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by Jim Baker

“My� Business ARTICLES by Jim Baker

The author, his publishers, agents, resellers or distributors assume no liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any damage or alleged damage caused directly or indirectly by the use of advice given in this publication. This EBook is not intended for use as a source of legal, accounting or business advice but is for information purposes only. It is recommended that the readers of this publication seek legal, accounting and other professional business advice before starting a business or acting upon any advice given. This publication is copyright. No part of it may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission from the author. My Business Articles How to raise yourself from Mediocrity To Success as a Businessperson Š Jim Baker, December 2016 January 2017. Published and distributed by: Jim Baker

Introduction Painting and Decorating has been my choice of trade ever since my father took me on as an apprentice in December 1969 (I was 15 and a half at the time). I have seen many changes in the industry, even to the extent of the way businesses now operate. I started my own company, ‘James W Decorating’ in Brisbane in 1986; it is now December 2016. Over the past 15 years I have been fortunate enough as to be a Finalist and Winner of numerous business awards which gave me the inspiration to write a book, ‘How To Become A Really Successful Painter’ (well actually James Yuille, a ‘Business Coach’ acquaintance of mine suggested it). This in turn led me to write another book for the other trades titled, ‘How To Become A Really Successful Tradesperson’, (a lot of thought went into that one). In early 2013 I saw a need in the market place for some specialised business tools, so I created ‘My Hourly Rate Calculator’ and ‘My Paint Costing Guide’. These went on sale in the April of that year. Then in early 2016 (after six years in development), my job tracking program called ‘Trace My Business’ became available. All these online programmes are accessible on my website at;

As one of my passions is writing, I put together a compilation of my articles into one book and made it available to anyone that would like to read it. All these articles (the first being in May 2013) have been published in the ‘Aussie Painters Network’ magazine. There is a mixture of information for everyone, including business ideas (based on what has worked for me), interesting stories regarding the painting industry (going back to pre-historic days and ‘Ship Painting’ in the 1600’s), ‘Men’s Health’ and profiles of painters I have met in Russia, Sweden, Scotland and Australia. The first article is to help you understand the way I felt in the early years of my career, which I later found out, many have felt the same way. So I hope you enjoy the read and please, feel free to forward it on and maybe drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Jim Baker

Acknowledgement I would like to thank Nigel Gorman from ‘Aussie Painters Network’ in putting this magazine together. I consider him a leader in the Painting and Decorating industry and is always looking at innovative and creative ways to help both his own business as well as the overall industry. His passion and his driving force is to develop and share services to help painters improve the way they operate their own individual businesses and to bring them together. If it wasn’t for his free monthly online magazine (please check it out), my articles would not have been a possibility.

program which was initiated around 1998 (now called ‘Dulux Accredited’). They were the instigators of bringing painters together and talking, whereas before we would not dare communicate with the competition in fear they may ‘steal’ our business ideas.

A massive thank you must also go to ‘Dulux’ who have supported me since the ‘Preferred Professional Painter’

Thank you again Dulux.

Painters from all over Australia have become more professional in their businesses from being a part of this program and I would not be in the position I am in now if it wasn’t for the support and the knowledge they have given me.

Are you ashamed of


How do you react when you are asked what you do for a living? Are you ashamed or embarrassed to say you are a painter? Do you wish you could say ‘I’m an electrician or a builder or that you work in an office?’ Well, for the first 15 years in the painting trade, I felt exactly like that. Whenever anyone asked me what I did for a living I told them, ‘I’m just a painter.’ I held my profession in such low esteem that I felt I was ‘below’ everyone else. My feeling at the time was that painters were looked down on as the bottom end of the building trade force. Everyone I knew had good office jobs and had a general idea of where they were heading in life. Myself, I just plodded along and hoped for the best. I started an apprenticeship with my father in 1969 because I failed (terribly) at school. The path to University then was, after leaving primary school you entered high school to attend Years 1-3. At the end of Year 3 you sat for your ‘Junior Certificate’ which, if successful, got you entry into Years 4 and 5. In Year 5 you sat for your ‘Leaving Certificate’ which, if successful, gained you entry to University. Well! I couldn’t even pass the Junior English test (49%), and I was born in bloody England. So

I felt there was nothing else that I could do than to take the easy way out and become a painter in my fathers’ business. (My preferred job was to become a Customs Officer as searching through peoples’ bags appealed to me at the time -sic). This feeling of ‘being looked down on’ was with me until I was 32 years old, but that all changed when I started to see a turn-a-round in the way painting businesses were being operated and that having a painting trade was becoming highly regarded as any profession. Dulux I feel, realised what was happening too and introduced the ‘Preferred Professional Painter’ program around 1999-2000 where selected painters were chosen to join. This was revolutionary! Painters now had a way to meet and talk with each other and learn more about running a successful business, without any fear of communicating with the

opposition. Before you would purposely avoid any contact with another painter, but now with the internet, there are numerous Social Media Groups specifically for painters where you can freely chat about business, ask questions, post photos of your projects or, help out those in need. So after years of struggle, I am now proud of what I have achieved in life and where I am in the business world and it doesn’t matter what trade or line of work you are in either. If you are earning an ‘honest’ living, then there is nothing to be ashamed of. You can be proud and keep your head up high also. (When I started my painting company (James W Decorating) in 1986, I came from being ‘I’m just a painter’ to, ‘Not Just A Painter’. This has been displayed prominently on all my stationary, vehicles and website since that time).

Contents BUSINESS EXPENSES 10 Business Operating Costs 11 Wages – The Hidden Costs 12 Is Your Hourly Rate Correct 16 Is Your Business Compliant?

SUCCESSFUL OPERATION OF A BUSINESS 18 Are you a Slave to your Business? 20 Plan for Tomorrow 22 Innovation, Technology and Progress 24 Why Up-Skill 27 Success – Failure 28 My Tips for Business 30 Spam and Scam 32 Are You Prepared? For Death 34 Business Success PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOUR 36 On-Site Etiquette 38 Happy Client..Happy Life 39 Keep the Customer Satisfied 40 Personality

SOURCING CUSTOMERS 42 Free Advertising that Works 43 The Importance of Vehicle Signage 44 Google Adwords 46 Creating and Utilising a Client Base 48 The Value of Sponsorship

WH&S 50 Workplace Safety

A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO PROMOTING YOURSELF 52 Niche Marketing 53 Competitive Advantage and Unique Selling Points 54 Graffiti Solution 56 The Wallpaper Whisperer 58 Business Awards – The Benefits of Entering THE BENEFIT OF APPRENTICES 60 Apprentices MEN’S HEALTH 63 Prostate Cancer THE STORY OF PAINT, PAINTERS AND PAINTING 66 The Specialist Art of Signwriting 68 Gilding 70 Ship Painting in the 1600’s 72 Roadside Electrical Boxes 74 Beach Boxes 76 A Story of an Immigrant 78 Women in Painting 82 Painting in Russia 84 Painting in Sweden 86 Houses of the French Countryside

A brief history of the

PAINTING TRADE With its roots in medieval history in the late 1200s England, the organised trade of painting and decorating began to emerge when the house painters, and painters of other descriptions, formed guilds to represent themselves and regulate the profession; acting also as protector of their trade secrets. The secrets were their paint mixing and application skills which they kept to themselves to obtain an economic advantage over competitors or outsiders and to protect their way of making a living. Formed in 1502, The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers started as an amalgamation of two alliances from across the craft. In those early times, a painter was very much a craftsman who might be engaged to paint walls, murals; on metal, wood, canvas or cloth. Commissions for this painter may have included religious, civic and military themes; banners and shields. In many European countries the painter’s guild was known as the Guild of Saint Luke. Legend had it that Saint Luke painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary, and became the patron saint of artists and painters. These were groups of skilled manual workers, artisans and merchants who controlled the practice of the trade in a particular area. Their structure could be likened to something between

a trade union, a cartel and a secret society like the freemasons. In 1599, the Company sought the protection from Parliament in order to keep members of other trades, particularly plasterers, from painting and taking away their business; granted in a bill in 1606. The Act legislated for a seven year apprenticeship and barred plasterers from painting, unless apprenticed to a painter, with the penalty for such painting being a fine of £5. The Master Craftsmen were responsible for regulating activities and fees charged by ‘Journeymen’ (qualified tradesmen) and for the training of apprentices. Apprenticeships would live as members of the Master Craftsmen’s household, providing cheap labor while learning the painting trade. Seven years of indentured service and they could be released as Journeymen to pursue their trade on their own. They were considered full members, however, after they were accepted as Master Craftsmen, having presented their work to prove themselves. It was the task of Apprentices in preindustrial times to prepare paints and primers. Pigments, produced using natural clays, mineral products and dyes and would have been a closely

held secret, shared exclusively amongst guild members alone. A painter had to construct his own tools then as well, from materials of natural bristles, wooden handles and cord. The Painter-Stainers Company instigated an early version of a job centre in 1769, advertising in the London newspapers a “house of call” system for journeymen to respond to and advertise for work. The guild’s power in setting the fee a journeyman could charge was eventually overturned in 1827 and superseded by trade unions, with the Operative United Painters’ Union forming sometime around 1831. Trade unions had grown in influence in the 19th century to represent rising number of workers of the industrial revolution. As unions grew they attained political clout and strength through collective bargaining; eventually assuming some of the earlier trappings of the guilds - such as meeting halls, access to training, and channels through which projects were awarded. Even after the end of guilds, and the development of capitalism, however, painters and those in related fields have formed professional associations of their own to protect their industry and further their business interests.


Throughout recorded history, humans have had the desire to decorate their living space. As long ago as 38,000 B.C., people used paint made from soot, earth, and animal fat to adorn the walls of their caves. In ancient Egyptian society, painters mixed ground glass or semiprecious stones, lead, earth, or animal blood with oil or fat. In modern times, we don’t think twice about painting the interior or exterior of a house. In the days of the American colonies, however, such an act opened a person up to serious social disapproval. The Pilgrims, in accordance with their puritanical belief system, thought a colorful home expressed vanity and an excess of happiness. This idea wasn’t just

bandied about; it was made law. A preacher in the Charlestown colony painted the inside of his house in 1630 and was subsequently accused of sacrilege, an actual crime in colonial society. Between the 1600s and 1800s, most house paint used either oil or water as a base. Some colors worked better in oil, while water suited others better; cost and durability were also part of the water-or-oil equation. Painters tended to use water-based paints on ceilings and plaster walls, while oil paint was best for decorating joinery. Painters of the time mixed pigment and oil, often with a mortar and pestle, to create a stiff

paste – a method we still use today. The point of grinding pigment was to disperse it as fully as possible in oil. This was done by hand until the 1700s, which exposed many painters to white-lead powder and afflicted them with lead poisoning. Lead paint was popular mainly because it was durable; the stuff could retain color for centuries. In the 18th century, England was a hive of paint-making innovation. Marshall Smith engineered a machine for the grinding of colours in 1718, and while we don’t know what it looked like or how it worked, the device sparked a countrywide interest in grinding pigment more efficiently.

In 1741, the paint-making company Emerton and Manby boasted that it ground colors in “HorseMills,” which allowed the business to sell its product at unusually low prices. By the beginning of the 1800s, steam powered most paint mills. Around this time, white pigment made with nontoxic zinc oxide – a viable alternative to poisonous lead – was invented in Europe. Making paint in large quantities was easier than ever, especially given the increased use of linseed oil as an inexpensive binder. In 1866, Sherwin-Williams, which would become one of the largest global paint makers, opened for business. The company invented ready-to-use paint, releasing

its first product, raw umber in oil, in 1873. Several years later, cofounder Henry Sherwin came up with a re-sealable tin can. Not to be outdone, another paint-industry giant, Benjamin Moore, began selling its wares in 1883. In 1907, the company hired its first chemist and started a research department. Among Benjamin Moore’s many innovations, its computerized color-matching system, introduced in 1982, remains the most influential and impressive. Paint production didn’t undergo another significant development until the mid-20th century, during World War II, when linseed oil became scarce. In response to the shortage, chemists mixed alcohols and acids to make alkyds (artificial resins). These

synthetics were cheap to make, long-lasting, and excelled at holding color, so they quickly replaced oil as a paint base. Thanks to modern paint technology there’s now paint for every surface and situation. Plus manufacturing has evolved to meet more recent demands on the performance of paint products; in relation to both their impact on us and the planet, as well as their quality and durability. Advancements have resulted in more sustainable and less toxic paints as well as effective recycling techniques. Low to zero VOCs, water-based, textured, UV and high heat resistant paints all respond to health and environmental concerns, providing better products for the painter and the consumer.

Business Operating Costs Have you ever looked at your bank statements and thought ‘Why isn’t there a lot more money in my account? I work hard and don’t have many days off. I should be rich!” Many business people are in the same situation and cannot understand why this is happening. Their answer is, ‘work harder, work longer hours and take less days off’. This is not the solution. It may temporarily fix the problem but you won’t have a happy family life. You’ll be tired, you’ll be grumpy and stress will set in and this is not good for your health.

Aussie Painters Network ran a Business Refresher course recently on which I was one of the speakers. One roll of mine was to explain the true cost of running a business. I went through in detail all costs associated with a painting company. The results were quite surprising. Let’s break it down and take one expense of how much it costs to run a vehicle per hour, for a one-person operator. It doesn’t matter if you own, lease or hire your vehicle, you virtually have to allow approximately $5,000 a year on repayments alone. This amount allows for the interest you pay on the purchase and the depreciation of the vehicle that will incur.

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Registration and insurance should set you back around $1,400 for the year and on average, maintenance and tyres another $1,000. Depending on how much running about you do during the week, the fuel costs could amount to over $2,800 over a twelve month period. Adding that up, the total running cost of a vehicle is approximately $10,200 for the year. To work out what this relates to as an hourly cost to your business, you have to divide this amount into your actual working days. Excluding weekends, there are 260 working days in a year. Subtract holidays, public days off, sick days, time quoting and some time put aside for long service leave, it could work out that you are only physically working for 208 days of the year. Now divide the 208 days into $10,200 and it will calculate to

$6.13 per hour that it will cost you to run a vehicle for a single person operator. If you have people working for you, then this amount will reduce because the cost is distributed. NB: The owner of this painting

business, definitely hasn’t calculated their vehicle expenses!

If it costs this amount just to run a vehicle, imagine what your BreakEven expense per hour would be if you totalled up all your other business expenses! So! Is the hourly rate you charge covering all your out-going expenses and leaving you with money in the bank at the end of the year?

Don’t be afraid to increase your rates. Get paid for what you are worth and survive in this market, otherwise you will be one of those statistics as a failed business owner.


The hidden costs Many employers are oblivious of how much the total cost of employing a tradesperson truly amounts to. You must take in consideration the extra costs on top of what you actually give them each week. Depending on the state you reside in, the award wage for a painter and decorator is around $20.75 per hour. If you break down all the extras that go with this amount over a twelve month period, it will calculate to this; Gross Wage (which includes) 20 days Annual Leave 10 days Sick Leave 10 days Public Holidays $43,160.00 $17.43 Travelling per day

$ 3,590.58

9.5% Superannuation

$ 4,496.50

17.5% Holiday Leave Loading

$ 581.00

3.3% Workers Compensation

$ 1,424.28

Total Employee Expense $53,252.36

The total cost now to you is $25.60 per hour for a full time employee over a twelve month period. The actual cost to you based on the tradespersons’ productive days (206 days if all allocated days are taken) is $32.31 per hour. This is the break even amount that an employee costs you and should be taken into consideration with your charge out rate. If you are employing a person on an hourly rate, you should be allowing an extra $4 per hour to cover the expenses (Superannuation and Workers Compensation).

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Is Your ‘Hourly Rate’ Correct? This is a huge concern to me as I have found many business owners still do not know their true cost of operating a business. I wrote an article in the 2014 edition and feel I must bring up the subject again as a lot of people, ‘just don’t get it’. Many go out on their own because they are fed up with working for someone else. They feel they are not being paid enough and that the boss is reaping in huge profits. (They also feel that working for yourself is quite simple).

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so therefore starting your own business could be quite a worthwhile proposition. This is definitely not the case as many established, long-time business operators will agree with. So many ‘start-out’ business people, do not take into consideration of all expenditures.

Fair enough! I guess I had the same conclusion many years ago.

To give you an idea I will show you one example of a business expense; let’s say a vehicle for instance, and how much it would cost to operate per hour over a twelve-month period. (Even if you own the vehicle, you still have to factor it into your expenses.)

The problem in most cases with ‘going out on your own’ is the belief that if you are earning $30-$35 an hour with an employer, a charge-out rate of $40$45 is a nice increase in income,

It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is new or second hand, but let’s say it’s a brand new model that was purchased for $30,000 and you took a loan through a finance company. If you keep it for 10

years (normally paid out within 5 years) the interest could be another $10,000 on top of the purchase price. After 10 years, the vehicle is most probably only worth about $6,000, so you have to account for the lost $34,000 in your business expense.

So how much does this cost per hour? The vehicle payments calculate to $3,400 per year ($34,000 divided by 10 years). On top of this yearly cost you have car registration (approx. $800), servicing and tyres (approx. $1,100 averaged over 10 years), insurance (approx. $800) and fuel, (which if you look at approximately $45 a week will work out to around $2,400). Your total vehicle cost is now $8,500 per year.

