Haggler Uncovers Awesome Ponderables at Quicken Loans…

There are certain things I look forward to reading in the Sunday New York Times.  In the business section, you can always count on the Corner Office feature by Adam Bryant to have some nuggets of wisdom.  I also find David Segal’s “The Haggler” column to be well-written and informative

QLFB_icon_logo_reasonably_smallOn Sunday he wrote about Quicken Loans, a privately held mortgage lender — delving into the back story of how they’ve been so successful in the  J. D. Power & Associates rankings (Quicken Loans was rated highest in customer satisfaction among mortgage originators in 2010, 2011 and 2012).  The company has also been ranked in the top 30 of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 10 consecutive years.

The accolades earned by Quicken Loans can be attributed to the company’s culture.  The Haggler liked what he saw when he made an on-site visit to the company in Detroit.

Dan Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans and the company’s CEO Bill Emerson spend a lot of time and energy instilling a very particular work ethos into employees.

  • For newcomers, this involves a daylong speech/indoctrination led by Mr. Gilbert, who, on the day the Haggler caught his act, spoke for eight hours, with a break for lunch, wearing a clip-on red bow tie. The speech occurs once every five weeks or so and is delivered to recent hires, usually in a conference room of a hotel.
  • There is an “isms” presentation that definitely stood out which is described as being a set of pithy summations of principles which you can find on the Quicken Loans website.  There are 18 called out.


Some examples include:

Always raising our level of awareness.  As Yogi Berra said “You can see a lot just by looking.”  Keep your head up. Look. Be curious. Stay awake. Notice what is actually around you. Really notice. Everything starts with awareness. It’s a choice. The power of all of our future growth, innovations, and success is in the thousands of our eyeballs looking and seeing what’s around us.

Responding with a sense of urgency is the ante to play.  ‘Urgency’ is your inner compulsion and drive to get things done in a timely – yet thoughtful – manner. On this team, we return all phone calls and emails the same day. Not just to clients and partners, but to each other! Urgency motivates us to ensure we communicate all news fast – good and bad. We take care of it… NOW!

Every Client. Every Time. No Exceptions. No Excuses.  Clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Could it be any clearer? A great company is built one client at a time. If you ‘wow’ every client every chance you get, then they win and so do you. It’s as simple as that.

Obsessed with finding a better way.  Our mission is a never-ending quest to find a better way for every process and everything we touch. If it’s good, let’s make it great. If it’s great, let’s take it to an even higher level. Don’t settle for less. In fact, don’t settle at all. ‘Finding a better way’ is not something we do on the side or when we get time. Rather, it’s a key responsibility for every one of our team members. It’s our passion… our way of living…our obsession.

It’s not about WHO is right, it’s about WHAT is right.  There is no place at our company for typical corporate arrogance. Being a leader doesn’t give you the right for perks, it gives you the right to motivate others. Therefore, no matter how long you have been a part of our family, or what your job title might be, the best idea matters, not whose idea it is. It is never about ‘WHO’ is right. It is always about ‘WHAT’ is right.

Simplicity is genius.  Remember, you are you.  And we are we.  Meaning, when you communicate, remember that you are communicating to someone else.  They are not you.  You are you.  They do not know what you know, because they are them and you are you.  So, make no assumptions that they already know what you know in your head.  Don’t start at chapter five, start at chapter one.  As simple as that sounds, it’s something we often overlook. Many times simple is not just simple, but also better.

Do the right thing.  The high road is not a short cut. Stick to the highest standard of integrity, without compromise. Character is what you do when no one is looking over your shoulder!  Doing the wrong thing is never worth it.  Remember, eventually three things always come out: The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth.


Note: I picked seven because my mind tends to think in sevens like The Container Store’s Seven Foundation Principles.


Notable Quotable:

“If you don’t create a culture at your company, a culture will create itself,” Mr. Emerson said in a phone interview. “And it won’t be good. I sometimes hear people say ‘We don’t have a culture at our company.’ They have one. But if it hasn’t been nurtured, if no one has spent on any time on it, you can assume it’s the wrong culture.”

The Test Drive:

What I especially liked about the article was the Haggler’s test drive.  He sent a post from a Twitter account opened by the Haggler with a name that was not the Haggler’s — or that of anyone he knows. The post had no hashtag and was not sent to Quicken Loans’ Twitter account. The message read:

“I am not happy with Quicken Loans! And you can tell because I used an exclamation point.”

A response arrived within hours. “How can I help?” wrote a Quicken Loans employee, identified as Bianca. “Please send me an e-mail,” she added, providing her e-mail address.


Every second counts.


Quicken Loans is definitely a company to watch.  They’ve been getting publicity in the context of the revitalization of Detroit.


This is a picture of their new offices in downtown Detroit.  Looks like something that would be found in San Francisco.


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  1. This was an interesting article for sure.  Reinforces the importance of core values.

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