Dan Petrulak, owner of DP Ready 2 Paint

Contractor Q&A: Dan Petrulak on Staying Small to Keep Customers Happy

Dan Petrulak is the owner of DP Ready 2 Paint, a painting contractor based in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and serving the Mid Mon Valley and surrounding areas of southwest Pennsylvania.

What is the secret to your success?

Remaining a small company so I am personally invested in each customer’s project and can insure that every job is completed to the highest of standards.

What is the best business advice you ever got?

My mentor gave me lots of valuable insights, but the one piece of advice I use over and over is: “While a potential client is interviewing you to see if he/she wants to give you the job, you should secretly be interviewing them to see if you want to take the job.”

Not every job or client is a match for you and what your company does. Learn to recognize red flags.

If the customer complains about the last four contractors, most likely you are next. If they talk about lawsuits of the last several contractors, most likely you are next. If the potential customer talks about nothing but how expensive things are, most likely you will be shorted or not paid at all.

You have to listen and learn to read between the lines.

What is the biggest challenge of running your company?

Coordinating schedules with multiple customers. Although this can still be a challenge, experience has made scheduling a bit easier. I find under-promising and over-delivery works best. Most people like when they find out I am able to start a project a week early, but never want to hear I am going to start late.

What’s the most rewarding part of running your painting business?

This is a hard question, because I have so many answers. Helping my customers choose the best possible products, providing the best possible service with the best possible team and finishing with the best possible results. In short, pride in my team’s work.

What was the most important turning point in your company’s success?

The day I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take a chance. I had all my eggs in two baskets. My business was doing well, but I was able to recognize the changes coming my way and I needed to change with the times or get left behind. Instead of withdrawing, I did the opposite. I revamped my business, took on new types of jobs, hired the right people and pushed into new directions. Looking back, I would have been out of business if I would have withdrawn or ignored the changing times.

Is there a paint product that really helped you complete a job and satisfied a customer?

PrimeRx® Peeling Bonding Primer. I had a job next to a school playground. This was a house built in the ’60s and so I knew lead paint was going to be an issue. My Sherwin-Williams rep suggested PrimeRx. This product solved my dilemma and made my customer happy. This product saved me time, making the job more profitable.

A condensed version of this article was originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of PPC magazine. Dan Petrulak was interviewed by Mike Starling, PPC Editor. Read more about what pro painters have discovered on the job in the PPC What I’ve Learned archive.