To work this out to a cost per hour, you have to calculate how many days you are actually working ‘on the tools’. I call these ‘Productive Days’ (quoting, bookwork, holidays, etc, are not producing an income so are not included). There are 260 working days in a year (taking out weekends). You now

have to subtract all the days you are not physically working, which includes the quoting, bookwork, holidays and sick days etc. Depending on the days you have taken off, this could work out to be about 208 days that you are actually ‘on the tools’ earning money. If you now divide the 208 days into the vehicle cost of $8,500, you will see that the cost to just run your vehicle is over $5.10 per hour. This is only one item in many in your charge-out rate, so when you add all your expenses (including the personal income you would like to make and an amount for su-

perannuation to be put aside), you will see that it is a great deal more than the $40-$45 you thought was a ‘nice income’.

Some costs you may have overlooked. Take into account that the various states of Australia can all have different costings, especially if you have employees. On Social Media recently, I brought up the subject on ‘QLeave’ (Queensland Long Service Leave) and asked the question if Queensland employers had filled in their yearly employee forms. (Once an employee has reached 10 years of service, which is transferable from company to company, they are entitled to 8.6 weeks of long service leave). For Queensland employers, this cost does not have to be calculated into your hourly rate as it is fully funded

by the major building companies, but in other states, such as Victoria, employers have to contribute 2.7% of an employees wage into a fund (called Co-Invest). Each State is different so you need to check your area and include it if required. Road Tolls are something else that people forget to factor in. What I have been told, in NSW it can be quite expensive over a twelvemonth period, so this also has to be added to your yearly expense. To sum it up, every business is different and expenses can vary quite substantially from one to another, so you need to know exactly what your business costs are and calculate it to an hourly rate to cover everything. There is nothing worse than at the end of the year you find there is no money in your account.

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We are Painters working with Painters to improve the industry. You receive informa�on designed to assist in advancing your business prac�ces and maintaining a high degree of professionalism. We keep pain�ng businesses up to date on the latest government legisla�ve changes whilst assis�ng you in running your business with �ps and tricks to


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Is Your Business

COMPLIANT? All business owners at one time worked for someone. The one thing they all had in common was to make sure they got home safely after a day’s work. For those that are now in business for themselves, the responsibility now falls on you as employers to ensure the safety of your employees to make sure they get home safely. There are legal responsibilities that must be adhered to in order to protect your employees and your clients. The employer is liable for any accidents that are caused on a worksite (or office) that could have been avoided through enforcement of health and safety. It is imperative that you understand what the importance of health and safety is to your business. It is in your best interest to avoid accidents as they can cost you money and affect productivity.

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Under WHS legislation you are obliged to provide: • safe premises • safe machinery and materials • safe systems of work • information, instruction, training and supervision • a suitable working environment and facilities. Complying with these duties can prevent you from being prosecuted and fined, and help you to retain skilled staff. WHS authorities in each state and territory and Safe Work Australia have responsibilities for enforcing the WHS legislation. They provide education, training and advice on health and safety at work. You can get information about your workplace health

and safety obligations and other valuable WHS/OH&S resources both in hard copy and online from their websites. workplace-health-and-safety/Pages/default.aspx

Requirements of compliance and your legislative obligations. Listed below are the major items that a business must have in place (and keep on file) to help minimize accidents that could occur in a workplace. These records should be kept on all work sites and accessible to site managers, employees and WHS officers if they happen to visit. Having these records will show you are making a concerned effort to eliminate or reduce workplace accidents and that you are complying to legislative obligations.

1. Induction Training must be provided to new employees in order to assist in adjustment to their new job tasks and to help them become familiar with their new work environment and the people working around them. This type of training will also outline the basic overview of the business and its services as well as the new employee’s role. Induction is also required on new job sites to familiarize the employees with any safety issues and to identify potential hazards. Items necessary to record are: Induction record; Induction register; Site safety rules; Site induction agenda 2. Risk Management A Risk Analysist must be completed on every job performed. For works carried out on a regular basis, a generic JSEA may be prepared and used for those job activities. The content can be refined over time and include consultation with the workers. Prior to each new activity though the JSEA must be reviewed and revised to ensure it applies to the high risk construction work and the actual site you are working at. When I first encountered these myself it was quite daunting and I was unable to get my head around it, but after contacting ‘Aussie Painters Network’ (many years ago), ‘the penny dropped’ and it suddenly became quite easy to understand. It is a simple process of documenting every activity performed ranging from setting up a work area, the use of equipment, public safety and awareness of the surroundings. You then have to document

the ‘Potential Hazard’, ‘Risk Analysis Rating’ (before and after) and ‘Control Measures’ (eg. See below). Items necessary to record are: Risk assessment, Site safety inspection and JSEA (Job Safety Environmental Analysis)/ SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement) 3. Incident Management Accidents can happen in the workplace at any time in any place, and when they do occur, you have a legal responsibility to record them and/or report them. Items necessary to record are: Hazard report log; Emergency report log; Evacuation plan; Register of injury; Accident investigation report 4. Hazardous Substances These can be sourced from the paint manufacturers website. Items necessary to record are: Hazardous substance register (MSDS- Material Safety Data Sheets) 5. Plant & Equipment All equipment and tools should be checked regularly before use and all leads and power tools must be ‘tagged’ according to state rulings. Items necessary to record are: Plant ID register; Electrical equipment inspection register 6. OHS Consultation Toolbox Meetings (Pre-Start on each job) This form is used to document attendance and topics covered at Toolbox Talk meetings. The supervisor shall track issues and actions raised from these meetings with a focus on corrective actions.

Each meeting shall include a brief overview of safety matters including safety performance and/or previous incident that occurred (in the previous week), Toolbox Talk topic, and other matters the Supervisor needs to convey to his team. Items necessary to record are: Record of toolbox meetings; OHS consultation statement 7. Record of Revision Any revisions or updates made to the WHS Plan are to be recorded. Items necessary to record are: Version number; Date; Section and page number; Revision details If you are a paid member of the ‘Aussie Painters Network, the following templates are downloadable from the ‘Members’ link. All you have to do is fill in the required areas. The ‘Risk Assessments’ have been fully completed in the JSEA form so you won’t have the same ‘daunting’ experience I encountered. You can either use it ‘as is’ or it can be tailored to suit your individual job site. 1. APN Work Health and Safety Plan 2016 2. APN JSEA’s 3. APN Incident Investigation Form 4. APN Incident Investigation Register 5. APN Tool Box Meeting Record Sheet If you are not a member I suggest looking into it as $75 is extremely affordable to fulfil your legislative obligations.

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Are you a slave to your


My wife and I are at present 38,000 feet in the air on the first leg of our flight from Brisbane to England; the start of a five week holiday. This is an eight hour journey which gives a person plenty of time to watch some of the on-board movies. My choice was the Oscar winning film ’12 Years A Slave’, which after watching it brought me to the question, ‘Are you a slave to your business?’ Are you working long days and on weekends? Do you miss out on time for yourself and spending it with your family? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then you really have to take another look at the way you operate your business. Believe it or not, life is not all about work so don’t let it run your life; it is too precious to be wasted.

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I recently turned 60 and in those years have learnt to use my time wisely. To achieve a good work/ life balance, you must have a business that runs smoothly. This can easily be done by using your time efficiently and effectively. Remember, any time saved is time that can be used in your personal life for things that really matter. Look at the time you waste in your normal day. It could be anything from multiple trips to the paint shop, spending too much time on the phone, being disorganised, the way you go about doing your quotes and even the way you schedule your jobs . All this leads to less productivity which in turn results in working longer hours for the same monetary value.

Let’s go through some time saving ideas. 1. We all know how long it can take to go to the paint shop. The travelling to get there, waiting to get served and the mixing of the product. It all takes time. This can easily be avoided, especially if you have an account with the store. Get your paint delivered, that’s what they are there for. Plan it right and the order will get to you within a few hours. Or, plan ahead and make sure you have everything the day before. 2. Answering the phone is sometimes annoying because of the amount of marketing calls we receive, which in most cases are a complete waste of time.

20 quotes per month, it could total up to around 15-20 hours in un-productive time spent. Make sure you include some quoting time in your overall hourly rate. Hopefully you have worked your own rate and are not going by what other painters are charging. Every business is individual and we all have different expenses. Also, try and do your quoting at the end of the working day. I do not understand how painters can turn up for a quote looking filthy. If your jobs are not being accepted, this would be 3. Job scheduling can be very diffi- one of the main reasons why. cult at times. Clients could change the start date, staff phone in sick or 5. Don’t fall into the trap ofn spendthere could be a sudden change in ing a lot of time giving clients advice the weather. They all play a huge on colour schemes. I remember in part in lost time and productivity. the early years in business talking to a client for over an hour looking Try and plan for the unexpected. at colour swatches. A few weeks 4. Quoting is dead money as you after sending out my quote I gave don’t get paid for this. If you do 15- her a call and was told she chose a One way to avoid this is to have your phone diverted to a message bank or better still, have it professionally answered in your business name. I always found this better as some people do not like to talk to an answering machine. The message will be sent as a text which you can screen and reply to if it is a worthwhile call. Many of these annoying marketing callers will not leave a message so in turn reduces the time spent on the phone.

cheaper painter to do the job (most probably using my colour choices). Explain in a nice way that you would be more than happy to spend time giving them advice when the quote is accepted.

Your Time is precious so don’t waste it. If you can save 8 hours a month, then that is one extra day you can spend in some leisure time, or an extra two2 weeks holiday a year. I have always said too if you find you are working long hours and on weekends and can see no additional benefit, then maybe it’s time to put up your hourly rate. Instead of getting 80% of your work accepted, target 60-70%. You will be making the same amount of money and you’ll also be working less hours.

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PLAN FOR TOMORROW My monthly articles have covered many topics: On-Site Etiquette; Unique Selling Points; Operating Costs; Niche Marketing; Vehicle Signage; and the list goes on. If you have read some or all of these articles, you will notice they have a common factor; they are all to do with creating work for your business. Hopefully the information has helped and you are booking more jobs into your calendar. OK! So maybe you have two or more months booked in advance, that’s great news, but have you thought about the distant future and those unexpected events that may happen that could affect the operation of your business? You most probably think it’s not worth worrying about at the present time. It won’t happen to me! This is not the right attitude to have. You need a contingency plan for the unexpected happenings in business and a goal or target to achieve in life. Having no plan could have you

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still wielding a paint brush at the age of 70. Planning for the tomorrow means: a) Planning for the unexpected, (ie, bad debts, sickness, accidents) b) Planning for the expected, (ie; holidays, lifestyle, retirement) Twenty years ago my dream was to have the lifestyle of my brother-in-laws father. He was a painter in New Zealand and I remember him and his wife always going on holiday to somewhere. I wished at the time that I would have that same lifestyle one day. Well guess what? My wife and I are doing just that. In the last 8 years we have been on seven overseas trips (eight if you count a week on Norfolk Island) and we are planning our next trip to France next year; thus fulfilling the dream I had. Don’t assume we are wealthy; that is far from the fact. I do however operate a very successful painting business which doesn’t involve making huge profits by ripping my clients off,

in fact, if I feel I have made too much on a job, guilt sets in and I reduce the amount owing. To have a successful business, which in turn leads to a successful lifestyle, there are certain procedures you should have in place. Without them you will run into difficulties that could cost you a lot of money. So first you have to come to terms of ‘what may’, and ‘what may not’ hold for you in the future.

Some of the unexpected events that could happen in your working life that you need to plan for are: 1. Long term illness, a personal accident, a major operation or an on-site mishap. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. I was talking to a painter today who has just had a shoulder replacement and will be off work for 6 months. The forward planning he made was to adequately insure him for the time off work.

As for myself, I was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer (see my December 13 article). It is not of major concern at present but one day in the near future I will need an operation. This will mean a few months off work but because of my forward planning of insuring myself, my Critical Insurance Policy will pay for my recovery.

er or later, it is bound to happen. Just think how much time, effort and money it will take to restore all that you have lost on your computer. You should back-up your files every day and have a copy of your site where it will be safe. Also remember; a fire proof safe will not stop disks and tapes from getting heat damage.

So make sure you are suitably covered by insurance for all those possible scenarios, including the mishaps that could happen at work, otherwise you will find yourself very much out of pocket on top of the other stresses of the situation.

Some of the expected events that will happen in your working life You don’t need to be wealthy either that you need to plan for are: to have a great lifestyle, all it takes is planning and smart business procedures. A smooth operating Time off (or holidays), retirement and a good lifestyle business leads to a financial operLife shouldn’t be all work. Your ob- ating business. The less hiccups, jective in business is to make more the fewer headaches, which inevmoney than you would do if you itably results in lower operating were working on wages. The extra costs and more money in the bank should be there for your enjoy- for you to enjoy. ment; either to use on your house, your children’s education, holidays A note to remember. or building your wealth. So invest Plan for tomorrow, relax and keep in your future. Put away some of some balance in your life and most your earnings into a superannua- of all, do not stress. If you stress, tion fund. It is not only ‘money in you don’t enjoy. If you don’t enjoy, then you might as well work for the bank’ but a great tax deduction someone else and let them stress. too. The reason to have your own Life is too short, so don’t waste it. superannuation also is that the Government pension could change

2. Bad debts To eliminate this you need to keep on top of the people that owe you money. Make sure you request progress payments at suitable stages of the job! I ask for a payment when the amount reaches between $5,000-$7,000. Have a good Debt Collector on hand also just in case. 3. Computer failure It is not a matter of ‘if ’your system will fail but ‘when’. One day soon-

when you are ready to retire and you may find you cannot live on the allocated amount. Apart from our financial advisor giving us good advice many years ago, the reason we can live the way we do is attributed to planning the way in which my business operates generally, and under any unforeseen circumstances.

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Innovation, Technology

AND PROGRESS So much has changed since I first started my painting career nearly 45 years ago. You don’t realise how much until you do a particular job and think, ‘I remember when….’ This thought flashed through my mind a few days ago when hanging some wallpaper at a clients’ house. What happened to the days when you used to cut the wallpaper lengths and paste them? The last two jobs I have completed, the process is to paste the wall first and hang the paper dry. Sooo difficult! (or is there something I’m doing wrong?). By pasting the wallpaper first, you can prepare multiple drops at a time. Once the third has been pasted, the first one has had time to soak and is ready to hang. Because the paper lengths have been folded after the pasting, applying the wallpaper to the wall is simple and easy to manoeuvre. The process of pasting the wall first is that you can only paste enough for one drop at a time (as the paste will be dry before you get to hang the next drop). Hanging the dry wallpaper then is a feat in itself as I found that there isn’t as much slide capability (it sticks as soon as you apply it to the wall). You also have to be careful not to miss any of the pasting around the cornice, skirting, frames or light switches etc, otherwise the

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paper is not going to adhere. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer the original way. This led me thinking of the stories my dad used to tell of when he was young and how he had to get up before the rise of the sun and carry all his tools and painting gear in a push-cart. I thought that was bazaar and antiquated, but now I find when I look back, I have similar stories to tell. When I started my apprenticeship in 1970, all paint was applied by brush. To paint a ceiling you would set up a scaffold (two step ladders and a timber plank) and ‘block-busters’ would be used (these are 6 by 1½ inch brushes). After a few hours swinging one of those above your head, you really felt that you had been working. My memory is a bit vague on this but I’m sure it was within twelve months that a new invention was introduced to the painting world. ‘The Roller’. How great was that? Even greater still, a few months later someone thought of attaching a pole to it. As you can imagine, this made such a difference to the way we painted surfaces and the speed we could do it in. The spray-gun came many years later, which I guess was the very start of the problem that painters

had with the plasterers and the way they set their joins. One of the next innovations that hit the market around 1975-6 was a new product that Selleys brought out. My business partner and I were invited by Dulux to the official launch in Perth and were both given a tube of filler and a device to squeeze it out of. It was called ‘No-MoreGaps’. Our verdict was that it would never take off as it was too expensive and clumsy, so for the next few years we continued with filling cracks with Poly-filler. Other things that have changed over the years have been the price of paint and the price of painting. We had the contract with Jennings, Mansard and Plunket homes and our preferred paint was Dulux. We used Dulux Spring for the walls and ceilings and as we were going through so much material, we used to buy it by the pallet at a really good price; $1 per litre. That’s right, $10 for a 10 litre drum (they didn’t come in 15 litres then). But, for a standard three bedroom, one bathroom brick house, painting the whole interior, gutter, fascia, eaves and roof-pipes for the total contract price of $385, you wouldn’t want to be paying anymore for your paint.

So for those young people out there who are reading this, in 2044 you will be saying to yourself like I am now, ‘I remember when….’

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Why UP-SKILL? Increase your job leads, secure your business and protect your future! 24 |

Without even realising it our brain acquires new information every day. It’s been happening since the day we were born and will continue until we pass away; it’s automatic and a part of life. Unfortunately though (especially for those who have been in business for a number of years) taking the step to voluntarily ‘up-skill’ our information takes a back seat. We get comfortable in our day-today routine and how the business operates, so we are content to just plod along. Like the old saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ This type of thinking may work for a while but there is a huge possibility you will miss out on numerous calls in the future because you are not concerned about tomorrow.

For example, the job leads you could be missing out on could arise from;

you by and win those jobs because they do have the required skills. By taking some courses appropriate for your business, you can stay ahead of the rest and bid for those projects you weren’t qualified to do so before. There are numerous courses that are available and most of them are online so you can complete the questions at home and at your own leisure. Check out the National Painting and Decorating Institute at to access them. There is also a possibility that a particular course is subsidised which makes for a nice little bonus. You can enquire with your paint supplier if there are any courses available on applying their specialty products. This can then lead to the company recommending you as a preferred applicator.

