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Team Effort: Banding Together Can be a Boon for Your Business

by Jason Porterfield

Keller Williams is known for its extensive support system for agents and brokers. This system has paid off in recent years for the company. The 2015 REAL Trends “The Thousand,” published in conjunction with The Wall Street Journal, listed 120 Keller Williams agent teams among the top thousand real estate professionals and teams in the nation. The report lists the top 250 real estate professionals according to volume and transactions, as well as team sides and volumes. The 2015 report listed 72 Keller Williams agent teams in the top 250 nationally, with 27,391 transactions. Thirty-six Keller Williams agent teams were listed in the top 250 teams by transaction volume and 12 were singled out in the average sale price listing category.

Keller Williams CEO Chris Heller believes the company’s teams rank so high because of KW’s structure, which encourages agents to form teams and offers them help with building their own brands.
“Our philosophy has always been that we stand behind the agents and the team, and not in front of them,” Heller said. “We want them to build their brand. We have specific classes that teach them how to do that. It’s actually what we teach and promote, along with taking them to the next level, which is teaching an agent how to expand their team into various and multiple marketplaces.”

Heller offers two possible team structures for partner agents: one in which the Realtors split up tasks between them, the other in which they essentially function as independent agents and only overlap on the administrative side. Keller Williams’ forumula calls for more of a top-down structure with an emphasis on developing the administrative staff.

“The first hire that we recommend an agent go with is a talented administrative assistant to help them with all of the files and paperwork,” Heller said. “The next hire would be a showing assistant, someone who is able to take prospective buyers and get them into properties when they want to see them and to know the inventory. It just keeps growing from there. The next hire for a lot of agents could be a second administrative person if their listing business is growing to help on the marketing side, or it could be an inside sales associate who can generate leads along with the agent to bring in business.”

Pay structures vary, as well. Many firms handle this issue by giving agents a set percentage of each sale. Some offer a package that consists of a salary plus commission. Front end office staff are typically salaried, while temporary and part-time workers might work at an hourly rate, with or without commission.

“On the administrative side, as W-2 employees, we recommend giving them a big salary and a bonus based on performance and on the production of the team,” Heller said. “The bonus could either be on a per- transaction basis or based on the profits of the team. “On the sales side, if there’s an inside sales associate or a showing agent or a listing specialist, compensation will be much more weighted as a percentage of the commission versus a salary. Most of our top teams are paying less than 50 percent commission to a team member on the sales side of things.”

Some other franchises also make it easy to form a team. Baird & Warner, for example, offers extensive support to agents. Rubenstein and Fox gravitated toward Baird & Warner because of that support and their positive attitude.

“The Lincoln Park office is very welcoming and supportive,” Rubenstein said. “Early on, they offered us the option of working out of that office, and that has been the case with every other office, whether it’s the Evanston office or the Winnetka office. It’s really like a big family.”

Editor’s note: Additional reporting provided by Laura Barker.

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