked about, it's not easy, but you made it easy by creating these processes. And this kind of takes me back to a conversation I had with the owner of twist yoga down in Lake Oswego talks about the importance of processes, and having those in place. How important are the processes? And what processes do you put in place to kind of ensure a successful business?

Nick Lopez  14:09  

That's great question. I say first and foremost, you need to execute the process. And secondly, follow the process. So we talked a lot about behavior equals outcome. And that's a beautiful thing, when there is an effective process in place that works is the more you work it the more outcome you get, and then it turns into to managing the outcome, right. So if you do X, you do y you get z, you do X, you do y, z, then next thing you know you have all these E's, you're trying to figure out what to do with them. Right? That's good process. That's good systems. And you shouldn't be ambiguously winging the same things over and over. If you have a sales process in which you should every organization does, it should be standardized. And whether it's somebody in New Jersey or somebody in Boise or somebody in Denver, everybody understands the same state process and is executing on it and can speak to it and coach it. Because it's the line way, or that business's way of doing business, their process in which they do it. But yeah, it's scale is done through process. For that reason. Yeah. And

Gabriel Flores  15:16  

you know, you mentioned to value, value, right, but you're creating value to the consumer, because you're, you're, you're helping the home. But and then you're also from the franchisees perspective, you're creating value back to the entrepreneur, by putting these processes in place and making it easier for them to be successful in their business as well.

Nick Lopez  15:38  

them, they're their employees, and for everyone to be on the same page, speaking the same language, benefiting from the fact that, hey, look, I'm not in business by myself, I'm in business with others. And if we're collectively executing the same model, we're compounding the likelihood that we're going to level up the business make it more efficient, more streamlined. And that's the power of the franchise model.

Gabriel Flores  16:08  

Yeah, I completely agree. Now, you mentioned you know, education, going into school, utilizing this, this information. And it sounds like but I just want to ask, is this In fact, your first business?

Nick Lopez  16:20  

I ran a business in college called Spartan college painters, and that was my first business. Now,

Gabriel Flores  16:28  

what was that? What do you do?

Nick Lopez  16:30  

So, you know, I started off by hiring other college kids, and that made up a few paint crews and and then eventually started hiring professional painters my second year thereafter, kind of the same model, but yeah, those those were the early days of my painting career, and had a lot of fun, created a fun culture and, and built some great friendships. And that was, that was a very fun season of my life.

Gabriel Flores  17:07  

You know, I'm not gonna lie, it looks like you're still having fun with this. But I gotta ask, you know, you've been doing quite a bit, you're starting to grow, you're starting a franchise. This is, you know, one of your this is your second business, and now you're taking it nationally. Right? What's been difficult about starting this business?

Nick Lopez  17:31  

Difficult? That's a, that's an interesting question. And I, you know, I think what is what has been the most difficult have been realizing that there's a top 20, a middle 60, and a bottom, bottom 20, in any organization, on any team. And I, you know, for me, it's been difficult approaching the business from that standpoint, I, you know, I just was telling my team, that, you know, communication should be an entire degree, it should be a department in business, it should be a whole subject matter in a business degree. I'd never learned about anything related to just internal communication within a business. In even you get into the International Franchise Association. And so, communication and how you're communicating to the top 20, middle 60, bottom 20, across an organization, how you're influencing change, if you're, if you're a growing, competing organization, you're always going to be changing. Because the visit, the marketplace is always evolving, a need to remain competitive, innovative. And so how are you communicating and influencing that change, creating that engagement and an adoption? That is ultimately your culture. And if you're not intentional about it, your culture will be defined by something so you sure as heck better be defining it. And we've been great at culture because I have a wrestling background. I have an athletic background. I love the locker room, mentality and everything about the locker room, the camaraderie, the teamwork, the culture, the process of winning, and going through the work and the journey together, you're losing together, and that just creates incredible culture. And that's, that's doing anything great with other people. And so you know, naturally and coming from that world, that's been something that has naturally been a plus for me, is the culture piece. I want to answer your question. What's been challenging, is getting beyond just, you know, 20 locations, 50 locations, a team of two, a team of 10 a team of, you know, over, you know, 100, it changes, and you're no longer able to communicate so intimately an in depth one on one. So again, my point there is communication should be an entire. Yeah, I know there is a you can get a communication degree, but even just within a business degree communication is, you know, at least maybe I was paying attention in those classes, that's probably what it was. No, I'm paying attention now.