• Not having the appropriate scaffolding experience.

Up-skilling and diversifying your professional abilities can help to protect your future too. What plans have you in place if you have an accident? An insurance policy is OK, but it won’t supplement the full income you currently earn. Don’t think that it couldn’t happen to you! Aussie Painters Network colleague, Nigel, is proof of this. He cannot physically work as a painter because of a work place accident. This is when he decided to start the Aussie Painters Network. It is now the industry body for painters seeking support and information.

Wouldn’t you like to have the advantage over your competitors to combat this situation? If you choose to just plod along you will find other businesses will pass

Another inevitability, which no one can control, is that we’re all growing older. ‘What has this got to do with up-skilling?’ Well, let’s say you are 55 years of age and

• Not being qualified to do the particular project (eg, wallpapering, lead removal, etc); • Not having the appropriate work policies in place; • Not knowing how to work off plans;

have just lost your job. The retirement age for you is 65. Will you still be able to physically work for another 10 years climbing up and down ladders? For the people that were born after 1959, the age pension comes in at 70! How much success do you think you will have competing against a much younger person for a painting position? This is another reason for you to up-skill your knowledge. Don’t say you are too old to learn. I had my 60th birthday this year and recently completed my TAE Certificate IV Teaching course.

Why you may ask?

It is my back-up plan. Fortunately though, my wife and I have invested our savings wisely and will be able to live comfortably on our super annuation without the need for the pension. But! What happens if there is another Global Financial Crisis in the next 5 years? Like so many others in the last crisis, we could lose tens of thousands of dollars and in turn lose my business. If that happened, I would definitely have to find work until I could apply for the pension. Could I still climb ladders for another 5 years? My mind says I could but in reality, who knows?

This is why you should look at the future and consider what your back-up plan could be; just in case the unexpected happens. And it so often does.

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Success/Failure What direction are you heading in? It’s frightening to know but there are so many businesses that fail! Statistics show that it could happen to 80% of them in the first 5 years. The problem is, when we know something isn’t working, we get so attached to it that we keep doing the same thing, even when it has become ineffectual. Often this is because we subconsciously train ourselves not to expect the best. We take the ‘that’ll do’ approach. Now you have all heard of the saying, ‘Better the devil you know than the one you don’t’ and, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, well unfortunately the message in these have the effect of making us settle for something that isn’t necessarily suitable to operate a good business. In life we get by with this sort of mentality but in business this is not acceptable. Doing so can lead to disaster. SO! What is it that makes a business a success and what does it take to make a good business owner? I have given some answers to these questions in previous articles in the magazine and they are fully covered in my book, ‘How To Become A Really Successful Painter’ but one of the main factors for success is knowing how

to listen and not being afraid to ask questions. This is one of the major problems a business owner has, especially for men, as we are too proud to admit we are doing something wrong. We may think we know everything and don’t require help, but there is so much to learn in running a successful business. You don’t always have to go to a professional to get advice either (but I do advise it); it’s as easy as taking note of how others are operating. See what they are doing right and adapt it in your business. See what they are doing wrong and apply the opposite. In the days I first started business (when there were no avenues where you could seek advice), I applied this method and observed my opposition. How did they present themselves personally? (That question was answered every time I went to the paint shop). What condition were their vehicles because in a clients’ mind, a neat and tidy vehicle could reflect on how a tradesperson would treat their home. Also a question I asked the client was for their opinion of how I presented myself compared to the other painters. I also took sneak-peaks at the oppositions’ quotes. This was not to check on the price but how they had written them out. In a lot of cases they were just scribbled out in a quote

book or on a back of a business card (if they had business cards). But one thing I made sure of was to turn up on time as I knew in 75% of the cases, the other painters did not. That really annoyed the clients. By doing this, it didn’t take me long to distance myself from other painters because I learnt what they were, and were not doing. My business became successful as I understood what the client expected from a tradesperson. I learnt to become a complete package, a professional, not just a person that could apply paint to a wall. Nowadays, there are many avenues where you can seek advice from. There are professionals out there that want to help you become more successful and being part of Aussie Painters is just one of them. When you do get advice though, be open-minded and look at the changes you may have to put into place. Be willing to take advantage of changes in technology as it doesn’t pay to behind the times. It may be completely opposite to how you have been doing things, but it could possibly be what your business needs to turn things around, especially if you have noticed that your profit margin has declined over the years.

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for Business 1. Personality: As I feel personality rates the highest in my opinion, I wrote a full article in last months’ edition. Please check it out by following the link (add a link) if you haven’t read it already.

2. Website: When a client is searching for a contractor they want to know as much as possible about that business. Unless someone has recommended and given you a high approval rating, they have to source you in some other way. Once found, having a website can provide abundant information about your business. A client needs to know things like company information, customer testimonials, picture gallery, guarantees, what products you use, contact numbers, etc. All this information will help ease their mind that they are choosing a reputable company.

3. Answering service: A second party that can answer your phone professionally in your company name if you are unavailable, is far more personal

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than an automated recording. A client is more likely to leave a message to someone that is actually conversing with them than having to talk to a machine. There is only a small cost to this service but it far out-ways the possibility of losing a prospective client.

4. Letter drop: This is a great way to promote your business around the areas you are working in; and the best part is that it’s free to do. I have two introductory letters that you can use. Just email me on info@ and I will send them to you.

5. Database: It takes a lot of time and effort to gain a client from an advertising source. So keeping a record of all your clients is one of the most important factors of a successful business. You need to know everything about your client, not just their contact details. If that client is happy with the work you have produced, there is a 50-80% chance that in the future they will recommend you to a friend, relative or neighbour.

Because these referrals are coming to you by word of mouth, it means you won’t have to spend as much on advertising or, you can keep your advertising going at the same rate and expand your business at no extra cost. Also by keeping a record, it means after a certain period you can make contact with them again to see if they require any more work done. Many people forget your details after 5 years or more so a friendly reminder that you are still in business is great PR work.

6. Know your break even rate: This is where many businesses have absolutely no idea what their hourly rate should be to cover their outgoing expenses. You cannot go by what someone else is charging because every business is different and has different costs. When you are desperate for a job, you need to know how low you can charge. If you go below your ‘break even’ cost, then you are losing money. To check out what you should be charging, follow the link to ‘My Hourly Rate Calculator’ at

7. Don’t argue with the client: Even though you may not agree with a client, in your best interest it is best to listen and accept what they have to say and fix the problem. Arguing only causes friction between both parties and hence, lead to slow or non-payment. So what if it takes you an extra four or eight hours in time! Look at the time, cost and stress of using a debt collector. It is simply not worth it. Swallow your pride, do what they want and you will find they will appreciate the effort and recommend you to others. Sue them and your name will travel quickly as a painter to not recommend.

8. Keep on top of what is owing to you: Constant cash flow is the key to all successful companies. As soon as a job is finished, send an invoice, otherwise you may find you have run the bank account dry and need to go into an overdraft. If the job is large, then have a clause in your Contract Agreement that you require progress payments.

9. Vehicle signage: If you spend $1000 on signage for

your vehicle, it will work for you for at least seven years. That’s a small investment of $142 a year. It acts like a moving billboard. It goes with you to every job or trip you do and will be seen by tens of thousands of people.

10. Be on time: The easiest way to upset a customer is to be late. If you can’t make an appointment, have the decency to call them and arrange a new time. They may have gone to a great deal of trouble to stay home especially, so don’t disappoint them.

11. Save marketing numbers in your phone: I really get fed up with marketing calls as I know most of you do. 99% are a complete waste of time. Every time I receive one which shows a number, I add them to my Contact List in my phone under the heading Marketing. If they call again, I know to reject it.

12. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Every business person wants to achieve success, but when there are problems, most are too proud

to seek help. Asking for advice or guidance is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence. Sometimes you have to come to terms that you can’t do everything yourself. No one is going to laugh or think you are incapable of running a business. I can guarantee that every successful business has been mentored or have taken advice from a peer at some stage in their life. Listen and learn from others as I have done. Many years ago a Business Coach told me I should write a book and share what I had learnt in the 35 years of painting. Over 2,600 copies of ‘How To Become A Really Successful Painter’ have been sold, something I would never have dreamed of but only came about because I listened to someone.

Most people are willing to give advice and share their success, so don’t hold back and don’t be afraid. | 29

What is

SPAM This article is all about an email I received recently and when looking into it more closely, I was a bit suspicious. I’ll tell you about it shortly as I want to share something of interest about the origin of ‘Spam’ We all know ‘Spam’ as being junk email but how did it arrive at that name? I grew up knowing Spam was ‘precooked meat in a can’ (it didn’t taste bad either). It was first introduced by an American company called the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937. The difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the front during World War II saw Spam become a major part of a soldier’s diet. It gained popularity worldwide after its use during this period. The belief is that the name derived from an abbreviation of ‘spiced ham’ or ‘shoulders of pork and ham’. Another popular

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explanation is that Spam is an acronym standing for ‘Specially Processed American Meat’. So how did ‘Spam’ the food become ‘Spam’ as in junk email?

At several points, a group of Vikings in the restaurant interrupt the conversation by loudly singing ‘Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spammity Spam, Wonderful Spam’. (Ciick Here).

It originated from a three and a half minute Monty Python sketch which was first televised in 1970. In the sketch, two customers are lowered into a café by wires and try to order a breakfast from a menu that includes ‘Spam’ in almost every dish.

Because of the repetition of the word ‘Spam’ in this sketch and how ‘Spam’ emails are sent to a multitude of email addresses, it seemed appropriate to use it in our computer language today as ‘unsolicited, undesired or illegal email messages’.

It is set in the fictional Green Midget Café in a suburb of London. An argument develops between the waitress, who recites a menu in which nearly every item contains ‘Spam’, and Mrs Bun, who does not like ‘Spam’. She asks for an item with the ‘Spam’ removed, much to the amazement of her ‘Spam’ loving husband. The waitress responds to this request with disgust.

As I have products that I sell online which goes through PayPal, an email I received from PayPal seemed and looked very legitimate. It was requiring me to update some information by a certain date otherwise transactions may not occur. Again this seemed very legit as I was told by PayPal earlier that there actually were some updates to be done.

As I am slightly computer dumb, instead of clicking on the link that was asked, I thought I would contact PayPal direct instead to confirm how to go about it, and to my surprise, they told me it was a con (Spam) email. I only became slightly suspicious because of the email address it came from. If it is not exactly the same as your institution (Bank, Google, Internet Security, etc) then be suspicious. An added dot or dash means be aware. The safest way is to actually type the address into the toolbar to get their website. The person I spoke to was kind enough to send this email below to verify what is a ‘hoax’ email. Although this is PayPal specific it will be relevant to any institutions you may deal with. Dear James Baker, Thank you for contacting PayPal. You’ll know an email is from PayPal when:

• We always address you by your full name or your business name as registered on your PayPal account. We’ll never use generic greetings like “Dear user” or “Hello PayPal member” in our email. • We’ll never ask you to reveal your financial information, your password, or the answer to your PayPal security questions. • We’ll never attach any software updates in our emails and ask you to install it to your devices. • We’ll never ask you to ship the items and provide the tracking information to the buyers before you receive the payment in your PayPal account. To protect yourself, always log in to your PayPal account to confirm the information you received in an email. You can find all your transactions in your History page. For any cases such

as buyer complaints or limitations, you can find them in the Resolution Centre. Fake emails, also known as phishing emails, attempt to collect your personal and financial information. These fake emails often link to fake websites that encourage you to enter personal information (for example, credit card numbers, passport number, and account passwords). If you think you’ve received a suspicious email, please forward the original email to us at without editing the contents or subject line. Don’t click on any link in the email and delete it from your inbox immediately.

I hope this has clarified a few concerns about ‘Spam’ and ‘Hoax’ emails.

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Are You Prepared? For Death The idea of an article about this subject has been on my mind for a long time now but I wasn’t sure how you, as the reader, would react to it. So please accept my apologies for the morbid subject and I hope it doesn’t upset anyone, but in reality, it is something we all have to face up to at some stage of our lives. What finally prompted me to write this was today (25th March) I went to a past clients’ home to quote some internal work. While discussing her job, she informed me that the next door neighbour (a long-time client of mine and whose house I only just completed the exterior painting) was recently told he had aggressive throat cancer and only a month to live. I was devastated. Only thirty days to say his goodbyes (and by the

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time this is published, most probably has passed away). It’s so sad that something like this could happen to a person with so little notice. Unfortunately this in fact has happened to other people I knew, one being a very good friend of mine from my highschool days. Tony was 57 when he was told he only had a few months to live. Fortunately I was able to catch up with him in Perth a week before he passed away. He was the kindest, most happy-go-lucky person you could ever meet. Tony left behind a gorgeous wife and two beautiful girls (one being my God-daughter). Then twelve months later, tragedy struck again with his wife dying from a massive heart attack while gardening in the back yard.

As we all know, death is a part of life and we can’t do anything to avoid it. There’s no magical elixir available to extend our lives I’m afraid (drinking from the ‘Holy Grail’ is after all, just a myth). Some live to a great old age but sadly to say, others die far too soon and far too young. We just don’t know when our time is up. I could be run over by a bus tomorrow, who knows? So when I ask ‘Are you prepared?’ I’m not actually referring to being mentally prepared for death. What I am referring to is, have you taken any steps for after the passing of your life to ease some of the pain and stress that your family will encounter. Think of those loved ones that you’re leaving behind.

The trauma and loss would be extremely stressful and upsetting. But there are some things you can do to ease their pain. Having lost both my parents in the past 15 years, I do know the frustration of sorting out their financial affairs and how emotional it was. In todays’ day and age it’s even more complicated because of how much we rely on the internet so much. So being ‘prepared’ are the simple things like leaving details available for your family that only you may know. These can be anything from passwords to accounts, computer, phone, PayPal, Skype, the safe, FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc. Now in my case, my wife handles the majority of my painting business and household accounts, so there is no problem there (unless she passes away first). But there

is my other sideline (‘MyTools4Business’) which is ‘my baby’ and I solely look after. If something happened to me, she would have no idea what to do. There would be the problem of how to access the site; how payments are made; who my IT person is; how to access my customers, Nigel Gorman’s phone number (lol) and many more things. Also, is your will upto-date and more to the point, have you even got a will? You may want to leave something personal to a friend or relative that your family may not realise. These may sound insignificant to you now or you may have the ‘I’ll be dead so I don’t care’ attitude. Myself, I wouldn’t like to put my family in this position of the extra grief that would occur. So if I can relieve some of the stress by simply having this information available to them,

then I can die a little happier. Also if I was told I only had a short time to live, my main objective would be to have quality time with my family than having to waste the little time I had with explanations of passwords and access, etc. It would be personally emotional for yourself having to do this too. So are there things in your business or your life that you take care of that your partner or loved ones would not know about? Not that you’re trying to keep it secret, but it’s just something you automatically take care of, like in my case! If so, then write it all down and put it somewhere safe that can be accessed, if and when the time comes. It may not sound a big deal to you now but believe me, it could save a lot of heartache for those you care and love the most and you will feel better for it too.

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Business Success

What does it mean to you... People define success differently, so what actually does it mean to you? Is it how much money you earn? How many staff you have? The size of the company? The lifestyle? The freedom? The challenge?

‘the stress’. This is the case with a lot of business people. They have the tendency of working 10 or more hours a day and also on weekends as they are focusing their attention exclusively on building their career.

Defining success is important, but taking a clear-eyed look at the impact of your definition matters even more. As in most things your intent is important but the results provide the real answers.

Over the years I ‘woke up’ to myself and realised having a large team was not what I really wanted in my business and that a smaller number was more manageable and less stressful. I even found my business was more profitable doing it this way. Working directly with a client and not a builder, was also more pleasurable for me as there was that personal interaction with them. When it came to invoicing there was never the problem of payment as I made sure they were always happy when the job was completed. This gave me a constant cash-flow into my bank account and therefore the ability to pay my bills and wages on

About 25 years ago, to me success was always about how many employees I had and how large the contracts were. It was always the case that, ‘bigger is better’. The only trouble was, ‘bigger’ didn’t seem to be ‘better’ as I hoped for. There were the continual problems of slow payers, staff issues, jobs not being ready (not good when you have multiple employees to find work for), long hours and of course,

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time. This in turn, relieved the stress that most business operators encountered. I am far from being rich but I am very happy in what I am doing and to me, this is how I interpret ‘business success’. So determining whether you are successful should be based on one question: ‘How happy are you?’ Your level of success is based solely on your answer to this question. If you’re making serious money but are unhappy on a personal level, you haven’t embraced the fact that incredible business success often takes a heavy toll on a relationship. Other things should be clearly important to you besides making money. So think about what motivates you. What do you want to achieve for yourself and your family? What do you value most, spiritually, emotionally, and

materially? Those are the things that will make you happy, and if you aren’t doing them, you won’t be happy. If operating a small business and making a decent living from it is your definition of success, embrace the fact that you may not get rich but you will have more time to enjoy yourself. If building a large company is your definition of success, embrace the fact that you may not have a rich, engaged family life. You can be fortunate enough though to have both of the above ‘if’ you are a smart business manager, and to these people I take my hat off to as it is not as easy as it seems. To be amongst this group you must be prepared to ‘let go’ and delegate a lot of your business responsibilities to other employees. This will free up precious time to enjoy life.

