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| 12 minute read

Q&A: How To Build A Successful Real Estate Team From Scratch

Sammy Harper Sep 29, 20

Thinking about starting a real estate team? You need to hear what the team leads at Kim Steel and Associates have to say. Kris McCullough and Adam Nogueira joined us for a webinar to discuss how they did a total reset of their business and rebuilt their team from the ground up.

"We had a brokerage of over 100 agents," Kris said. "We had a lending business and an escrow company. But our business had turned into a puppy mill. I sat down with Adam and Kim and said, 'This is not what our original dream was. We're making good money, but we're not happy.'"

"The dream had turned into a nightmare. So we decided to burn it all down."

Stop chasing the money

They shifted their focus from "chasing the money" to chasing their dream. And that dream was to build a team of like-minded individuals that would come together to "outwork, outspend, out-market, and out-maneuver anybody in order to dominate any market they want to take."

And that's exactly what they built.

Before we go any further—are you truly ready to build a real estate team?

Do you have the proper experience and the right mindset to be a successful team leader? Before going any futher, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What is my vision for my team? If your dream is to build a culture—a group of individuals you love to be around—you have the right mindset. If you're still just chasing the money, now isn't the right time to build a team.
  2. Am I a rainmaker? If you know how to make it rain—how to get deals—and you've generated so much business that you're feeling overwhelmed, you'll be able to successfully scale your business by building a team.
  3. Do I have a burning desire to help my agents make a profit? If you're driven by a desire to serve and help the agents on your team be successful, you have the right mindset. (And when you build a team of winners, you'll win too.)

If you now feel more excited than ever to start building your real estate team, keep reading! This blog post recaps some of the biggest questions and answers from Kris and Adam's discussion. For even more, watch the full webinar recording on our website.

Question: What are the best methods for recruiting?

Much of KSA's recruiting now goes through their intern program.

"First," Kris said, "we want to find people with sparkle. We're looking for somebody who's coachable and has something unique about them. We want to ensure that they fit within our culture."

Some interns had never been in real estate before, or even considered it as a career choice. One intern, now a successful agent on the KSA team, was someone Kris met at a bar. "After I met him a few times, I'm like, 'Dude, this guy's got something special to him.'"

Others are drawn to KSA as a result of the team's strong brand awareness and the value KSA provides to the real estate community. These agents reach out to KSA asking for a job, not the other way around.

These potential hires go through a lengthy vetting process. When they first show up and say, "I want to join the KSA team," they're allowed to hang around. They're given very little direction for about two weeks, just to see if they'll keep showing up. After that, they're slowly introduced to the team's process. If the candidate is deemed "coachable," they are put on probationary status, invited to deeper team meetings, and given some one-on-one coaching.

"The first thing we're going to talk about—for two more weeks—is time blocking," said Kris. "We're going to talk about changing their mindset. Also, they have to read a minimum of one book, which is dictated by myself and Adam, every month. On top of their education, they have to be calling the people in the pipeline we've given them. We want to see if they're going to treat this like a job."

"If they don't, we wash them out. If they do, then we're going to roll them to a mentor, which is one of the producing agents. If the mentor is like, 'Yep, this is the guy,' then we have a vote with our entire team. Will they fit in the culture? If they do, they're on the team. It can take anywhere from a month and a half to six months. Here's the thing: I don't care, because I'm not going to pay and feed 10 agents, and have five of them wash out. I won't do it, and it doesn't fit within the culture."

It was a lot of hard work in the beginning, but over time it has compounded their success. "When we left everything else behind, yes, Kris and I were absolutely on the phones grinding," Adam reflected. "We were doing agent work. We did intend to have 20 to 30 agents right away—but we didn't want the wrong agents."

Question: How are interns compensated?

Kris answered this question: "If you're an intern, your compensation is based off of what you create and produce, especially when you get on with an agent. Your job is to make that agent a profit. In the process of making that agent a profit, the agent is going to teach you the entire business: 'Great, you just brought me a buyer. Here's the process. Great, you just brought me a seller. Here's the process.' By the time they get their real estate license, they know the business."

