How to get team buy-in on day one

Welcome to “The Better Way: A podcast by Buildertrend.” Here you’ll learn to simplify and establish processes that will make meaningful changes to your company and help you achieve your goals. Because there’s a better way. The Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as Zach Wojtowicz, Pro Services education coordinator, chats with Nick Schiffer of NS Builders about how to boost collaboration.

On today’s episode, Zach and Nick are discussing the importance of getting your team onboard with using Buildertrend from day one.

WHAT SHOULD CONSTRUCTION PROS DO BEFORE THEY ASK FOR BUY-IN FROM THEIR TEAM?

“I always knew that if I was going to implement something or if I stood for something, I needed to believe in it before I asked my guys to. So, I really, I spent the time to get to know it. I spent the time to understand the program and then I introduced it to my team and said, ‘This is something that’s going to take some time.’ And knowing that on my end, it was going to take a lot of effort where my job was to run the business, but before I run the business, I really need to set these things up because we weren’t going to be able to continue to grow without some sort of structure.” – Nick Schiffer

WAS THERE A HURDLE YOU HAD TO CLEAR TO GET YOUR TEAM TO REALLY START USING IT?

“I think the biggest hurdle was just getting to that it was every day like, hey, daily logs, have to be done every day. And I notoriously check them at six o’clock every night. And if they’re not uploaded, I’m usually sending out any … I won’t text them because they’re probably home with their family, and they, frankly, forgot. But I usually follow up with an email, ‘Hey, this is important because not only is it me looking at it, but our clients bought into this, they’re looking every day.’ And when we don’t upload a photo or a daily log, oftentimes a client will not talk to them, but will talk to me like, ‘Hey, did you guys not work yesterday?’ So, I think that was probably the biggest hurdle.” – Nick Schiffer

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Nick Schiffer | NS Builders

Intro:

Welcome to season three of “The Better Way,” a podcast by Buildertrend. Here, you’ll learn to simplify and establish processes that will help you achieve your goals. There’s a better way to run your construction business, the Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as Zach Wojtowicz from Buildertrend’s training team chats with Nick Schiffer, owner of NS Builders in Boston about boosting collaboration with Buildertrend. On today’s episode, Zach and Nick are discussing the importance of getting your team onboard with using Buildertrend from day one.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Welcome back, everybody, to “The Better Way” podcast, where we talk about all things, construction and technology. Thank you for joining us for this season three of “The Better Way.” We have a very special guest with us today, Nick Schiffer. He’s going to be joining me for five episodes where we’re going to be getting into how to adopt Buildertrend into your business. Really getting into the weeds. We wanted to get someone who has gone through this experience that you can kind of have some empathy with and the struggles of going and changing a business that has been successful. So Nick, why don’t you give the people out there a little introduction to yourself, and then we’ll kind of get into it.

Nick Schiffer:

Sure. Zach, first off, I appreciate you having me on. My name is Nick Schiffer. I own a construction company here in Boston, Massachusetts called NS Builders. We do ground up new construction, custom homes, as well as plenty of renovations. I also own a cabinet shop. And we have a digital media aspect of our business too, which is I feel, unique to us. But I want to say that I’m excited to be part of this season because Zach, if I may real quick, I had actually signed up for Buildertrend in the very, very beginning. And I was all for it, thought it was going to be the coolest thing and basically, canceled it immediately. This is wildly overwhelming.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Let’s say, “We don’t need this. We can’t do this.” We hear that all the time. I hear that all the time.

Nick Schiffer:

Yeah. And it was probably, I don’t know, maybe a few months later we started growing more and then realized that, okay, this is something that actually is going to be hugely beneficial. And it’s not just about me adopting it. It’s about the team, and this is going to be an investment. So, I’m excited to talk about everything that we’re going to talk about in this season.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. So, we have a lot to cover, and we want to cover all aspects of what Buildertrend has offered and construction businesses. And as you just outlined a lot of builders, including yourself, have different avenues that you kind of explore. You have a cabinet shop, you have a digital media side things. It’s a diverse business that a lot of our listeners are trying to work. They’re not just building homes in most cases. And there’s a lot of other things that go with that, more people that you have to convince. So, this first episode we want to focus in on team buy-in, which is in my former background for our listeners out there that know me a little bit, was at onsite consulting. And I felt like at times when I was traveling, that was really my main job was being a cheerleader for Buildertrend and getting them to turn the corner, to see the vision.

