Company’s care cements employee loyalty

When Geri Perry leaves her home in Cartersville each weekday at 5:50 a.m. for the 42-mile haul to her desk at Supreme Lending (Southern Region) in Alpharetta, the drive swings her past several mortgage companies. It has never occurred to her seek employment at one of them.

Perry’s loyalty became cemented last year when she needed to spend two months at home with her seriously ill husband and their son.

Perry asked to trade in vacation time for pay, with an unsalaried leave of absence accounting for the rest of the hiatus. Though Supreme chairman and CEO Pat Flood had been her boss for years, she was stunned when he instructed her to take whatever time was needed — at full pay.

Perry described the company approach: “You take care of your family, we’ll take care of you.”

A bonus came from the pockets of fellow Supreme “associates.” An emergency fund, to which Perry had long contributed to help bail out colleagues in a financial pinch, blessed her with a $500 check. “You cannot imagine what a relief that was for me and my family,” she said. “You know people here have your back, and not just in a business sense.”

Let’s hear more from Perry on why she endures the commute that usually eats up at least 70 minutes each way.

Q: The company operates on the theory that customer satisfaction is connected to employee job satisfaction. How are those two concepts related?

A: This works both ways. When you know that the process is in place, then management support and the tools needed to perform your job allow you to deliver a great customer-service experience — and that leads to employee satisfaction. Also, when you are satisfied, it leads to better job performance and drives you to perform at a level that will lead to your customer being satisfied with the level of service given to them.

Q: In a business where teamwork is important and employees rely on others to perform their jobs, is it essential to care about each other?

A: Caring about your team members should be a natural human response, but when teamwork is involved, yes, it is essential. As a company, we are all striving for the same goal and we want each other to be successful. In order for the company to achieve success, we must all perform at our best, so you want all of your team members to be successful in their role and assist in delivering world-class service. You want to assist your team members in getting to the next level.

Q: It might be easier to maintain a happy workplace when business is good. Were there challenges during the housing recession of 2008-10 to keep it going?

A: There were many challenges, but being happy in the workplace was not one of them. While the mortgage business went through change, the level of commitment to associates from management did not. We were always kept informed on where we were as a company, along with the market trends, market forecasts and the next step.

Q: You worked for a large company (HomeBanc) and now for a smaller one. Can a family, caring atmosphere exist at a big firm?

A: Yes, a caring atmosphere can exist, as it did at HomeBanc. While the size of a company may change, who you are as a person does not generally change. In a larger company, if a caring atmosphere is displayed and projected from the top, it filters down to all levels of associates. It would be part of the core foundation of the company.

Q: Do some people take advantage of the perks and generosity afforded to workers?

A: No, I have never felt that anyone at Supreme Lending was taking advantage. In many cases, it is not as though you ask for it. Management may see the need and offer assistance. We know that we depend on each other, so I don't think anyone would take advantage of a situation, knowing how it could affect the person sitting next to you or the company as a whole.

Q: What would it take for you to pursue a job at one of those mortgage companies you pass by on the way to work?

A: Pursuing a job at another company has not been a consideration for me because they would need to have the same level of commitment that Supreme Lending has to customers and associates. It is very hard to find that in today's workplace.