"But on top of that, we also pay bonuses. I think it's the first five deals, you get $500. The next five deals, $1000. The next five deals, you get $1,500 bucks per deal. But no, they aren't making a living. They change their schedule so they can work part-time here and part-time at their other job.  What I'm looking for is somebody that doesn't have an excuse."

"Really, the pay is the value of what they're getting. The last month before they get their license, they actually build their full pipeline. They're already doing deals. Every one of our interns, once they actually get their license, they usually have 3 deals going into escrow within the first month. A lot of these guys have 8 in their first month. It's insane. Now, how many agents could say they've done that even though they're in their first year?"

Download the KSA process

Question: How do you hold your team accountable?

Adam took this question: "I use our accountability sheet. We track everything week to week, Tuesday to Tuesday. We have been doing one-on-one accountability meetings with each agent on Wednesday. We find that giving them a couple of extra days after they come back from the weekend to get things done helps."

Adam asks that each agent fills out the accountability sheet and bring it with them to the one-on-ones with him. "It's a request, and it's just as valuable for them as it is for us to collect this information. They're getting an overview of their business on a weekly basis, checking their buckets—hot, nurture, cold, the unknowns, and new leads—so that they are completely aware of what's going on with every single lead in their database."

Here are some of the metrics the accountability sheet tracks:

  • Call count: If an agent is making 250 calls on average each week, they're allowed to claim up to 50 company leads in their bucket. If they average 500 calls per week, they can hold up to 100 leads. 
  • The 3-3-3 process for working new leads: The agent must call a lead 3 times a day for 3 days, and then 3 times a week for 3 weeks.
  • All leads must have a search set up (which means they're receiving listings via email)
  • The agent should be responding to text and emails in a timely manner
  • All leads must be assigned an appropriate status
This is just a tiny sneak peek at the accountability sheet. Use the link below to download the complete document!

Download the KSA accountability guide


Question: How have you put systems and processes in place?

ksabook1When Kris, Adam, and Kim decided to start over and build a team from scratch, their number one rule was to document everything. And thus, the KSA Systems and Processes book was born. 

The book's full title is How To Leverage the Ultimate Client Relations Management System: KSA Systems & Processes.

Kris and Adam have been working on this book for the last five years, and their agents have provided input, too. 

"That's how you get buy-in," Adam said. "You give everyone an opportunity to commit. You have to give them a voice. At the end of the day, we're not the ones on the front lines, so how can we give direction if we're not getting their feedback?"

Here's what Kris had to say about the book: "This is the KSA way. This is exactly how it's always done. You can deviate to a point, because an SOP should be a standing operating procedure, not a standard, because it's a living document. It's always going to adjust based off of the market. But everything should have a system or a process, otherwise you cannot and will not stand up a scalable business."

The book continues to evolve as the business scales.

Question: And what's that "ultimate CRM" mentioned in the book's title?

That's Realvolve + Firepoint, and KSA is currently running their entire business through the platform. 

"Firepoint has been one of the game changers for us," Kris said. "We get our inbound PPC leads and Facebook leads through Firepoint. It's also where we do our taskings, and where we communicate with our lenders and pre-qualifications, and why we do so many buyer-side deals every month."

"Look," said Kris, "I'm telling you, PPC through Firepoint has become one of our heaviest-hitting returns. Last week, we got 370 inbound leads.  We got a total of 38 pre-qualifications to lenders. Right now, we have a 15% return on inbound leads to actual conversions."

"And we're not paying much for these leads, folks, " Kris continued. " Firepoint Facebook Advertising is costing me about $2.40 per lead, and we're getting massive returns. On the Firepoint PPC, I think we're spending no more than $12.40 per lead. But when I go to Zillow, especially for our markets out here [in California], it's about $150 plus per lead."

Watch the webinar to learn even more!

Kris and Adam had much more to say about Realvolve + Firepoint. You can hear it all on the incredible hour-long webinar discussion between Kris, Adam, and Realvolve + Firepoint's own Gabe Cordova. Click here to watch the full webinar and access exclusive downloads, which include the KSA team's accountability sheet, internship process, and their book of systems and processes.

Watch the webinar & access the downloads

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About Sammy Harper

Sammy Harper is a content writer at Firepoint & Realvolve. Her nine years of digital marketing experience include SEO, email marketing, social media, and blogging. Fascinated by the real estate indust...

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