Build a Winning Team, Success will Follow

One of the greatest aspects of doing business in this industry is the opportunity (and necessity) we all have to build our teams. Our greatest task, challenge and reward lie in our ability to build these winning teams.

Let’s be real, folks. It is a challenge to build a team in any business — much less a predictable, profitable team that wins consistently. Our teams must include those with skills in marketing, sales, craftsmanship, and accurate accounting for our clients. At the end of all that team building, the team must produce profit. And what a bonus if everyone on the team says, “Wow, that was fun, boss. Let’s do it again.”

I have found my time is best served by finding, motivating and cultivating leaders for every department on the team. After this, creating a win-win compensation and recognition plan for each leader on a per-project basis is essential.

I discovered in 1999 that creating this environment of teamwork was imperative to my survival. I was fortunate enough to have some successful sales reps quit on my new company and me. That hardship taught me some very valuable lessons about building a winning team.

One of the reps who quit told me one of the biggest reasons they decided to leave was because I was running all the best sales appointments, and they felt they were in an unfair competition with me. Hence, they decided there was no future for them if they had to compete with the guy who makes all the rules.

In fact, he even went so far as to say, “Eric, if I could give you any advice it would be to spend your time supporting your sales team instead of competing within it. Granted, you are phenomenal at sales and maybe we are just good and not phenomenal, but I promise you that as you try to build this company you will find much more success by sharing each project with more people in your company than keeping it for yourself just because you can.”

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks, and from that pivotal conversation coupled with dealing with the exodus of some great sales reps, I learned to support my team and design winning recognition and compensation plans. It was out of losing those reps and the immediate setback from creating the bigger picture that I was challenged to recreate and reshape the daily smaller pictures into a formula that creates a winning team atmosphere.

We all can do this in every department of our businesses. Here are a few examples to consider that have worked for me in my business:

Marketing. You can create motivation for your leader and staff to find more projects by providing a clear goal and bonus for overachievement on a per-project basis.

Sales. Whether you have one or 50 sales reps, you can create a lucrative compensation and recognition plan based on the quantity and profitability of each project the team completes. If you sell a project, never do it alone, and, give your rep 100 percent of any sales commissions.

Craftsmen/Production. This team should also be recognized and compensated based on specific job performance. Providing compensation that includes an upside on projects done on time and within budget will greatly enhance the bottom line.

Accounting and Finance. As with craftsmen, this team should be compensated on a per-project basis rather than a set salary or an anchor on the bottom line. Great record keeping is essential to keeping our projects going but should not hinder the company’s ability to stay on a per-project winning formula.

The biggest hurdle to overcome in this team approach is for each leader and department to not only recognize, but also to respect the fact that it takes the entire team to produce a winning result. We must foster this atmosphere by focusing our energy on supporting our team leaders in a fair and just way. We must always recognize the bigger picture. Building the team, rather than selling or building the client’s project, is where our highest and best use of time is.

Let’s remember to include everyone on the team on every project to build team unity. After all, our businesses are built on making clients happy and being profitable. The more we can share this undeniable, essential fact and reward with our team, the more we can grow our businesses and build our winning teams. Then we’ll hear more of, “Wow, that was fun! Let’s do it again.”


Eric Martinson is the founder and chief executive officer of Pacific Coast Home Solutions, Anaheim, Calif.