So forget traditional definitions of success. Forget what other people think. Ask yourself if you feel happy — not just at work, not just at home, not just in those fleeting moments when you do something just for yourself, but overall.

If you can do this, then you’re successful. The happier you are the more successful you are. If you aren’t happy it’s time to rethink how you define success, and start making changes to your professional and personal life that align with that definition, because what you’re doing now isn’t working for you. I put the question out on Social Media recently to see how others thought about business success and the answers were very similar. Besides the ‘Freedom’, ‘Family Life Balance’, ‘Financial Security’ and

‘Making a Difference’, there was the aspect of the clients and keeping them happy. To them, this was success. Kyle Passeri I’d like to think that I measure success by the success of my clients. If my clients are able to enjoy a happier life after working with me, then I see myself as being successful. Warwick King Happy clients, mean the word of mouth referrals continue. I can maintain pricing to reflect quality of work so work perpetuates, money comes in; the result; ‘happy wife, happy life’. So ask yourself, ‘Are You Happy?’ If not; then think what you can do to rectify the situation.

Life is too short. Don’t waste it on being unhappy. Think about what you really want.

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On-Site Etiquette The way your employees act and look will help to guarantee their future and yours! Why? Because clients will talk, and what they will be saying to their friends is, “I had some really nice tradespeople working on my place.” That leads to a possible recommendation for another job. For those of you that work in the residential market, the main thing is to respect the clients’ privacy and work in with their schedule. Remember, you are invading their home and their space so make as little disruption as possible. So how are the manners of your employees? As I guess you know, men have a tendency to swear on the job every now and then, so make sure the clients are well out of ear-shot. Smoking is another contention. If the client smokes, all well and good, but if not, then take care. Don’t smoke in their house and don’t leave cigarette butts in the garden. That is a pet hate for many, if not all, non-smokers. Also, if any of your staff needs

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to use the toilet, tell them not to use the one in the en-suite. It’s another pet hate of clients. People who have an en-suite toilet regard it as their own private seat. They don’t like the thought of anyone else using it, even though they might go to a shopping centre and use one that hundreds of people have used. Strange but true! Also for the guys, don’t leave the seat up; women hate that.

If you are working inside and going to create some dust, then make sure everything is fully covered with clean sheets. I find using new plastic sheets for the furniture is cleaner and they are cheap to throw away once they are a bit dirty. Drop-cloths always have a film of dust on them which is then transferred

onto the furniture, so every 12 to 18 months I take them to an industrial laundry and get them cleaned. The cost is minimal and the client appreciates seeing clean sheets.

An excellent product on the market to contain dust and debris on a worksite is ‘Zipwall’. I have been to many homes where clients have been annoyed by the dust plasterers leave from sanding. Even when they use a sanding machine, the excess dust floats around and settles on the furniture. It can be erected in a few minutes and could save you hours of un-necessary cleaning. For more information on this, go to or your nearest Dulux Trade store.

Get out of the habit of putting your tools on work benches or the furniture. Although you think it is OK, accidents do happen. Just a slight movement of a hammer or screwdriver can easily scratch the surface which could cost you hundreds of dollars for repair or replacement. Keep an old towel handy that you can put them on. You won’t get the worried looks from the clients also. The exterior is just as important. If you have to walk through the garden beds, then be careful not to trample on the plants. Quickly go around and fluff them up if required and cut off any leaves with paint on so there is no evidence of you being there. Trivial I know but effective with the clients. Also, if you need to go inside and you don’t like taking your shoes off, then buy yourself some shoe covers; such an easy solution. Local Councils are also coming down hard on ‘waste material’ on building sites. Architects are often now specifying low VOC products and waste disposal methods which means, they expect painters to be the complete package. The idea is to reduce the impact activities have on the environment

and as environmentally friendly products become more popular with customers, so too has the demand for services that have a positive impact on the environment. Being environmentally friendly makes good business sense and besides, grass is supposed to be green.

dealt with as soon as possible. For good PR, include a follow up call after 6 months to see if they are enjoying the new colour scheme and if they need any touch-up work done from possible accidental damage. This after sales service definitely leads to customer referrals.

Also: It didn’t matter how many times I told my guys to keep the clients hose clean, there always seemed to be paint on it at the end of the job. I take a two metre length of hose with a trigger nozzle and connect it to the existing hose.

Final note: Something that you should always remember is to not differentiate your quality of work depending on the wealth of the customer. The less wealthy have saved harder for your service, so treat and perform the job equally. Also, it is very important to under promise and over deliver. Just by doing that unexpected little bit extra is a sure way of getting referrals.

After sales: You may receive a call from a client a few weeks or maybe months after completing the job saying something has happened. For good customer relations the issue should be

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HAPPY CLIENT HAPPY LIFE We have all heard that saying. How true it is! Where it originated from, I do not know. Maybe it dates back to Samson and Delilah in the Old Testament of the Bible, Judges 16. The rulers of the Philistines were willing to pay 1100 kilograms of silver each for Delilah to find out the secret of Samson’s strength. He was a threat to the kingdom and they wanted to subdue him. Eager in the possibility of such a large amount of money, Delilah nagged him day after day until he finally told her (it was his hair if you don’t know the story). Or, maybe it was more recent like 1893 when after many years of demonstrations and partitioning of the male dominated government, women were given the right to vote in New Zealand. In both cases though the ladies were happy with the outcome (not so for Samson as it led to his demise and eventual death). The point I am trying to make is, it doesn’t matter if you are a wife, a husband or a partner, the saying Happy Wife-Hap-

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py Life is relevant to a client as well. Keep them happy and business will run smoothly. I truly believe myself, there is no such person as an un-reasonable, un-realistic, pain-in-theass client (in 99% of cases that is). If a customer is giving you grief, being pickie or they are slow at paying their account, then the problem is YOU (I may have just lost a few readers then). If you are a contractor that has regular issues with clients, then you should seriously look at the complaints. Have you priced a job too cheap so you have to take short-cuts? Maybe you are just too greedy and want to make a huge profit regardless of the quality! Whatever the reason, the client is unhappy and will most likely make it difficult for you and hold off payment. This in turn costs you money! You have to go and chase it and maybe take them to court. For some people this is not a problem because if you apply enough pressure on a client, you’ll eventually get paid. You made a killing (huge profit) on that job but the disadvantage

with that reasoning is you will not be recommended to anyone by that client. This is where you have to look at the future. I have only given out 2 formal letters for failure of payment in 30 years, the last being 14 years ago. Why? Because all my clients are happy! The extra benefit in this (to give you an example) is that in the past 30 days I have had $50,000 worth of work accepted. This has been from previous clients or clients that referred me to other people. There is also another $60,000 worth of work that clients have not made a decision on just yet. This is why my advertising costs are low as referrals make up 70-80% of my work load. So what if it takes you more time in finishing a job! Don’t agree in what they have to say either! Get over it! Just do the work, and do it with a smile. You will find you’ll be paid on time, they’ll ask you to come back for more work and they will happily recommend you to others. And all this takes is keeping the client happy. Like I said in my last article, it’s a ‘no-brainer’



Who remembers that classic song?

keep it. This is when they contacted me and when the lyrics ‘Keep the customer satisfied’ came to mind.

In case you don’t, it was sung by Simon and Garfunkel and released on their ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ album in 1970. I still have the original vinyl copy and the ‘Bang & Olufsen’ record player to play it on. (That’s showing my age).

I estimated that it would have taken around 40 hours to repair the faults but some of that could have been argued to the fact that it was within standard acceptability of a paint job. In my view though they did had a fairly valid point on 5075% of the work but the rest I felt they were being a bit ‘pickie’.

The tune popped into my head when I went to a client’s house recently. She phoned me in desperation wanting a quote to repair some faulty workmanship caused by another painter. He had been recommended by a parent from a school her children went to. The particular paint job was a complete interior and to be performed while the owners were away on holiday. This was also to make it easier for the painter as there would be less interruption from the clients being home. Full instructions were given with feature walls to paint in certain rooms. The owners arrived back two weeks later and were happy enough with the job but queried some of the workmanship and also the painting of the wrong walls in the feature colours. The painter couldn’t agree with their requests and refused to rectify the work and said that whatever money they still owed him, to

By refusing to do the work though, a black mark has now gone against him and will not be recommended by these clients in the future, and it fact, word will now get around the school what exactly happened and will escalate. In proof of this, another client phoned me for a quote a week later that was recommended by the disgruntled client. It was for a complete interior and exterior paint job totalling over $16,000. The painter could have easily won this job if he had just done the right thing by the owner. I have mentioned this many times before in previous articles and in my book that;

‘An unhappy customer will spread the word of a poor tradesperson to more people than a happy customer who has had an excellent job done’.

Good customer service reduces negative word of mouth.

Once you have won a clients’ confidence, you should do everything in your power to ‘hang on’ to them. For the past 30 years, I have kept a record of all my clients and how they found my name. I know for instance that at present, 80% of my work comes from previous clients or referrals from those clients. In particular, one job has led to 38 other clients with work totalling to over 1.2 million dollars. How much in advertising dollars do you think it would cost to win 38 clients? Now you may not agree with what a client is complaining about but is it really worth the hassle of disagreeing with them and losing potential leads in the future. Advertising costs a lot of money and a lot of effort goes into it as well, whereas referrals are free, and all you have to do is;


PERSONALITY My best tip for running a successful business

I was going to make a list of my top recommendations to running a business but when it came down to it, one stood out from all of them; Personality. If you don’t utilize this correctly, you have decreased your chances of winning the job, even though you may have ticked all other boxes relating to a successful outcome. So I found it necessary to expand on this particular tip and explain why I feel it is one of the main factors in running a business. When personality first came to my mind, I instantly remembered a song I liked from my earlier years. Most of you young’uns wouldn’t know the American black singer, Lloyd Price. He co-wrote the song ‘Personality’ which became a top

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hit in 1959. An interesting fact when I was Googling, ‘People With Money’ magazine recently reported he is the highest-paid singer in the world, earning $46 million between July 2014 and July 2015. The reason for mentioning the song is the significance of the lyrics in the chorus, as they are based around five personalities:

Walk; Talk; Smile; Charm; and Love. Let me break these down and I’ll explain the importance (to me) of each. 1. When you go to a client’s house and meet them for the

first time, what message are you sending out? How is your body positioned? Are you standing up straight or slumped over, disinterested and wishing you were somewhere else? Do you approach with confidence and have direct eye contact with them? Do you give a formal greeting with a handshake? People can gather information about you from your body language before a word is spoken? We all do it without even thinking about it. Our poise and posture reflect our mood and our confidence level. We stand and walk a certain way when we’re confident and another way when we’re nervous. It can also show if we’re apprehensive or outgoing, relaxed or aggressive.

2. Being confident in your mind about the product and what you are selling is one thing, but it takes skill to verbally relay this without fault or hesitation. It’s not just the paint job you are offering them but your professional service also and this is what you have to get through to the customer with confidence in your voice.

ly this isn’t happening enough in today’s society. Be genuine though, or at least try to look that way, as there is nothing worse than a fake smile. A sincere smile portrays friendliness and trust. You may be working on their site for days or weeks, so if you look unhappy it can form an uncomfortable environment.

In most cases the end price is not what sways the customer into accepting a quote. For a job acceptance they need to know that you know, what you a talking about. Being hesitant or indifferent in your approach is not a good sign for them. If the client has a question, you need to have the answer straight away. If you ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ it’s showing a lack of knowledge on your part.

4. A bit of charm doesn’t hurt and is another good way to build good will in a relationship between you and a client. Listen to what they are saying and expand on it. For instance, if they mention they have just come back from a holiday, be honestly interested and ask questions about it. People love to talk about their experiences and it can ease any tension between you. (A word of warning though; don’t overdo the charm, or pry as it could backfire on you).

3. A good smile can break the ice on any meeting but unfortunate-

5. A big part of your personality is love. You need to love yourself, love what you are doing, love life and love living. If you can’t do this then you are missing out on so much, and your customer will too. All these traits make up your personality and I truly believe it helps you to be a better person, tradesman and owner. Not only that, it helps you in business and helps you win jobs. The added advantage too is if a client likes you they will more likely pay you on time, be less difficult to work for and (maybe) overlook some of the minor faults in your workmanship.

It’s a win-win situation. | 41


THAT WORKS We all know advertising is very expensive, so the more free advertising we do means the more money we can save. There are different ways this can be achieved and I want to bring one to your attention because of a phone call I received recently. A prospective client wanted a quote on some internal painting and when I took all his particulars, I asked (as I always do) where they found my name. He said it was from a letter that I put in his mailbox when I was working next door. When I checked through my data base, I found it was a job I completed in 2009, that was three years ago. When I work on a particular house, I place these letters in the surrounding letter boxes.

For the houses either side and across the road I post this:

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Hi My name is Jim Baker from James W Decorating. You may have noticed that my staff and I are currently painting the house at number -----------. Please let me apologise for any inconvenience that we may cause by working near your property but we guarantee to keep noise or disruption down to a minimum. If there is a problem, or if you would like a quote yourself for painting, please feel free to let us know. Thank you

For the houses in the whole street I post this: Hi My name is Jim Baker James W Decorating. For the next few weeks, my staff and I will be painting the house at number ------- . If you would like a quote

yourself for painting, please feel free to let us know while we are in your area and I will be more than happy to come around. Please check out my web site to view testimonials, photos and our commitment. Thank you


So they kept it and three years down the track a quote came in on the strength of this letter. It goes to show that just because you may not have received many (or any) enquires from letter drops or any other types of advertising, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked. Sometimes you have to be patient.

The importance of

VEHICLE SIGNAGE How one quote led to $1.05 million of accepted jobs I have a very detailed job tracking program that I developed which shows my client base since I started my business in 1985. It collates everything from value of job, client referral information, acceptance rate, suburb comparison, and much more. Having this information is of the utmost importance for my business because it also shows me where my clients originally found my name. I will give you one example. In 1996 I was driving along the freeway in Brisbane in my clearly marked sign-written van and noticed the passenger of a car travelling beside me taking notes. That night I received a call from that person requiring a quote to paint their house they were about to sell.

Although that initial quote was only worth $8,500, it led to painting their new multi-million dollar home, which was another $24,000. The owner just happened to be a builder and I painted a few of his houses, those contracts being worth $40,000 That led to the introduction of 5 other clients which amounted to $49,100 One of them happened to be an interior decorator that then introduced me to another builder. Over a period of 17 years, I painted new and existing homes for him totaling over $615,000. As he retired a few years ago, his clients now come to me directly for quotes. They have been worth $79,100 to me. As you can see by now, over a 17 year period, a pyramid has formed of clients that I have worked for, and still working for. That one ini-

tial sighting, has led to 34 clients totaling 1.05 mil of work. This is all from an $800 sign-writing job on my work vehicle. From all this, I urge you to keep track of where your clients find you as this will show you what advertising campaigns work and don’t work. Why spend tens of thousands of dollars to promote your business if it’s not working. Although the Yellow Pages hard cover is slowly going out of fashion, I still advertise with them. Why? Because there are still people that use it. I have a $680 eight line listing which just has my basic contact details and website address. In March of this year I received a call from someone that saw that advert which led to a $55,000 job and has the potential of another $60,000 of work.

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Google Adwords Do you have an Adwords account (paid advertising on the RHS of Google)? Are you finding that you’re paying out a lot of money but there is very little, genuine calls for actual quotes? Have you noticed that you are getting an increased amount of canvasing calls? Well, you’re not alone, as many painters I talk to experience the same problem. I have recently returned from an 8 week overseas holiday and hadn’t taken any notice of how my Google advertising was performing until I received my last two accounts. Normally my monthly bill is around $150 but my September account was $270 and my October account $340, so this really concerned me. As I manage my own Google campaigns, I noticed through a search that my adverts were being ‘clicked’ on 2-3 times per day, 7 days per

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week. (Because I have a daily budget, the ‘clicks’ will not exceed this amount, which is lucky for me as my account would have been very much higher). In the time period I was away, my Google advert was clicked on around 100 times but there were only 10 potential clients that actually phoned me. How do I know this? Because every call that is received from a potential client, I ask the question, ‘Where did you find my name? So who were the other 90 people that ‘clicked’ on my advert? Immediately ‘bells’ rang as I thought there could be some illegal activity going on through my Google campaign, so I contacted the technical support line at Google to ask for help in solving the problem. This was a very well-worth 20 min chat as I learnt quite a lot from him.

He took me through certain filters to see if there was any unusual activity on my campaign. It eventually led to the ‘hour of day’ my Adword campaign was being ‘clicked’ on, and also the city it was made from. He explained that if there was a ‘cluster’ of calls made, let’s say 10 ‘clicks’ between 10am and 11am on a particular day or they were made from another country, then there would be a concern to look into. If and when this does happen, there are Google filters that recognises there is unusual activity and stops everything coming in from that IP address. Google will not charge you for any ‘clicks’ deemed to be illegitimate. In my case though, the clicks were spread through-out the day and they were made from Brisbane. So although I had all this extra knowledge it didn’t solve my immediate problem.

So why am I receiving a high ‘click rate’ but little to no calls? It suddenly dawned on me that in the period of being away, I remembered receiving an unusual amount of canvassing calls. (If you are wondering how I know about these calls if I’m away on holiday, I recently had a new digital phone system installed which transfers all voice phone messages to my email account. Technology is brilliant!!).

