Upon taking over the business his father founded, Mann knew he needed to develop a plan to ensure the company’s longevity. He created goals for the future and increased the emphasis on customer service because that was one thing he felt he could control.
“In the real estate business, every project is different,” says Mann. “If we continue to focus on satisfying the customer and meeting the customer’s needs and building relationships where we understand the customer’s needs before we start a project, I think we will always create something of high quality.”
Today, Mann Properties has a 90 percent client retention rate, and its revenue has increased more than 35 percent in the past two years to reach $35 million.
Smart Business spoke with Mann about how he inspires employees and builds close relationships with clients.
What did you differently from your father when you joined the company?
We didn’t have a real growth strategy until I became managing partner. We hadn’t identified other markets we wanted to go into, we hadn’t identified necessarily medium- to long-term growth goals as it pertained to the different types of real estate that we did business in.
I like to think that I have been aggressive in setting goals and inspiring the people who work here to achieve those goals. I tried to make good decisions in land acquisition. I tried to have good relationships with clients and turn it more into a partnership than necessarily a client-vendor relationship. I think we have done that.
How do inspire employees to achieve the goals you set?
That’s a learning process trying to make people feel that, no matter what they do within our organization, they are adding to the greater idea of what we are trying to achieve. I like to feel personally that what we are doing here is more than just making money. It’s about creating something lasting that is good for the community, no matter what community we are doing business in.
It’s certainly not an easy thing to do to make everyone from the receptionist on up feel a part of that, but it is certainly what we try to do. We seek a lot of feedback. We only have 35 or 36 employees. When you are that size, I have a lot of contact with every employee all the time.
We seek a lot of feedback from our employees as to how we are accomplishing our mission, vision and values. We have very well-defined mission, vision and value statements that we try to reinforce constantly. Our performance reviews are based on those things mission, vision and values and how a given employee is helping the company achieve it or how we think they are helping us achieve it.
We are asking for a lot of feedback about, ‘Are we on the right track to achieving what we say we are all about as a management team?’
How do you maintain a family atmosphere as the company grows?
It has a lot to do with personality. I don’t think anyone would describe me of being stiff or aloof. I communicate very openly. I am very emotional about what I do because it excites me so much. I’m not the boss you are intimated by, or someone who is very formal. I am much more collaborative and familiar with the people who work here.
My dad is the same way as the patriarch of the company. Because of that, either the people who have chosen to work with us here are that way as well, or it has brought that part of their personality out. When communication is open and everyone is a little bit emotionally tied to what is going on, it breeds a sort of family-esque feel in the organization.
How do you build close relationships with your clients?
The real estate development community in general, whether it’s residential, retail, industrial or whatever, people involved in real estate development have a reputation; you’re always wondering if you are getting the straight story.
I certainly hope that we are seen as being much different than that after you have the opportunity to work with us, that we are open and you’re getting the straight story. We’re fair as far as pricing our products. We’re responsive as far as addressing problems.
We always try to make it a win-win situation. If our client is unsuccessful, then we are going to be unsuccessful as well in the long run. I think this open communication really goes a long way in building relationships.
We do a lot of surveying of our existing tenants to see how satisfied they are. Buildings age. Things wear out. There’s nothing you can do about that, but how well do you respond to it when you have the opportunity to respond?
Setting proper expectations and delivering what you say you are going to deliver goes an awful long way.
HOW TO REACH: Mann Properties, http://www.mann-properties.com/