Q&A with LIME Painting Founder and CEO Nick Lopez
LIME Painting Founder and CEO Nick Lopez details what led him to found the painting franchise brand and what’s still to come.
What inspired you to found LIME Painting?
I would have never thought my career would be owning a paint company, but that’s ultimately how it all unfolded. Prior to founding LIME Painting in Denver six years ago, I started a paint company when I was 19 called Spartan College Painters in East Lansing, Michigan, where I attended school at Michigan State. There, I always worked on high-end homes and would constantly hear things like, ‘thanks for showing up,’ ‘thanks for doing a good job,’ and ‘thanks for answering the phone.’ We were constantly having to overcome a lack of trust from clients in the buying process because of bad experiences with traditional paint companies in the past. Working on homes as a teenager, I was naive to the fact that contracting lacked consistency. As I continued to work while getting my degree, I learned about competitive advantage and got more intentional about creating a business model that delivered a consistent and reliable service.
I recognized there weren’t national providers doing this kind of work, so I wanted to scale. When I learned about franchising, I got more intentional about developing my business model to be franchise-friendly. After spending several years proving the model and establishing strong unit-level economics to back it up, we’ve been able to grow our average gross revenue to nearly $2.2 million in our first four years and we awarded our first franchises last year.
What about LIME Painting makes it unique within its industry?
Despite the segment’s saturation, we stand out from other painting franchises because we’re the only brand that focuses solely on high-end homes and businesses with values of more than $1 million. Custom homes need more than just paint, too, and we make a point of educating our clients about the options they have to maximize their investment. LIME offers 15 distinct restoration services, including masonry and tuckpoint work.
Our business model is fueled by project-specific preparation, processes and product selection that allow us to deliver a result that exceeds expectations and withstands the test of time, bringing tremendous value to our clients.
Why is LIME Painting a good investment?
Our values-based company culture, mobile concept, low cost of entry and high revenue potential bolster the strength of our franchise opportunity. Our franchisees aren’t managing any employees and they make more money doing fewer projects than traditional painting concepts since our average ticket is $11,000 compared to the $2,800 industry average. As we kick our expansion efforts into high gear this year, the simplicity of our operations will allow us and our owners to scale fast.
What does success look like to you?
For me, success is more than making money. I am a values-based person, and my goal is always for this company to represent more than just service excellence by also being purpose-driven.
LIME stands for Love, Integrity, Mission and Excellence. I recognize I’m the best version of myself while working with purpose, so I’ve brought that same energy to this brand. Franchising is a platform that allows me to steward others to walk down a similar path to business success with a values-based mission. The franchise model is also excellent for creating an environment in which business owners can collaborate, grow and achieve together. We do business the right way and use our platform as a way to give back, both inside and outside of the business.
What have been some of the brand's most important milestones since it started?
We see our brand growth and increased profitability each year as one of LIME’s most important milestones and even greater, a reflection of what makes us a standout service in our industry. That growth is a validation that the market is accepting our niche model.
Also, building and developing savvy business leaders has been a personal passion of mine. LIME Elite Academy is a reflection of that leadership development platform. A standout leader that comes to mind is the owner of the first franchise that we awarded, Matthew Snider. Matthew was in his early forties when he first joined LIME as a salesman at the corporate location in Denver. He had never made over a $45,000 annual salary, but after going through LIME’s sales training, he became a three-time six-figure income earner while also selling over $4 million in total sales during his four-year tenure at the Denver location. He then went on to purchase LIME’s first franchise, located in Castle Rock, Colorado. He is now well on his way to building his own heart-led, values-based empire.
What future plans does LIME Painting have in the works?
Last year, we awarded our first three franchise locations organically while working on our infrastructure, technology, building our executive team and learning management systems to support future franchise growth. In 2019 and thereafter, our growth goals are focused on expanding nationally through franchising.
We have now teamed up with RainTree to lead our franchise development efforts outside of Colorado. Because we are niched in the high-end market, we are a "hundreds of locations" system versus a "thousands of locations" system, as there is a more concentrated amount of our demographic in each market. We look to have saturated our niche nationally over the next decade and beyond.
Our vision is focused on empowering franchise owners to own profitable businesses that support their dreams and families. With the business platform, they will then use their power, resources and influence to give back within their local community through LIME Light Outreach, our non-profit tailored towards empowering youth through knowledge.