If a canvasser wanted to retrieve your phone number, they would first have to click on your advert to get to your web page. This has just cost you a few dollars (depending on your ‘click rate’ budget) with no potential client outcome. The technician and I talked more to see what could be done and he mentioned I could include a phone number on the immediate

campaign advert. This made perfectly good sense to me. The good news is that there is no charge to have this extra line and you can do it yourself or, you can contact Google to do it for you. This will eliminate a person having to ‘click’ on the advert just to find a phone number. Over the past few weeks, I have carefully monitored my Google account and have noticed that my ‘click’ rate has dropped dramatically. As I said, ‘A well worth 20 min chat.’

You can reach Google by calling 1800 287850 Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm Sydney time. You will need to enter your Customer ID to get through to them and you will also need to be signed into your Adwords account during the call.

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A CLIENT BASE There is no doubt that working for a builder is the simplest way of having consistent work flowing in; once job finishes, and the next begins. It certainly has its benefits, however, you may find yourself working for cut throat prices, often forcing you to produce work at a lesser quality than you would if you had more control. If you are taking the leap and starting out in business for yourself, then this is the time to establish yourself, creating a Client Base as you may not yet have built up a referral network which can see your business thrive. NEW BUSINESS OPERATORS By the time you have spent out money for your vehicle, equipment, registrations and insurances etc, there is most probably very little left for expensive advertising. So the problem is how do you get your name out there so clients can call you?

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Here’s a few tips in effectively creating your client database: 1. Create a contact list by writing down the names of every person you know; eg, family, friends, relatives, work colleagues. 2. Now make a list of people you don’t know but can make contact with; eg, neighbours (not just next door but extend to a few blocks away) and your business suppliers. 3. Join Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social media networks and gather as many contacts possible. 4. Finally, compose a letter introducing yourself and your new company and that you’re requiring work (you can maybe give a discount for the first 10 callers). Now send this letter out by Australia Post, email or on the social network sites to all the people in your list.

ESTABLISHED BUSINESS OPERATORS If you partly or fully work for individual clients and do very little for builders, then you could have up to 50 clients per year that you could utilise for future advertising. These clients either found you through your advertising campaigns or they were recommended to you from another client. As you have spent valuable time and money to find them and they have gained your trust as a painter, they can now be used as a valuable source to expand your client base. The biggest mistake you can ever make is forgetting all about your

clients when the job is completed. If this has been the case, then go back through all your records and retrieve as much information as you can. You have produced an excellent paint job (hopefully) so they would be more than happy to have you back or recommend you to others. Use this information to your advantage. All you have to do is make a courtesy call after 1, 2, 5 and 10 years to see how the paintwork is holding up. Maybe you can offer them a free paint inspection or a free house wash (depending on the original cost of the project).

2. Create a website.

You would be surprised how many people forget, ‘Who painted our house?’ and are pleased that you contacted them. I have won many jobs this way and all it takes is a phone call. It is also a good way to update your new database as people do move house or change their contact details. If they don’t require any painting themselves, ask them to recommend you to others and maybe offer a spotters fee for their trouble.

3. Vehicle signage.

Remember, creating leads from an existing client base does not require any costly advertising.

4. Letter box drop.

How else should you get your name out there? 1. Invest in some business cards.

These can cost as little as $50-$150 for a 1000. Take them wherever you go and give them to people you meet. If they are in business themselves, request their card and send a follow-up introductory email. These can also be left at community based notice boards, paint supply outlets and hardware stores.

There are sites where you can put one together yourself. It is basic but free. (try googling Weebly, Doodlekit, Wix... experiment.) or invest in your business and seek testimonials for small business web designers. A-frames. These are excellent for job sites and are very effective. You can leave them overnight for people to see when they drive by after you have finished for the day. They range from about $100-$150. As your work vehicle is always moving around from job to job, I suggest the investing in magnetic door signs. These can be purchased for under $200 for two. When you can afford it, have your vehicle professionally sign-written. This form of advertising has given me $1.1 million of accepted quotes (directly and indirectly) since 1986, so to me it has been a very worthwhile investment. When you are on a site, make sure you put your introductory letter in the letter boxes in that street advising you are in the area (give the house number). If they require a quote they can pop in or give you a call. 5. Free or low cost internet sites to advertise.

Your paint supplier or industry representative may have an area where you can place your business name and details. Try organisations you belong to, eg, Aussie Painters Network, MPA, Green Painters, etc.

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The value of

SPONSORSHIP Do you have children? Do you play sport? Are you involved in a community group? Do you go to church? Are you a member of a club? All the above have potential job leads for your business. There are many ways to advertise. You don’t have to rely on Google, Yellow Pages, Online Trade Sites, referrals or vehicle signage alone. Diversify a little and try some sponsorship. By this, I don’t mean handing over money for an advert in a newsletter or a diary. I have found that this does not really generate any leads. For sponsorship to work effectively, you have to be involved by donating some of your own time. When our two sons were only seven years old we introduced them to basketball. Because my wife and I attended all their games, we were happy to donate our time in the helping and running of the association. We truly believe that by being a part of your children’s activities, it will have a positive out-

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come in their growing up. They are 21 and 25 years of age now and we feel that this philosophy worked as they have turned out to be excellent young adults (as parents we may be slightly biased on our opinion). An effective method to advertise your business through a club or organisation is to fundraise, which could be in the way of a sausage sizzle. It may cost you $150-$200 but so what? Let people know who you are and what your business is all about. Have your sign displayed and hand out your business cards. You will be doing two important things; raising funds for the club (which people will respect you for) and raising awareness of your business. Another way to promote yourself that I found very effective was to raffle a free paint job. Supply material and eight or sixteen hours of your labour for any paint project the winner requires. This could be enough to paint one room. The exposure of selling tickets to hundreds of people is worth much more than the cost you will have to outlay.

The time I did this, a great deal of excitement developed from the ticket purchasers and people were talking about it for weeks. There is also the chance of the winner wanting more work done as well (which is one of the reasons for doing this). Since 2001 through this one club we belonged to, I have quoted $351,000 worth of work with $168,000 of that being accepted. This was all from meeting people directly and indirectly from it. In total sponsorship money that it cost me in that time would have been less than $3,000. If you look at it, it’s very cheap advertising; on average around $230 a year! So on a closing thought let me ask you one question! Do you take much notice of a fixed sign or banner? Nine times out of ten I would say you wouldn’t. But if someone was next to that sign, promoting themselves and their business, helping a good cause by raising funds, would you take notice then? Definitely!

Trace My Business Written and Developed by Jim Baker

Trace My Business will keep a record of ALL your clients. It collects the basic information like their contact details, job description and client notes but the beauty of this program is that it also tracks

• • • •

Where the referral came from

The quote success and failure rates

Suburb comparisons

The different advertising campaigns (what works and what doesn’t)

First projects vs repeat business

New vs existing revenue and projects

Yearly and overall client revenue

• Growth analysis

Projects, who referred them, and the referrals they subsequently provided

This is a brand new online product and like my other programmes, it is accessible on any computer or smart phone just by using your email address and password. So for the low cost of $14.50 a month, you will be able to access all your clients and where they found you, monitor what advertising campaigns are working and what are not, but best of all, have these records available to a new purchaser when you want to sell your business.

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WORKPLACE SAFETY What is your staff worth to you? The reason for me writing this article is that recently one of my apprentices that I mentor told me that his boss did not regard safety as a priority. For example, the employees are made to work on 16 foot trestles using only one plank with no use of safety rails. He said to me they could easily be more productive if they had that reassurance of a rail behind them. I know for myself it only takes 15 minutes to set up a handrail system, so why take the risk and why take short-cuts in safety just to save a few dollars? As a business owner, no matter what size, it is your responsibility to guarantee that all measures are taken to protect your employees from any work-place hazards. This not only shows them that you’re looking after their well-being but it reduces the chances of an accident happening leading to costly Work-Cover expenses. Also, if they feel safe on a work-site, their work output will definitely increase. A good idea is to organise tool-box or safety meetings during the year to keep up-to-date on prospective

dangers that may exist on a work site. Also make sure you have a proper documented work safety policy for each job. If your work sites are similar from job to job (eg, new or existing residential properties) then you can write up a generic copy mentioning the normal hazards on a site. All you have to do then is add any other potential hazards that may exist. If you are a member of Aussie Painters Network, you can download the work method statements for free. NB: It is a legal requirement to have these in place as fines could be incurred if you do not. Even if you don’t have employees, you still have to ensure that your business is aware of the on-site health and safety problems for your customers and the general public. The last thing you want is a client suing you for an accident caused by you for not taking the necessary precautions. It only takes a split second for someone to trip or fall but would only take a few minutes to eliminate the problem in the first place.

Also, don’t think that just because you are covered that it won’t cost you anything either, there are still fees you have to pay when you make a claim which can be quite substantial. But if you can eliminate accidents and injuries in the workplace, your Workers Compensation premium will decrease and save you money. So safety is critical to the success of running a business and knowing and understanding the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) laws will help you to avoid the unnecessary cost and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness. To me, it is a ‘no-brainer’. Look after yourself and your staff by spending a little time on safety and you can save yourself a heap of money.

Remember: There is no profit to be made when an employee is off on compo. | 51


How do you market yourself? Do you do anything differently from other painting companies? Do you even give it much thought? Recently I was fortunate enough to meet Ron Chapman from Ron & Robin Painters and Decorators, a ‘gay’ company based in Melbourne. Ron says ‘Being gay is an advantage in the painting and decorating business’. When Ron goes to quote a job, he ‘camps it up’ a bit and makes it clear he is gay. This makes the women feel more comfortable and apparently, the husbands, more at ease. They proudly display their ‘rainbow flag’, (which is the symbol of ‘gaydom’) from their work vehicles.

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Ron and his partner Robin Ganser, started their business in 1990 in Melbourne by targeting the gay community. They continued this for years and then discovered there was a much bigger market called the ‘heterosexual’ community. Their business is thriving and to date they have put through nine apprentices. Victoria Waring, from MsFix about-ms-fix is another company that cleverly promotes her ‘all-girl’ organisation. Women in painting can be a great asset often being meticulous and having an understanding of what a female client wants. An award winning painter, Victoria is on

the Dulux Accredited Advisory Board and has been featured in many publications including the Highlife magazine. As you can see, both companies have a ‘point of difference’ and they promote it to the fullest. If you do something that is different, or you specialise in a particular area - wallpapering, texturing, driveway stencilling, etc, then use it to your advantage. There are thousands of companies that advertise; so how do you get a customer to choose you? Stand out from the crowd, distinguish yourself in a great way, and back yourself up with great skills and professionalism.

Competitive Advantage

and Unique Selling Points Since being in business for myself, there has always been that awareness of the competition, but I have never thought of them as a threat or felt the need to keep up, because, in fact, I feel I have always managed to keep slightly ahead. My skills and capabilities as a painter and business operator have developed over a period of over forty years. Besides extensive practical skills, my most relied upon skill is the ease with which I communicate with potential clients for the first time; a selling point that relies on acute listening skills, affirmative communication, quick and informative responses to queries and swift attention to problems. To market the business successfully to a prospective client means that I have to sell myself and the service I have to offer. Confidence in both must be instilled in the customer in the first phone call or first personal contact with them. Some of the concepts that are key to a successful customer relationship are: Customer trust and satisfaction. A customer is seeking a tradesperson who they can trust to be on their property, in most cases without supervision, and someone they can

rely on to start and finish the project without any hassles. Keeping good-working relationships with clients means keeping them happy, keeping them informed and results in keeping them coming back. These are the elements that make for a contented client, and creating a balance of these elements as they apply. Quality workmanship. Quality of workmanship is reliant on our work practices and the premium materials used. Quality materials. We use products of the highest quality, specifically those of the Dulux brand, and strictly adhere to their recommendations and specifications in order to further ensure quality work. Reliability. Reliability means turning up on time. It is common decency if we are running late to a meeting or to the job a phone call and a sincere apology will always precede our arrival. Speaking to clients for over twenty five years has shown me that many business operators are reluctant to do this. Reliability also ensures that jobs are run smoothly and customers are treated with the respect that they deserve.

workers. There are no sub-contractors used. The advantage of this is that I can personally and directly account for all the work produced. Environmental awareness. Our environmental awareness extends to the environmentally sensitive materials and the paints we use and our innovative methods of waste disposal. I mention to the client our cleaning process of our brushes and rollers using the Dulux Envirowash cleaning system. I explain to them the reason for this process and they are generally happy for my concern for the environment. The products I use are thoroughly explained with the emphasis on environmentally friendly VOC paints. Detailed quotes. Provide concise but thorough written explanation of work to be performed, commitment and length of warranty. If you follow these steps also, you will gradually see a continual flow of work coming in either from repeat customers or from recommendations.

Remember: You need to be good in painting but you have to be exceptional in your service Internal reliance. Internal reliance and what you have to offer. means that I only ever use my own

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Graffiti Solution A few years ago I was invited by Dulux and The Master Painters Association to give a talk in Wellington, New Zealand to a group of painters on the ‘True Costings in Business’. I was one of many speakers over a five day course. In the two days I was there I was fortunate enough to have a bit of spare time to look around the capitol city. It brought back many fond memories as I lived and worked there as a painter for eleven months in 1975. Although a very pretty city, the one thing that unfortunately stood out to me this time was the graffiti or ‘tagging’ on many of the buildings. I know kids want to make their ‘mark’ and think it is ‘cool’ to do this, but to me I just can’t understand the logic. It’s unsightly and has no artistic merit to it at all.

My wife and I have travelled to many countries around the world and regretfully, graffiti is everywhere, but the one town we couldn’t see any sign of it was a little place called Chamainus. It is situated between a mountain range and the ocean, about 90 kilometres north of Victoria

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on Vancouver Island, Canada. Founded as a logging industry in 1858 and then later mining and fishing, it gave work to many Chinese who worked in “bull gangs” moving huge lumber planks to the ships and later worked on the Trans Canada Railroad. Japanese and east Indians blended their cultures with Scots and Germans looking for riches in the mines and staying to work in the forests and on fishing boats. The beautiful Cowichan Valley has been the home of The Original First Nations peoples and their ancestors for countless generations, whose history and lives have been interwoven since those first white settlers came to the area.

When the lands’ natural resources failed to provide all the necessities of life in the early 1980’s, a new vision for the future evolved with the inventive people of Chemainus. That vision was to encompass the idea of giant outdoor wall murals in a revitalization strategy. This vision has earned Chemainus worldwide fame through the

hands of artists as a memorable tourist venue. The 39 murals which have been painted on the sides of buildings has given birth to many businesses including a theatre, antique dealers and eateries. You may notice as I have, that people who like to ‘tag’ will never paint over top of someone else’s artwork as they respect what has been achieved (at least they have some sort of conscience!). This is why the town is free from graffiti.

Painting over, or graffiti removal is a huge cost to Government and private enterprise. Maybe murals are the answer to some of the problems. If a factory wall is constantly ‘tagged’, why not employ an artist to create a picture or even use it as an advertising ‘billboard’. I’m quite sure, Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s or a paint company would jump at the chance and pay for the work. Could this be a profitable sideline business for someone?

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WHISPERER Although progress, technology and social media baffles me some time, Facebook can be a great place to meet new people. I was on an English group site called ‘Brothers of the Brush’ a few months back and I struck up a conversation with a painter. After a day or two, I found out he was actually a paper hanger who lives about 25 kilometres from me in Brisbane (small world). After seeing his website and photos of some of the work he had completed, I just had to write a story on his business. Lee Whiter and his wife Lucy and have been trading for four years under the name of IWI (I Wallpaper Interiors) in Brisbane. They have 3 young children and a small painting team. They pride themselves on bringing high end quality to every job they do and take on all wallpaper installation and specialty projects large and small, residential and commercial. Lee began his Painting and Decorating apprenticeship in England in 1990 and found he had the knack for wallpapering. He worked for many years in the U.K. renovating top hotels such as ‘The Athenaum’, ‘Park Lane’, ‘The Grove’, ‘The Savoy’

and ‘The Cavendish’. There he learnt how to work with textures such as velvet and other luxury fabric wallpapers. Lee says, ‘In 2007 I moved to Brisbane and found the painting industry here lacking in skilled wallpaper hangers and I decided to specialise in what I love most. We have been working up to the high end hotel market which we are now doing more and more of. Another great product new to the market we have been installing lately is ‘Woodwall’. It is a wood veneer that is installed like wallpaper and is great for commercial areas’. Lee mentions that, ‘Custom made murals are very popular and can be made in any size. The longest continual roll of wallpaper I have installed was 29m long! This was a non-woven metallic wallpaper hung on a ‘ceiling coffer’ at the East Leagues Club’ (see link). au/2014/11/10/longest-roll-wallpaper-ceiling-installed/

‘The largest commercial wallpaper suppliers in Australia are ‘Baresque’ and ‘Hume International’ Lee says.

‘In the residential market we find there is a huge variance. People will spend anything from $80 a roll to$400 a roll. From our standpoint, the better quality papers go up easier and give a better finish. The most expensive wallpaper I have ever hung was $2000 a roll and the most expensive job was $157 per M2 which was a velvet fabric with gold leafing as the pattern. Today non-woven paper is the most used paper and murals are the most popular design feature’. ‘I Wallpaper Interiors’ are getting busier and busier as interior designers and architects are using wallpaper in their designs more and more. ‘Customers want the texture, uniqueness and the luxurious look that wallpaper brings’. If you are in the Brisbane area and a client wants some wallpaper hung and you are not experienced enough to do the job, don’t turn it down, pass it on to Lee Whiter.