Gabriel Flores  20:55  

You, can you for the listeners at home, explain the sick, the 2060 20.

Nick Lopez  21:02  

So you'll have a top 20 set of performers, you have a middle 60% of performers and a bottom 20. It doesn't matter what you're doing. You're, you're on a wrestling team, you're on a basketball team, you're, you know, within an organization like mine painting, you're gonna have your top performers, your middle performers and your bottom performers. If you assume everyone's a top performer, you're not going to coach the middle and bottom correctly, right, you're not going to be not gonna relate to where they are, you're probably missing the ball in in speaking right over their head, because you're coming from just a high performer mentality. But you know, you need to speak to that bottom 20 percenter and help open their world pull back the onion, so that they can graduate to the middle, and so on, so forth. So looking at an organization that has a lot of people within it, you can't look at it as, again, one on one or, or general, you know, there's, for the most part, those three different sections of performance, just speaking from a performance standpoint, which at the end of the day in business, that's what it comes down to. And that's ultimately what we're talking about is performance, like average unit volume, average owner volume, what is the sales revenue? Guys, that is your report card as a business owner? What's your revenue? It's black and white, and you know, profitability, and the p&l? It's very objective. So, you know, when you talk about revenue, top 20, middle 60 And bottom 20.

Gabriel Flores  22:42  

Man, what very well, very well said, So, what would you say this process, you know, going through it? Is as there anything been easy

Nick Lopez  22:54  

peasy. You know, I would say that, you know, what comes easy, is the people piece, right? So, lime stands for love, integrity, mission, and excellence. Oh, nice, guys. And, you know, we are so diligent about vetting franchise partners, and recruiting on a location level around our values. And so that has actually created an infectious culture that I didn't even anticipate, but it it starts to take on a life of its own, and you know, having an organization that stands for values that are beyond just, you know, slogans on a coffee cup, that are lived out, and, and set as an example. You know, it I think that at its core, makes working with the people that you work with, pretty easy. And, you know, creating anything great doing anything special, it's going to be a grind. If it's not, you're not working hard enough. You know, some folks may say, ah, work, work, work, whatever balance, you name it. But, you know, when, when I, when you're doing something like we're doing at Lime growing nationally, I know, we have a lot of folks that are counting on us. And it's important, at least from in my opinion, for me to do as much as I can for my team and, and, and so that we as a team can do as much as we can for our franchise owners. And as a result our franchise owners can do as much as they can for the communities that they serve. And so, oh my gosh, it's, it's a get after it be consistent. The bar is high. So high performance culture.

Gabriel Flores  25:02  

Nice. Now the next question is kind of a two part question. Because you talked about the logo on the coffee cup, you talked about, you know, working for your franchise, you know, really, really doing a lot. So one, how do you brand and market, the franchise becoming, you know, enticing and entrepreneurs to become an franchise owner and then to what marketing collateral do you give them as a franchise owner to help build their actual business?

