Chris Heerdegen is specializing in recruiting, training, onboarding, and developing teams. He is finding ways to maximize sales funnels and efficiency. Working across departments to develop trust and buy into the vision.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Chris Heerdegen: OnDemand painters is specializing in the painting industry in a way never been done before. The challenge in the industry is a combination of a few factors. One, most great painters are bad business people. They are highly disorganized when it comes to estimating and all of the back-end work of a company. Two, the small transaction size makes it difficult to successfully hire and pay a salesperson due to the amount of time it takes to do quotes. I have developed algorithms that allow me in 80% of cases to do a remote estimate for interior and exterior, fully guaranteed. I do this using available real estate information online and satellite imaging. This reduces cost for the client and allows me to do 150 estimates a week versus the average in the industry often.
This allows me to pay painters a quality rate and they do not have to worry about anything but what they do great; painting. I have many crews who used to run their businesses but now state they make for more money working with me in this specialized model.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Chris Heerdegen: Growing up I was decent at many things but great at none of them. I struggled to find my identity in academics and sport through high school and college. I learned from an early age that my only secret sauce was showing up. I simply never missed a practice or assignment. I noticed that over time, these little bits of extra work added up. In college, this led me to aggressively take on internships. Work experience would be my advantage – while everyone else was drinking seven days a week, I would work.
This allowed me to become one of the youngest vice presidents and owners in College Works Painting History at the age of 21. I learned that organizing, leading, and motivating teams is a crucial part of the business. It is very intangible, almost like the wind. You only know it’s there by the fruit it bears.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Chris Heerdegen: I had 6 kids in under 3.5 years. Try starting businesses with kids aged 8, 7, 6, 5, 5, 5, and I will listen to your complaints about not having enough time! I would also say my faith plays a critical role in my business. There must be a grounding in some morality that you can turn to for difficult decisions. Greed and selfishness will tempt you to do what’s best for the short term, character and integrity will do what’s right in the long run.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Chris Heerdegen: An entrepreneur values upside over safety and security. The future over the present. Two marshmallows tomorrow over one marshmallow today. Anytime you take a salary, that is a calculated way for someone else to profit off of your labor. What you receive are safety and security. What the entrepreneur receives is unlimited potential (but also risk).
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Chris Heerdegen: Culture happens in margin time. You must have the opportunity for impromptu relationship building. Time and intensity of experience build relationships. If you genuinely care about people, the supportive aspect is a natural byproduct of who you are. You can TRY to be supportive and inclusive – you must BE supportive and inclusive. That being said it is not important for success on paper. Many toxic cultures turn a great profit. I think most people eventually realize that the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is not the dollars but the culture you build and the people you go through life with.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Chris Heerdegen: Recognize that people generally view everything as a commodity these days. They look for some combination of price and quality with total disregard to service. I think the way to be disruptive is to delight customers in a way they did not expect. Set expectations, and then beat them.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Chris Heerdegen: When my little girl askes me about one of the painters who work for me and says “Who is he? Are you his boss?” I say “No honey, that’s daddy’s partner. We wouldn’t be here without them, and they wouldn’t be here without daddy.”
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Chris Heerdegen: When there is a difficult decision it almost always involves money. This means you have to screw the client, screw your worker, or screw yourself. It is always a difficult decision to take care of the client and employee at the expense of yourself, and those decisions must be made all the time.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Chris Heerdegen: I am a master of on-the-spot puns and dad jokes.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Chris Heerdegen: ‘What you do is not who you are.’
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Chris Heerdegen for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Chris Heerdegen or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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