Check out their website at www.iwallpaperinteriors.

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Business Awards The Benefits of Entering Many people do not realise the value of submitting an entry in an awards event. All too frequently business owners are so overwhelmed with the dayto-day running of their company, they do not get a chance to look outside the box. But from a business perspective, it does make very good sense and comes with a range of potential advantages. Entering awards gives you a new perspective on your business and can identify your strength and weaknesses that you would not normally recognise. The process can also show you the areas required for improvement when comparing yourself to the competition. The application process in most cases though can be time consuming and quite challenging. If you find you can’t answer the questions sufficiently or have inadequate support documents, use it as inspiration to do better in your next submission. You will find you’ll be more prepared and entering will be less stressful. The judging process meanwhile, can be thought of as a

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benchmarking process. Judges will consider your application in comparison with other companies and depending on the nature of the awards that you have entered, the companies are likely to be of a similar size and in a similar field. What they look for in a submission is innovation, growth, diversity, strategic thinking and the focus you have on your customers. Winning of course also brings its own advantages, as reputable business awards can generate significant amounts of publicity which can have a direct and dramatic impact on your business. Just as importantly, winning a business award can be a powerful way of differentiating you from your competitors. It can improve your brand awareness, boost employee motivation and provide a real competitive advantage when seeking or retaining customers. You may even find it easier to attract high quality staff as a result of your success. While winning is your main goal, there are still benefits of entering business awards even

if your company just makes the finalist round. You should be proud of this achievement and promote it to the fullest.

THE BENEFITS Marketing & PR Awards celebrate hard work and success and it is a great opportunity to put your business in the spotlight and have your achievements acknowledged. If you include them in your promotional flyers, website and stationary material, customers will be impressed that you have been recognised by an independent panel of respected business leaders. It will give your company an increased creditability when speaking to new customers and provide that competitive advantage over your rivals. For example, if a customer receives three quotes and are all offering the same as yourself, they will inevitably choose you over another company because of the recognition you have been rewarded for.

Being associated with a business awards event can provide great PR opportunities during the preevent promotion and after the event. Make sure you contact your local newspaper about it as they love this type of news item.

A chance to reflect on your business The application process for entering business awards represents a great opportunity to review and take stock of your business. Applying for an award is also a good opportunity to practice your selling skills as you will need to make sure you stand out from the competition in your specific category. As well as reviewing the past and present activities, an application process will also give you the opportunity to think about the future direction of the business and set goals to be achieved. You should also use the entry process as a business health check. By forcing you to compare yourself to your competitors, it will show how your business is going and help you to identify the areas where you need to develop a better way of doing things.

also a great way of celebrating your achievements as a team, and will also provide excellent networking opportunities. Get to meet people that can influence you You can meet some incredible people at business awards. Government officials, heads of major corporations, celebrities and of course, people like yourself. Functions like these are always in a relaxed atmosphere where you can network and swap ideas. Take your best clients or supporters of your business (bank manager maybe!)

Building team morale

This is where you can invite the people that have helped your business through the previous year (or years). Treating them out to a fancy function with dinner, wine and entertainment, will be highly appreciated and will stay in their minds and talked about long after the event. They will see the effort you have put into your business and will value your success in being a Finalist, or hopefully a Winner and continue to support you in the future.

Succeeding in business requires a team effort and picking up an award gives recognition to your staffs’ contribution to the businesses success. This is invaluable in terms of boosting morale and making employees feel proud of the company and their contribution. Involving your staff with the submission will create a positive work environment and help them to see ways to improve themselves and feel positive.

Write it off as a tax deduction I have been entering awards since 2002 and it’s taken me to many cities around Australia. The best thing is, I can claim all the expenses through my business. It’s a great excuse to get away for a few days and wind down from the hassle of work. My wife and I treat ourselves to staying at luxury hotels and it also gives her an excuse to buy a new outfit.

If you are shortlisted, taking your team to the awards ceremony is

Deciding which business award to enter is a matter of weighing up

the time an entry will take against the potential gain in terms of how reputable the organisation running the award program is and how much publicity it will generate for your business. Look at the websites for local councils, chambers of commerce, construction and trade awards and the large companies that sponsor these events like Telstra, Optus and some of the financial institutes. Entering a small-business award usually involves nominating yourself on the awarding body’s website, so don’t be afraid to do so. Awards I have participated in look impressive on my website and LinkedIn profile: • Dulux Accredited Painter of the Year Finalist 2004 • Dulux Accredited Painter of the Year Winner (Qld) 2006 • Optus MyBusiness Award Finalist 2008 • Telstra Business Award Finalist (Qld) 2011 • Dulux Accredited Business Professional Finalist 2011 • Construction Apprenticeship Mentoring Scheme Mentor 2014 • Construction Skills Queensland Professional of the Year Finalist 2014 • Optus MyBusiness Award Finalist 2016 Nominations are usually towards the beginning of the year, so start putting something together about your business now in readiness of the submission process.

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APPRENTICES I am really passionate about the benefits of employing an apprentice. I get so annoyed when painters say to me, ‘I can’t find any decent tradespeople’. When I mention they should take on an apprentice, the story is always the same, ‘I can’t commit to it’, I don’t know if I’ll have enough work for them’, ‘They cost too much’, ‘I need someone that can paint now’ or ‘I haven’t got the time to train them’. Employers! Look at the future benefits of having someone working for you that you have trained. I have made sure my apprentices were proficient on the brush after a few months. You don’t keep them sanding or sweeping the floor for 12 months or longer; it’s a waste of resources and is not beneficial for you or fair to them. The commitment and time in training is negligible. 99% of apprentices are keen to learn and if taught well, will pick it up quickly and be financially viable to you. The cost? There are so many Government Incentives available that it really doesn’t have to cost you anything. Training: There are other options from just block training these days so you don’t end up without your apprentice for great

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length of time. Some Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) are running flexible training solutions that can assist the employer in keeping the apprentice on the job for part of the training that is required. If you are looking for that option here is a link to a List of RTO’s. CAMS: The Construction Apprenticeship Mentoring Scheme, can also assist with qualified mentors (like myself) to help you with your apprentice. Check out the CAMS article for more info.

The hourly wage for an apprentice: (As different states have varying awards, the rates below are an approximate only). 1st Year- $ 8.30 2nd Year- $11.30 3rd Year- $15.10 4th Year- $18.00 The average travelling time for an apprentice: 1st-4th Year $14.20 (per day average). The cost to you: There are 260 working days in a year. Of those 260 days, there are 20 annual leave days, 10 sick days, 10 public holidays and 13 rostered days off. There are also 15 weeks of college training over

the 4 years which relates to 18.75 days per year. Therefore an apprentice is actually only at work for 188.25 days of the year. When you take all this into consideration and also the inclusion of superannuation, holiday loading and workers compensation, the cost to you for employing an apprentice per hour on 260 days is; 1st Year- $10.36 2nd Year- $13.68 3rd Year- $17.96 4th Year- $21.19 If you have trained your apprentice correctly, then in their 3rd and 4th year, they should be producing between 70-95% of a tradespersons output. So, why do I employ apprentices? My first apprentice started with me 17 years ago and he is now a supervisor for the Ipswich City Council in the Painting & Decorating division. The other seven still work either full time or part time for me; one of them as Supervisor. He has helped me train all my staff and looks after the running of my business when I am away. To me, that is a ‘Win-Win’ situation.

Do you have an


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PROSTATE CANCER Every year, around 18,700 Australian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 3,000 die of the disease, making it the second largest cause of male cancer deaths, after lung cancer. Almost one man in eleven will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime. Frightening statistics aren’t they? Well guess what? I recently found out that I am that One in that Eleven. So, I am writing this article in the hope it will make men more aware of the possibility of Prostate Cancer. Too many of us avoid the subject and are afraid to talk about it. We should have regular checks just as women do for breast cancer. Caught in its early stages whilst still confined to the prostate gland, prostate cancer can be cured.

check which was in August 2013, it showed my PSA had risen above normal; (Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the prostate and found in the blood). The doctor recommended me to a Urologist where a prostate examination revealed some swelling. A biopsy followed and cancer was found; but because it was detected in its early stages, the urologist and I can now decide what measures to take. Although I am a devastated that this happening to me, I am certainly glad I found out now, rather than in five or ten years when it would be too late to be cured.

So what is a Prostate? Information and images sourced from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia The Prostate is an organ forming part of the male reproductive system. It is located immediately below the bladder and just in front of the bowel. Its main function is to produce fluid which protects and enriches sperm. In younger men the prostate is about the size of a walnut. It is doughnut shaped as it surrounds the beginning of the urethra, the tube that conveys urine from the bladder to the penis. The nerves that control erections also surround the prostate.

If you have any symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have Prostate Cancer. It could be a number of other things that can also be treated. In my case I only found out from my yearly health

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All can have similar symptoms, which may include one or more of the following: • Waking frequently at night to urinate • Sudden or urgent need to urinate • Difficulty in starting to urinate • Slow flow of urine and difficulty in stopping • Discomfort when urinating • Painful ejaculation • Blood in the urine or semen • Decrease in libido (sex urge) • Reduced ability to get an erection

Most men tend to accept the onset of one or more of these symptoms as being a natural consequence of ageing. However, anyone experiencing any of the above symptoms is advised to consult a doctor without delay. Early expert diagnosis and treatment is important and may avert potentially serious health consequences.

Prostate cancer Prostate Cancer is the only one of the four disorders that is potentially life-threatening. One of the most worrying aspects is that many prostate cancers develop without men experiencing ANY SYMPTOMS. Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells of the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than in a normal prostate, causing a swelling or tumour. However, unlike BPH, prostate cancer cells eventually break out of the prostate and invade distant parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes, producing secondary tumours, a process known as metastasis. Once the cancer escapes from the prostate, treatment is possible but “cure” becomes impossible.


Prostate cancer is usually one of the slower growing cancers. In the past, it was most frequently encountered in men over 70, and many of those men died of other causes before their prostate cancer could kill them. This led to the old saying “most men die with, not of, prostate cancer”. However, that certainly is not true today. Three developments have changed things considerably: • Men are living longer, giving the cancer more time to spread beyond the prostate, with potentially fatal consequences. • More men in their early sixties, fifties and even forties are being detected with prostate cancer. Earlier on-set, combined with the greater male life expectancy, means those cancers have more time to spread and become life-threatening unless diagnosed and treated. • Prostate cancer in younger men often tends to be more aggressive and hence more life-threatening within a shorter time. All men should be aware of their risk of the disease and consider being tested for it regularly from age 50 onwards, or from 40 onwards if there is a family history of prostate cancer. Testing through a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test and Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and subsequent prostate biopsy is currently the best available way to detect the presence of cancer.

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essarily mean prostate cancer is present as there are other medical conditions that can lead to a PSA result outside the normal range.


The result of a PSA test needs expert evaluation by an experienced doctor. As a general rule, the higher the PSA result the greater the chance that prostate cancer is present. Where cancer is present, the PSA can predict the volume of disease. Where the PSA is less than 10, the cancer is commonly confined to the prostate. If the PSA is above 30, it is very likely the cancer has spread beyond the prostate and is therefore less likely to be curable.

The PSA blood test looks for the presence in the blood of a protein that is produced specifically by prostate cells called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The presence of an elevated PSA does not nec-

If your test reveals a slightly elevated PSA, your doctor may recommend the test be repeated from time to time to establish the rate of change, if any, before recommending a biopsy.

Men should make an individual informed decision about testing based on the latest available evidence on the benefits and potential harms of testing and subsequent treatment for prostate cancer, however It can be life threatening to wait for symptoms to appear before seeking assessment. We Men may think sometimes that we’re invincible and that nothing like this will happen to us. I hope this article has got you thinking about it. All it takes is that one appointment with your doctor for a simple blood test. Get a full health check while you’re there!

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The Specialist Art of

SIGNWRITING Forty-Five years have now passed since I began my painting career and it made me think of the modules that are taught to the apprentices of today. When I look back there’s really not much difference from all those years ago. One subject that has been dropped from the curriculum though is Signwriting. I remember when we, as apprentices, had to signwrite our name on our assigned cubicle as part of the apprenticeship course. This entailed writing your name in block letters onto tracing paper followed by punching holes around the outside of the letters with a Pounce Wheel. The tracing paper was then placed on the wall and chalk was pushed through the holes using a Pounce Bag. This left a dotted outline of the lettering onto the wall which you could then fill in using signwriting brushes. Now, it is becoming a forgotten art as digital printing and vinyl wrapping has taken its’ place. A shame really because there’s still a need for it in some cases.

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Mahlstick A Mahlstick was used to aid the balance of the signwriters hand to keep the fingers away from the wet paint. The soft rounded end, which was usually padded chamois or rubber-tipped, was placed outside the work and away from any wet paint. Brushes For fine lettering, long sable hair brushes with a chisel edge were used. They came in different sizes and width depending on the type of lettering. These particular brushes needed to be kept in good condition and cleaned thoroughly after each use. It was best if they were kept greased after use to preserve their shape and prevent any residual paint caking. Normal paint brushes could be used for larger lettering.

Palette This was similar to an artist’s palette. The brush was dipped in the paint then shaped on the palette and could be cleaned quickly in solvent after use. Measuring Tools These can consist of a retractable steel tape measure, a tailor’s cloth measure, or a ruler. Other tools used were a square, compass, protractor, straight edge, a plumbline and spirit level.

Marking Tools Chalk, charcoal, crayons and pencils were used for setting out work. Soft graphite pencils were good for freehand drawing on paper, hard pencils were better for tracings and technical pencils were best for precision work. Wax pencils or water-soluble crayons were generally used for marking and setting out on painted surfaces or glass. String impregnated with chalk was used for snapping long straight lines, commonly the top and bottom of a line of lettering. Lining Wheel A lining wheel could produce very sharp painted lines, such as those seen on fine coachwork.

pounce bag was applied. This left an outline of the work to be painted. A wheel was more likely to be used off-site as part of the drawing preparation. Pounce Bag A pounce bag is a piece of suitably permeable cloth, tied with string, containing powdered chalk or charcoal. The pouncing method was very accurate and used the least amount of time on site when working with a prepared drawing.

Thankfully this old method of signwriting is still used; being applied to custom built cars and trucks and anywhere customers prefer this than to digital printing. So, whilst there is still a demand, it is slowly becoming a very specialist trade and modern practitioners likely employ a multimedia approach combining new and old methods to stay viable.

Pounce Wheel This was used to perforate a drawing so that chalk or charcoal would pass through the holes when a

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GILDING It was only when my wife and I began watching the series of ‘War and Peace’ on the BBC recently, that it brought back fond memories of our trip to St. Petersburg in 2014. One of the scenes was shot in the ‘Great Hall’ (fig. 1) at St. Catherine’s Palace (fig. 2) and we were astounded by the amount of Gold Leaf that was applied in this one room. The art of ‘Gilding’ dates back 5,000 years and is the application of applying a layer of gold onto a surface of a less rare metal or substrate. This at the time was not very satisfactory because of the problem with ‘overlapping’ of the gold. The method of gilding with foil developed in two ways. First the foil became thinner and thinner which could be correctly called gold leaf; secondly when attaching the edges of the leaves,

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they were inserted into grooves which were cut into the surface rather than being overlapped. Because gold leaf is insufficiently strong to support its own mass, new methods of attaching it to the substrate had to be developed. The obvious way was to use an adhesive and this method is still used today. The building of the Palace began in 1717 on the wishes of Catherine I of Russia and was a simple two story structure, but in 1752 Catherine’s daughter, Empress Elizabeth, asked her Italian architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish it and replace it with a much grander edifice. The construction lasted for four years and on 30 July 1756 the brandnew 325-meter-long palace was completed. On the exterior of the building everything that is painted in

a deep olive colour, (cornices, pillars, caryatids) were then gilt and on the roof of white tinned iron stood a gilt wooden balustrade also decorated with gilded wooden figures and vases. It was even rumoured that the palace’s roof was constructed entirely of gold. Overall, the amount of Gold Leaf that was used is staggering. On the exterior alone, more than 100 kilograms of gold were used. The ‘Great Hall’ was intended as a formal apartment and used for important receptions such as balls, formal dinners and masquerades and was painted in two colors and covers an area of approximately 1,000 square metres. It occupies the entire width of the palace. The windows on the eastern side look out onto the park while the windows of the western side look out to the palace plaza.

There are 696 lamps on fifteen chandeliers located near the mirrors which are all covered with Gold Leaf. Devastation struck in 1941 when the palace was ransacked and used as barracks for the German forces. When they retreated in 1944 after the siege of Leningrad, they intentionally destroyed the residence leaving only the hollow shell behind (fig. 3). The ‘Great Hall’, the ‘Picture Gallery’ and the ‘Gala Staircase’ (fig. 4) had all but collapsed. The ‘Amber Room’ had been stripped and the ‘Gala Rooms’ gutted by a fire.

