I'VE BEEN working in paint all my life.
In high school, I started painting through a friend of mine whose dad owned a union painting shop. Later, I worked retail at both Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore stores while taking odd painting jobs on the side. Afterwards, I became a union- estimator and project manager.
During this estimating role, I realized I missed working in retail. I loved that in retail my goal was always the same as the customer: get them the best paint for their job.
So, I began reaching out to my old contacts. Steve Hochwert was the owner of Skokie Paint at the time, named after the town Skokie here in Illinois. He had run a good business for many years and was ready to retire. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back into retail. We met for breakfast, and I made my interest in acquiring his store clear.
The agreement we came to was perfect: I would work at Skokie Paint with my pay going toward buying the business. It was a phenomenal set up because I learned the ins and outs of the business while also building up the financial ability to actually make the acquisition. January 1, 2022, we completed the transaction, and I became the owner of Skokie Paint.
I knew one of the first things I wanted to do was change my point-of-sale. We were on a 13-year-old system with very bad search functionality. Finding previous transactions was so challenging that we actually stuck with a manual system. We kept folders for many of our customers in a filing cabinet in addition to the point-of-sale. Then, when people came back, we would find their folder in the filing cabinet and dig for minutes to find what they wanted. It was very stressful to have a line of customers staring at me while I dug through papers like it was 30 years ago. I knew I was losing business from it.
When the fall rolled around, I decided to make the full switch, and it has been awesome.
First, the search engine is phenomenal. More and more, the paint store is taking responsibility for record keeping on behalf of their customers, and being able to provide great record keeping creates loyalty. When I’m working with a customer, I can find their sales immediately. As I’m typing, it’s filtering down their sales in real time. My lines move faster, and my customers have more confidence in me. It was clear that the tool was a much better sales tool than the one that I was using. E-mailing receipts and statements automatically has made many of our commercial accounts a lot happier, and also has been a time-saver.
With my technology in place, I’m focused on more ways to continue growing my business. I’m early in my career, and I want to grow the business. I’ve recently hired an amazing employee who has taken a significant portion of the day-to-day operations off my plate. This has freed me up tremendously to focus on working on my business rather than working in it.
I’m thrilled to think about all the ways I can keep growing Skokie Paint.