Our team gets up every morning to fight the good fight for our investors.  This is something tangible that motivates me every day.  However, I have never been much for frilly visions or mission statements that don’t always mean that much.  So, I wasn’t too excited about the thought of taxing my brain and taking time out of our busy schedule to work on the company’s strategic plan, which we did earlier this year.  Still, I know it is a very important exercise because it clarifies our direction for the whole team.

We all have great things we want to accomplish, but it’s easy to become shortsighted in the day-to-day.  By stepping back and remembering our “why” and having consistent reminders of our bigger goals, we can greet each day knowing what we need to do to stay on track.

Focusing on the strategic plan forced us to take the time to not only work out our strategy for the next 12 months and reexamine our “why” for Hughes Capital but to also develop our “why” for another important company of ours: Heartland Neighborhood Homes.  Most of you don’t know about Heartland, but I will tell you more about the company and its purpose in a minute.

The “why” for Hughes Capital has been the same since we first formulated it 7 years ago:

“We believe real estate is a core investment to an investor’s financial independence.” 

This is a very strong belief which we consider to be an absolute truth.  We chose not to define “financial independence” within the statement because the meaning varies greatly from one investor to another.

In addition to the “why,” we also work on something called our “brand promise.”  Our brand promise isn’t a slogan we plaster all over our marketing materials; it’s an internal promise we keep with ourselves for the benefit of our investors The combination of the “why” and the brand promise helps remind us what we are shooting for and why it’s important.

Hughes Private Capital’s brand promise is:

“Predictable net returns and principal protection for investors.”

Every time we make a business decision, we base it on those 8 simple words.  We ask ourselves, Will this decision give us a predictable net return while protecting our investors’ principal against any loss?”  If the answer is “yes,” we can take the next step.

Knowing very clearly our “why” and our brand promise makes daily decision-making a lot easier.  It keeps the entire company aligned with the same goal, so that if one decision goes astray, we can more easily help one another and bring us back where we belong.

So, that’s the core internal messaging for Hughes Private Capital.  But this year, we also needed to come up with the “why” and brand promise for Heartland Neighborhood Homes.

We don’t usually talk about Heartland, because it is generally not a necessary part of the Hughes Capital investment conversation.  However, it forms the backbone of our investments as it is our operational company responsible for acquiring, rehabbing, occupying, and ultimately managing all our homes.  The majority of our team actually works for Heartland now, and the company has a completely different “why.”

Our “why” for Heartland Neighborhood Homes is:

“Our excellence in residential real estate management delights tenants and investors alike: Tenants love our outstanding service and quality living environments; investors enjoy the unique and valuable real estate investment opportunity this provides.”

Even though Heartland’s main focus is on the tenant side, they understand that none of this is possible without our investors.  That’s why we felt it was important to incorporate investors into the “why” for Heartland.

Our Heartland brand promise is:

“First-class property management services based on efficiency, honesty, and integrity, resulting in a consistent 96% occupancy rate.”

You might not find our “whys” and internal brand promises to be very exciting, but for us, they act as beacons by which we lead, manage, and hire, giving us a common purpose we all strive for every day.  Recently, our team took it upon themselves to hang these and the company’s  core values on our office walls.  Here’s a photo of our core values enlarged on two beautiful plaques (one of our lucky team members gets to be reminded of them all day long!).

Hughes Capital and Heartland Neighborhood Homes’ Core Values:

Our Entrepreneurial Spirit fosters growth and independent thinking

Our Innovation and Creativity drive consistently superior results

We are Always Learning by building new skills through our successes and our failures

We have Respect for Others and Ourselves

We always remember to Have Fun, creating balance and enjoyment at work

We are continually Creating a Positive Impact through honest, constructive interaction with team members, investors, and tenants

I think it’s so cool that our team did this!  It serves as a constant reminder of the values that drive us to fight the good fight every day.  If you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or if you’re in high-level management, I encourage you to use this type of strategic planning exercise if you haven’t done so already.

Here are three resources we have found to be extremely valuable as we’ve moved through this exercise over the years:

  • Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish.  This book will give you the overall strategic planning guide plus way more.
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller.  This is an excellent book on “focus” and how to be a purpose-driven entrepreneur and person.
  • Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.  This is a TEDx talk on inspirational leadership, starting with the “why.”  You can watch it here.

I’m the last person who wants to take time out to work on our strategic plan, but every year when we’re done, I’m always so glad we did it.  Having a unified vision, an actionable plan, and the support of an entire team makes a huge difference.