In the following interview, Gregory Kelly, co-owner and general manager, and Joe Vorwerk, broker, of Sellstate Next Generation Realty in Ocala, Fla., discuss culture, recruitment, training, and more.
Regions Served: Marion County, Lake County, Sumter County, Citrus County, Alachua County
Years in Real Estate: 25
Number of Offices: 5
Number of Agents: 150
Many top agents work with you. Can you describe what your agent recruitment process is like?
Gregory Kelly: We have several different recruiting strategies, but our focus has always been on attracting the industry’s top talent. We concentrate our efforts on the most respected REALTORS® at the four boards we belong to. In addition, we’ve established ourselves as the most productive office in town, which makes it a lot easier to attract new or less experienced agents. And regardless of their production level, every prospect we visit with sits through our value proposition presentation, a 90-minute, interactive session. We call these “Information Sessions,” and they’re very thorough. Everyone leaves very well-informed, and 95 percent of them come back and sign up. The key is being consistent. The presentation is well-scripted, and our USPs (unique selling points) are always emphasized. We never talk down the competition. We always take the high road.
What would you say has contributed most to your rapid growth?
GK: When you hire the top producers, the most respected, and the most ethical agents at your local board, you tend to garner a lot of attention. Everyone wants to know what it is you’re offering. Additionally, everything we do with Sellstate is first-class. We have cutting-edge technology, the nicest facilities, a very talented support staff, and the strongest compensation model in the market. It really just sells itself.
What sets your office apart and makes agents want to stick around?
GK: Our culture. The culture is the key. We don’t have a competing broker/owner and our management team doesn’t actively list or sell residential real estate. This way, our staff is 100 percent dedicated to helping our agents with their businesses. We don’t play favorites either, so every agent receives the same commission split regardless of their production level. Everyone loves the fact that we treat everyone equally.
Finally, we (the owners) don’t make any of the big decisions. In essence, we operate like an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). We have a governing board called The Founder’s Club, which is a group of top producers who have been with us since the beginning. We manage our brokerage through consensus-building, and, by doing so, we usually get it right the first time. Our agents also like the fact that they’re participating in the decision-making process.
How have you used the Sellstate brand to better serve the Ocala area?
GK: We deliberately positioned the Sellstate brand to be a cut above our competitors in every conceivable way. Since the brand was new to the Ocala market, we felt this would be critical to our success. Executing that plan and maintaining our high standards takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. We never round any corners, and we will never compromise our values. Sellstate is a first-class organization, and we’re proud of what our office represents:
- Mission: To develop the next generation of real estate professionals by leveraging the power of teamwork, togetherness, and technology
- Vision: To be the No. 1 real estate company in every market we operate in, based on the integrity and ethics of our advisors
- Values: God first, then family, business and community
What kind of training do you offer your agents?
Joe Vorwerk: For our seasoned agents, we provide in-depth training on our marketing and document management platforms. We have classes several times a month to ensure each agent has the skillset needed to be successful.
For our newly licensed or inexperienced agents, we have our Sellstate Career Acceleration Program, or CAP program. The Sellstate CAP program is a comprehensive eight-week, 16-session training program that covers all the subjects that aren’t covered in the licensing class. This program shows agents how to farm a particular area, perform open houses, prepare listing presentations, distinguish different types of contracts, and more. Agents are mentored and supported by a seasoned professional to help ensure their success.
You’re known for having a high ratio of successful transactions. What techniques do you have in place to achieve this?
JV: We continue to hone and improve our processes, in particular on the document management side of the business. We spend quite a bit of time training agents on our paperless document management platform to ensure efficiency on their part and compliance on the side of the brokerage. The process includes several interactions between the agent and our administration, resulting in error detection and corrections prior to them becoming bigger issues. Managing the process from contract to closing is critical to the closing ratio.
For more information, please visit www.sellstaterealty.com.
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