Fortunately prior to the war, Soviet archivists managed to document a fair amount of the interior which proved of great importance in reconstructing the palace). It is amazing when you look at the damage that was caused that it could be brought back to look like the original. In order to attract the funds for the restoration, the palace’s administration had leased the ‘Grand Hall’ for such high-profile events as Sir Elton John’s concert for an elite audience in 2001 and an exclusive party in 2005 featuring the likes of Bill

Clinton, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Naomi Campbell and Sting. While taking in all the sights of St. Petersburg and touring numerous buildings that were owned by the Zsars, you can understand why there were only two classes of people in those days. They were the ‘poor’ and the insanely ‘rich’. There was no expense spared in the construction and in the lavish furnishings of the interiors that made up the residences. Today, the application of Gold Leaf is a profitable business for those that can apply it. It is used in Government Buildings, Theatres and High-end private residencies. If you can master this specialist technique, it would be a great skill to add to your repertoire!Cea non porepere est, quamusciet verionet utempor reperum quis simus, o

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SHIP PAINTING in the 1600’s One of the most interesting museums I have ever been to is located in Stockholme. It houses the Swedish Warship called the Vasa (or Wasa). The ship foundered and sank after sailing about 1,300 metres into her maiden voyage on 10th August 1628. She fell into obscurity after most of her valuable bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17th century until she was located again in the late 1950s in a busy shipping lane just outside the Stockholm harbour. The museum attracts over 1,000,000 visitors a year and I can understand why. The sheer size of the complex is amazing as the ship is completely enclosed inside the building. This is for climate control and to help reduce future decaying of the timber. It can be viewed at six levels from her keel to the very top of the stern castle. There are also numerous exhibits and models portraying the construction, sinking, location and recovery of the ship. What amazed me mostly was how brightly coloured the ship was painted. As was the custom with warships at the time, Vasa was decorated with around 500 sculptures intended to glorify the authority, wisdom

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and martial prowess of the monarch and also to deride, taunt and intimidate the enemy. The sculptures made up a considerable part of the effort and cost of building the ship. It took a team of at least six expert sculptors who worked for a minimum of two years on the sculptures, most likely with the assistance of an unknown number of apprentices and assistants. Many of the figures are in Dutch grotesque style, depicting fantastic and frightening creatures, including mermaids, wild men, sea monsters and tritons. The decoration inside the ship is much sparser and is largely confined to the steerage and the great cabin at the after end of the upper gun-deck. Residues of paint had been found on many sculptures and on other parts of the ship. The entire ornamentation was once painted in vivid colors which consisted of around 20 different pigments. The sides of the beakhead (the protruding structure below the bowsprit), the bulwarks (the protective railing around the weather deck), the roofs of the quarter galleries and the background of the transom (the flat surface at the stern

of the ship) were all painted red, while the sculptures were decorated in bright colors and the dazzling effect of these was in some places emphasized with gold leaf.

The history and the sad ending The Vasa was built on the orders of the King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus as part of the military expansion he initiated in a war with Poland-Lithuania (1621– 1629). She was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and topheavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. When put into the water for the first time, the Vasa set sail under the lee of the bluffs to the south.

A gust of wind filled her canvas sails and she heeled suddenly to port. The sheets were cast off and the ship slowly righted herself as the gust passed. At another gap in the bluffs an even stronger gust again forced the ship onto its port side, this time pushing the open lower gun-ports under the surface and allowing water to rush into the lower gun-deck. The water quickly built up on the deck which exceeded the ship’s minimal ability to right itself and water continued to pour in until it ran down into the hold. Within a short time the ship sank to a depth of 32 metres and only 120 metres from shore. Survivors clung to debris or the upper masts which were still above the surface to save themselves and many nearby boats rushed to their aid. Despite these efforts and the short distance to land, 30 people perished with the ship (according to reports). Vasa sank in full view of a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands of mostly ordinary Stockholmers who had come to see the great ship set sail. The order to sail was the result of a combination of factors. The king, who was leading the army in Poland at the time of her maiden voyage, was impatient to see her take up her station as flagship in the Stockholm Archipelago. At the same time the king’s subordinates lacked the political courage to openly discuss the ship’s structural problems or to have the maiden voyage postponed.

The inquest A letter to the king was sent the day after the loss telling him of the sinking but it took over two weeks to reach him in Poland. ‘Imprudence and negligence must have been the cause!’ he wrote angrily in his reply, demanding in no uncertain terms

that the guilty parties be punished. The Captain, who survived the disaster, was immediately taken for questioning. Under initial interrogation he swore that the guns had been properly secured. A full inquest before a tribunal of members took place. Each of the surviving officers was questioned as was the supervising shipwright and a number of expert witnesses. The object of the inquest was as much or more to find a scapegoat as to find out why the ship had sunk. Whoever the committee might find guilty for the fiasco would face a severe penalty. Surviving crew members were questioned one by one about the handling of the ship at the time of the disaster. Was it rigged properly for the wind? Were the crew sober? Was the ballast properly stowed? Were the guns properly secured? However no one was prepared to take the blame. Crewmen and contractors formed two camps; each tried to blame the other and everyone swore he had done his duty without fault and it was during the inquest that the details of the stability demonstration were revealed. Next, attention was directed to the

shipbuilders. ‘Why did you build the ship so narrow, so badly and without enough bottom that it capsized?’ The prosecutor asked the shipwright that he built the ship as directed by the original ship-builder, Henrik Hybertsson (long since dead and buried), who in turn had followed the specification approved by the king. It was in fact widened by 1 foot 5 inches after taking over responsibility of the construction, but it was too far advanced to allow any further widening. In the end, no guilty party could be found. The answer given to the court why the ship sank was, ‘Only God knows’. Gustavus Adolphus had approved all measurements and armaments and the ship was built according to the instructions and loaded with the number of guns specified. In the end, no one was punished or found guilty for negligence and the blame effectively fell on Henrik Hybertsson. So if you’re ever visiting Stockholme in the future, make sure the ‘Vasa Museum’ is on the list of places to see. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

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Electrical Boxes A large part of our time is spent on a road or a footpath, being in a vehicle, public transport, a bike, walking or jogging. We are mainly looking straight ahead and not really taking much notice of what we are passing. But every now and again something will catch our eye and we’ll take mental note of it. For me, the one thing that has always caught my eye is the colourful artwork on the sound-proof highway-barriers, lamp posts and roadside electrical boxes. At the front of my house is a small Telecom Communication Box and it has been ‘tagged’ twice in the last twelve months. You will notice that this will never happen if a surface is artistically painted. ‘Taggers’ at least have respect for an artists’ work (which is the only thing I admire them for) and is why councils pay people to paint murals on prone sites (check my June 2015 article on ‘Graffiti Solution’).

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Recently I was driving along a dual-carriageway on my way home from work and I noticed a person painting an electrical box on the other side of the road. For many years, just out of curiosity, I have always wanted to stop and strike up a conversation with the artist. As I was going in the opposite direction, I didn’t know if I should just carry on or turn around. It took me about 400 metres to make up my mind to do a U-turn. I parked and introduced myself and told him I would like to do an article about this type of work. He was more than happy to tell me all the information I needed. He was commissioned to paint this particular box with the requirement being that the design had to blend in with the local surroundings, in this case, he chose a bush theme as it was close to a parkland. He had a sign advertising he was an artist and some of his

paintings were on display. This attracted a few people in the short time I was there. It was quite a drawcard. As I looked closer, the signature on his work sounded and looked familiar, ‘Graham W. Smith.’ I suddenly realised I had one of his paintings at home which my wife and I purchased 15 years previously in a Brisbane art gallery. What a co-incidence, and I was going to drive right by. ‘Graham W Smith’ has been painting for over 40 years and has won 160 first prize awards totalling $98,000. He is also an art judge and tutor and displays his paintings in his studio in Wynnum, Queensland. Amazing where your curiosity can take you! You can see his work at

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Beach Huts It was on my recent visit to Melbourne that it reminded me of the time my wife and I went on a day trip to Mornington Peninsular many years ago. Besides the beauty of the area, what stood out in my mind were the colourful beach huts along the foreshore. This made me curious on the history and when ‘Beach Huts’ came about, so I proceeded to do what everyone does when looking for information, I ‘Googled’ it. A ‘beach hut’ (also known as a beach cabin, beach box or bathing box) is a small, usually wooden and often brightly coloured building above the high tide mark. They are usually arranged in one or more ranks on popular bathing beaches and generally used as a shelter from the sun or wind and for changing into and out of swimming costumes and for

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the safe storing of some personal belongings. Some beach huts incorporate simple facilities for preparing food and hot drinks by either bottled gas or occasionally mains electricity. The noted bathing boxes at Brighton in Australia are known to have existed as far back as 1862. The bathing boxes are thought to have been constructed and used largely as a response to the Victorian morality of the age, and are known to have existed not only in Australia but also on the beaches of England, France and Italy at around the same time. Depending upon the location, beach huts may be owned privately or may be owned by the local council or similar administrative body. On popular beaches, privately owned beach huts can command substantial

prices due to their convenient location, out of all proportion to their size and amenity. ----------------------------------------

The history ----------------------------------------

Beach huts may look pretty humble but their story is closely bound up with the history of the English seaside resorts going back more than 250 years. They had become an established feature of any would-be seaside resort, which began in Scarborough, the world’s first seaside resort located on the east Yorkshire coast. These people needed accommodation and sources of entertainment, so the modern concept of the seaside was born. Before this, no one but fishermen and smugglers used the beach.

Then doctors began to prescribe the cold sea bath as the latest ‘cure-all’ remedy, the sick went to the coast to be treated and took their families with them. It wasn’t long after this that the ‘bathing machine’ was invented to offer greater privacy to those taking a therapeutic dip. In its original form this horse drawn carriage featured an enclosed room with a collapsible hood at the seaward end to shield patients as they were submitted naked to the waves by burly attendants called ‘dippers’. In 1789 George III gave royal approval to the new fashion when he took a medicinal bath at Weymouth to the musical accompaniment of ‘God Save the King.’ These simple vehicles, designed for the use of the wealthy but infirm, were evidence of a radical new fascination with the sea. The rules designed to keep male bathing machines at a set distance from female bathing machines were probably only in force for about 30 years, less in some places, and they were routinely flouted. Before then, bathing had been a cumbersome and expensive affair. Men and women bathed on separate beaches and changing for a dip in the ocean was performed out of view in a bathing machine, which was towed a safe distance out to sea before the nervous bather took his or her plunge into the often uninvitingly cold sea water. By the 1890s the call for mixed bathing was getting stronger, not least because this was the norm in northern Europe but as well in American resorts. In the Edwardian era and in the years following

the First World War, the sight of people of both sexes in bathing costumes had become acceptable. However, changing in public was still frowned upon and could result in a fine, even if decency was preserved under a Macintosh (so called “Macintosh Bathing”). Hence councils provided and charged for beach huts to change in. In the nineteenth century, no trip to the seaside was complete without a dip in the sea from one of these bathing machines. The vehicles looked like beach huts on wheels and they could be hired for halfhour periods. Patrons would get in at the top of the beach, change out of their normal clothes as a horse pulled them towards the sea, then step directly into the water from the front of the machine. For more than 150 years this was how most bathers experienced the sea. Queen Victoria even had her own personal bathing machine built at Osbourne on the Isle of Wight. In the inter-War period, sunbathing was the new fashion as it became more acceptable for people to walk across the beach in their bathing costumes. As an alternative to the beach hut, villages of stripy changing tents were erected on the Edwardian sands and were offered for hire, along with deck chairs. Around the same time some of the bathing machines began to lose their wheels and other, purpose-built, day huts began to appear. The last of the machines disappeared with the Second World War and when the beaches had been cleared of barbed wire at the end of hostilities, the holiday makers came back in their millions.

When the bathing machine was finally dispensed with, many were left abandoned on the beach. Enterprising people then made use of the abandoned machines by removing the wheels and turning them into ‘beach huts’. The 1950s was the heyday of the beach hut and dedicated fans have been keeping up the maintenance of their huts ever since. Today there’s a clear resurgence with spiralling prices and much media interest in them. In Australia on the Mornington Peninsula, exists the largest amount of beach huts (around 1300). These are mainly on Crown Land or owned by the Local Shire. Most are passed down from generation to generation, but recently a beach hut in the historic Portsea area (one of Australia’s most expensive plots of real estate) sold at auction for a record price of $615,000. The various foreshores are managed by different ‘foreshore committees’ and sometimes the local Shire is the appointed ‘foreshore committee’. There are also certain council guidelines and licenses and rates to pay if you own one of these. It could cost anywhere up to a $1000 a year in fees; you can’t connect to mains electricity; you can’t use any form of advertising on the exterior, and most of all, you cannot live in them., They are only meant for day use.

So for a ‘box’ that may only be 9 square metres in size and cost at least $180,000 for a cheap one, you may really have to think about it first. | 75

A Story of an Immigrant

AND HIS JOURNEY INTO BUSINESS As we know, there is a growing number of people immigrating to Australia hoping to make a new life for themselves. Many are fleeing their own country because of unstable governments, war or civil unrest, and believe that there is no future for them in staying. Leaving the homeland that they love and grew up in is their only hope. Obviously there are enormous challenges to starting a new business in a new country, and many assumptions can be made about the failures and stumbling blocks encountered. It is easy to blame a lot of them on a person’s origins, and biases engrained in the people of their new home. Evidently though, these very assumptions may be what is posing limitations, not the bigotry or xenophobia that it might seem! I have been fortunate enough to meet some painters that have overcome perceived barriers and are now very successful business owners. One person in particular told me of his journey which truly fascinated

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me and I want to share his story with you. His name is Mike Feizpour from ‘Orange Painters’ in Perth, Western Australia. Originally from Iran, Mike came to Australia on his own in 2009 to help support his once wealthy family, who had encountered grave financial difficulty. With an education in Computer Engineering and the discipline gained from two years of conscripted army service, Mike also gained work experience in construction and IT before leaving Iran. Some experience in the painting industry in Iran led to Mike finding work easily in the first month of his arrival in Sydney. His plans were to study computing and software, so he was working full time during the week and attending college in the evening. Despite being alone, broke, homesick and frustrated, he pushed on ahead knowing that basically, failure was not an option. A highly competitive IT job market led Mike to continue in

painting, earning his Cert 3 in painting starting a business of his own. “After working for many companies the decision to start up on my own came on a very hot day in Perth, when I’d been working in the sun for six hours straight. I asked my supervisor if I could swap with a team member who was working in the shade. He disrespectfully refused, so I packed up my tools and left. I started my journey into business with a small two door Hyundai Excel and $500 in my pocket. Yet, what I lacked in money was made up with motivation, hope and eagerness. When I started I had very little confidence, and one reason was my vehicle! I could only fit a couple of drop-sheets, small ladder and some pots in it. This was very embarrassing, but I solved the problem. I arranged all of my quote appointments for two days in the week and instead of using my own vehicle, I hired a new Toyota Hilux! To solve the problem on the commencement of a job, I hired a fully equipped tradesman (who I paid extra) to help me set up with dropping off material and scaffold, etc.

I had many issues in my mind about the concept of race and racism. I felt people were judgmental based on my race and were thinking low of me because I couldn’t speak English correctly. This false belief was with me while I was quoting and communicating with customers, so it was very challenging at the beginning. Then one day when I was talking to a business coach, a turning point in my life happened. I realised it was my limiting beliefs about racism and my thinking that was hurting me with false assumptions. Slowly I became more professional in the business and it showed in my behavior and appearance. Less and less I was experiencing feelings that there was racism in my life. Quotes were being accepted and conversations with my customers were becoming much easier. Now I don’t assume that if my quote isn’t accepted it’s because of where I was born, but my failure to convince the client that my service is better! It’s amazing how our false beliefs about something can jeopardize our success in life!

It is still, though, very hard for people to understand the difficulties an immigrant may experience. Starting from zero, learning the language, finding new friends, understanding how things work and so on is not an easy task. But the major obstacle can be adapting to a new culture and in this case, such a contrasting of culture; to go from a third world (war affected) country to Australia is a big move. Australian standards are different, the people like different things and they live with different values. In these situations Mike said he felt immigrants have two choices; either isolate themselves by not accepting the necessary behavioral changes or try to adopt to the new

culture and new environment. “These were the biggest challenges that I had to overcome… although I still have problem with eating vegemite, grabbing a beer and watching ‘footy!” Mike says his ability to adapt quickly to a new environment, respecting the rules and laws in Australia has helped him to find acceptance here. And like many successful people, he also believes that action is the key to success. “Years of planning isn’t worth a penny unless you act upon it, so when you think you are ready just do it and don’t give up.” It’s an attitude and approach that has seen Mike’s annual turnover triple in the last few years. Now applying for an MBA, which is an enormous commitment, Mike’s goal is to be well known for quality and proficiency, and be in the top three painting companies in WA in the next 3 years!

Uprooting to another country in a desperate search for a better quality of life is one of the most difficult choices a person could make, and it’s not a decision taken lightly by anyone. Not unlike Mike, it wasn’t all that long ago, in 1962, that my own parents chose to move to Australia in with five children in tow, as “Ten Pound Poms,” leaving England and all the people they had ever known, in search of a better life. For many years after the war my parents couldn’t see a prosperous future for them in England, so the decision was made to immigrate. As Australia was promoting families and tradespeople at that time

it seemed the only choice possible. They came not knowing what was in store for them, but they did it for the good of their family and the future. Even their expectation of kangaroos bounding down the main street of Perth didn’t deter them! They fitted into the Australian culture, worked hard, made friends and were even involved in raising over $1,000,000 for charity (with Mum winning ‘Charity Queen’ in the ‘Mrs Australia Quest’!). So, I have great respect for people trying to make a new life for themselves in a foreign country, and feel that it is our responsibility as Australians to try to understand what they are going through and help them resettle. We have a great country. Surely, if you have more than you need, you build a bigger table, not a higher fence… Thank you again, Mike, for sharing your story and all the best in the future.

