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Episode 76: From ME to TEAM: Lessons Learned from 10 Years Building & Leading a Team


Tips for Creating a Positive Work Environment

How do you create a positive work environment? Spencer gives a rundown on how he started his builder Funnel with a focus on the team and core values in order to grow Builder Funnel's culture from the ground up.

Have you ever wondered what Builder Funnel's core values are?  In this episode, Spencer discusses each value, along with why he chose them and what they have contributed to the culture at Builder Funnel.

If you are the leader or founder of your company, the company's culture is an extension of you. Spencer would argue, this puts you in the unique position of dictating the trajectory of your company culture. Will it be a toxic environment? Or a productive happy one?

Learn all about it here on Builder Funnel Radio.



  • 0:40 Episode overview
  • 1:05 Spencer's original thoughts on company culture
  • 2:30 Builder Funnel culture: JAM sessions and book club
  • 4:14 Taking the team to Inbound every year
  • 5:20 Continuous learning: budgeting and personal finance
  • 6:09 Creating a failure-accepting environment
  • 7:49 Spencer's current thoughts on company culture
  • 8:16 Hire slow. Fire fast.
  • 12:50 Builder Funnel's core values...
  • 13:52 Always be learning
  • 14:40 Deliver positive customer experiences
  • 15:38 Achieve more together
  • 19:10 Do the right thing
  • 20:26 Always be teaching
  • 22:43 Spencer's takeaways



Full Episode Transcription

Note: this podcast was transcribed automatically and may contain minor grammatical errors and missed words.


Welcome to Builder Funnel Radio here you'll learn about how to grow your home building remodeling or contracting business. If you're not growing, you're moving backward. So we want you to always be in growth mode. This podcast has really turned into a movement and community of people who want to grow personally and professionally. Here we bring you some of the best marketing sales and business minds in the industry so you can elevate your business. All right, let's dive into the show. Hey guys, welcome back to builder funnel radio. This is Episode 76 of the growth series. And today, I do a deep dive into leadership lessons. Over the past decade of building my company. I've made many many mistakes, learned some things along the way. And so I wanted to highlight a few of those for you today. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Again, this is 76 on builder funnel radio.

The first thing I want to dive into is culture. And at the beginning of my journey, I would say, culture definitely felt like kind of a, I don't know a fluffy word, it just didn't feel like that was something super tangible. I didn't quite understand it, and didn't put a lot of weight into it. And over the years, what I discovered is that that's actually one of the most powerful things that you can have as a part of your company is a strong culture and a strong kind of team dynamic and feel. And you can definitely feel it. Just energy wise, I've been in some environments where we've had people on the team that had maybe more of a negative attitude or and you know, you kind of look at it and it really becomes a poison. And it kind of spreads throughout the organization very, very quickly. And so developing a strong culture has been extremely important for us. And what I realized too, is that you are the culture, you know. So when I started the company, it was just me. I mean, that's all it was. And then when you hire that first person, then that adds a dynamic to the culture, but they're still kind of following your lead. And so you really have to, to be the culture. And then as you add team members, you know, they're going to start adopting some of those things that that you're doing and that you're leading in that initiative. And so, a couple of things that I've noticed, like one of the things I love reading and learning and so I've just baked that into things that we do here at builder funnel. So we have a weekly meeting, we call it jam session, it kind of the origin there was that we would jam out over digital marketing, but we kind of started that meeting as Hey, everyone read, you know, what's the latest trends going on with Google or with Facebook or social media or whatever it may be. We'll go to lunch, we'll all share some articles that we've found and what we learned. And that way we can continue to push the envelope and see kind of where the latest trends are. And that's evolved quite a bit. Over the last 10 years now we use that meeting for not only just sharing articles, but we have different team members that will teach on subjects that they know a lot about. We've pulled in some outside people to teach the team in the past. And then we'll also use it to work on like internal processes to where we're talking about, maybe a book that we read, and some things that we want to implement from there. So that's just one aspect. We also have a monthly book club, we call it client service. That was the original book that we read. And so we all read a book as a team, we typically read handful of chapters before each meeting, and then we come to that meeting and we discuss and there isn't really an agenda other than, you know, participate, share what you took out of the book, and then we see Is there anything from here that we think we Want to implement within the company or start working on and so those things just started to become a part of the overall culture because those things were important to me. And then I put them in place in the form of, you know, jam session client service. I also invest quite a bit, we spend well over 10 grand a year, sending our entire team to the big inbound marketing conference every year. And that is pretty much one of the biggest digital marketing conferences in the country. Our software partner HubSpot puts that on. And so we fly everyone out. We spend a week there in Boston. And we split up and we go to they have hundreds of breakout sessions with speakers, ranging from sales, marketing, leadership, you name it. And so we fan out, everyone learns, and then we come back and share what we learned as a team. So those are a couple of areas that, you know, again, taking that learning component that was a part of me, and then that flowed into the company and just became a part of the culture and as You start hiring, those are things that you're saying, Hey, this is what we do here. And so people that also have that mindset or that sounds exciting to them, they start to gravitate towards you in that hiring process. And so as you bring people on, that's how you can build that culture and kind of strengthen some of those traits.