Nick Lopez  25:30  

Sure, I'll speak to the ladder first. So we have a whole marketing department. And we'll create any tailored designs for our owners for whatever marketing piece that they need. But the full marketing mix, from direct mailers to leave behinds to one sheeters. You and You know, any, any seasonal promotions, those are all preset in a marketing calendar. And our marketing team does a beautiful job of making these customizable for you in the market. So you can easily plug and play. And that's, that's personally my favorite department, DME a marketing major. So we, we have so many marketing assets, whether it's, you know, pitching to a real estate office, or an architect or a property management company or designer, you know, we have decks for every single industry contact, that we pursue email campaigns. You know, a lot of that is just kind of done assets. But we've done a lot of investing in high res, video images. And so, you know, as an owner, right out of the box, you just have very professional, a portfolio that you can show clients of what it can mean to work with line, the amount of value in the solutions that we provide, you know, we're not hiring painters and training them. They're hiring subcontractors, professionals in the market. And so we're able to reap, recruit the best of the best, because our clients pay us more to get more. So if you think about Uber Black, you know, that is an upgrade, you're intentionally paying for a nicer vehicle, Uber paired you with a nicer vehicle, we're essentially Uber Black. We're pairing customers that want to pay for highly talented artisans, and pairing them on properties, doing all the count management all that's turnkey. Right. But you know, by being able to provide that sort of value to consumers. That's, that's a game changer. But from a marketing standpoint, you're we're featuring those accounts, telling those stories, you know, I'm actually flying to Charlotte, or excuse me, Charleston, this upcoming week, and we're featuring a handful of accounts that he's worked on, and turning over that promotional video for him to use in his market. And we've done that with clients and we have a bunch more, or excuse me, with franchisors, we have a bunch more scheduled for the upcoming year. But that is just an example of repurposing. And over time, that database just builds up. Sure, you know, there's different facades and, and trees and whatnot from market to market, and some in Denver have mountains and whatnot. But that builds to the national brand. Right? And immediately, you're fast forwarded to being a part of line painting was a award winning luxury paint company. And there are processes in place, there's a way of doing business, and I am the franchise owner, your local neighbor in the community who's bringing this way of business to you, which is ultimately pairing artisans, with clients that want to pay more to get more. And on the franchise side, you know, that's the story that we're telling. That's the story that we're sharing is the unique way of doing business that we have standardized as the line way that is highly proprietary that brings a tremendous amount of results within a location because there are processes, specifically a sales process. You know, I learned The sales program in college and baked it into the business and seeing the immediate results. And that's driven our growth. Again, I've been able to point back in large part to that program and say, look, it's not me, it's, it's this program, you know, we're executing on it. And so we're looking for folks that are just that, you know, they want to be coached, they want to follow a process, and they want to get after it and execute on that process. You know, those are the franchise owners that make for good fits that line, you know, that align with our values. They want to be entrepreneurial. They want all the benefits of independence and freedom and the American dream, that is business ownership, but they want to fast forward past the startup component of figuring out what's the right way, the most effective way to compete in the market, that's the biggest benefit of a franchise is that you're learning a highly competitive way of doing business that's been built over many, many years, many, many customers, many, many failures. And so, you know, that's the marketing message that we're bringing to market. And, you know, that's what folks have signed up for, and we vet heavily, you know, we're not selling franchises, we're awarding them to folks that we're going to be in business with them for 10 years, we're signing a 10 year franchise agreement. And that's a big commitment. So it's more than just making a sale up front. It's welcoming this individual into the line business, the line family, with all the folks that sign up for the same thing, rowing in the same direction. Again, one of the most powerful parts of being in a franchise is being in business with other folks that are continuously executing on the line way, and it's being innovated along the way. And so even though we're individually operating and running our businesses, we're also growing a national organization, which is essentially increasing the brand value, which is increasing the overall investment from everybody. Again, that's really the biggest benefit and most powerful component of the franchise model.

Gabriel Flores  32:20  

Yeah, it's so folks listening, I think what Nick's over here telling us, you too, can be an entrepreneur and own your own life franchise. In fact, if you actually go on their website, we'll talk about their website later. But these are things you can do, right? As an entrepreneur, these are things that you in fact, have the capabilities of doing. In fact, I was at a conference, a healthcare conference just the other day talking to an individual, she was from Romania. She says, Hey, me, and my mom make these Romanian doughnuts. We go to Saturday markets all the time thinking about selling them. And so I actually connected her with you know, former guests accusatory me, shout outs now, she connected them together and like, Hey, she would love to learn more about doing this. And it's all about doing it. Right, you're really giving them the tools to do it. It's just whether an entrepreneur wants to try to actually do this. Now, what would you say now moving forward, what would you say? What advice do you have for entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs? Maybe maybe a painter out there maybe someone that wants to become a franchise owner? What advice do you have for them?