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in Painting Speaking for most men if I can, we have all come across our problems while learning our trade or starting up our own business. Let’s face it, we have all moaned and groaned at some stage hoping to get some sympathy to whoever will listen. I know myself it has been a hard climb to the position where I am now. But think about the ‘female tradie’ and the difficult times they have had, and are still having in this male dominated industry. I am extremely fortunate to know some ladies that I met through an English Facebook group that have been through this and have become successful in their business. They have been kind enough to let me publish their stories of how they got through their early days in the work-force and how they coped working with the ‘opposite sex’. ‘Carte Blanche’ is a company operated by Cait Whitson in Perth, Scotland. Cait is a decorator specialising in wood graining, marbling and special finishes.

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As my wife and I were recently visiting Scotland, we decided to take a look at one of the jobs Cait had recently completed. The work performed was at ‘DunveganCastle’ on the ‘Isle of Skye’. She had to replicate timber finishes on panel doors and on a plaster board ceiling and cornice in the main entry. All I can say is, ‘amazing’. If I didn’t know it was imitation then I would have sworn it was the original timber.

the long term I would be limited in what I could do.

This is Cait’s story.

I was lucky to be adopted by a wonderful painting and decorating firm for a short period who took me through the initial part of an apprenticeship which is normally 4 years long in Scotland. After this there was little choice but to work for myself as employers were reluctant to take on female painters. One of the first jobs I was employed in I was dismissed because I moved in with my boyfriend and the second employer paid me short the first week...explaining ‘I couldn’t possibly expect the same wage as a man who had a family to support’. This is when the decision to start up on my own came about; 30 years ago.

“My company is based in Central Scotland in the city of Perth. My career began when I was about 18 years old; I am now 50. Having gained entry to one of the best Fine Art courses in the country, I couldn’t cope and failed my exams. After leaving, my passion was to work hard and make money and when I realised I could mix my artistic skill with a practical skill, it was instant addiction. I was drawn very early on by the creative side of the painting and decorating trade but realised that without the knowledge and ability to prepare your own work, that in

This was in the 80’s and the height of the decorative painting surge. It took me a while to realise I was joining a ‘bandwagon’ - a fashion for decorative finishing started by ‘Jocasta Innes’ that was in fact on the downturn when I joined it. So if I was to continue in my trade, I had to have a more solid foundation in what I would ultimately do.

I never marketed myself as a female decorator but I’m sure some domestic clients prefer a woman to a man, but on a commercial basis there are some issues that I would say play against you. Working with Interior Designers and Architects isn’t an issue but working with building contractors and other contractors is sometimes quite difficult. If you bear in mind that the only women who work in these sectors tend to be office or desk based then you can to some extent understand the inability to cope with women on site. You need a level of resilience to work with many of these companies. I’ve worked on a lot of larger more commercial projects over the years and it is still a tough call even now. I’m now at the stage when I can’t be bothered with the fight. If a man can’t cope with dealing with me, then I hand the situation over to my male business partner Gibson, who’s also my husband. Gibson and I deal with different parts of the business, but as an example - there are times when it’s my sphere of expertise and I am running the project, when speaking with construction management, I’ll ask a question and the manager will reply to’s not a conscious discrimination, it is instinct but hugely indicative of an industry that needs to change. I have retained my maiden name which is handy in these par

ticular situations. Interestingly those that can’t work with me are usually the ones that are mismanaged, inefficient companies

construction, nor do I see them having the desire to head up larger companies or pitch for larger more ambitious projects.

You can understand that the atmosphere in our industry has changed dramatically since I first started is an exciting time to be young and training as a female decorator now and I don’t resent what happened to me. I believe ‘Women in Painting’ (and in construction generally) is on an upward trend and one I welcome wholeheartedly. What alarms me is that women are almost entirely working in the domestic market and after 30 years I still don’t see many working in mainstream

The construction industry as a whole can only benefit from diversity. To me, it is currently one of the most inefficient, mismanaged industries and women should be playing a role in its reform. I can only be excited about the future for women and know that the more there are in the industry, the faster it will change.”

Working as a sub-contractor for a company - Cait Whitson

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ment agencies and proceeded to work for the next eight years on both big and small construction sites all over London and the South East of England.

Kim’s story. ‘My name is Kim Teasdale and I trade under the name ‘Lady Painter and Decorator’. I am 48 years old and a professional painter and decorator in a suburb of London, England. I came to decorating through working as a scenic painter on a film set in Cape Town, South Africa, where I am originally from. In 2003 the decision to move to London was to make for a brighter future for myself and my son. A small building company offered me an opportunity to work as one of their decorators but unfortunately after nine months, they closed down the company. I then joined a few construction recruit-

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I chose to work on construction sites assuming there would be a healthy balance of women to men but this was not the case. Working as a woman in the construction business is a tough call and unfortunately women in manual trades careers show an unrelenting downward trend. Data from the ‘Office for National Statistics’ confirms that in 2012-13 there were 1,973 women identified as working in construction as painters and decorators out of a total of 95,700 in the workforce (2.06%). It is shame as there are so many opportunities but no encouragement for women to enter this exciting world. While working on sites I purposely sought out the experienced painters to work alongside so I could learn as much as I possibly could. This ranged from preparation, paint systems and how to deal with site management. But working on building sites is a challenge for any woman. There was an ever-present male chauvinism

even though I worked hard and ran a few projects myself. I would often turn up to site and have no changing facility or toilet to use and I was mostly made to feel like an inconvenience. Speaking my mind and asking for my own facilities, usually led to me either having to put up with sharing with the men, or being asked to leave as I wasn’t needed. Working as a sub-contractor for a company didn’t give me any job security and you could be asked to leave at any time without pay. This then led to the problem of finding the next job and more often than not, I was told that they would need to check whether the main contractor would mind a woman being on their site. I now source all my own clients and choose to work solely on private homes and staying away from commercial jobs and builders.’ These are not isolated cases. Majority of women do get a hard time in the construction business when working for a male employer. In my opinion it must change, otherwise women will become disgruntled and leave to do other work, and that would be a great loss for industry.

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Painting in

RUSSIA I am in communication with many painters around the world. It is so interesting to hear about the different painting techniques, working conditions and costs, etc, that I would like to share with you one of my contacts in the Russian Federation. His name is Sergey, aged 31 and he lives in Tver, a regional capital of 430,000 people, 160km from Moscow. He owns and operates a small business, employs 3 people, does all types of painting jobs but specialises in beautiful decorative interior and exterior walls, ceilings, floors and timber work. He uses a combination of different techniques, materials and tools. For example, he can use just one decorative material and create several different surfaces and then applies glazes and other finishing coatings to create different effects. Refer to photos, (photos 4 and 5). ‘A crackle effect in my picture is made with special decorative plaster. It was applied to the wall with a trowel and dried with a heat fan at once while it was raw. Because

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of the special structure of material and heating, crackles appear. The next day the coating was decorated with five glaze coats in different colors and applied one by one on different areas of the wall.’ There are many average painters that quote cheaply to win job leads but Sergey is amongst the decorators that produce high-quality work and does not compete on price. In the pictures 11, 12, 13, Sergey stands by the wall that he decorated himself. It’s a flax texture with a pearl stencil pattern As Australians, we take the trade painting regulations as a necessity and we abide by them. In the Russian Federation however, it is completely different. Licenses do not exist in this industry. There are self-regulated organizations in the construction sector but painting is not one of them. Authorities consider that it’s not necessary to regulate small businesses in the finishing trades as it’s not as crucial for

safety as in the construction sector (roofs, building, etc). Sergey explains that 20 years ago, the USSR was a social state without a market economy. People couldn’t have their own business in fact, it was a serious crime. Most of the people had to work for the government. All organizations were owned by the state. People lived a separate life behind the ‘Iron curtain’. It meant that people couldn’t buy or sell goods, listen to foreign music, watch foreign movies or go abroad freely. There were no free contacts with the outer world. There was no freedom of choice, freedom of word or other values for the people. All that caused crucial troubles for the USSR government, mostly in the economy, so in 1991 the USSR was broken up into separate states. Russia completely changed its’ way of life. It joined normal western values. People finally got their real freedom. The “Iron curtain’ was no more. New information, goods and culture rushed into Russia.

This happened very quickly and in turn, caused new problems. 20 years is too short a time for such crucial changes so of course, regulation in painting and decorating is not a main concern for the government. So There are no government apprenticeship schemes, incentives or professional knowledge available either, so naturally there is a lack of high-qualified tradespeople. Initially Russian decorators were taught mostly by Italian decorators who first showed them contemporary decorative materials. Sergey gains some of his extra knowledge through searching on the web, which is how he found myself and my book “How To Become A Really Successful Painter’. Although there are differences between the Russian and Australian industries (especially licenses and education) he has noticed that we have a lot in common. ‘There are also no environmental policies either’ Sergey tells me shamefully. ‘No one is going to watch over what I do with washing out my brushes and rollers’. He was

very interested when I told him about our specialized cleaning processes we have in Australia and wished he could purchase one. As for the weather, winter conditions are quite harsh and impossible to work in. People usually build a new house, fix rooves and paint the exterior in the warmer climate and work on the interior in the winter. Many builders do not have enough work in these months. The paint also has to withstand sub-zero conditions. They mainly use water-based paints and decorative materials. The main paint trademarks in Russia are Tikkurila (produced in Finland) and Dulux but Sergey uses materials that are produced by the best Russian decorator MaratKa who specialises in high quality painting and decorating products. As in Australia, unskilled decorators spoil the market and fortunately Sergey says ‘their career is usually short-lived as the word of mouth is the main way to receive job leads’.

nies and the rest (which apparently are not professional looking), use social networks. Vehicle signage is non-existent as painters just tend to use their own private car to transport their tools of trade and materials. ‘There is a huge gap between people in their earnings also. There are lots of rich and lots of poor people, the middle class is rare and nobody can be sure for 100% of their future. So for the majority of the population, it is very difficult to buy their own house or flat as mortgage rates are quite expensive. Sergey says that although there are difficulties in his country he loves it. ‘I don’t like all the troubles here but I was born in Russia and it is my native country. It has a rich, interesting history that spans over a 1000 years’. If you would like to see some of his specialized work, click on the link and log-on to your account.

In advertising, websites are only used by the professional compa-

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Painting in

SWEDEN One of the prettiest destinations my wife and I have ever been to is a small Swedish island called Gotland. It is Sweden’s largest island with a total area of 3,184 km2 and a population of approx 57,300 of which about 23,600 live in Visby, the capitol. It was one of the ’ports-of-call’ in our Baltic cruise itinerary last year and is a very popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately we were on a tight schedule and only had time to see the main city but I have been told that there are nearly one hudred churches scattered around the island. There is also many ancient buildings and an abundance of summer houses that the normal overseas tourist is not aware of (next time maybe!). While taking in the history and the sights of the old city, I was fortunate though to come across ’Lars-Gunner Lundgren’, a local painter and decorator in the area. I get great enjoyment meeting painters and finding out the differences and challenges between here in Australia and other parts of the world and Lars-Gunner has been kind enough to share his story of

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’Painting in Sweden’ in the Aussie Painter magazine. ’LG.s Måleri is located in Gotland, Sweden. We are at the moment three workers with a business that has been operating since 1989, but the craftsmanship goes back several generations ranging from painters to carpenters to cabinetmakers. We mostly do our work in old buildings but also some new. Being involved in the building of commercial buildings is not our primary market, we like a more intimate connection with the customer, the person behind the building and their visions, to make something old or shabby look wonderful again. Since we operate on a smallish island (which is only accessible by air or ferry), the market is sort of limited. We don’t need to advertise as we get our jobs from refferals of past customers mostly. Many clients just want the cheapest job and that’s not really our market. We always try to do our best and use premium materials. Anyone can start a business calling themselves a painter but those who do, don’t

tend to be in business for more than a few years; one of the perks of living on an island as the word spreads quickly, both good and bad. Painting apprenticeships are not required here but if an employer does want to put someone through, it is completely funded by the company as there is no Government help or incentives. The term is only two years long. The environment is very important to us, both globally and our own work environment. There still is some work that require oil based paint but mostly we use water based, which is made by Teknos, a Finnish family owned paint company that are extremely big in Europe. When we read some of the articles here in your magazines we where amazed by the strict regulations you have on how you wash out your equipment and such; it seems like we have lighter regulations regarding this. When sanding we mostly use machine sanders connected to a vacuum hose with filters but there still is some sanding by hand.

Working as a painter is as you all know very variated, new places with new customers who want different jobs done all the time. In Sweden though, we have the different seasons to deal with which can be quite extreme. In the winter we work inside doing everything from hanging wallpaper to laying floors (we are very versitile in our trade). Gotland is situated in southern Sweden and so far this winter we haven’t had less than minus 10 to minus15 degrees celsius but some years it can get down to minus 30 to minus 35 degrees. In the new built or completely remodeled houses where the heating hasn’t been installed, we sometimes have the problem with the plaster and paint not drying. In this case we have to plan our work carefully so that we don’t get caught out with nothing to do. In the summer months we have a tight schedule, depending on the weather there could be as little as two or three months to do all the outside work. The morning dew has to dry first before we can start the painting and some summers we may have a lot of rain. Before we can paint anything though or even start sanding and scraping we have to wash away mold and algae, which is due to the vicinity of the sea and the humid climate. All of these small things you have to keep in mind when planning what jobs to do and when and how many jobs you can book for the summer and winter. Prefferably you should have some indoor work that you can jump on in case of those rainy days. To stop the rain from hitting the windows we have flexible covers that attach to the outside around them and sometimes we will use a tent so we can work on them out-

side. You can’t plan for everything though and sometimes there is some down time, but there’s always the paperwork to be done. One thing that we have here in Visby is very old buildings and is probably the best preserved medieval cities in Scandinavia. Since 1995 it has been listed on the Unesco’s World Heritage Site. The earliest history is still uncertain but Visby is known to have been a centre of merchandise since around 900 AD but there have been findings of inhabitants that date back to the stone age. Around Visby is a ring wall that was built as early as 12th centrury and was rebuilt with higher walls and more towers between 13th and 15th century. Most of the exterior wall is still intact and inside this wall are the old buildings and churches. This environment is protected by several regulations and the work we do on the buildings must be done carefully and to strict building codes. Consumers that want to paint or renovate their property can apply for a Government Incentive called ’rotavdrag’, which gives them a 50% tax deduction on the man hours that is mentioned on the invoice. It’s of course surrounded by regulations (for example it can only be used on renovations and additions to a house), but it has lowered the black market jobs and stimulated the market. It is thwart with cheating though as business’s will lower the material costs and increase the labour costs on the invoice’. My thanks to Fredrik, Lars-Gunner’s son for the actual writing of this article; your English is impecable.

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Houses of the French

COUNTRYSIDE Eguisheim, Riquewihr, Ribeaville and Colmar, are places I had never heard of until our recent trip overseas. They are small towns in Alsace, which is on the French/ German border, east of Paris. The region is the smallest in France and (because of wars in the past) it has changed nationality five times between 1871 and 1945. These were some of the towns that fascinated my wife and I because of the architecture of the buildings, some of which date back to the 13th century. It truly amazed us how these buildings have stood the test of time, as the angle of some seem to defy gravity. I doubt very much that what we construct today will last 700 hundred years or more! The base of the buildings, which are around 700mm thick, are built with stone and then cement rendered over. The upper levels consist of timber frames, with the inserts also consisting of stone and then rendered (the stones were later substituted with bricks). The rooves are either slate or timber shingles. It was mentioned in Colmar that the different colours of the buildings, back in the time of construction, depended on the trade you may have been associated with. For instance, it might have been green if you were a carpenter, red a butcher, pink a black-smith, etc. Over the centuries, because of the maintenance and the change in

style, the timber work was plastered over so as to look like a flush rendered building. In recent years, many of these were brought back to the original state for authenticity. Unfortunately I didn’t come across anyone that had painted one of these as it would have been interesting to find out the procedure and time it would actually take to ‘cut-in’ around the timber frames. How would you go about it? I can see though it would be a great way of getting rid of all the left over paint as I am quite sure in most cases, they are not off a standard colour chart. We drove from one side of France to the other, keeping away from the built up cities and concentrating on the smaller, quaint villages in the country. It was interesting to see that all the buildings over 60 years old had lead gutters and downpipes. I wonder if environmentalists have ever taken lead tests of the run-off that actually goes into the storm water drains. They were also in their natural state and left unpainted, even on the newly con

structed buildings the gutters and downpipes were made to look like lead left unpainted. In many of the very small towns the old buildings were left in their natural stone construction and were extremely run-down and not had been maintained. The only bit of painting actually required on the exterior in most cases are the doors, windows and shutters, and by the look of them, they hadn’t been touched for 30 years or more. I noticed also that many of the old windows had been replaced by double or triple glaze, powder-coated metal windows, so there is even less painting to do. In the 5,000 kilometres we travelled, I can never help but always be on the lookout for painters and paint vehicles, but this trip they were few and far between. Maybe because there is only interior painting to be done and the home-owners tend to do it themselves! This scenario would of course have been very different had we visited the larger towns and cities.

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Jims book  

This book is a compilation of articles I wrote for the Aussie Painters Network Magazine. It contains helpful ideas that will show you how t...

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