Another thing is budgeting. So personal budgeting, finance, you know, investing, those are all things that I've been really interested in very passionate about. I think those are core life skills that everyone needs to learn. We should be teaching this stuff in, you know, Junior High in high school or not, that's another subject. That's something that I'm passionate about and will be working on over the course of my life is trying to impact that but regardless, I put a lot of time and energy into that. I think it's important and so I hold some periodical, like budgeting classes and investing classes here for the team and so typically do those before before work starts at I'll buy coffee for anyone that wants to come and attend those and can teach. So that's something that kind of got baked into the culture. And then I would say, failure being okay is another thing. You know, I've realized that like, I don't like failing, but it's just going to happen. And so I've tried to make our environment one where it's not like we're celebrating every failure and cheering and, and that sort of thing, but we make it, okay, and we put it front and center. So if somebody makes a mistake, great, let's highlight it. Let's talk about why it happened. What we can do to avoid it in the future, but then everyone else can learn from it. And so rather than, like, have a side conversation and just say, Oh, you made this mistake, like we can't do this again. Hey, why not put that in front of everybody so that we can all learn and so that way, people aren't afraid to make mistakes? Because, again, I think you can have some pretty poisonous cultures where somebody makes the smallest mistake like they're getting yelled at. There's all these things going on, it's like a none of us are perfect, we might as well just embrace that and see what we can do to learn from that. Obviously, if there's

really, really big mistakes or blatant things that are happening repeatedly, you know, those things need to be addressed in a formal manner. And, you know, action might need to be taken there. But I think, you know, just putting failure kind of out there in front making it Okay, then people are more relaxed and there, I find that people make less mistakes in that type of environment than a rigid environment where you, you are so afraid to fail that you either you're going so slow, because you don't want to make any mistakes, or you're just so nervous that you make mistakes anyway. So creating a strong culture I feel like is, again, I went from kind of thinking it was not important to I think it's almost the most important thing, when I think about our business and what we're trying to do. And so those are some things that I learned along the way and just like embrace kind of who you You are and your personality and your tone and your style. And then it will bleed into the rest of the company just put some things into place as you move along that kind of emphasize those traits or those qualities that you want to, to basically have as a company. Alright, so next let's talk about hiring and firing and mistakes there. So, in the early days, we used to, I don't know, maybe have somebody go through two or three interviews, before we hired them. You know, we have them meet with me and have meet with Wes. And then maybe we do one last meeting and call it and we say, Yep, Alright, we're ready to make a decision. We definitely looked at far fewer candidates as well before bringing people onto the team. And what I realized is that we actually our success rate in keeping people with the company was a lot lower than it is today. And as I continue to move through my journey, I read a lot of books on you know, Hiring and team building and culture and those types of things. And so what we've done now is we've extended our hiring process in a big, big way. People go through about six to eight interviews before they sign on to our company. And so they'll typically do a phone pre qualification. And then anybody that kind of moves through that round, they'll meet with our Director of Operations, and then they pass that then we'll start banging them out and meeting with different team members that are maybe in a similar role to that that they're applying for. They'll eventually interview with me, and then we actually cap off for an entire process with a culture fit interview. We typically do that over coffee breakfast, that sort of thing. We'll just bring them into the office. We'll talk we'll ask questions we kind of hanging out is it's a much more informal setting. And part of that is just saying like, how does this feel? Can we hang out with this person? Can we get along with them on a day to day basis and get to know them personally a little bit more rather than Just kind of the bullet points of the resume. And so by by taking people through this really lengthy process that has contributed to, again, going back to the first point, building a really strong culture and a strong team. But it gives us a much better chance of success in having somebody where we feel like they're a great fit. But they're also really excited to be a part of that company. We want it to be both sides, you know, feeling like it's a good fit. And so, if they go through six, eight, you know, interviews and they're like, Man, this is not the company for me, like, that's okay, we don't want to make that decision. And so we want either side to be able to opt out if it's not a good fit. But if we go through those six, eight interviews, and both people are feeling good, then we have a good feeling that this could be, you know, a long term success with this person. And so, I heard Gary Vaynerchuk kind of say, hiring is guessing and firing is knowing and so we just want to make our Best guests possible. And so we lengthen that hiring process. And then on the firing side of definitely, you've probably heard the whole adage, you know, hire slow fire fast. And I've definitely learned that the hard way and as well as the easy way. But I had to learn it the hard way a couple of times. And so when you are in a position where you know, you've got somebody that's not the right fit, oftentimes, we get sucked into this feeling of will. But what would I do without them, I'm not ready to replace them or I don't, you know, and you kind of go through all these things. And, like, if you've really made that decision, it's time to move on. It's not really fair to them or to the company to keep things going because there's probably a better opportunity a better fit for them somewhere else. And so you want them to be able to move on to that as quickly as possible. And then you need to move on to the next thing as quickly as possible to so that you can start moving ahead again because anytime you change employees that It really can slow things down. And so the faster you can move through that process, the better. And of course, if you have to make a quick decision, and then you're kind of stuck higher in the hiring process, and you're on, hey, I need to put somebody through eight interviews, you know, you can go through those steps fast or slow. And that's what we'll do. Depending on our hiring cycle, we might stretch out the interviews over a couple of months, you know, from that first phone call, or longer, or we'll just compress them. If we need somebody pretty quickly. We just don't want to skip any of the steps. It just means we can take those steps faster or slower. So those are a few things that I've learned along the hiring firing front over the last decade, that have been really helpful to me in the last couple of years as we've been adding more and more team members here to build our funnel. Alright, so the last thing I want to talk about today is leading with core values, and core values are again kind of a part of that Culture piece. But they are a unique piece of it. And in the early years, we didn't have core values like written down, and we didn't go through that process and, and then we did put them into place. And

