By Matt Cardwell
I originally started this entry last Wednesday afternoon hunched over a 12” thin crust pizza in Chicago.
I was sitting at the bar at Pizanos Pizza and Pasta on E. Madison Street , killing some time before my train left. I’d spent the past three days at Forrester Research’s Consumer Forum listening to a bunch of really smart people talk about the types of things that really smart companies are doing to communicate more honestly and openly with their really smart customers (blogging—no surprise—was a hot topic). While I get that these things are important to differentiate yourself from your competitors, that day, my inspiration was coming straight from a guy called Rudy Malnati, Jr.
Rudy, as I learned from Kat, the bartender who seems to have something in common with every person who slid up to the bar, “gets it.” He’s built a thriving restaurant business around the idea of authenticity. In an area of Chicago abounding with tourist traps, Rudy’s place is the real thing. You know the scene: red and white checkered tablecloths, little votive candles on the tables, Dean Martin crooning Volaré over the PA. It’s the very thing restaurant chains have slickly tried to replicate in thousands of locations across America. But at Rudy’s place you know it’s the real deal the minute you walk in the door. Some things you just can’t fake.
The walls are covered with pictures of Rudy’s friends and apparently, Rudy has a lot of celebrity friends. Next to the bar is a letter from Bill Clinton thanking Rudy for feeding the former President’s staffers while he visited Chicago in 1998. Kat told me they’ll soon be featured on Oprah—it’s her favorite pizza.
Here’s the really amazing part: Rudy has done all of this without a public relations team or extensive advertising. Kat told me that once 5:00 p.m. hits, the place would fill up with a hodgepodge of local regulars, tourists and newcomers who usually come back again and again. His marketing budget is peanuts compared to The Olive Garden, Applebee’s or Ruby Tuesday’s. But the place was getting ready to appear on Oprah. Most Fortune 500 Companies should be so lucky.
This brings me to the purpose of this blog. It’s written by Quicken Loans team members, but it’s not necessarily about Quicken Loans (at least not directly). At Quicken Loans, we’re obsessed with finding better ways to do things and we think this is the key to unlocking "THE DIFF." We could talk all day about how great our company culture is, but we think it’s more useful to point out the people and ideas that we admire. In some cases, we’ll talk about instances where an experience could have been great, but it fell short because someone overlooked something small, but significant. Other times, we’ll be talking about the Rudy Malnatis of the world—people who understand how even the tiniest detail can make the difference between an average experience and an excellent experience. Finally, we hope we’ll inspire an army of DIFF seekers who will share their experiences with us and help us grow whatsthediff.com.
In the interest of full and honest disclosure, we have one ulterior motive to this blog: We hope it will attract people who share our values and convince them to apply for a job with us. It’s not always easy to find client-service-focused talent, but if you find yourself nodding in agreement when you read this blog, there’s a good chance that our obsession is your obsession. Those are the kind of people we want. Drop us a line or visit our Careers website. We just might have the perfect position for you.
Postscript: We just found out that Pizano’s appearance on Oprah happens to run today. Check it out here.