Hey, there! Chris and Eric Fleming here, owners of Compass.
When we first started Compass, we knew we wanted to build an honest, passionate company - building relationships and creating a family dynamic within our crew. It's now been over 13 years in business and, boy, have we grown. We've realized that many people might not know us, our story, or how we got started....that's just not acceptable. We want to make sure you get the same honesty and passion we built our company off of, you deserve it.
Our awesome Content Creator Maddy sat us down and asked us a few questions about the reason we started Compass, our relationship as brothers, and what we stand for. Seeing the people behind the brand is important...and here we are! We hope you enjoy!
How did you come to the decision to take that jump and start your own business?
Eric: The camaraderie that Chris and I have, the way we understand the industry...we knew we could not only do it better, but we could do it differently. For me, having my older brother as my partner was easy. There is such a trust there. It was a safe, yet thrilling choice. We’re so like-minded, but different at the same time. I knew we would be able to challenge and grow with each other in a very positive way.
Chris: We both could see that we should take advantage of the opportunity right in front of us. We wanted to provide a different experience - something that we haven’t seen in the industry before. We wanted to build relationships - not just customers, but customers for life. We wanted to build a company based off of commitment, passion, and relationships. Once realizing the advantages outweighed the differences...we thought, why not just go for it.
Working with family is known to be very difficult. How did you decide to go into business with your brother and how has the quality of your relationship changed over the last 13 years?
Eric: At the end of the day, he’s my older brother, of course I’ve always looked up to him. There’s a spirit of adventure that we both share. Starting a business is an adventure in itself, right...it’s scary and exciting all at the same time. Challenges come up constantly and we have to face them all in creative ways. I think Chris and I get each other very well. Since we’re family...we can be brutally honest with each other, too. That honesty and authenticity is important in any company. Being a true family has allowed us to bring all of those aspects and values we grew up with to our corporate culture. I know for both of us, it's important for us to feel that personal connection with each other, that's what we needed from each other in order to make our relationship work, and that’s what we needed from our crew - one big family dynamic.
Chris: I think growing up how we did definitely built our view on what we value and how we view our siblings. Seeing your sibling as not just your younger or older brother, but as another individual with like-minded values and passions who could be a great asset to
whatever your working on, as well. Your siblings are your siblings, yes, but we always saw business relationships that could be there, too.
How has your passion fueled growth these past 13 years?
Eric: We have a huge passion for improving the overall travel experience for our guests... and not just the passion of Chris and I, but the passion from our entire Crew. We build relationships with each and every one of our clients. With that, we get to hear their true stories and true experiences. We know what they’re going through and the hardships they’re facing. When we hear those stories from our residents, when we hear how much we’ve helped them...that’s our drive; that’s what fuels our passion.
Chris: This can all go back to our “why”: the concept of people not buying what you do, but why you do it. Genuinely caring about each and every one of our guests, surpassing expectations, seeing our employees grow...that’s the passion. You know, we’re not perfect. Nothing runs smoothly...even though it might look like it does on the outside. I have such confidence in my brother, my team, and our strategy that we will prevail no matter what.
As a small company, how important is investing back into your crew?
Eric: Giving back is so important. The question I always find myself asking is, “have we done it enough?”. We see the importance and dedication of our employees, and I want more for them, always! We want to help them grow and develop in both a personal and professional way. We are constantly giving back to our crew, and I want to do as much as I can to make sure they know we appreciate them, they’re like my family!
Chris: From a structure standpoint, that’s the nature of business. In order for growth, we need to invest continuously. From a team perspective, we truly believe in investing in our crew. We wouldn't function without them! These are some of the most passionate, talented, and fun individuals you’ll ever meet. I mean...we have a long way to go, don’t get me wrong. Giving back is an evolution; something that's never figured out, it's never done. But we do are best to show our team how much we appreciate them - from our Friday lunches, drinks after work, retreats, etc...
How do you create memorable human to human experiences with your clients that make them opt to work with you over booking a hotel, an airbnb, etc…?
Chris: When you look at the originality that we bring to the table, it’s incomparable. Blending our family mindset with our business structure, creates such a holistic company. That’s why people stay booking with us... they see the difference in value.
Eric: Those online-only experiences are very cookie cutter. You know what to expect. You’re going to book a place to stay and then expect a confirmation, that’s it...and that’s okay! That’s comfortable for a lot of people! However, we’re so confident in our way of doing business. We never want to lose that. Understanding each guest’s needs, asking questions, doing a deep dive with each individual... it doesn't take a long time to do, but it means so much. That back and forth; the questions we ask, allows us to provide a much more tailored experience to our guests. We assure them that they will have a good experience, things are going to go smoothly, and that we’re always here for them - they don’t get left in the dust after they book an apartment.
