Same faces, new franchisePublished 12:02pm Monday, April 8, 2013
When the Realtors at Keller Williams Realty Professionals moved to their location on West Cavour seven months ago, there was a sense that a new start would bring a new aspect to their service.
Having just established the business the February before, their six agents felt the switch to the company would mean much more than just a name change.
“What buyers and sellers want to know are things like do they trust you as an agent and if you have the resources available to help them buy or sell a house,” Keller agent Ryan Hanson said. “So if you can show them that’s what you’re doing, whether it’s one of 10 franchise names, that name isn’t the most important thing to them. This was really a validation of that, because the same clients came to us and trusted us.”
Now, with business on the move, Keller Williams represents a new style of franchise real estate sales, one that its agents say has brought a dimension to customers many might not have experienced before.
It isn’t a new business model, with many independent and small town real estate services already team, customer and community focused. But with a corporate backing that encourages localized and personal service, Keller Williams is leading a change for larger real estate firms.
“When we came here, we were going to make it work together,” said agent Tom Verhelst. “There was definitely more of a team feeling.”
The story of the Keller Williams name gives insight into what the company has become over the years. Started as an independent Texas company in the 1980s, the original business battled larger firms moving into its area to take top agents and clients away by offering incentives that the small company couldn’t. To survive, the company needed to adapt.
That was when the company started offering its agents small advantages to encourage a team and customer oriented attitude. As the company continued to fend off its larger competitors, Keller Williams grew to a nationwide presence that began franchising in 1991. From a single local company to what is now the largest real estate company in the country, Keller Williams has 80,000 agents across the United States and Canada. Despite its growth, the company still offers advantages, like company profit sharing, to its agents that continues to build on its original success.
It’s that focus on eliminating the cut-throat business environment real estate often brings that Hanson and Verhelst credit with their new company’s success in Fergus Falls.
“On a national level, as a franchise, they understand that if the team is successful, the company is successful,” said Hanson. “Everyone is bringing something to the table. We’ve learned a lot working now in a smaller office building. We all have doors, but they aren’t closed very often.”
“We’re all willing to help each other,” said Verhelst. “There’s always a willingness of everyone here to pitch in.”
With the housing market stronger than it has been for years, Hanson and Verhelst said that Keller Williams will continue to build as a business and bring customers in the area the unique service that has been passed down from their namesake.
“The goal is to have everyone do well,” said Verhelst. “We’ve gone from a start up to the second highest producer in the area Multiple Listing Service. Our goal is to be the first by this year.”
With seven agents now in Fergus Falls and six in Perham, Verhelst said that service will continue to be an asset to the community, both in and out of real estate.
“We are different,” said Hanson. “We have a lot of great tools and the reason it’s successful is because of the people, both the clients and agents. It’s our goal to develop long-term relationships. It’s the kind of thing that resonates in small towns.”