It’s always fun when you have the opportunity to sit down with an industry business leader who has a passion for making the intangible tangible, the non-measurable measurable. Such was the case with long-time multifamily professional Jared Miller, who views a company’s culture as the real power that makes an organization’s engine run smoothly and efficiently.

Jared is no stranger to a how culture can optimize performance during his career with companies such as Lane, RedPeak, Bainbridge and currently Homestead Development Partners – and in a variety of roles and company types, from marketing leader to operations and asset management, from fee to owned to development to being a partner in his current firm, to all of the above simultaneously. He was awarded MultiFamily Executive’s first ever “Rising Star” award in 2010, and was an NAHB “Pillars of the Industry” finalist for best marketing campaign in 2007. He gets it; he really gets it.

“Our current economy is very stable, our industry continues to perform quite well for owners, operators and investors, and as a nation we are seeing full employment for the first time in many years” says Miller. “Culture has always been a differentiator, but now it’s an imperative – it’s the only lever that can impact overall experience end-to-end, and therefore turnover among both employees and residents.”

So what is the end-to-end experience? Miller emphasizes it’s really about “everyone who touches your company,” adding that, “it can’t be about only your employees, although everything flows from their cultural experience and if you don’t have a strong one with them, then forget about it. Your residents, your investors, your supplier partners will all experience your culture – good or bad – in every single touch point they have with you. Your culture needs to extend to each and every one of those points, in a consistent and authentic manner.”

Everyone talks about culture and how important it is; Miller, however, takes it much further as not merely an aspect of a healthy business. “Think about it,” he challenges, “your culture, or lack of a good one, directly translates to your balance sheet. Fulfilled employees who have a voice, develop a passion, take pride of ownership and feel recognized will generally stay for the long haul and excel in their areas of responsibility. That’s lower turnover internally and on site, and that is real dollars to the bottom line. People who are happy and feel part of something special will reflect that in everything they do – better relationships and negotiations with suppliers, better reviews from satisfied residents online, more willingness to speak up when something isn’t right, better creativity and problem solving with everyday business challenges. It impacts everything. It’s like a renewable fuel for your business engine – it just takes focus.”

To illustrate the very real effect costs, Miller points to a recent Huffington Post article:

“According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement. Doing the math, that means that for an employee salaried at $60,000 will cost the company anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement. Other research shows that the average costs could be even higher. In a study conducted by the Center for America Progress, the cost of losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to 213% of the salary for a highly trained position! So if a high trained executive is making $120,000 a year, the true loss could be up to $255,600 to the company!

Miller adds that, “for our onsite professionals, the cost can be more significant given they are the front line for resident satisfaction and new lease generation. The cost could easily be a multiple of the above. To keep it simple and assuming a cost of $35,000 in expense and lost revenue to turn over one person per property annually for a company with 10 properties and applying a cap rate of only 6% to that expense; the impact on portfolio value would be $5,833,333.”

Miller adds that, “for our onsite professionals, the cost can be more significant given they are the front line for resident satisfaction and new lease generation. The cost could easily be a multiple of the above. To keep it simple and assuming a cost of $35,000 in expense and lost revenue to turn over one person per property annually for a company with 10 properties and applying a cap rate of only 6% to that expense; the impact on portfolio value would be $5,833,333.”

Miller acknowledges that building great culture is easier said than done, and that multifamily operators must do a much better job of leveraging culture in a scattered environment. “Listen, the reality is that some companies just don’t see the value and therefore don’t care about culture,” he explains. “For others, it is a focus. Some companies don’t let the process of creating culture flow organically. Who you are as an organization today is not who you will be five years from now. Your people change, your organization matures, technology is always transforming, the market challenges evolve; successful culture will continue to evolve as well.” Miller doesn’t advocate throwing the mission statement and values out every year and starting over; but it’s clear that his recipe for cultural stability and performance is all about adapting and growing with the natural growth of the organization – and allowing those at all levels in the organization to help guide cultural evolution.


“Some of the strongest culture I’ve seen is with companies who take the time to hire fun, smart people who fit the organization’s values” says Miller, “and sometimes that means the hiring process is longer to avoid simply filling a position with a qualified candidate. The key is to hire for culture and train for skill. But it also means that more candidates flock to companies with great culture, and this is a tremendous advantage when hiring.” Miller points out that you don’t have to look too hard to see this concept at work. “Look at Apple or Google; these are companies that have invested a great deal in creating an organic culture, and every college grad would give their left arm to work for them. What a tremendous hiring advantage!” And Miller is quick to add that, while it’s usually easier to develop great culture in smaller companies, “these are examples of enormous organizations that have made it happen. They started at inception, and have never lost focus on how culture impacts their overall success. In our industry, there are a few specific organizations that come to mind – RedPeak Properties and Cardinal Group. Both Denver-based, but with entirely different approaches. They are examples of a culture first mentality.”

In closing, what advice would Miller give to multifamily entrepreneurs? “I would think about culture first,” he says, ”because your culture is truly your road map to creating a differentiated company. Without knowing what kind of environment you want to develop, you can’t create passion for and in your people. You have to have a starting place, hire the best team members possible, and empower them to help you develop and deepen the culture. Your culturally-driven team will build your company’s success in the strongest, most surprising and wonderful ways imaginable.”

Wow! We like the way Jared Miller thinks about how culture can fuel performance and the bottom line. Here at Mobile Doorman, it’s how we think about our own culture as well as the “culture of community” we help our customers create.