Eric Bramlett knows real estate agents, brokers, and team members have their eyes on one prize.
This agent/broker based in Austin, Texas has successfully kept his profit-first mentality as the central guiding mission for his 13-agent boutique brokerage.
But it hasn’t always been easy. In mid-2019, Eric realized something was missing. Drawing inspiration from The Culture Code and HubSpot's internal culture deck, Eric and one key employee embarked on a 4-month mission to define exactly who they are as a company and why they do things the way they do. What started as an inkling that things in the team could be better, rapidly transformed into a 100+ slide deck that has become a true touchstone for his business.
After our last interview with the Bramlett Residential team leader, we learned Eric hired a couple of team members who simply didn’t work out. These early hiring mistakes, painful as they were, changed the course of Eric’s future hiring process for the better.
If he was going to attract the right agents and support staff, he had to define exactly who those agents are.
“We're really happy with our culture and we want to keep it that way. So the easiest way to screw that up, is to not define it and to have the wrong people on board,” Eric explains.
Anyone who has missed the signs of a potential bad fit knows what a huge wrench it throws into your business machine. So in a classic lemonade-from-lemons approach, Eric got up each morning before sunrise to write out everything that was and wasn’t working within his brokerage.
It was messy, challenging, and super productive. After mapping out the culture code that defined in detail who they are as a team, Eric got his entire organization on track to produce $180 million in 2020. Today, we find out exactly how he did it.
Want the backstory? Check out part one of Eric’s interview Profit First: How One Tracking-Obsessed Agent Regularly Hits $100M+ with a Team of Just 11 Agents.
Just want the video? Watch the full interview here!
“My quality of life improves whenever those around me also have a great quality of life.”
Team leaders like Eric are serious about success—both for themselves and others.
Before you dig into what your culture code should look like, it’s crucial to start with your ‘why.’
Define why your brokerage cares about culture, and on a more personal level, what it means to you as a team leader.
Remember, your culture code isn’t just about attracting the right team members, but also finding clients you love to work with and cultivating an office atmosphere that gets you excited to jump out of bed in the morning.
Once you nail down your ‘why’, it’s time to dig into your brand story. For most of us, that’s a whole lot harder than it sounds.
Of course, we all have a story to tell. Problem is, most of us aren’t that comfortable talking about ourselves and our business with a high-level of transparency.
But trust us, telling your brand story is one step of the process you do not want to skip.
Your story touches every part of the journey an individual has with your brand. Whether you’re attracting new clients or new agents, before anyone chooses to invest in your brand they want to know as much as possible about it, including:
Here’s how Eric explains his own brand story:
By sharing your brand story first, incoming agents and clients already know exactly how you operate and why you make the choices you do in your business.
And the best part?
Eric repurposed his culture code and brand story into an editable slide deck hosted on his company website. Now, any new agent looking to join his team has full transparency from day one.
Once your brand story is in place, come up with a list of key differentiators that set your company apart from your competitors.
The list will be vast at first. That’s ok.
The goal is to get as many aspects as possible down on paper. Then, narrow it down to your top picks.
One key differentiator for Eric’s team is client and agent happiness.
For Eric, customer and team member success isn’t just a marketing value prop, it’s his core mission.
He’s also a huge fan of the book Measure What Matters by John Doerr—Eric wants strong, measurable goals for each of the agents on his team.
“Measure What Matters teaches you objectives and key results. So your objectives are your goals. The key results are how you measure those goals.”
It’s an important distinction. For each objective in his company, Eric has a measurable outcome he can attach to it to help transform that objective into something real.
Here are a two quick examples of how you can set key results for core objectives within your business:
Example 1: Client Satisfaction
Objective: How do you know your clients are happy?
Key Result: They post online reviews about their good experience.
Example 2: Agent Success
Objective: How do you know your agents are successful?
Key Result: They set measurable goals and reached or exceeded them.
Eric is a big fan of Measure What Matters by John Doerr. Reading this book helped him better understand how to set goals and measure outcomes — a true game-changer for his business. And if you’re struggling with “perfection over progress” syndrome, Kaizen for Small Business Startups is an easy read to help you break through your blocks.
All the content you create for your business can be repurposed. The same rings true for your culture code slide deck.
House your slide deck on your website so it’s available to use as a powerful recruiting and hiring tool. (Here’s how Eric’s culture library looks.)
Eric recommends using your culture code deck passively, rather than handing it out to all potential hires during the recruitment process.
Here’s how Eric uses his culture code to engage potential new hires:
It’s important to remember that your slide deck functions as a small piece of your recruiting process and shouldn’t make or break whether someone gets hired. Make sure you don’t discount high-producing candidates who didn’t take the time to read the deck.
“If you have somebody who looks like a good fit [...] I think it's a very good idea to send them this, Eric explains, "If they don't read it, maybe you still take them on if everything looks good. But you definitely want to take that into consideration.”
Whether you have your core values and culture code nailed down or not, it’s important to remember nothing is set in stone.
Eric is a huge fan of transparency, and has an open door policy for team members. He keeps his culture code in a living work-in-progress doc that’s easily editable any time they want to update it.
The Bramlett Residential Real Estate Team is always working to improve their company culture code. Photo: Bramlett Residential Facebook Page
“If anybody sees anything that they'd like to improve, they let me know and then I have my nose in it all the time. So if I see something that doesn't necessarily mesh [...] I can get in and modify it whenever we feel like it.”
This is great advice once you have your slide deck in place.
But you may wonder how to get started.
Eric recommends developing your culture code after you’ve been in business for a while. Anyone read books, jot down ideas, and never take action. But implementation is key.
Plus, each company is different. Defining your code means evaluating your own unique goals and figuring out what’s working and what isn’t working in your business.
Here are Eric’s top suggestions when developing your culture code:
It’s important to train yourself to use the document, and use it often. Eric notes, “Alex Glidden, who helped with this a ton [...] always says that, ‘The biggest weakness in any organization is human memory.’”
Eric recommends teaching your agents to get into this habit, as well. Whenever your team members have a good experience with a client, make sure they jot it down and share.
The same goes for bad experiences, or experiences when they realize something can work better.
“Whenever you think of something, you need to have a tool where you will not forget it,” Eric suggests.
This tool can be a notebook, a phone app, a voice memo, or even an email to yourself (which is Eric’s personal go-to method for tracking ideas and insights on the fly).
Eric and his team use Follow Up Boss as their central CRM and a place where they can keep track of any important details related to their customers and prospects.
Now that Eric’s culture code is in place, he’s planning to produce less and support his team more when it comes to handling big business issues they’ve never seen before.
“What I love doing and where I'm driving everything towards, is helping people with high level problems,” says Eric.
This team leader shines brightest when he’s wearing his critical thinking cap. When he gets to dig in and get his hands dirty, Eric is truly in his happy place.
By taking a critical-thinker’s approach to solving (and documenting!) customer, team and culture developments, Eric’s business grows stronger with each new update to his culture code.