Real Estate

‘Fire Yourself’: KW Expansion Team Leader On Personal Growth

This June, Inman’s editorial theme is Teams — we’re going to go deep on what it takes to grow your team amid this intense seller’s market. And if you’re not already a subscriber to our Teams Beat email newsletter, sent every Thursday, sign up now.

As founder and CEO of the billion-dollar Adam Hergenrother Companies, Adam Hergenrother’s entrepreneurial journey began with a $500 investment in a car flip.

Now, he leads seven companies, including a real estate platform that services 35 teams in 22 states, and is a major advocate for a corporate culture that prioritizes personal growth as a conduit for professional growth. 

(Note: This interview has been edited for style.)

Tell us about your team’s differentiators.

Our real estate platform is the next level of expansion teams. In addition to systems and support, we also have human resources, a board of directors, health care for agents and employees, affiliated companies that are value-adds to our clients, technology, a nutritionist on staff, and employee profit-sharing pool systems.

Because it is so all-encompassing, I’ve moved away from calling it a team to a platform. Basically, though we have slightly different models, similar platforms would be Redfin and Place along with us.

As a real estate platform, we’re much larger than a team, and that’s how we are able to attract multimillion dollar teams to our organization. When teams want to partner with us, we are able to bring them in so that they can tap into what we have, including productivity coaching and individual coaching. 

They no longer have the same level of financial responsibility; we run reports, and they don’t worry about making payments. They get a percentage of their deals and a percentage of the profit. That’s paid at the end of the month so that way they are business partners. 

How has your growth been impacted by the events of the last year? 

We are in the right position to allow us to take advantage of where the industry is going, so over the last year our growth has been immense. We’ve added over the last 12 months $50 to $150 million of growth per month.

We are in a position to support that type of growth. We have the right models, tools, systems and people leading each of the divisions to promote the success of those teams.

How did you adjust last year dragged on?

Any leader who’s not willing to go out there and take a stance on issues like racial injustice, gender equality and employee compensation might as well not be a leader. In the beginning, our leadership team decided to take a stance. Some people will like it, and some won’t. 

For example, When Black Lives Matter started coming on strong, we created a $1,000 scholarship for each team, adding up to $35,000 per year in perpetuity. That funds scholarships to bring Black professionals into the real estate field.

What is your biggest takeaway from this experience? 

I need my people more than they need me. During the pandemic, there was a lot going on, and we were dealing with that at the same time as rapid growth. The organization is not about the individual — it’s about all of those really awesome people. 

I’m trying to serve my people, and I need them to step up and rise to the occasion when we are taking a stance and stand by us. One of the things I really developed was learning to walk into situations without focusing on being right so that we could find solutions for everybody. Radical conversations emerged, and as a leader, you can make the right decisions when you let go of your personal self first.

How is your team dealing with the current low-inventory, super-fast seller’s market?

I think people need to change their framing around this. If you think about it, we’ve sold more houses in 2020 than in 2019, and we’re selling more this year than 2020. There are actually more houses transacting, and there are just more buyers out there.

It’s important for agents in our organization to understand what’s going on in the marketplace and show them the numbers. We had to repurpose and shift our activities around focusing on listings and generating information on listings.

We got more focused on being a listing company, so we changed boot camp, training and script practices to reflect that. You’re going to get five buyers from every listing that’s going to sell, so this worked for buyer agents as well. But we first grounded ourselves in the reality of the market versus the story we tell ourselves.

What are you doubling down on? 

Growth and recruitment of very large ($50 million-plus) teams. They don’t have to do it alone. They can join with us and be around higher-level leaders and higher-level conversations, and make a bigger impact.

What are you investing in right now?

There are three components that we are focusing on:

  • Models: Do we have the right models to scale?
  • Execution: How can we ensure that agents are executing as they need to?
  • Employee and agent health and emotional strength: There’s a lot of fatigue out there right now, and a lot of agents are having to play the role of psychologist for their clients. We work on building emotional stamina and the strength that it takes to be in a market like this. 

Productivity, execution, personal growth. That’s our culture. Ping pong and pizza parties are perks, not culture. That’s what’s going to make the biggest difference over the next 12 to 24 months.

What would be your starting point for someone beginning this journey? 

You’ve got to look inside if you want to create a big platform or a big team and make it about other people and not yourself. If you make it about you, you’ll quit when things get dark. If you’re supporting other people and teaching them to get what they want, you’ll end up getting what you want too. 

Fire yourself from whatever job you have, and get someone better than you to come in. I’ve fired myself from every position I’ve ever had. If you want to succeed, get out of your own way.

Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on TwitterInstagram  and YouTube.

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