Quicken Loans – How Employees Matter

Friends,

Wednesday was an enlivening day. Day 3 of the new employee orientation at Quicken Loans. No, I don’t have a new job, but the day made me think that this would be one cool place to work. (If Quicken sounds interesting to you, here’s a link: https://www.quickenloanscareers.com/web/) I was slipped in among 340 brand new employees – Quicken has been adding similar numbers every month. Although they offered coffee, tea, and soft drinks, the clear drink of choice was Red Bull, an energy drink. I wasn’t sure they needed it, because the average age was half my own; one guy was only 19! And they were all pretty fired up, as they spent the day listening to and interacting with “Chief Ism-ologist, Dan Gilbert.” Ism’s are Quicken’s title for the principles that are central to their culture and success. In more normal corporate parlance, Chief Ism-ologist Gilbert, goes by the term Chairman. I could write a month’s worth of RFLs on my experience on Wednesday. Let me begin by highlighting one point: the incredible commitment to enriching Quicken’s people. On the Fortune list of “100 Best Companies to Work For,” Quicken leads the pack of 100 in two separate categories: fastest employment growth and number of hours of training.* Quicken employees average 250 hours of training per year. Perhaps it’s why they have 94% customer satisfaction on the mortgages they close, in an industry where barely 10% of consumers would recommend their mortgage banker. I wonder why it is so hard for us to get this model: Enrich the employees who enrich the customers . . . who come back.

Commitment to the people starts at the top. Dan Gilbert spends a full day every month doing these employee orientations. Not once a year, not a video, but live 9-5, at the front of the room. He emphasized over and over that employees should take control of their environment. If a process doesn’t make sense, get it changed. If a light’s out, change it. If a customer calls, return the call, every call, within 24 hours. Don’t return a call, and you will hear from Dan or CEO Bill Emerson, who make calls every night to mortgage bankers who haven’t returned their calls to customers. The calls are not punitive, but meant to reinforce the importance of customer service and to figure out how to meet that standard without exception. The calls go both ways. If there is anything about the business Dan should know, he told them, “call me.” He gave them his direct extension and his cell phone number, and in the course of the day played back multiple voicemails he had received from employees.

You can talk about the importance of employees. We all do. And you can live it. In your world, how might you enrich your people this week? Give them knowledge. Be available. Learn their business. Demonstrate your interest, to

Lead with your best self,

Dan

* Quicken’s training hours are twice as high as their nearest competitors. But there is one strange exception: Arnold & Porter, a D.C. law firm, listed their hours as “varies” in 2006 and in the 2007 edition claim 1014 hours. I can only speculate that they are referring to work that lawyers collaborate on, in which case some mentoring or training takes place on the job; otherwise the number makes no possible sense.

21 responses to “Quicken Loans – How Employees Matter

  1. Todays article is a good example of what we need. But with a shortage of employees, some employees feel that they are needed more at their desk then at training. But training is necessary to keep the goals of the agency in the forfront.

  2. How often we hear about companies who make the claim that training is an investment in their people when in fact, they belive training is an unnecessary expense – the same companies who cannot “afford” to have their people away from their jobs -companies who are struggling with turnover, low employee morale, and high absenteeism. Years ago, I was exhilirated to be part of a new culture-change initiative that brought small groups of employees together and demonstrated the power of REAL teamwork and personal accountability. It was a complete success, but it took 4 1/2 days to complete the workshop. Like so many other initiatives, it died on the vine. Today, that company still battles low morale and high absenteeism.

  3. As a recent customer of Quicken Loans, I can attest to the results of their commitment to customer service. A fellow employee at the MI Dept. of Education referred me to her mortgage banker at Quicken with glowing praise for him and the company. Skeptical, I contacted him. My situation was a complicated home refinance, but he was certain that he could get us what we needed for some major home repairs and improvements.

    The process was fast, easy, and handled mostly through email and telephone. E-signatures made quick work of all the necessary paperwork. We had only one “hand-off” to an assistant, rather than the usual 6 or 7. Calls and emails were always returned within 24 hours.

    And the best part: Knowing that Quicken was a mortgage broker we anticipated our loan would be sold off shortly after closing. It was, but we were very surprised – and pleased – when we were informed that we could still work through our original Quicken contact person if we had questions or concerns about our loan in the future! WOW! That was a new one for me!! I appreciate this even more than the speed, efficiency, courtesy, responsiveness, and low rate that we got from Quicken Loans.

    Please let Quicken management know that their training WORKS!!

    Pam Kies-Lowe
    A satisfied Quicken customer

  4. I am curious about what percentage of quicken loan clients took an adjustable rate loan? These programs are a major reason for all of the foreclosures in Michigan. Might be a great company to work for but…

    1. But what?… If thats what made sense for the client at that time what should Quicken have done? Not written the loan? Do we blame Credit Card companies for bankruptcy?

    2. From the beginning, we asked for a fixed rate loan product, and were never offered anything else. No pressure, no bait & switch, just great customer service.

  5. I commend Quicken on their customer service initiatives, but is it customer or profit motivated. Please dont misunderstand me, I am all for making a profit, but at what cost.

    Michigan ranks as one of the highest mortgage forclosure states in the nation. High volume mortgage brokers have been linked to this problem. Have you looked at the default rate for Quicken originated loans as they compare to the national average? Are they setting up their customers for failure by making the process easier rather than accurate?

