Hi Diana , thanks for joining us today. Your ability to build a team is often a key determinant of your success as a business owner and so we’d love to get a conversation going with successful entrepreneurs like yourself around what your recruiting process was like -especially early on. How did you build your team?
About 6 years ago when I started Skelly Build I did EVERYTHING on my own, and when I say everything I mean it. 🙂 I had full emotional support from my husband until he joined the business a couple years later but for the first year or two I cleaned toilets when necessary, did payroll, sales, project management on site, procurement of materials, monitoring and hiring sub contractors, etc.
I learned very quickly that no one can be good at everything, including myself. I started re-investing the money I was making into business coaches and part time hires. One of my early business coaches gave me some great advice, which was to make a list of everything I was passionate about the in business and everything that I wasn’t. Her first suggestion was to hire someone for everything I wasn’t passionate about so this is what I started doing. When you aren’t passionate about something these items typically aren’t executed as well or properly. For example, finances is not my strong suit. I was using dated systems and greatly benefitted later from hiring experts in that field. Side note: I am also a strong believer in 90% of your job you are happy and passionate to do and there will always be the 10% that isn’t as enjoyable. But if the percentage is as high as 90% or close your days move forward easily!
My overall philosophy with hiring is that the more experts you hire the more streamlined your business will become. Experts are not jack of all trades, they are focused on a few things only. My first two hires were both part time and then both moved to full time relatively quickly (within 6 months). With this additional help, I was more efficient in doing things I loved to do like the sales process, so the business grew. It’s really a simple formula and hiring your first team member does not have to be a full time commitment. I talk to many women who are (rightfully so) scared to make their first hire. For me hiring people to be a part of my team has grown the business exponentially. Skelly Build would not be where it is today without my wonderful team. We now have 16 full time employees and a few other independent hires like accounting and website development. The way we have structured the business is that everyone specializes in certain parts of the construction process: estimating/sales, material orders, project management, operations, finance, etc. By making everyones roles clear we are all able to focus on our tasks at hand and what we are each good at versus managing the entire process of construction from sales to punch list completion.
Diana , before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Skelly Build is a residential and commercial construction firm in Austin, TX. At Skelly Build, we will walk you through every step of the construction process, providing you with a comprehensive range of services by working with our reliable partners in engineering, interior design, architecture and construction, we are your team committed to your satisfaction.
I started the business about 6 years ago after realizing the need for a construction firm that focused on quality and communication. Our company mission is to be open, honest and go above and beyond for our clients. For us, the clients, designers, architects and engineers are all a part of our united team. Just like it takes a village to raise kids, it also takes a village to complete a construction project.
There are a multitude of things I am really proud of within Skelly Build but to name a couple our collaboration and our strong ethics of always doing the right thing. Doing the right thing may seem really simple but in the construction industry there are a lot of grey areas and many things that fall back on the contractor that weren’t necessarily our doing. Humans make mistakes, whether that is a plan set mistake, a sub contractor that makes a mistake or one of us on the team. Our goal is to always create solutions and make things right. Moving forward is always our focus versus focusing on past mistakes or errors. We work really well with clients that trust our process and understand we do our best at all times. Construction is not linear, there is not always one way to do something correctly, there can be multiple.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
I think this answer is really simple, integrity. We enter every job and relationship with clients knowing that we will conduct ourselves with the highest level of integrity possible.
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
Always have a certain level of flexibility with your team and remember they have families, personal/internal struggles and also like to vacation. Maintaining a level of flexibility creates a more open relationship and encourages an easier dynamic at the office. We have fostered this through encouraging time off, group events, team meetings each week and an open dialogue with everyone in the office. They understand that I am there for them when needed. These meetings and our office atmosphere is very comfortable and collaborative. People like coming to the office because they are not forced to be here all of the time and they also like seeing everyone on the team.