This week, NAR Vice President of Business-to-Business Communications Stacey Moncrieff and I toured the headquarters of Quicken Loans in downtown Detroit and sat down to speak with a few key players there about the mortgage market, commercial design, and urban renewal, among many other topics. You’ve probably heard about how Quicken Loans Founder and Chair Dan Gilbert is looking to revitalize the city via his sizable business investments there, and that’s something we hope to dig into further at REALTOR® Mag. But here at the Book Scan, I wanted to share some reading material that you wouldn’t necessarily assume to be the most engaging: the Quicken Loans employee manual.
An art installation in the company’s offices in the Compuware Building in downtown Detroit. The Isms book cites the mid-century innovations of local soda favorite Faygo as inspiration in their “We’ll Figure It Out” chapter.
OK, so it’s more than a manual, really. Quicken Loans sent us home with copies of Isms in Action: Faygo Edition 2014, which is a 140-page book produced by the company that outlines the values and expectations throughout the many sister companies under the Quicken Loans family. The mini-chapters cover everything from customer service expectations (“every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses”) to their openness to innovation (“yes before no”). It’s colorful and fun, filled with real-life e-mails, pictures, and stories that illustrate the isms in action. But the best part was being able to see and hear firsthand how these isms affect life for the leadership, employees, and clients of Quicken Loans.
Jay Farner, Quicken Loans president and CMO, explained that the isms help communication and decision-making flow more naturally between leadership and employees. He said that the isms had been in development for a long time, with Gilbert talking about them and sharing stories informally for years before the idea came to make a book out of it.
“Dan said, ‘We’ve got to package this in a way that’s digestible for our team members if we’re really going to get people to understand them,” Farner recalled. He added that having the isms also helped the company avoid some of the common problems that plague companies that grow rapidly. “If you’re growing and there’s still only three or four people who can make a decision, you’re going to become pretty bureaucratic pretty quickly. And so the mission has been to make sure everyone understands our culture so they’ll be able to make decisions about what we should do when any situation arises.”
Derek Latka, vice president of business development for Quicken Loans, started at the company two years ago. He vividly remembers the impact that the isms discussion had on him as a new member of the team. He said that he was used to the idea of having a mission statement foisted upon him when starting a new job, and explained how his experience at Quicken Loans was different.
“Usually, you get a little manual and they review it with you and you put it in a drawer and you never see it again. Here, we live and breathe that every single day. Those isms, those core philosophies that we hold are quoted daily,” Latka said. “It’s constantly at the forefront of every decision we make and I believe it’s that culture that makes us different. I truly do. It’s a great place to be.”
The isms also help the company manage Quicken Loan’s reputation in the outside world. Eric King, VP of REALTOR® relations, explained how having a stable vision of customer service achieves that goal.
“We all live by that same drive and desire to take care of the client,” King said. “When you take care of that buyer or when you take care of that person refinancing, or the listing agent, or buyer’s agent, we want them to stand up at their next sales meeting and say, ‘I had a deal with Quicken Loans, and I’ve got to tell you, they honored everything they said they would, they stood up, and I’m a fan.’”
Of course, we all want raving fans, whether they’re employees, higher-ups, or clients. And we all have our own isms that we live and work by. Maybe it’s time to write them down?