Nick Lopez  33:32  

You know, I'm such an advocate of blue collar industry industries, because I really do think that it's the wave of the future. There's no robots that are going to do home services, there's no AI, right, AI is going to make those businesses better. But increasingly, home services are becoming the thing. And, you know, there there are projections of the industry growing from 400 billion to 800. Over the next handful of years, incredible growth in the home services space in blue collar work, dirty jobs are becoming sexy. And and so you know, I guess I just advocate for the blue collar space. And there are sophisticated processes, for example, like what line painting brings where it's more than just a business model, but there's technology. There's competent marketing, effective. Marketing, and in training and support the full team at your disposal to coach you and show you the way for the blueprint, the model for So this is just franchising in general. But when you're looking at a hot space, like Home Services, space that's of the future, you know, maybe you say, Okay, well, is that big enough for my entrepreneurial appetite? Well, you know, you can grow into multiple locations, you can own a whole portfolio of locations and create an infrastructure to support the locations, that is more sophisticated business ownership, where you're not starting at a startup standpoint, you're not beginning at a startup position and taking the time to be competitive and ramp up. Rather, you're jumping right in, and scaling across multiple locations within an industry. That's something that I would introduce to folks that haven't looked into and explored it, you know, it doesn't have to be line painting. It's, it's franchising in general, I'm a huge advocate of the franchise model. As a whole, I truly believe that it is one of the greatest growth platforms ever. And so this is a pretty incredible time to be in franchising, and specifically to be in home services. So you can own different services within your portfolio of franchises. So you can serve the same market, but from multiple angles, if you own several different service offerings. That's pretty incredible. And I don't think those things are known about franchising, right up front. You know, I think you hear about franchising, and you think of Burger King or McDonald's. But you know, it's an it's an incredible growth model, and look into home services. It's an incredibly hot market in our space. And the franchise model is ushering in a lot of innovation, and really leveling up the customer experience. And I see that only continuing. I mean, think about the universities that are going to be created from the demand for needing more tradesmen. The Home Services space is going to change pretty rapidly here over the next five years. 10 years.

Gabriel Flores  37:28  

I completely agree. I mean, when you are thinking of the home service space, folks, you're thinking not just about, you know, home painting, you're thinking about maintenance, right? exterior and interior, right landscaping versus interior doing your vents, you're making sure your your fridge is all clean. I had an individual, I truthfully had somebody come today and do a deep cleaning of our home, we just had a 10 week or we have a you know, small kid at home 10 weeks, or we're like, hey, we need some help. And those services are out there and available. And I would agree. You know, I know. I know, Nick, you you'd mentioned quite a bit about education. Now I would completely agree. You know, I went to Syracuse and went got my undergrad at Portland State masters at Syracuse. And I've used my degree and it's helped me immensely. But there's also a thing to say I think you're kind of alluding to it to those trade schools as well. There's there's also a great value of those as well. I think. I think what really truly Nick is saying is there's value in education, no matter what kind of form of education it is. There's just value in education. What is that safe to say? Absolutely, so, so, Nick, people are interested, maybe they want to become a franchise owner. Maybe they want to know more about Nick Lopez, how can they get in contact with you website social media? Where can they find you?

Nick Lopez  38:55  

You can find me at line We have a podcast called level up and you can find tons of content. I interview folks thought leaders in business, franchising highperformance have a lot of fun with it. And you can find me on LinkedIn and then also happy to answer any questions that you may have. If you want to send me an email, it's Nick at line

Gabriel Flores  39:26  

Perfect Nick Lopez, the CEO and founder of line painting. I will have this information on the website the shades of which also reminds me to plug the newsletter the weekly newsletter of the shades of entrepreneurship, you can subscribe by visiting the shades of We will have this information and line painting information on the newsletter as well as the as well as the web site after the episode airs with the transcription of this conversation. So if you'd like to go ahead and read it there, please don't follow me on the grammar folks. I do not have the time to go through the grammar. I'm going to paste it. Hopefully it catches everything accurately. Nick, is there anything else you would like to say before we leave?

Nick Lopez  40:13  

I would say whatever it is. Just do it. Don't Don't let fear, steal opportunities from you.

If if you've really leaned in, meaning that it's more than just a nudge, and it's vetted and you're convicted. Just do it.

Gabriel Flores  40:39  

I like it. I like it. Just do it. Nick Lopez, the founder and CEO of line painting. Thank you again so much. For those listening at home. You can follow me at the shades of E on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, sorry, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn in again, that's at the shades of E or you can visit at the shades of to subscribe to the newsletter. Thank you and have a great night.

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