Quicken Loans – How Employees Matter


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,


* 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.