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Rob Ellerman

In the early 2000s, Rob Ellerman, already an established REALTOR®, began building his real estate team.

His first four hires? Still on the team today.

“My slogan is, ‘Train them so everybody wants them, and treat them so they’ll never leave,'” Ellerman explains. “Our retention rate is probably the best in our city.”

“Probably the best” understates things. As a group of 110 professionals, The Rob Ellerman Team—affiliated with ReeceNichols Real Estate, based in the Kansas City metro—has little to no turnover. According to Ellerman, his culture is made to retain. The Rob Ellerman Team’s structure and support, for example, allows for the growth of teams within the team, as well as access to comprehensive, in-house training, so agents have the knowledge and skills to succeed.

It’s working. In 2018, The Rob Ellerman Team garnered $338 million in sales volume and 1,119 transactions, and is consistently one of the country’s leading real estate teams.

Members of The Rob Ellerman Team

Suzanne De Vita: Rob, how did you establish your real estate team?
Rob Ellerman: I started in real estate right out of college in 1996, and worked by myself for 7-8 years. I saw things falling through the cracks, so I hired a buyer’s agent. She’s still with me today, which is something I’m pretty proud of—I’ve got my first four hires still with me. My slogan is, “Train them so everybody wants them, and treat them so they’ll never leave.” We’ve got about 110 people total, including staff. We have an office manager, who is our transaction coordinator; we have a director of Marketing, and she oversees two others in marketing; and we have a lead coordinator and a trainer, and a director of Expansion. We have offices in Lee’s Summit, On the Plaza, North of the River, Overland Park and Leawood, Kan.; in Springfield, Mo.; and in Pensacola, Fla., and Des Moines, Iowa.

SD: How do you determine who fits with the group? What criteria do you look for?
Culture is a big thing for us, and reputation. We don’t want to take on part-time agents; we want full-time agents that can go through our 13-day training process. I’m proud that we have great people on our team. Our retention rate is probably the best in our city—we just don’t have people leave that often. I’m happy to take care of my agents. We’ve done things for agents that a lot of team leaders do not in order to help them be successful or get through bumps in life. Everything I do is agent- and client-focused. If I can break-even on Zillow, for instance, and give all my agents a bunch of business, it’s worth it for me.

SD: How did you develop your training?
Every year, I look at my business and ask, “Where am I weakest?” For a long time, I could always point to something that I was in charge of, because I was in charge of everything! I knew I needed a trainer. I had a process, but it wasn’t nearly as elaborate as what my trainer’s come up with. The hard thing about training a team is you spend an enormous amount of time trying to teach them everything that’s involved in real estate—from contracts to dotloop and e-signature, to opening a lockbox, to sales training. To start a team on your own, it takes hours and hours of one-on-one time, which can lead to flat or lower sales for that person’s business. On our team, we bring people in and send them to our trainer. Our team leads can focus on their business while we train.

SD: You have teams within your team. How does that work?
I allow the agents to form their own groups underneath the team, so instead of having an agent grow out of the team, I let them start their own. My agents run their business under our umbrella, so they can list, sell, get a builder and a development, etc.—they can do it all.

SD: What are your goals for 2020?
It’s hard to say “We want to do $370 million next year” and for me to break that down over 110 agents, so we’re looking at growth and expansion. I look at profitability of each area. My goal for next year is to have our expansion offices do super well. In Des Moines, we’re going to be building homes with our builder, Summit Homes, and I expect that to be very successful. In the Kansas City metro area, we still have a shortage of home inventory, and I don’t see that changing a whole lot next year. Our new-construction developments are going to help with that shortage.

SD: Having led a team for 20 years…what did you wish you knew when you started?
I would have started off differently. Instead of the first buyer’s agent, I would have gotten a paperwork assistant to handle the transaction coordinator piece of things. I would also know how to leverage my time better, so I could step out of selling quicker and grow the team, versus trying to keep going on the sales side.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at