one of the things I've noticed is that you can have, you can have two experiences, the core values, one is the kind where you, you know, you print them out, and you put them on the wall, and they're just kind of there and they aren't talked about, they aren't lived, you know, on a day to day basis. And that doesn't really do a lot for you. It's nice, it's nice to say that you have them. But if you're not really using them, it's not going to give you any benefit in terms of your culture and team dynamics. And so obviously, the way that's really impactful is to have core values, but to always be talking about them, referencing them, and then putting them into action. So just thinking back to what I talked about earlier in terms of learning always be learning is one of our core values. And so we've baked that in into our normal process. It's a part of our weekly meetings, our monthly meetings, we talk about it always be learning is a critical part of our company. And part of it is because that started for me. But the other part of it is, the industry we're in is changing all the time digital marketing moves fast. You know, there's social media channels that have popped up in the last two years that didn't exist when we start. So if we weren't always learning about what's new, what's next, we've get left in the dust. And so that one makes sense for us as a company, not only just because it's connected to me as the founder, but also it's really critical in our industry. We also have another one which is deliver positive customer experiences. And from the start, I always wanted to deliver a good service to our clients, but I also wanted it to be a little bit more than that. I liked forming relationships with our clients and getting to know them and really acting more as their partner, you know, as we you know, signed up To work with them. And so we would do things to, you know, send little gifts or get to know their family members and what's going on. And so we kind of looked for some of those extra little things that we could do. But again, that's, that's something that we decided was super important. We looked at, you know, not only just the way we were as a company, and kind of what we wanted to do, we wanted to deliver positive customer experiences. But we also wanted to kind of go above and beyond some of the other agencies that were looking at as maybe our competition we said, hey, how can we be a little bit different, a little bit more unique? And so that's kind of where, where that one came from. Another one is achieved more together. So that's very much a team based core value. And the way I always looked at it was there's a lot of companies that had a lot of internal competition, you definitely see it with sales, but even within, like project management roles, you know, people can say, Oh, well, I'm managing this much revenue side. I'm better than all the other project managers or, you know, I'm doing XYZ, and that's doing so much better than these other project managers. And that was always really silly to me because, like, we're all on the same team. There's so many competitors, there's so many other businesses, there's so many other people on the planet, like, we've basically chosen, hey, we're going to be spending a good chunk of our week working with these people on our team, we might as well work together and we might as well compete against either competition or past selves. And so I like the idea of like, hey, our team's not trying to compete internally. We're trying to compete against yesterday's build or funnel. You know, what did we do yesterday? How can we be a little bit better today? And when you get that internal competition, I think sometimes on the sales front, it can be healthy. But generally, I find that it just as a little bit more of that poison, because then let's say you've got somebody that's figured out a better way to do something for a client. I'm going efficient way. So they're thinking, Oh, great, I'm going to be able to manage more, or I'm going to be able to earn more, I'm going to be able to push myself forward. So I'm not going to share that with the rest of the team. Well, now you just missed a giant opportunity to have all the project managers utilizing that, that skill or that technique, or whatever they discovered. And so we always take the approach here, which is, hey, if somebody figures something out, that works, like, let's roll that out, across everybody, because then we're going to move as a team a lot faster, we're going to be a lot more productive. And, and again, I always just go back to like, we're working alongside all these people, we might as well be having fun, we might as well be working together and helping each other. And we're competing as way more people in terms of other agencies competition, you know, for you guys. There's plenty of other remodelers, other builders that you're trying to, you know, land a job, rather than them scooping up the job. So anything that you can do to basically just develop a cohesive team. I I think as a lot better stuff, I've always taken that kind of approach and that mentality, which is, let's just try to be better than than we were yesterday. And if you're always competing against yourself, then you start really working together and it gets pretty exciting.

