The Franklin Johnston Group Strives to “Be the Solution”

We’ve all seen a wide gamut of attitudes in the business world when it comes to getting things done, from “it’s not my job” to “I’m on it” and everything in between.  The Franklin Johnston Group strives for a very simple but powerful approach with their site teams, encouraging them to “Be the Solution” with whenever they encounter a challenge or opportunity.

Chris Beckwith (VP of Marketing), Mary Stine (Marketing Manager) and Morgan-Taylor Miller (Digital Marketing Specialist) are the enthusiastic shepherds of “Be the Solution,” the seeds of which were born during a recent business retreat.

“Every year our culture committee reaches out to the site teams as a group and individually for their feedback, and it was clear they wanted to be more involved with decision factors in determining programs, policies and procedures. We wanted to create a program where our employees feel empowered that they are the solution day in and day out,” says Chris Beckwith.  Mary Stine adds that, “it really gets our teams motivated to do their best, and they are so excited to participate.”

So, what is “Be the Solution?” There are four cornerstones that support the philosophy, including training, standardization, customer service and people. TFJG created a video from the company executives (it all starts at the top, after all) that you can view here.  In addition, every site employee is eligible for a weekly prize and can be nominated by managers or other team members. For example, here’s the nomination for recent weekly award winner Jeff Hibbard, Community Manager in Training for Spring Water:

“Not only does Jeff go above and beyond for the residents here at Spring Water, he does the same for his fellow coworkers. Maintenance needed an extra hand for quarterly filter/apartment checks back in January. Jeff didn’t bat an eye, he jumped to the opportunity and was a huge help for maintenance.

  Jeff also took on the task of figuring out a mailbox key issue we kept running into. Jeff took ALL the mailbox keys and matched them up to each mailbox. You would think this would be an easy task but half of the keys were to the old locks and some keys were just missing. Within one week Jeff had this issue straightened out. No one asked Jeff to do that but that’s the kind of person Jeff is — hardworking, dependable, and has a fire to succeed.“ 

                                                — Megan Kovacevich, Community Manager

Of course, espousing a mindset and making it a reality is easier said than done, so what is the glue that pulls this program together and gets employees on board? “It really is the core values of the company, and the most important part is living them,” says Mary Stine. “The book Fish! Philosophy helps remind us to live these core values every day, not only at work, but also in our personal lives at home. It supports our 6 core values.” TFJG is serious about their values, which are listed on their website complete with tag lines:

Commitment:             Our passion is our people!

Knowledge:                 Learning empowers . . . ASK!

Teamwork:                 Make something happen!

Character:                   Work like no one is watching.

Communicate:            Honestly and respectfully.

Balance:                      Enjoy life.

One of the TFJG executives, Gloria Harrison, is emphatic regarding the customer service mindset behind “Be the Solution,” which is “not a department, it’s an attitude.” Morgan-Taylor Miller adds that the program “creates a sense of purpose and responsibility, and our associates know their efforts make a difference.” The team sees the program as a grass roots effort to interact with each other and customers every day, building lasting quality relationships.

For TFJG, it really is about creating both lasting impressions and a sense of community.  An annual company initiative demonstrates this in a very tangible way. Each and every child at a TFJG community receives a backpack filled with school supplies at the beginning of the school year. They also encourage residents to get involved in community outreach programs, helping in various children’s causes and local food banks. As Mary Stine points out, “our community managers are empowered to be the solution in the larger community, not just the site itself.”

“Be the Solution” also extends to the company’s suppliers, Chris Beckwith explains. “Our suppliers are an extension of our team and our brand. These partnerships are important to us beyond the products and services they bring to bear, because these same people are out there talking to other owners, investors and management companies. Again, it’s all about creating a positive, lasting impression with everyone we touch.”

Beckwith continues, “We are really fortunate to have three founders who are extremely passionate about the future of the apartment industry and bringing strong leadership to the values behind ‘Be the Solution’ and the FISH! Philosophy. They are the reason we’re able to do the things we do.”

The Franklin Johnston Group is a developer and manager of multifamily rental residences in the senior, luxury and affordable housing sectors. The company owns and manages more than 11,000 units and over 70 properties throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The Franklin Johnston Group’s portfolio is composed of its own properties as well as those managed in partnership with various individual and institutional investors. The company develops new properties and acquires and rehabilitates existing communities. Principals include Wendell Franklin, Tom Johnston, Taylor Franklin and Steve Cooper, with a combined experience of more than 100 years in the industry.

Courtesy of Multifamily Insiders, April 2, 2017

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