What does Quality mean? I am not talking about the qualities of a company - the description that people use to describe the company. I am talking about Quality as THE description of a companies work. The way clients and competitors alike describe their work, their craftsmanship and their processes. All real estate investment companies have qualities, but not all real estate investment companies have Quality.
You see, for me, the definition of Quality is easy. It is the absence of compromise. Plain and simple. When someone - a person or a company - decides that compromise is not good enough, then the only option is quality. As one of our 4 Circles of Excellence, Quality and its' place in our daily business are extremely important. Sometimes, though, Quality gets over-looked for the hype, glitz and glamor of the marketing efforts of other real estate investing companies. So I wanted to really get down to the meaning of the word and how it fits into our daily routine. The great thing about Quality is that no amount of slick marketing can cover up for a lack of Quality!
The Definition Of The Word Quality
I found a great blog on line called Let's Talk About Quality. They had a post from last November that I loved because they put the question out to the social media universe: What Does Quality Mean To You? Here are some of my favorite responses from the blog:
Steve Eckhardt: "I think it was Henry Ford or someone of that era that said "Quality is doing what is right when no one is watching""
Daniel Lang: "Quality is the essence of the culture of an organization. If culture is moving in a positive direction, then product and/or service improves."
Jaume Alemany (@JaumeAlemany): "To me Quality is a process that drives people away of the short-term goals through a mindset of excellence. It is cultural."
Arturo Montero (@artmontero): "Meeting customer requirements every time."
Jim Myaard: "Quality is fulfilling the customers' purpose in a way that matters to them." Dr. Deming in "The New Economics" on page 2 of Chapter 1 said, "A product or a service possesses quality if it helps somebody and enjoys a good and sustainable market."
Reuben - CLSSBB, CQE: ""Quality" to me means building, servicing, offering, and producing a service, process, or product ethically with the highest possible standards inherently involved. "Quality" means doing it right from the start not because a customer or standard says so, but because it is what we should do as a core value. "Quality" means being able to look at yourself in the mirror with satisfaction and pride knowing that your stamp is symbolically there for everyone to see and that you have done your very best because that is who you are as an individual, as a project team, as an organization..."
Quality is all about what you do as a real estate investing company when you know that a little deviation to the left or a little deviation to the right will save you money, improve your profits or make your life as a company a little easier, but you stay right down the middle because any deviation is not what you promised your client.
Inspect What You Expect For Highest Quality
For Memphis Invest, making sure we deliver the highest Quality is everything we do is a process of inspecting what we expect on a daily basis. When we first started, that inspection process consisted of the Clothiers having meetings every morning, driving in the neighborhoods every day, meeting for lunch at McCallister's Deli with the team and then hitting individual houses again in the afternoon. Tough questions were asked and sometimes it seemed like the standard of excellence was impossibly high for our team and our contractors.
When we visited the neighborhoods, we were looking at our clients' properties that we had under management and we were looking at properties that were under renovation. There was zero hesitation from calling one of our renovation managers when we saw something that needed to be corrected right then! Trash at the curb - unacceptable. Contractors cars parked on the driveway - unacceptable. When we walked through houses if there was paint over spray or light colored grout was used or debris in the closet, dirt on the carpet - you name it - we were calling the renovation managers and they were calling the contractors. Sometimes it was for details like precisely where we wanted fire extinguishers to be mounted that seem so small, but the lesson being taught was huge.
We taught our team and any contractor or company that wanted to work with us that no detail was too small and over-looking details, even the small ones - was unacceptable! We had entire floors ripped up and replaced because the wrong color grout was used. We have had crews working into the night because a job was reported as 100% completed and our punch list was three pages long. We developed a mentality that Quality and Excellence were synonymous and reinforced to everyone who wanted to be a part of our success that there was only one way to do things...the right way!
Quality Is Ingrained In Our Culture
Today, we do not visit houses and neighborhoods as often as we did 6 or 7 years ago. When we had a staff of five or six people it was imperative that we were in the neighborhoods. When we were managing 300 properties and a handful or renovations at a time, it was easy to get by all of them in a short period of time. Now we are managing nearly 1,800 properties in Memphis alone and have 25+ renovations going every day. We rely on our team to learned the lessons we taught them every single day as the company was being built. We rely on our team to be in the houses "inspecting what we expect" and holding themselves and our contractors accountable. And then, there are always our surprise visits...just to make sure our standards of Quality are being upheld!
Quality permeates the rest of the company as well and is a cornerstone of our culture. As we have grown, the first employees have been great role models for the next employees who have been great role models for the next employees and so on and so forth. We have almost 40 full-time employees and a culture of excellence...a culture of Quality has been developed with everyone's effort and input. It is interesting to the thoughts and opinions of our staff when we get ready to hire a new employee. After multiple interviews with several different staff members, we get a pretty good idea of whether or not someone possesses the ability to work in our company. It takes commitment. It takes pride in performance. And more than anything, it takes a desire to be the best at whatever role you are asked to play. It takes Quality...an absence of compromise.
Next up: 4 Circles of Excellence - Teamwork