And so, I’m really excited to get your perspective for someone who actually quit and came back. How did you introduce the concept of this construction management software to your business? I mean, walk us through a little bit of that journey as far as, how did you actually get to where you are today? I know that’s like a big opening question, but.

Nick Schiffer:

Sure. I started as just a carpenter and a carpentry company. It was me. I started slowly hiring family members. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I started hiring friends, for different reasons those didn’t work out. And then it was at one point where I started hiring people that … I actually was using social media to kind of build this persona of who NS Builders is. And I was able to talk to people that were genuinely interested in what I was doing and wanted to be part of it. And that’s when I started growing the business. We were still a carpentry company and then we started morphing into a much heavier renovation company doing large scale projects and then getting into some new construction.

And as the projects got larger, we realized where we were failing was the project management side. And we were doing a great job with carpentry, but we weren’t doing a great job with maintaining expectations or communication. How are we documenting things? At the end of the job, it’s like, well, does anyone have a document on what faucet we installed? There was just no organization really, to be frank. And it was when we were at a time where we decided that we’re going to put people in place as project managers and take it for lack of better terms, a little bit more seriously. And that prior to Buildertrend, I had implemented this Dropbox system where every day I created a folder and every day when they finished work, they’d dump a bunch of photos.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just everything in one place.

Nick Schiffer:

Yeah. And it was literally just photos. So, it was like day-by-day, I could go back and look. And I’m not really sure where I was introduced to Buildertrend originally, but the Daily Log function was the first thing that I was attracted to because it was like that, I mean, that solves this organization side of just tracking what we do on a daily basis. And when I started seeing all the other things it could do, I realized that this could effectively replace a lot of the processes I was trying to implement. I didn’t even have them in place, and I was just trying to put them in place, but I knew it was going to be a process in which it had to be learned. And when I introduced it to my team, I think one thing that I had to my benefit is that a lot of the people on my team are younger, and they’re early in their careers and a little bit more open-minded where we all value technology.

We all see how technology can help us. I also built a lot of my business around social media and technology. So, there was that kind of there wasn’t really that guy standing in the back of the classroom, not wanting to participate.

Zach Wojtowicz:

A bad student.

Nick Schiffer:

Yeah. And it’s for me, it was, that was really important, and I always knew that if I was going to implement something or if I stood for something, I needed to believe in it before I asked my guys to. So, I really, I spent the time to get to know it. I spent the time to understand the program and then I introduced it to my team and said, “This is something that it’s going to take some time,” it’s going to be and frankly, it’s, I think painful at times, because it does take an enormous amount of time to just really set it up to be ultra-efficient, but you guys were great.

And I remember Brad was my coach early on. And it was always, “If you ever have a question, email me or fill out this form.” And he had his phone number in his email, and I usually just call him, “Hey, I got an issue.” And he’s like, “All right, let me walk you through it.” But that’s what really kept me. And that’s what really kept my team is that the support from you guys was there. And when we ran into things, it was this step-by-step, here’s how you do this. Here’s how you do that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. And I think that’s a huge piece that separates any software that you use.

Nick Schiffer:

Yeah. I mean, it’s the customer support I think that you guys do a fantastic job selling the product and but you’re backing it up with the support on the backend. And I think I look back at that time, and I think about what my biggest challenge may have been in how it was changing my company. And I look at that as we were in this point of change anyway, and the biggest challenge was going to get us to slow down in the field with the projects that we had going on, to then dedicate time to implementing this and learning this and putting it into place. And knowing that on my end, it was going to take a lot of effort where my job was to run the business, but before I run the business, I really need to set these things up because we weren’t going to be able to continue to grow without some sort of structure.

