When Alex and Victoria Headen of Burlington, N.C., left their jobs in education for careers in real estate, they were excited to help families find their dream home while also better supporting their own family. Then, after their first year at it together, they hit a ceiling. Their successful business was exceeding the number of hours they could physically work.
“We’d reached a personal cap,” said Victoria. “After reaching 40 units in 2016, it became very apparent to us that we needed to form a team.”
So they set out to expand, and initially made some missteps – the first was hiring part-time agents instead of an assistant, and doing so without any procedures.
“Alex and I both read The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and knew what Gary Keller was telling us, but we didn’t implement it,” said Victoria. In the book, the co-founder and chairman of Keller Williams outlined a deliberate hiring path, which began with administrative help. “This allows the agent to focus on more dollar-productive sales activities such as lead generation, buyer appointments and listing appointments,” he wrote.
Without an assistant, the couple found themselves caught in time-consuming tasks. And, although they had made new hires, their production numbers were barely increasing. After months of slow growth, they knew it was time for a change.
With the help of their team leader, Robin Henricks, they took a step back and began the work of restructuring their business– the Keller Williams way. There were some tough conversations, but they learned from “failing forward.”
“We started by setting expectations,” Victoria shared. “Before, we hadn’t set any for our buyer’s agents – which is something I take full responsibility for.”
The Career Growth Initiative (CGI) served as a compass, giving Alex and Victoria direction on what their production expectations needed to be. The CGI is comprised of tools that help agents smartly analyze their activities and establish a plan for sustainable business. The calculator, which is the foundation of the initiative, allows agents to plug in their desired income and understand the number of appointments, listings taken and closings needed to secure that profit. It helped Alex and Victoria realize that, in order to reach their goals, their agents’ CGI goals would have to mirror their needs, they said.
Finally, they had a strong foundation to build their business.
“A lot of it was going back to the basics,” Alex said. “We concentrated on what we were going to do to make our numbers.”
The Keller Personality Assessment was another tool critical to their success. Victoria admits that previous hires were made on “emotion and excitement,” rather than analytics. Once they began using the enhanced behavioral assessment, they were able to develop vetting procedures and find the talent that shared their goals. Currently, their team is comprised of three buyer’s agents and a full-time “rockstar” executive assistant.
“Once that happened, our business started growing at a faster pace,” Victoria said.
In one year, their business has grown by over 50 percent in unit sales, 42 percent in gross commission income and 81 percent in listings taken.
These days, the Headens are a far cry from where they once were working in education. Victoria used to teach first-graders, and Alex worked for a company that provided frogs, worms and equipment for science classrooms.
Leaving education “was a hard decision,” said Victoria, “because I was very passionate about what I did.” She was worried she wouldn’t find the same fulfillment in real estate. But, she says, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
On the right path
When, shortly after Victoria started in real estate, she made her teacher’s salary in one busy day that was booked with four closings and a pre-listing appointment, she knew she was on the right path. “That was an affirmation to me that yes, I had chosen the right path, and that it is a service to find someone a house to call a home.”
Now, each morning, Alex and Victoria gather their staff for a 9 a.m. team huddle to assess their CGI goals and brainstorm how agents can meet their weekly goals. Lead generation is a constant, top priority, even when the team is busy.
Currently, the Headens are on pace for roughly 18 closings a month. To achieve that, they’re well aware from their CGI calculations that they need at least 22 listing appointments every month. But now, armed with the right tools, they’re confident.
“Any agent can do this,” Victoria said. “Failing forward is not failure,” she added. “Sometimes you just have to look at your current situation and improve.”