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Ben Kinney
Home4Investment Real Estate Team
Keller Williams Western Realty
Region Served: Western Washington State
Team members: 19 as follows:
Owner & Active Team Manager – Ben Kinney
Administration – 2 licensed office managers, 1 licensed lead Coordinator, 1 Web master
Whatcom & Skagit Counties – 3 listing agents, 5 buyer agents
Snohomish & King Counties – 1 assistant team manager, 3 listing agents, 2 buyers agents

How long have you been in real estate?
I started investing in real estate six years ago. I invested in multifamily properties, foreclosures and flippers. Then I started the real estate team three years ago.

When and why was the team formed?
The team was started three years ago to leverage my time and also to grow the business in a shorter amount of time.

What do you tell people on listing appointments about the value of hiring your team versus hiring a solo agent?
We list over 94% of all of our listing appointments. Would you buy a baseball team with only a pitcher and expect to compete? No! Individual agents can not provide the same level of marketing or services that you get from our team. An average agent in our community might list and sell between six and eight homes a year. My team has over a 100 listings just in Whatcom & Skagit Counties.

What’s your best tip for getting a listing at the right price?
Do your homework and come prepared to help the consumer come to the right conclusion. Overpriced homes net the seller less in the end. When comparing apples to apples your home needs to be priced at the top of the comparable “solds” and priced at the bottom of the “actives.” The second tip: I have all listing agents go to appointments in pairs which shows our teamwork and also helps agents in a presentation if they ever get a tough question.

What advertising idea created the greatest return on investment?
Nothing will ever compete with cold calls and Internet lead generation. That said I put over a 125,000 refrigerator magnets on the front of every phone book in our county with the message “call to actions.” Now when we go on listing presentations we are normally already hanging on the client’s refrigerator.What’s your best idea for holding effective team meetings?
Empower your team and assign each agent a committee so that team members can contribute something each week. We form committees such as legal advice, forms of the week, scripts and dialogues. Second tip: Make each agent turn in written goals for the week, month, and year every Monday morning and hold them accountable weekly.

What works best in generating online leads?
Buyers only care about themselves. The Internet, for the time being, is only successful for generating buyer leads, not seller leads. Buyers only want one thing: Home Listings. Make the “search for homes” button the most visible thing on the page. Own multiple Web sites. I own over 700 domain names and have created over 150 individual Web sites in the last two years. Use pay-per-click advertising until your Web site ranks well enough on the search engines. Right now I have three Web sites on the first page of Google for my main search term and rank first page on a variety of search engines for multiple cities and search terms.

Do you rely on internal or external training and for what specific areas?
Training is the most important part of real estate. Without training and support your business will fail. Our team trains internally every week, especially on scripts and dialogues. We attend external regional and national training events multiple times a year.

Do you rely on the broker or brand’s training programs? Do you, as the team leader, offer any training?
I take advantage of the training that Gary Keller has created for Keller Williams and also his mega agent national events. I then take the information and see how I can customize it to work in my unique market. The secret to retaining talent is to always strive to grow your agent’s knowledge and income. If you can’t provide both, you will become a training facility and have turnover. As a team leader I encourage and require my agents to attend trainings and also I personally teach and train the agents in groups and individually.

What sort of business/financial arrangement do you have with your broker?
My broker encourages teams as long as the team follows strict but reasonable guidelines. As long as I work hard and with integrity the broker allows me to work as my own entity under the Keller Williams umbrella. I spend my money and time branding myself not the broker.

How does your broker support you as team leader?
Our broker has supported us in every way possible. He encourages training, gives legal advice, and assists in team growth.

What is the financial arrangement between the broker and team members?
The team owner is known at Keller Williams as the “rain maker” and a team rainmaker pays a full cap. My team members get a 50% reduction in their annual cap because I take responsibility for training, support, and marketing.

What could your broker be doing to better support your team?
It is hard for a broker to help the largest team in the office since my business model is unique and there is very little history of teams to teach. Our broker and office team leader does a good job of getting me in front of other area successful team owners.

How are you developing your team into a true business entity?
The team is starting to work like a clock. The listing agents list, the buyer’s agents help buyers, and I am free to grow the team into new areas. Soon I plan on being the largest real estate team in the State of Washington. I plan to have five or six separate teams modeled after the original team.

Have you formed an LLC or incorporated? Why or why not?
I originally incorporated as an S-Corp as all real estate agents should. The tax benefits are enormous and liabilities are reduced.

Do you have a succession plan in place?
At some point I will hire a CEO and CFO to run the separate teams as a corporation so I can finally get some time off.

Are you building the team as a salable business and if so, how?
The team, the Web sites and the model will all be salable although I would prefer to keep growing and hopefully someday hand it off to one of my original agents. We succeed through the success of others that we have helped along the way.

Philosophy on life in real estate
Real Estate is not a career, it is a life choice. To be successful you must treat it like a business and most importantly act like a business person.

Lesley Geary