And that could have been anything, but we just, obviously, chose to work with Buildertrend. So, I think the biggest challenge was just realizing that we need to hit the pause button for a minute and get a system, some sort of system in place before we start taking the next step.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s a great point. I’ve had a lot of clients that I’ve worked with. They’ve had that same realization, and I’ve been there in the moment when they’ve kind of come to that idea of, if everything is being channeled into one person or a small group of people, what happens if something doesn’t work out or they leave, or they’re not there that next day and your business is built on that person’s back. Buildertrend can be the process, the system, the thing that is always there, regardless of the moving people that are in and out of the operation. It’s really, really important, but it’s a hard thing to recognize because you’re just trying to get the house built, make your customers happy and make sure that you’re keeping the lights on, basically. When you were going through that adoption process, and you’re talking to people about using it.

You’ve learned it a little bit. You’re probably still not 100% comfortable because there’s always more kind of coming down the pipeline, things change. Was there a moment or a hurdle that you had to clear to get your team to really buy in or get to using it? And it helps, of course, your audience was receptive. That’s not always the case for people in my experience where there’s just, people are creatures of habits that it’s hard to break those changes. Was there anything you kind of had to push on to be like, “Stop doing this.” Or draw a line in the sand or any techniques you use to get to that point?

Nick Schiffer:

I think the biggest hurdle was just getting to that it was every day like, hey, daily logs, have to be done every day. And I notoriously check them at six o’clock every night. And if they’re not uploaded, I’m usually sending out any … I won’t text them because they’re probably home with their family, and they, frankly, forgot.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You drive up in their house instead. “Hey …”

Nick Schiffer:

Yeah. It’s like …

Zach Wojtowicz:

… “Where’s the daily log?”

Nick Schiffer:’

“There’s no pictures.” But I usually follow up with an email and just like, “Hey, this is important because not only is it me looking at it, but our clients bought into this, they’re looking every day.” And when we don’t upload a photo or, I mean a daily log, oftentimes a client will not talk to them, but talk to me like, “Hey, did you guys not work yesterday?” So, I think that was probably the biggest hurdle is just getting them to just, this is it. This is the platform … you’re in this every day. And the more we started implementing a process like we switched all our time clocks over to Buildertrend. Now it’s like, you don’t get paid unless you track your hours, and you can’t track your hours unless you’re clocking in at Buildertrend.

So, there was all of these micro things that we were putting into place. And I think about like, was there anything specific that we had to do to overcome hesitancy with our employees. And I think about some of the guys that don’t necessarily run through Buildertrend on beyond just like the time clocks for instance. And something we adopted internally is that we were going to provide cell phone allowances for everyone. And what that meant is that there’s an allowance in their basically saying, “Hey, listen, you need to be on your phone for work.” So, we’re going to provide you with an … some of our roles will have a laptop. Some of our roles will have a supplied iPad. But beyond that you’re also required to have a smartphone because there’s information on there that you might need, or that’s how you’re going to clock in and clock out. So, we’re helping try to offer a slight compensation just saying, hey, we understand that this is a personal item of yours that we’re asking you to use for work. And we respect that. So, we’re going to compensate accordingly.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of people adopt similar practices to find a way to make it less of a burden. If it is a data concern or costs, I’ve seen people use extrinsic motivations, whoever has the most consistent daily logs in a month gets a bonus, or will buy you a good dinner, or will get you a six pack. Whatever it has to be, people like those things because it feels like you’re not forcing it on them, but actually rewarding them for following the behavior that you set.

Nick Schiffer:

I think it’d be more fun to say, “If you don’t do your daily log, I’m going to come over and take away one beer out of your fridge every time I miss the daily log.” But it’s very true. It’s incentivizing in some sense, but I really think the one piece of advice I could give to anyone that is struggling with this is that you need to first and foremost, believe in what you’re selling to your team. This is something that you truly believe in and explain that it’s not just for you, it’s for them. And it’s for the client and the client side of it. I think that’s one of the most important sales parts of it is that the client’s looking at this.

