No matter what size company you work for there’s always a huge effort going on…
Inside the Office of SpareFoot
Today we are kicking off a new series, where we talk with Pingboard users inside the worlds most admired companies to find out what makes their company so awesome. This week we talk with Willa Glesener, Office Manager at SpareFoot in Austin, and one of Pingboard’s very first customers.
SpareFoot is the country’s largest online marketplace for self-storage, making it easy to find and book the right storage unit. They connect people who need storage space with local facilities that have availability. Their mission is to take the hard work out of the search for self-storage, so customers can efficiently “move in and move on”™. What’s amazing about SpareFoot is how passionate their employees are about their industry.
No offense to the storage industry, but when I think of storage units, the most exciting thing about them is the show “Storage Wars” and the thought that there might be treasures hidden inside. But when you talk to SpareFoot employees, you can literally feel their passion for the industry and that passion was strong enough to get me excited. Imagine what it does for their customers. It’s awesome.
SpareFoot is based in Austin, TX, so you can imagine my surprise when I was in Virginia telling a client about how passionate the employees are at “this company in Austin that is an e-marketing site for storage units” and my client said, “Oh, SpareFoot?” I was shocked, so I asked the client how he knew. He told me that one of his friends from Virginia had recently taken a job at SpareFoot and throughout the interview and transition phase, he was always talking about how great the company and industry are.
There’s a reason SpareFoot has grown from 80 employees to more than 180 employees in the past year, and it’s because they’ve created a strong vision, have brought employees into the fold who believe in that vision, and have created an environment that reinforces the commitment to, you guessed it, that vision.
Part of their plan is to create an environment where employees are engaged, passionate, and working together effectively. Willa, their office manager, told us that she works hard to “facilitate each employee’s best performance by giving them what they need to do their job happily and efficiently.” Here are three highlights of really cool things they’re doing to create a great work environment:
- Original Gangster Dinners: “We know how important it is for us to submerge new hires into our culture, industry and history,” she said. Which is why they send all new hires to an OG dinner with employees who have been at SpareFoot for at least two years. The dinners are organized by the People Department and allow newbies to get a feel for what SpareFoot is all about.
- Love Storage: SpareFoot wants their employees to know and love their customers and clients. In order to love them, they must first understand them, and they achieve that by providing all employees (even those whose jobs primarily face internal matters) with frequent opportunities to interact with consumers and clients, in person and on the phones. Once employees have come to know their customers, they can relate to them on a fun and new level. Playing beer pong with operators at a trade show? Been there. Sending clients a yearly calendar created by the employees where the photo shoots were done inside a storage unit? Done that. “I actually received an email from a state self-storage organization’s director last week, asking for ice breaker ideas for a board meeting. She said she needed fun ideas and instantly thought of us.”
- Know Thy Neighbor: In order to create an environment where employees know each others names, SpareFoot uses Pingboard in a really creative way. One of their developers built an application that encourages employees to learn each others names using what they call Name Game. The game is enabled in any of their chat rooms on HipChat, and if someone in that room starts the game, then everyone else in the room competes to see who knows the most number of names and faces. “The cool thing,” Willa said, “is that it pulls the names and photos from Pingboard as soon as the person is added so even our newest employees make it into the game”.
SpareFoot is moving and shaking the storage industry, and one of the big reasons for their success is the focus they’ve put on their employees and the entire employee experience.
What are some other fun ways that you’ve seen companies encourage their employees to love their industry?