Davies Allen Accounting Firm Interviews Spencer Janke of Utah Cribs
This week, Davies Allen sits down with Spencer Janke, co-founder of Utah Cribs for an interview about life and business in real estate.
D+A: What’s your main role at Utah Cribs?
Spencer Janke: I am a broker on the real estate side. My role within Utah Cribs is to sell real estate. Jake [Breen] and I started working together almost 15 years ago. We own a development company, and we’re a large real estate company on top of that, along with a construction company. So we do all three types of the business sects. We’re both brokers. On the Utah Cribs team, we have 5 guys that work for us that do our sales. Last year in sales we did 67 houses. This year, we’ll probably come close to that. Every year we’ll do 10 developments on the low end, high end, 30. It depends on what it is. On the development side, we develop land. Sometimes we’ll do high-end remodel. Right now, we have four custom homes that we’re doing. We’ve got two in Sugarhouse and two in Dimpledale. We’re the jack of all trades when it comes to real estate. So it’s not just Utah Cribs, but it’s the umbrella.
D+A: What made you want to get into real estate?
Spencer Janke: When I was really young, my best friend’s dad was a real estate broker, and I thought “Heck, if he can do it, I can.” Jake and I have known each other since we were 5 years old. We went to Kindergarten together, and when we were about 21 years old, we said “Hey, let’s do real estate.” We didn’t know anything about it, but we started, and every year we’ve gotten bigger and bigger.
D+A: What advice would you have to other people who are looking to get into a business similar to this?
Spencer Janke: It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. They say that only 20% of real estate agents actually make it in the business. In Salt Lake County on the real estate side, there’s about 8,000 agencies, and only about 10% of them make a full-time living. Out of that 10%, 20% of us are the top producers. It’s super hard to break into that realm. I think sustainability is obviously the most important thing, and a lot of people just give up. People ask me all the time how they get into real estate. When we started out we were lucky enough that we had no bills. We were 21 year old guys going to college and we didn’t have families. If I didn’t have money for 6 months, it was like “Who cares?” But for the guy who’s 35 years old and has three kids to feed, to go from a nine to five job to commission-based, make it or break it, it’s super hard. My biggest advice for people is to start young. Fortunately for us, we did.
D+A: How have you found that you can have a sustainable business?
Spencer Janke: We’ve been at this for 15 years. We’ve increased sales every year since we started pretty constantly. This office right here at Berkshire, there are 180 agents. We were the number one agents across the Wasatch Front last year from Provo to Orem. We have a large SOI, or sphere of influence. We’re pretty confident that as long as we work hard, we can do it. The difference between us and other guys in the industry is that we’re always at the office. I never leave my office before six, and I’m here before eight. Just because I work for myself doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and play. If I make a big commission check, I’m not going to spend it or go on a vacation, I’m showing up at that office again the next morning at 7:30. You make as much money as you can if you just show up and work.
D+A: How do you personally define success?
Spencer Janke: Society would tell us that’s a dollar figure. I won’t say I’m not motivated by that. I think everyone wants to be happy, but when you’re comfortable, it’s a little bit easier. Every year I set my own goals in regard to what I want to do on the real estate side. My goal is always to double my real estate income on my investment. There’s years that I’ve far surpassed that, and there’s years I haven’t even come close. It depends on the kind of sales year I have. Success comes from setting goals and then actually achieving those goals.
D+A: How do you motivate yourself to achieve your goals?
Spencer Janke: When Jake and I first started, we were at a no-name company, we didn’t know what we were doing. At 22 years old, we sold 55 houses in one year. That’s a lot of property. We said to each other “Hey, if we want to grow, we need to be around people who are better than we are, or else we’re going to plateau,” so we researched other brokerages that had the largest numbers of high producing agents. I didn’t want to go to a brokerage house with a bunch of average agents. The number one thing for us is to surround ourselves with people who are better than we are. We associate ourselves with people that are doing things and who are successful. By default, you’re going to emulate what they’re doing, and you learn from their mistakes. That’s my number one [piece of advice]. Surround yourself with successful people.
D+A: How have you felt like social media has helped in marketing your business?
Spencer Janke: I am a little bit different than other people when it comes to social media. You would never see me post on my social media “Hey, call me if you need to buy a house.” I would never say that. I’m going to post a picture of my family and I’m going to comment on people’s photos and interact with them. I’m in a relationship business. Everybody who knows me, they know I’m a real estate broker. I don’t need to tell them I’m a real estate broker. I’d rather engage people in on my own personal life. If I can get them to engage in my life, I’ll engage in their lives, then when it comes time for them to buy or sell a home, or somebody’s grandma has 3 acres of undeveloped land, they’ll say “Hey, Spencer develops land.” I just need to stay relevant. I look at my social media as my sphere of influence, and I’m not going to do anything to piss those people off. I don’t ever want to spam them. Sales number one, if you talk about yourself all the time, people are going to hate you.
D+A: What would you say has been the biggest hindrance in your business?
Spencer Janke: Time. That and getting good employees. I’ve had a lot of secretaries over the years and I currently don’t have one because I think it’s a waste of money. Mine and Jake’s biggest problem has always been that no one is like we are. No one has to tell us to work or how hard to work, and we never stop. The problem is replicating myself. Any business owner will tell you that delegation is key, my problem in this industry is that it’s so personal. I’m really good at that relationship-building. The moment I try to pass them off to someone else, it just doesn’t work.
D+A: How has Davies Allen helped you in your business?
Spencer Janke: Mentally, I don’t have the time to think about my tax returns, quarterlies, and all those sorts of things. I’ve known J.W. for years, and he’s definitely made it fairly stress-free when we do it, even though it’s always last minute. That’s the nature of the beast [laughs]. The biggest thing is that I trust it’s going to get handled. It might be stressful while you’re actually doing it, but I know that once it’s done, I’m not going to have to worry about it. From my perspective as a business owner, and when you break into that higher bracket, my biggest worry is an audit. I need to make sure that I have someone who’s got my back. I think J.W. and Davies Allen has provided me that sense of comfort.
For more information on Utah Cribs, visit http://utahcribs.com/.