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Joe La Rosa
Vitals: La Rosa Realty

Years in business: 16
Size: 37 offices, 2,300 agents
Regions served: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, California and Puerto Rico
2019 sales volume: 6,515
2019 transactions: $1.49 billion

Joe La Rosa is the 21st century Renaissance man. He’s an entrepreneur, transformative speaker, best-selling author, philanthropist and top real estate broker, as well as CEO and founder of La Rosa Realty, LLC in Celebration, Fla.

A one-time police officer in Orlando, his father convinced him to join the real estate game on the development side, and he helped build commercial projects, office buildings and single-family homes. In 2008, when the development boom crashed, La Rosa turned his attention to the brokerage and sales side of things.

Today, he is CEO of La Rosa Realty, which employs more than 2,300 agents in 37 office locations across five states.

Tell us about your growth philosophy.
Joe La Rosa: Last year, I decided to franchise. I kept coming across opportunities, and we have developed offices under my ownership in New York, California, Georgia and South Carolina. Last July, I started to convert 80 percent of my corporate offices into franchises and began selling to other locations outside of my directory of offices. I had a lot of success with that pre-COVID. We even started to develop outside of the U.S., with an office in Bogota, Colombia. I also have a group that bought the rights to develop in Peru, as well as Panama, Brazil and Turkey. Once the pandemic calms down, we will have others coming online.

How has the firm fared during COVID-19?
JL: March was a good month for us as Florida is the market we are predominantly in, so that’s the market I see first. Our real estate is all about the pipeline, so even when all the craziness started to take place and things were being shut down, we were okay. But in April, we started to see the impact, and we were down about 23 percent compared to last year. May was the bottom, with 48 percent decreases. Things picked back up in June and the rest of the summer we saw positive numbers, so things are trending up.

What’s the secret to keeping agents motivated—especially at a time like this?
JL: Our engagement has shot through the roof. We offer virtual classes for our agents, which is important during this time. We started rallying the troops, getting all our brokers and team leaders together to understand how important it was to reach out to agents…and for some, it was a chance to reach out to agents they maybe hadn’t spoken to for a while. It trickled down to many of our agents taking advantage of our classes and training. We keep things positive and have them look at the data and what the economists are predicting. We did our best to keep them engaged while educating them.

What’s a good piece of advice you can offer to your agents?
JL: You have to have a solid business plan. Agents are independent contractors, and I would love to say the logo on their business card will help them grow their business—and we will provide them with the resources and the tools they need—but ultimately, they have to go out and execute and develop a plan based on their goals.

What attracts people to the company?
JL: Our education training and coaching program for brand-new agents. Our technology platform is one of the best out there. We offer great value as far as the commission split. And, most importantly to me, is our culture. It’s about family, passion and growth.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.