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Brookfield Residential Executives Share Insights at ULI Program

Friday, October 07, 2016 / Urban Land Institute

Brookfield Residential executives at ULI Program organized by John Martin

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA – Top executives from Brookfield Residential Southern California teamed up at the ULI OC/IE Leaders & Managers Program on September 21st to present lively conversation about the importance of a thoughtful corporate culture and its effect on a company’s overall success. John O’Brien, Vice President of Housing, and Rocky Tracy, Vice President of Sales, dove into a presentation of how Brookfield Residential, now in its 20th anniversary year, has gained a reputation as a leader in product design, community development and authentically creating an engaging culture.

Their discussion began with Brookfield’s brand statement, “Creating the best places to call home”.  Citing the company’s role as homebuilder and land developer, and its Southern California sales success, 603 homes closed in 21 communities so far in 2016. They talked about their unique corporate culture that won them honors as the top place to work in Orange County. In addition, they cited the rapid expansion of the Southern California division since 2004 and the company’s vigilance about doing the right thing toward all stakeholders.

The commitment to do the right thing, they said, is based on thinking through decisions according to their core values of passion, integrity and community, exemplified in their approach to CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  They believe in giving back to the community through academic and sports programs at schools, community service projects and volunteerism, benefitting both community and their team. These points related to their discussion of company values and their four pillars: engagement, sustainability, innovation and experience.

Regarding engagement, they cited the need for team members’ readiness to work, to fully participate in the process of home and community building. The company has also created the position of Director of Customer Experience.  Engagement with customers relies on raising the bar internally and externally to create a positive and memorable experience. This, in part, involves the integration of innovative uses of technology, and they cited strategic partnerships with Apple and the resulting concept of “the connected home.” Use of virtual reality to decrease the need for model homes is something the company plans to deploy in San Diego County next year. They also pointed to the use of technology to stay connected to customers, as well as to enhance the living experience in their new homes.

In the area of sustainability, they used the term “True Blue” – a reference to True Brookfield, the touchstone of brand authenticity. For Brookfield, sustainability is long term and relates to the materials, systems and construction of the homes, but also the ongoing relationship with their buyers and communities. They referred to actions such as the efficient use of resources including measuring water usage and grey water systems that will be included in homes as of this fall. They also talked about positioning the HOA as an extension of the developer, and creating a sustaining partnership with the Association to maintain a key Brookfield product and the lifestyle that they offer.


Understanding the customer experiences is essential. The company has established designated “ICE Teams,” (Improve Customer Experience) to identify problems and formulate solutions.  As an example, they changed the phase release process as customers reported feeling disrespected in a cattle-call approach. The company has won top awards for their customer experience, which they point out is thorough going, beginning with their first impressions.

The ICE Team also works to gain ideas, insight and solutions within the company, giving all departments a voice in consensus building while maintaining open mindedness. As they put it - “No Shooting The Messenger.” Brookfield also commissioned IDEO in San Francisco to analyze the company’s systems for best use of land, new product design, and the customers overall experience, surveying both those who purchased and those who didn’t.

The two spoke at some length about the homebuilding process, which Brookfield Residential refined three years ago. They take research and development seriously, and spend a good deal of energy and money on maintaining a leading edge. Their process is geared toward new idea products that reflect what they’ve learned from buyers, both in terms of homes and community. As for new product introduction, a six-week period includes creation of conceptual docs that have undergone research by the marketing team with the Director of Development playing quarterback. Then, a hand off to the architect and frequent meetings with structural engineers, interior designs, and vendor partners readies the new concept to move forward. Purchasing then bids out the work and produces a budget with all costs included. The overall process has supported a long list of new, relevant and fast selling products.

A thorough discussion of the sales process took up a portion of the presentation. They talked about closing the gap between a customer’s dissatisfaction with their present living situation and the promise of a better future being important enough to move forward with the new offering. The discussion expanded to how the team is able to discern what customers say they want and what they ‘really’ want. Actions speak louder than words for sales people, but using the right vernacular can affect the emotional engagement of customers.

Another highlight of the presentation was an overview of how Brookfield incubates future buyer segments by maximizing customer’s willingness to make referrals. Willingness to refer has reached 92.3% with 30% of sales coming from Brookfield Enthusiasts.

Throughout the presentation, the executives used examples from a diverse variety of dynamic, new Brookfield communities and new home concepts to speak to unique geographic and market situations, and how the different projects came to succeed.

In the area of lessons learned, they each made several clear points. John O’Brien said he believes in making yourself an incredible value – an asset that is unique. He also advised becoming well versed across the many pieces of what your company does so that you have a broad spectrum of expertise.

Rocky Tracy spoke about always being open to learn something new – you don’t know what you don’t know. He advised developing the attitude and aptitude to remain open, and avoid being stuck in a rut.

Continuing with a roster of leading top marketing executives and leaders in community development and homebuilding, ULI INDUSTRY LEADERS & MANAGERS PROGRAM runs through November 2nd, 2016 with a break during the week of the ULI Fall Meeting, October 26th. The program is being organized and led by John Martin of Martin & Associates. Participants at every level of experience and various industry disciplines attend these valuable two-and-one-half hour seminars that meet Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at First Service Residential in Irvine. There are several ways to participate including special pricing for ULI OC/IE Members and non-members as well as students and the public. For details on these special programs or to register, email

The Urban Land Institute ( is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the ULI has more than 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

Published by : Fran Bangert
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