It can be tempting for entrepreneurial real estate agents to “go big or go home.” But this successful KW associate explains how to start small and focus on one geographic area, bringing more achievement and meaning to your career.
Keller Williams associate Kenny Klaus started his working life as a delivery driver for FedEx, where he learned an important lesson that would end up guiding his real estate career for almost two decades: Full-time route drivers, when compared with “swing” drivers who went somewhere different every day, were able to provide much better customer service because they knew the area and the people well.
“When I got into real estate in 1999, I realized I needed to create my own ‘REALTOR® route,’ and that was my vision,” says Klaus, the founder of the Kenny Klaus Team in Mesa, Ariz. It’s this strategy of focusing on a single area – called “geographic farming” – that Klaus says could benefit agents around the country.
In the vein of musician Neil Young, who wrote, “If you follow every dream, you might get lost,” Klaus tells agents to start small. “If you sell 50 homes, and they are scattered all over, you are number one at nothing,” he says. “If you sell 20 homes in one ZIP code or one area, then you’re number one and that is easy to sell. Consistency with one thing allows you to go very deep with it. And grow from there.”
First, you need to pick your farm.
While your personal preferences can influence this decision, be business-minded. Klaus recommends setting your budget and looking at turnover rates, the speed at which homes are selling. Find an area that has a rate of at least 5 percent and then consider the average selling price and if there is already a dominant agent.
Next, focus on building your knowledge of the market and the area.
This will be increasingly important as automation becomes more prominent in many industries. “Value is going to be the key to us in the future,” Klaus says. “If we don’t add value, then we are a commodity.”
Establish your office in the community; spend time in the neighborhood; become familiar with the schools, supermarkets, and businesses; preview properties on the market during the week. Klaus stresses the importance of making your presence highly visible. Sponsor the high school volleyball team, have rep vehicles frequent the neighborhood, post signs around the area, and purchase ad dividers at the grocery store. Klaus’s team then showcases their knowledge each month in full-color, hyperlocal newsletters that contain real estate information as well as events and news. “They’re constantly seeing our brand in the area,” Klaus says, “and odds are we are getting that listing.”
The next part of the equation is to do things that grow your business yet are enjoyable and meaningful. “I believe, ‘let’s make real estate fun again,’” Klaus says. “It can beat the heck out of ya. But we can do fun things in the community that naturally fit who we are and give back. You have to give to receive.”
Consider holding events with community partners. Klaus hosts a neighborhood network meeting once a month at a local restaurant (where they don’t talk real estate) and, during a slow market, has taught classes with a CPA and attorney on avoiding foreclosures and knowing your options. “I don’t care if 10 people show up or two – as long as I’m meeting people in the community,” he says. “Because I don’t know how many people they’re telling.”
Never neglect social media, which can be fun and engages the community in person and virtually. Klaus has set up newsletter stands in almost 50 local businesses, and when his team restocks supplies, they chat with the owners and shoot quick videos about the businesses to post on the Klaus Team’s Facebook page and website. Their local dry cleaner loved this so much that he offered to staple Klaus Team fliers to every outgoing clothing bag for a month. Klaus also posts an interview with the high school football coach each season and news like the Dairy Queen opening, both of which have been popular with the locals.
“It takes some time. But anyone can do this if you are authentic and truly care about the community and the people you are serving. That is the key.”