By: Paul Weideman
Published online: Sunday, November 06, 2011
Appeared in: Home, Santa Fe Real Estate Guide
Edition: November 2011 Vol. 14 No. 8
“Our focus is on the agent first, through training and coaching, technology and marketing, and on our culture, which is an agent-focused model.” Answering questions inside the building that formerly housed Prudential Santa Fe Real Estate, Dee Dee Trosclair of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., seemed to use the terms “agent-focused” and “agent-centric” in just about every sentence. And that encapsulates the difference between this company and others, she said. “Most real-estate companies see themselves as the brand, where we see our agents as the brand.”
Trosclair is KW’s regional director in New Mexico. The head of the Santa Fe office at 510 N. Guadalupe Street is Bruce Milner, who is spending time away from his home in Memphis to launch the office — or “market center” as Keller Williams calls them. “Smokey Garrett from Arlington, Texas, is our operating principal, our owner, but we do have other investors who are local,” Trosclair said.
Judy Camp, who was the president of Prudential Santa Fe Real Estate, is the new franchise’s qualifying broker, temporarily. “She’s been helping with the transition but she will be in sales, by her choice.”
“Yes, listing and selling property,” Camp said. “It’s really what I love. This is a real high, if you want to know the truth. I did a lot of research about Keller Williams before I ever talked to them about coming here. You needed to have a different business model. It’s not the company and then the broker; it’s the broker and then the company, which is totally different. The owners share their profit. It’s just really fun. I’m a business person and to me it makes total sense.”
Prudential Santa Fe had about 70 agents when it closed in August. Milner said 12 to 15 of them left at the beginning of the transition. “We will be near 60 agents by the end of November and we’re targeting between 90 and 125 at the end of our first year,” he said.
Keller Williams has another market center in Española and two in Albuquerque. Santa Fe just happens to be market center number 900 for the company that was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Austin, Texas. KW cofounder Gary Keller is chairman of the board and chief visionary. He and his writing team are the authors of The Millionaire Real Estate Agent (2004), SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle
Tough Times (2008), and Green Your Home (2011).
“In about 1992-1993, the franchise really exploded,” Milner said. “Today we’re number two, behind only Coldwell Banker. The nice thing about our franchise is it is individually owned. We’re an international company now, yet we have a very specific purpose in the local market, so Gary is very driven by local market dynamics.”
In a late-October telephone interview, Trosclair went into some detail on the difference between KW and “the traditional real estate office,” as she referred to all others. “We’re a company based on systems and models, so we are also very agent-centered. They have a say in the company through the associate leadership council, which is like a board of directors. Each Keller Williams market center has an associate leadership council comprised of the top 20 percent of the agents based on production. All of the agents are stakeholders in the company and we profit-
She said Keller Williams generally does not hire people from outside industries to run the company, preferring to grow leaders from within.
“Most firms see themselves as the reason why buyers and sellers are doing business with the company, but we see ourselves as the support behind the agents, because the agents are the reasons why people are doing business with Keller Williams.”
How lucrative is this different structure for the company’s agents? “We have a capping system,” she answered. “The agents pay in a certain amount and then they cap for the year. So they have the ability to earn a lot more of their commissions. It’s based on production. Our mission statement is ‘a career worth having, a business worth owning, and a life worth living,’ so the more money they keep, the more opportunity
theyr’e going to have to fulfill that mission.”
Sustainability is a priority for KW, according to its website. Its offices have the technology to be paperless, although Trosclair admitted there are still agents “who are not quite there. Also, we use the marketing program eEdge that has an e-signature program where they can generate
a contract, but the mortgage companies are still requiring hard copies of contracts.”
Keller Williams is not specializing in particular segments of the real-estate market. “We’re doing all price ranges, from entry-level to luxury. In fact, our first luxury referral that came in to KW Santa Fe was a $6 million lead.”
The company supports agents having their own websites. Similar to one of the competing firms in Santa Fe that is known for “Sotheby’s blue,” KW peopleare expected to exhibit some allegiance to another part of the spectrum. “We have a beautiful KW red that you can buy in Sherwin Williams, but we offer a lot of flexibility — as long as you’re using at least 50 percent of the Keller Williams red in your branding,” Trosclair said.