Calling all builders and remodelers it's that time of year we're gathering data for our state of home builder and state of remodeler marketing reports. This will be the fourth annual State of builder marketing report and the second annual State of remodeler marketing report. Now, in exchange for five minutes of your time, we're giving away a $200 gift card for the winners, but everyone is getting some sweet bonuses after the completion of the survey. And we're also making it super easy to participate this year. So just text survey 233777 and we'll send you the survey link right away. Again, we're doing a $200 prize for the winner and everyone that completes the service. Get some bonuses. So just text survey 233777. And we'll send you the link. So our fourth core value is do the right thing. And this was really important early on to us is that we were always going to make the right choice and do the right thing. And so you get into situations where maybe you make a mistake, and, you know, then you start deciding, like how something's going to be settled out, especially when money gets involved. And so, we've pretty much always taken that approach of like, Hey, we need to be doing the right thing for that situation. And, and so that often leads to, hey, if we made a mistake, like that might be a cost that occurs to us. But in the long run, what you're doing is you're thinking about your reputation, and that matters. And that is something that's gonna stick around like money comes and goes, things come and go, but Doing the right thing will always matter. And so that was pretty much a non negotiable for us as we were thinking about our core values. And that comes into context, externally when you're working with clients. But internally, when you're working with team members and stuff, everyone's always doing the right thing. For that situation for that person they're interacting with, like, things tend to work themselves out in the long run. So again, that was just a non negotiable for us. And then one that we didn't have early on, but we added, which was really important was always be teaching. And when you teach, you learn that subject even more and so that was something that we felt like could accelerate our always be learning. But it's also part of our just core philosophy here a builder funnel, which is we're just trying to teach the world about what we know in terms of digital marketing, marketing and sales, how to grow a company how to grow a business. And so the more we teach, the more we help, the more value we add into the world. The more people we start Start to attract into kind of our universe and our, our audience and, and so what we basically do is we teach through, you know, blog content, we teach through videos, we go and speak at conferences and events on internally, we teach each other. So again, going back to that jam session, that weekly meeting of ours, different team members will teach the rest of the team on a subject that they're very knowledgeable about, that elevates their knowledge even more, but then it brings everybody else up with them. And this podcast is another example of how we teach. We want to teach from what we know but we also know we don't know everything. So that's why we try to pull in outside experts outside guests that have very specialized knowledge. That helps us but it helps you guys as the listeners as well. And so always be teaching is a really important part of our company, not only for ourselves, but also just a core part of our marketing philosophy, which is a the more that we teach the more valuable Had to the world, the more good we attract back to us. And so that's been a really powerful core value of ours as well. But

what I found is having these and living them and talking about them, then you actually start to see the benefit of them. So if you have a list of them, and they're not really being talked about and lived, you know, see if there's a few things you can incorporate into your week, your month, your quarter, you know, that, that tie back to these and, you know, maybe flip somebody a $10 gift card if they're really emphasizing and working on one of the core values and demonstrating that throughout the company. So people start to notice, hey, these things are really important. They're actually a part of the company and they're not just kind of some bullet points on the wall. Alright guys, so I hope you enjoyed this episode. Again, I wanted to pull out some kind of mistakes that I've made over the years and lessons I've learned and things that are really working for us here today in terms of the kind of that leadership category. So we talked a lot about hiring, firing culture, core values. I'm hoping that at the very least you pulled out one or two little things that you can take away from this episode and go and start to work on in your company. And at the very, most hopefully, this was kind of an eye opening episode and you said, Man, there's a lot more opportunity I have on the table, when it comes to culture when it comes to core values. When it comes to my hiring process. I don't know how many interviews you go through. But that has been really impactful, just extending that hiring process. So again, I hope that you've got a few takeaways that you can take and run with and implement at your company and love to hear feedback from you as well. If you are doing any of these things. If you're excited to try some of these things, shoot me an email at Radio at builder funnel calm and go ahead and type in leadership into the subject line in all caps. And I'll see that one and I'll shoot your reply. But we'd love to hear from you on that. So thanks again for tuning in. Guys. This is builder funnel radio and we will see you next time

Thanks again for listening everybody. And as a quick reminder, text Radio to 233777 for some free goodies as a thank you for listening to the show. And if you got some value from today's episode, I just ask that you leave us a quick review on iTunes. It really helps us spread the word and grow this awesome community of people who are working to improve their lives and their businesses. Thanks again and we'll see you next time on Builder Funnel Radio.


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