Explosive growth fuels Keller Williams North


When Keller Williams North started up in 2013, there were some struggles, said Marilyn Hazard, partner.

But with new partners Lisa Costanza and Diane Griffin on board, 2015 was a year of pure growth for the agency.

“We were a ship without a rudder,” Hazard said. “Now we have new leadership and we’ve set our course and we’re delivering.”

In 2013, Keller Williams North started with about 20 agents and is now up to more than 125. In that timeframe, it sold more than 1,000 units for more than $210 million.

With that growth, the agency has broken ground on a new 8,000-square-foot office building to house its team just off of East Beltline Avenue between Four and Five Mile roads, near Robinette’s Apple Haus. The site also includes space for an additional 4,000 square feet for the firm to grow into.

“We’re a topnotch operation and we want to have a nice facility that represents our community and associates in a way they deserve,” said Costanza, who is the office manager. “This office will put us in a central location for our agents.”

Costanza said Keller Williams is an agent-centric agency that promotes the brands of individual agents rather than the agency. Under that umbrella, Keller Williams North participates in profit sharing and saw $128,000 go back to the agents on top of the normal commissions, Hazard said.

Hazard said the agency is in the top 5 percent of the 706 Keller Williams franchises across the nation. Out of the 27 franchises in the Ohio and Michigan region, Keller Williams North won the 2015 Hulk Award for explosive growth.

In 2015, Keller Williams North saw: a 78 net agent gain, 256 percent gain in closed units, 200 percent gain in closed sales volume, 55 percent decrease in expenses per agent, and 1,554 percent gain in profit sharing.

Those are solid statistics, but Costanza is excited for what 2016 has in store.

“I’ve never been happier,” she said. “Last year was one of my best years ever and I’m so excited about this year.”

Part of what the Keller Williams North leadership is excited about is the training and leadership program it has in place. Training Magazine named the Keller Williams training and coaching program No. 1 in the nation.

A new agent has a 75 percent chance of failing, Hazard said, but that hasn’t been the case at Keller Williams North.

“If anyone needs help, they get the answer quickly,” she said. “You can’t falter too much around here. The new agents aren’t failing; they’re thriving.”

While new agents are doing well, Keller Williams North is also attracting some veteran agents who have stalled in their career.

“We’ve attracted several bigger agents this past year,” Costanza said. “Even in their 50s and 60s and doing great business, they’re stagnant and not seeing personal growth and want to know what else they can do.

“It’s really great seeing agents working together to achieve and continue learning and getting better.”

The leadership team at Keller Williams North doesn’t see that growth slowing down, thanks to a strong real estate market. While they know the agency wouldn’t have grown as explosively if the market wasn’t so strong last year, they still believe the model would have meant success.

While listings aren’t as plentiful as they’d like them to be, the leadership team is confident their agents’ solid listing library and consumers’ knowledge of the strength of the Grand Rapids area will help the success continue once the new office opens.

Once the new office is open — likely this summer — Costanza said she could see a Keller Williams commercial real estate division in the cards. With a capped commission structure, she said commercial agents can “make a heck of a lot more money than most commercial firms.”

“I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve never been more excited for an upcoming year,” Costanza said.

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