    Customer service training is needed now more than ever, as long as it is true customer service and not just a way of improving the bottom line at the expense of the customer.

    I dont know the statistics of Quicken, but I do know two families who lost their home from Quicken mortgages that they should not have been sqeezed into in the first place.

    1. Whether its profit driven or customer service driven….does it really matter? Every business is clearly doing it to make money. Its how the world operates. Since we all need the service, in this case a mortgage. Isnt it nice to know that your going to recieve great customer service??!! I NEED my phone electric to be working and on month after month, year after year. However, when I call about a “billing error”, the person on the other end of the phone is usually rude or not understandable. Furthermore, I’ve been hung up on many times because the rep was frustrated with my questions or concerns. My point is, EVERYONE is out to make money, services are not free. So why not work with someone who respects you and gives you great service….regardless of the reason!

      1. You are on target, Heather. We all have to do business with companies, regardless of income, need, or status. Why should any company have to farm out their customer service to other countries or hire uninformed and untrained individuals to speak to their customers? Whatever training Quicken used, I got superior and responsive customer service… which is SO much more than I can say for the multitudes of other companies we must deal with regularly by phone or internet!

  6. I have the same question that Susan asked in the first comment – how do you balance the training needs of your staff with the time they need to be at their desk doing their job? I am a public servant, working at a Michigan state agency that is under a continually increasing mandate to do more with less. Every hour spent in training, staff meeting, teamwork exercise, or whatever translates to unanswered phones, unprocessed cases and unfinished investigations. How can you make any meaningful investment in your staff if you first can’t give them what they truly need….a manageable job?

    1. Margaret and Susan,
      One answer, of course, is to convince the public-legislature that we need to invest more resouces in government work. That is a terribly difficult sell at the moment.
      A second answer is that great training beats the either/or: either train or do the work. Great training is relevant and in a very reasonable rate of time begins to save time. Training must be keyed to the work and how to do it more effectively and efficiently. That may be personal skills oreinted training like “time management” or software applications; or it may be more group oriented, e.g., to reduce error rates and save reworking, etc.
      Your question is a GREAT question, the absolute RIGHT question: (How) Can we use training to our benefit when work loads are so high? It would be a great question for a staff meeting discussion.
      – Dan Mulhern

    2. I have spoken with some state employees who are given far more work than a human can do. One state MDOT permit writer told me he sits at his desk writing permits, and cannot visit or inspect any site as he is supposed to prior to issuing the permits. If he visited the sites the permits applications would pile up and never get processed.

      Human services are rationed to inadequate level. There is not enough time available to provide support for persons who depend on the system.

      Another state employee who is an inspector, this year for the first time did not have the time to inspect all facilities he is required to inspect.

      And so Michael Bishop says cut more “fat” out of government????? Remember we are writing about training: When could there be training; there is not time to do the job? John Engler never left Lansing.

      Mark John Hunter
      Alpena

  7. A good friend of mine went through this training just 2 months ago and there is a reason that they have to train and hire so many people per month. Its called employee turnover.

    What they didn’t say in the training was the extreme hours of telemarketing and cold calling that employees were expected to do and a meager base salary they get to live off of.

    After all of this ideological “fluff” training workers are left with a caffeine headache and the reality of a post collegiate job in a phone bank with an average of $8 per hour in compensation.

    Funny their CEO chose not to address these issues in his training……

  8. Training employees is something I cherished doing, when I was in managment. To me training is a big part of managment. However several employers I had experience with saw training as wasted effort. They wanted to hire fully trained employees and never invest a cent or a minute, in them. In those cases the “managent” employees were paid only slightly more to have a title, but do exactly the same work, get blamed for any problems, but not given the authority to correct the conditions which invariably and repeatedly lead to the problems. I could never explain to those employers that training, and change could improve their profits. These were people who would march off a cliff, because no one could change their minds.

    In the concrete block manufacturing industry I several times met employers who would complain about losing employees after they had trained them. The employees were hired in at about half of what a trained employees were paid at other companies; once trained they were not given pay raises, or only small pay raises. Then the employee would ask for the same or even a little less than what competitors were paying their trained employees. Those employees were often fired for asking, or if lucky already had an offer in hand. I heard this from employers and employees so many times, I wondered how it became such a custom. The position I am thinking of was a cash cow for the employers. Once that employee was lost, it took at least 3 months, generally longer, to find and give basic training and sufficient expereince to run a production line, so often the loss of the employee meant losing a few months profits for a production line!

    I think part of the problem with these employers is too big an ego, and having to be in total control. That kind of personality can succeed financially, and often they do not, but they can. The financial success is limited because the benefits of the full ability of their employees can never be realized. The employer is the only one allowed to think.

    Mark John Hunter
    Alpena

  9. We are going through a controlled layoff right now. We hired too many people and now we are forcing them out with unrealistic expectations in a brutal mortgage market.

  10. Although the head of our capital markets, Bob Walters, said that this is the worst mortgage market in over 20 years and that 30-40% of prospects that could have qualified a few months back now cannot, the management is demanding the same production. If this is not met, they are firing bankers. They are not acknowledging the market conditions, just ranting and raving trying to get bankers to quit so they don’t have to pay unemployment claims. It used to be fun coming to work, now everyone hates coming in. Stay tuned!

  11. With the Quicken loan process being lengthy and in depth, I feel as I went through a vetting,
    Why is Quicken then selling mortgages?
    Do they need liquidity?

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