Corporate Housing is all about the details. What are some things you do that surprised residents throughout their stay/booking process/etc.?
Chris: I think our Compass Cares program takes people by surprise a lot. We use our available apartments to house patients and families who need affordable housing year round, raise funds for patient services at local hospitals, and secure donations from local companies, so we’re able to do more for them - like get them groceries, do fun family activities, things like that. We do it because it MAKES SENSE. There’s no one better than us, as a hospitality provider, creating home-like environments, providing stepping stones to success through stressful situations, to use that and help people going through some of the worst times in their lives. It’s become such a natural part of our business and we wouldn’t give it up for the world. When it comes to caring, I think it becomes apparent after our prospects become clients. They THEN see how much we truly care. It’s not about pretty apartments, but about a constant strive to improve, give back, and create meaningful relationships.
Eric: At the end of the day, many buildings where our apartments are, competitors are likely there, too. The quality and beauty of our apartments is to be expected in our industry at this point. That part has become a standard. However, the “wow” factor that we provide comes from our quality, personalized experience we give each guest. Our human to human experiences, ensuring guests that the pressure is off their shoulders and that we can take it from here is priceless. Moving is scary. If they need relocation services, local recommendations, guidance, you name it...we can help.
People are all different. We realize that and use that within our business strategy. When we connect with you, we’ll ask what you like, what you do, etc. People don’t expect that. You like biking? Well, here are the top bike trails in your area. You like coffee? Here are our favorite coffee shops in walking distance from you. Our team is actually local. These places are where we live ourselves! We’re able to provide our residents with a very authentic, reliable experience because of that!
Switching gears, let’s go back to the beginning days of Compass. Looking back at that first year, tell us about your growing pains. If you could go back and do anything differently, would you?
Chris: There were a lot of growing pains...too many to count! I would say the biggest challenge was not having a team as soon as we did. It was just us for a while. We had to do everything ourselves...and not only do we not know how to do everything, but we aren’t the best at everything, either! We’re the first ones to admit that. Our process was so much slower without a team. Once we had grown enough to get a crew and then instill our passion amongst our team, it was absolutely amazing. As far as what we could’ve done better, we could’ve utilized technology and the evolution of space better. If we had time to look ahead, we might have grown faster and accomplished a lot more goals.
Eric: When we left an old company and started Compass, the automatic trust our clients had in us was so special. I mean, we would tell them, “listen we don’t have any apartments yet, but we need you to give me a lead so I have the opportunity to go get one”. I would literally run into Bed, Bath and Beyond with a list and fill up shopping carts with things to furnish these apartments...it was crazy! Being so intimately involved, setting up, and getting our hands dirty was such a blessing looking back. We see first hand how it all comes together and the stress everyone goes through. For that, I really wouldn’t do anything differently. Seeing where we are today, I am so proud. Those growing pains were needed in order for us to grow.
What is the value you promise to deliver to your residents?
Chris: We provide an experience, piece of mind, and a
relationship that allows them to focus on their task at hand during a stressful time. If we can just do that for them, we’ve succeeded.
Eric: Honestly, reliability, and dedication. I could say that we provide great apartments, but that’s not just it, we cater to your specific needs and take the stress away from an overwhelming time. And if we don’t succeed in that, we will do everything we can until we do; we’ll make it right.
If you could describe Compass with three words, what would they be and why?
Chris: Passion, family-oriented (does that count as one word), and dynamic.
Eric: Family, honest, and reliable.
What are you most excited about for Compass in the future?
Chris: I’m excited to see how we evolve. Will our strategies and philosophies work? Will they stick? The world is constantly changing and I’m just hoping we stay relevant! We can strategize all day long, but at the end of the day you really don't know! It’s exciting, yet scary at the same time.
Eric: I am so confident with our team, our culture, what we do, and how we do it. We have the ability to become a much bigger player in our marketplace. We’ve built a structure and a team that’s allowed us to grow so much and I can only see us getting bigger - it’s exciting!
We hope this gave you some better insight into Compass and our values. We're so proud of where we've come these past few years, and we want everyone to have a chance to see the people behind the brand. Have any questions we didn't answer? Bring it on! Leave a comment or contact us directly, we'll be more than happy to answer!
Chris & Eric Fleming
President and CEO of Compass Furnished Apartments