So, when you’re doing a daily log, think about what the client’s going to read. Make sure that you’re not dumping like, “Today was a shit day and this happened and that happened.” It’s like, no, “Here’s what we got done today. It was a good day.” And if there’s an issue, maybe address that offline, if you feel the need, but keep the client engaged and keep it in my opinion, keep it on a positive note. But explain that to your team as how important this is for the client relationship, and ultimately, what will be the success of this project leading to the success of the team and the company.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Do you tell your team as well to call Buildertrend? I know when you were onboarding and working with Brad, do you ever hand out our information to just your employees so if they have an issue they can reach out? I mean, I think that’s another piece it’s like, not just the owner of the company, but.

Nick Schiffer:

Yeah. I think everyone definitely has the ability to reach out, and they do. It’s funny more than I even know. I’m not even privy to that information anymore, but yeah, they understand the ability to reach out, ask questions, whether it’s through the chat or whether it’s through our coach or even just looking it up through maybe one of your, the how-to tutorial videos. The information is there and they know that, and they’re able to utilize that accordingly.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. We try to go to great lengths to make sure people are aware of it, but I still feel like that message gets missed to where it’s in the program, I’ve talked to so many people are like, “Did you know there’s a help center with hundreds of videos on every little piece of the program that you can access to?” And they’re like, “No, I didn’t know that.” “Oh, how long have you been using us?” “Five years.” “Oh, okay.”

Nick Schiffer:

And I almost think that there needs to be this, maybe it’s once a month or once a quarter where you sit down with a team and just kind of recap like, “Hey, what are you struggling with?” And we did that with the onsite consulting with you guys. But I look forward, I look toward our future and think that maybe every couple of months we just sit in a room like that. And it’s like, what process are you struggling with? Oh, you can’t figure out a PO? Rather than you trying to figure it out alone, let’s see if we can work together as a group. And if we have to, then we can loop in Buildertrend and walk through it as a group. Because if you’re struggling with that, I’m sure someone else might be, or will at some point.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. In my consulting days, that was one thing I always told people, bring it up at meetings, set aside 15 minutes. You’re already doing your monthly meeting, weekly meeting about the projects. That’s the perfect time where everybody’s in a room to have that conversation. If you don’t put it on the agenda, things get missed. You won’t have the opportunity unless you create it or send a meeting invite through your email system. It takes 10 seconds. But now you have something to hold yourself accountable to that you have a place for people to know, this is what we’re here to talk about. And that’s when the culture starts changing. Right?

Nick Schiffer:

Right.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. For sure. And it is a process. I’m glad you brought that up as well. What did bring you back after you left? I mean, there’s that enormous period of time or that you look at the mountain, you’re like, “How am I going to climb this?” Right?

Nick Schiffer:

I think it was, I basically tried to implement it early, before I grew. And then we started growing, and I realized that, you know what I can compare it to, it’s like you’re in the ocean, and you take a life raft with you and you’re swimming out. And you say, “You know what, screw it. I don’t need that.” And you toss it back to shore and then you keep swimming out. And then you’re like, “I definitely need that.”

Zach Wojtowicz:

“I wish I hadn’t thrown that out.”

Nick Schiffer:

“Can someone throw that to me?” And I think that’s the way I looked at it is I was on the shore about to take our next step into growth. And I started walking out into the water and thinking that this was going to be, I can’t grow and implement a software. And I was wrong. It was the perfect time to bring that on board and then allow it to grow with us. I was just, at the time I was trying to reduce the amount of pain that we’re going to go through and not realizing that instead of kind of having this rip the band aid moment. And I was basically peeling that band aid off really, really slow if I didn’t go the route that I inevitably ended up choosing.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, Nick, we’re about out of time on this episode. Thank you for joining us. Nick will be back with us for the rest of this season. Make sure to tune in. I’m Zach Wojtowicz. Nick Schiffer, We’ll catch you next time.

Outro:

Thanks for listening to “The Better Way.” If you’re a Buildertrend customer, schedule a training to learn more. All listeners, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to “The Better Way” wherever you get your podcasts. Also, visit buildertrend.com/podcast to sign up for the email notifications when the next season drops and explore our other podcast, “The Building Code.” Don’t miss our next episode about how to identify your team’s essential features.


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