Rising From a Six-Figure Loss

Jan 8, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Over the past several years, Keller Williams Cherry Hill transformed from a struggling market center with a $120,000 carry-forward loss to a thriving center with more than $300,000 in profit share. The office has grown from 88 agents to approximately 406 in the past three years, making it the No. 1 office in their region. 

While the organizational growth has been satisfying, the true reward for Operating Principal Mike McGavisk lies in what it has allowed his leadership team to do for others.

The state of Cherry Hill today can be credited to McGavisk’s decision to shake loose from complacency and stop the hemorrhaging of his business. He turned to agent George Denney to fill the role of team leader. Denney immediately jumped in, driven by a big number: He would not only right the ship and erase the loss, but drive the team to hit $300,000 in profit share. Initially, he was supposed to fill the team leader role temporarily. But soon it was clear this was what he was meant to do.

“[Keller Williams Vice Chairman] Mo Anderson said to me personally once, ‘If you’re not in profit, you’re not in culture,’” Denney recalls. He says he didn’t quite understand it at the moment, but now it’s clear: If you’re not profitable, you don’t have a business worth owning.


(Left to Right: Mike McGavisk, Cathy Cacciavillano, Elisa Dewees, George Denney)

Cherry Hill Makes a Strategic Comeback

After Denney became team leader, he and McGavisk got back to the basics and renewed their commitment to the Keller Williams Growth Initiative – a comprehensive program geared at helping market centers grow their market share and their people. Soon, they brought on a productivity coach and implemented a mentor system, both of which help new agents get into production quickly and established agents hit their caps sooner.

Getting the Right People on the Bus

They knew the key to their growth was placing the right people on their team. Early on, Denney was convinced that he could attract top performers in the region, based both on the Keller Williams approach to selling real estate and the infectious culture of their team. He began by looking at market share as a primary qualifier for joining and assessing if the individual was a cultural fit, not based on emotions, but data.

Denney used the Keller Personality Assessment (KPA) to find out “what makes people tick.” The KPA is an enhanced behavioral assessment tool and a key piece of Career Visioning – a proven system to help market center leaders ensure the best and brightest talent join their team and succeed. The KPA helped him determine what role the new person would play in the market center – which is crucial for a team that runs on evidence-based models. And it worked! One agent who came on board averaging $65,000 three years ago closed $1 million in GCI last year. In April 2017 alone, the team hired 14 new agents. 

Elisa Dewees, an Associate Leadership Council member and the team’s top agent last year, was one of Denney’s key hires during Cherry Hill’s restructure. An agent for 17 years, she joined the team a year and a half ago and quickly “fell in love” with the people and its systems. “Everyone was so helpful,” she says. She jumped in, helping others grow, but wasn’t interested in starting her own team. Then, she found out about the Productivity Coach role.

“I asked George if I could do that for the market center, and he said, ‘Are you sure?’ she recalls.

Plugging Agents into Resources that Work

Today, Dewees uses an interconnected set of tools called the Career Growth Initiative to help agents learn what their greatest strengths are and build their businesses accordingly. Cathy Cacciavillano, market center administrator, also works with agents to set annual business goals with the CGI and helps established agents plan their next steps as they move toward retirement.

“Our leadership team is focused on helping agents build their legacies and earn profit share so they can experience passive income even after their last deal has closed,” she says.

As their team has grown, the impact of their philanthropic efforts has too. During a recent RED Day, the Keller Williams’ annual day of giving, 75 agents went to a food bank and donated more than 4,000 pounds of food, while another 75 agents went to a homeless shelter and cooked meals for guests, cleaned the shelter, and donated thousands of dollars. 

“It was wonderful to see seasoned agents within the market center work alongside those that recently joined. And new agents rolling up their sleeves really loving what this company is about,” Denney says.

Accelerating Growth Model

Finding the right people and using the right tools has allowed Keller Williams Cherry Hill to set some ambitious goals for the coming years. In order to hit their goal of $500,000 in profit share, they analyzed what that meant in terms of owner profit, units and listings. The agents within the market center have since hit that goal and moved the goal line to $1,000,000.

“I think our real goal in all of this is legacy,” McGavisk says. “Leaving something behind for all of the agents that we work with, helping them build their lives, helping them build their businesses, helping them be able to move forward in accomplishing their dreams.”

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This article orginally appeared in OutFront Magazine Issue 14.3. It was written by Gwen Moran. 

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