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Mission: Vacation Season 3 Comes to an End

11 January, 2022

Did our contractors succeed or fail in their mission for a family vacation?

Painting Contractors

All stories must come to an end, and while Austin and Lacie’s journey will continue improving their business, it will not be under the ever-watchful eye of this APC editor. It’s been an amazing year of Mission: Vacation, and these two couldn’t have been more forthcoming about the real-life experience of learning to run a business together, learning their own strengths and accepting their weaknesses, and transforming a painting company into a painting business. 

This season of podcasts has been about tackling the three big rocks: Job Descriptions and Position Visions, Leadership Training, and Boundaries in a Family Business. In every episode, we discuss theory and then hold it up against real-life experience. 

Going into our final podcast, our coach, Colin Nolan, felt that the groundwork had been adequately laid, but building is not the same as maintaining. It takes diligence, planning and accountability to ensure that the plan continues to work. So in this podcast, it was time to talk about maintaining the leadership training and the family business boundaries. 

Leadership Training 
“We’ve added biweekly manager meetings. Part of that agenda every two weeks is to talk about any issues our leaders have in the field and roleplay and talk through each as a way of training for those specific situations,” reported Lacie. “Then we do training refreshers with the leaders and field supervisors who’ve already done the leadership training. Finally, we schedule a yearly full-day leadership training program geared to those who are up and- coming leaders or who have just become a leader with us and have not taken that full course.” 

Family Business Boundaries 
“We’re going to start doing our family meetings once a quarter to touch base and revisit our vision and values to make sure we’re all still on the same page. We still have young kids, so their input is super valuable, but I don’t see a lot of their values changing too much anytime soon,” said Austin. 

The Decision 

Mission Vacation

It was then time to ask Colin about his final decision. “I was hoping to see a delegation of decision-making and responsibility, and we accomplished that well with the position, vision, job description, rock.” As Austin just touched on, the crew leaders are rocking it. Rock 1 = CRUSHED! 

“We were looking to set up leadership training, as Lacie’s just touched on, so that we can get the people in the field, not just the technician training, but the people training that will help them succeed as leaders.” Rock 2 = OBLITERATED! 

“Third, probably the most important of all three is a family business structure and ensuring that a family comes first, that the business serves the family. As Brian says a lot, it’s family love first. And you accomplish that through structure, meeting schedules, vision, values and boundaries that they touched on.” Rock 3 = NAILED IT! 

If anyone knows how to stick a landing, it’s these two. Colin was thrilled to announce that the Ilsley’s won the vacation money and the Mission: Vacation Completed badge from APC and Nolan Consulting. 

The Lessons 
Weirdly, one thing I’ve learned from the Mission: Vacation process over the past three seasons is that the work turns out to be the easy part. It’s looking in the mirror and figuring out what you, as an owner, need to improve in yourself in order to get to the next level. 

For Austin, it was conflict management: “The hardest part for me, without a doubt, was looking at myself in the mirror and changing in a way that was going to help me handle some of the harder conversations and the more difficult thinking that had to go on. By nature, I’m not a confrontational person, and I hate conflict. It’s natural for me to shy away from it,” he said. “I realized at a point you’re gonna have to stare things down and take it head-on. After doing that, that’s when we really started to see results. So my biggest challenge was me.”

Lacie, on the other hand, had years of business management and business training experience. She found it harder to learn about the nuts and bolts of the business and the trade. (My favorite part of the season was when she sent Austin out to quote a million front doors.) “My biggest challenge was just coming in, not knowing what I was getting into, and learning about the business and the painting trade. I had to immerse myself in it,” Lacie said. 

The Coach’s Closing Advice 
“Discipline is remembering what you want most over what you want now,” said Colin Nolan “What you want most is in your vision, so keep that close. You will feel like you’re in the hourglass even while you’re putting systems in place because not only are you keeping the plane up in the air, but then you’re taking it higher by implementing the systems. 

You must have the discipline to remember what you want ultimately and keep that close to you.” Fine parting words from an excellent coach to some excellent painting contractors. Looking forward to season four! APC 

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