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How to Build a Real Estate Team
I sat down with Lance Loken, of the Loken Group at Keller Williams Realty which provides real estate services for the Metropolitan area of Houston, which covers 9 counties in a 200 mile radius, which they have divided into five regions covering Galveston, up to The Woodlands, and down south and west into Waller and Cyprus, Texas.
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Now, when I joined the world of team building at Keller Williams in 4th quarter 2010, nobody was really yet talking “expansion”. But in 2014, expansion is the topic of the year. Basically, we are seeing real estate agents and team builders across the nation, hire talent in another city, or even another state, and carry their brand over to that area. It’s not the same as franchising, but rather an extension of the original team, which has a home base, called the “hub”. With expansion, most of the lead generation, and marketing, and administrative work happens at the hub, while the agent on the ground helps clients and builds relationships.
Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty International and his team, which includes Kristan Cole, VP of expansion, who has expanded from Alaska all the way to Arizona, are paving the way and training agents everywhere on models and systems they have studied. Keller Williams offers a comprehensive training course on expansion called Expansion Systems Orientation or ESO held in Austin, Texas. Lance has one of those expansions teams.
Lance started his real estate career in January of 2011. Prior to real estate, Lance was a C-Level executive with offers across the United States. (The highest-level executives in senior management are generally referred to as “C-level” or part of the “C-suite”, as in CEO, COO etc.). His wife Karina (who happens to be a beautiful and amazing person herself) was an interim team Leader at a Keller Williams office. (A team leader is essentially the CEO of the local brokerage office referred to as a Market Center). Although Karina was doing a great business on her own, and was even awarded rookie of the year the prior year, she let the business go when she became a team leader.
It was no surprise when Lance told me that he had majored in accounting in college. A wiz with numbers, he has every step in his models documented and tracked including his growth plan which he has exceeded year over year. “I Love Numbers”, exclaimed Lance who does not seem like an overly excitable man to me. I’m guessing when his voice escalates with joy; he must be truly behind the statement.
Lance explains that he believes one of the reasons his team has accomplished what they have in such a short amount time is that they set their MVVBP in place right from the beginning. A systems oriented team, they understood that operating in a structured, yet cultural environment would allow them to grow quickly
He shared that the launching pad for his team was securing the 4th largest builder in town, which brought in a large number of buyer leads. From there, The Loken Group added radio to their marketing strategies bringing in 40% of their current production. Lance shared that now, 20% of his business comes from his builder relations.
Now, before you go running out to get yourself on radio, you should know that Lance spent $12,000 a month in the beginning when he began the campaign, and now spends $20,000 a month on radio. It took four months to get his first closing, and it was on a $90,000 listing. I’m thinking you can do math on the probable commission there. So, could you spend $36,000 before you saw results? Then he went in another $12,000 before he saw the next commission from his radio campaign. But he’s happy to report that last month, The Loken Group closed 30 transactions from radio alone. “It was a dramatic risk. I’m a calculated risk taker and did a lot of research”, Lance commented on his decision to get into radio. “Once I made the leap though, I was committed”, he finished.
Having closed his 337th closed transaction at the end of the 6-month of 2014, Lance shares that just two years ago, he nearly lost his home to foreclosure. Having gone all in, he nearly didn’t make it into his fourth year of business. His first three years were paycheck-to-paycheck and very difficult. Lance is happy to report though, that he personally will draw a salary of $750,000 this year from his team’s production. I’d say that’s a come back, wouldn’t you?
Lance shared the one thing that kept him hanging on when he was at that point of nearly losing it. He said, “I was not going to let an outside source – WIN”
Lance didn’t get here overnight. He worked his way into salary hires, and profit share, and reward systems, and the 401K, and the amazing incentives he has now. He says it’s progressive, growing year over year.
One of my favorite parts of the interview with Lance was when he shared the difficulties that he and his wife Karina were having learning to work together. They read Strength finders 2.0, discovered their top 5 strengths, and through their coach were able to divide and conquer and strengthen their relationship at work and at home. Lance shared that he and his family are able to spend a lot of quality time together even though they are running a high-level real estate business.
I asked Lance what his advice would be to team builders everywhere based on his own experience.
“Focus on ONE thing each step of the way. Find one thing in which you can be awesome and add new strategies year over year. As you grow, the more specialized you can become, the better it will be for you.”
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