Andrew E. Brickman says anything is possible if you’re persistent in pursuing your goals.
He’s proven that with the success of Abode Living’s recent development projects, despite a downturned economy that has particularly devastated the real estate market. Only one town home remains for sale of 27 at the upscale 27 Coltman in Little Italy, while the first phase of million-dollar town homes at Eleven Rivers in Rocky River has sold out.
Already on to a new project, Clifton Pointe in Lakewood, the managing partner and director attributes Abode’s success to innovation and quality fostered by a culture of employee empowerment.
Brickman emphasizes that his staff members are partners — not just employees — in the business. He looks to his nearly 200 current project employees to help him continuously improve the company and serve its customers well.
“If you have an opportunity to interact with people at all levels within the organization and you can see what they’re doing and you know what their position entails, you can work with them to help empower them to do a better job,” Brickman says.
To empower employees, ensure your compensation system directly relates to productivity, as opposed to a standard cost-of-living payment system.
“Rewarding people based on merit and productivity versus a fixed rate of compensation is — if practical — a more effective way to create a type of culture that I think will foster the most favorable results,” Brickman says. “I don’t think the fear of losing their job motivates people.
“I certainly believe in a pride of ownership — that if it’s yours, you’re going to generally take better care of it.”
Give employees more responsibility to further their sense of ownership in the company by allowing them the flexibility to make their own decisions, get creative and take risks.
Brickman’s director of branding and marketing developed a charitable partners program that committed Abode to match donations made by customers, suppliers and contractors. Despite the monetary cost, Brickman says the program has resulted in increased exposure to Abode’s target demographic.
“Creating a sense of significance and importance within the employees’ psyche relative to the overall success of the company creates a sense of confidence,” Brickman says. “It further empowers them, makes them feel more responsible and more a part of the organization’s success.”
Promote open communication so that employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and critiques.
“Foster an environment that leads to more people willing to speak up to try and make changes or try and identify problems sooner rather than later,” Brickman says.
“The people that (CEOs) surround themselves with have to be willing to speak frankly and speak their minds so that if they don’t understand the vision of the CEO, it can be refined and it can be improved upon.”
Brickman’s vision is for his employees is to go above and beyond the Golden Rule to satisfy customers, treating customers better than they would want to be treated in the same situation.
Employees who feel personally invested in the success of the company, and thus their performance on its behalf, will actively embrace this vision of excellent service. This benefits the company, as well as its customers and ancillary support.
“A relationship should be a win-win relationship,” Brickman says. “We should try and be focused on how we can help (customers and suppliers) improve themselves and their business. And that’s kind of the culture I’ve tried to create within the organization, one based on optimism, passion and persistence for always trying to do the best that we can.”
How to reach: Abode Living, www.welcometoabode.com or (216) 721-0027
It’s not just about how you can serve your customers; it’s also about how your customers can serve you. Andrew E. Brickman hosts “share its” to get outside input from customers and suppliers before starting a project, ensuring issues are identified and worked out before starting.
“Make these people feel like they’re an important part of the project, that their opinions matter and that we appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedule to weigh in on it,” says Brickman, managing partner and director of Abode Living. “By doing that, you get people who really care, who are sincere and who aren’t just there to say yes to the project.”
Be professional and hospitable by hosting these collaborative meetings at a distinguished venue.
“By hosting it in a fine-dining establishment, we create a certain sense of quality — that we’re committed right down to providing a quality experience for the people who are in attendance,” Brickman says.
Communicate with customers to find out what they value in a product or service to give you an edge over competitors.
“If you don’t have something very special and you can’t relay that to your customers, then you’re going to have a commodity,” Brickman says. “And if it’s a commodity, it’s just a race to the bottom in terms of price.”