An advance guard of Keller Williams mega agents are changing the real estate industry by expanding their businesses into new locations. These locations don’t have to be in the same city, or even the same state. There are two key pieces for successful expansion: administrative systems and lead generation systems. To expand to another location, you must master and develop these systems. Expansion will expose any holes in your current business, which allows you to strengthen your business for further expansion.
Why would you want to expand? It’s simple: profit. Expanding allows you to increase profits, attract and retain better talent and provide better opportunities for your team members and their families. In the end, you are deepening your bench, allowing you to fill needs with strong talent and grow beyond your reach. How and when do you expand? You expand when your systems and people are right; you expand where the right people are.
Expansion is not something that happens quickly, Gary mentioned Keller Williams as a good example. It takes 2-5 years to develop the 2nd location, then another 1 to 2 years after to add a third. Over the course of these years you will discover what is and is not working and be able to perfect it. Exponential growth starts to happen after 3, 4 and 5 locations.
Gary Keller welcomed a panel of successful expansion business owners to talk about why they chose to expand and how it is working. The first panelist, Ashley Wilson, felt that her first expansion from Raleigh, N.C., into Charlotte was just a natural extension of her existing business. The two cities are only 150 miles apart and generate a lot of crossover referral business. Expanding allowed Wilson to make her business’ systems bulletproof. “I want to be able to go into any city within 100 miles and duplicate it,” she said.
The next panelist, Ben Kinney of Bellingham, Wash., said his expansion was all about building the right talent. As he expanded south (the business is constrained geographically by Canada to the north, water to the west and mountains to the east), Kinney realized that the farther away from the hub, the more problems they had to deal with. He knew he needed to have the right talent in the right place so that they could succeed together. Panelist Tim Heyl of Austin, Tex., reinforced this view and discussed his ability to uncover untapped resources within his own business that could be better utilized. "It’s not two businesses," Heyl said. "It’s growing the business we already have!”
Kristan Cole, who serves as Vice President of Mega Agent Expansion for Keller Williams, launched her team's expansion in her home state of Alaska when she saw opportunity in the larger Anchorage market. She subsequently expanded into Arizona and Utah as well. Cole models her business on her first hub in Wasilla. This hub does transaction management for the Anchorage office, allowing for a higher level of efficiency. This is where expansion systems succeed, just like economies of scale.
Jason Abrams of the HGTV show Scoring the Deal, has carved out a successful expansion business catering to professional athletes looking for homes as they move to another sports team. "It all spawned from filling a need,” Abrams said.
The most important part of expanding and also the biggest challenge is finding talent. It’s all about finding the right people at the right time in their life. How do you fund this talent? Kinney summed up his talent acquisition in three words: “Always be looking. Look for those young people who want to build a career and a life. The opportunity is to teach and perfect that.”
If you are interested in learning more about the expansion model, Cole is teaching Expansion Systems Orientation October 16-17 or December 4-5 at the Keller Williams Learning Center in Austin. "Even if you don’t expand you will leave there and your business will be better," Cole said.