SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth?
Dan Holt: It always comes back to either tools, systems or people, and at the end of the day, really, the No. 1 thing that drives growth is the people, the executive team. I liken it to a restaurant. Our business has a product, but the product isn’t what comes out of the kitchen. It’s how the staff makes people feel. That’s how I look at business. It’s about the culture and the people.
SBJ: What has the company’s growth enabled you to do?
Holt: We are an owner-profit-share model. We contribute back almost 48% of the owners’ net profit to the agents. We do that every month, and we have done that consecutively for nine years – even through the pandemic. We just recently were able to take over 25,000 square feet at Independence [Street] and Weller [Avenue] (for a large) training room.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable?
Holt: Absolutely. Our trajectory in the next five years is 750 agents. We’re at 377 today. I’d be happy if we were there faster.
I want to paint the town red. I want to see nothing but red [Keller Williams] signs all over town. I genuinely believe we have the business model to help people reach their real-estate goals faster and in a way that fits them.
SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
Holt: The only time explosive growth is unsustainable is when ... it becomes about a person or a partnership, not about the group as a whole.After that foundation is set, you can build it as high and as tall as you want to.
SBJ: Have your goals changed as business has taken off?
Holt: We reevaluate every year. We adjust those every year. As a leader, my goals have changed from being transactional to more relational.
I would like to have a 40% market share, but most important to me is the level of connectivity and the value we bring to (agents’) lives to help them reach their financial goals. Becoming a licensed real estate agent costs a lot of money. On average, an agent has $2,500 invested before they become licensed. Our job is to get them into productivity right off the bat.
SBJ: What is the worst business advice you’ve received?
Holt: I think some of the worst advice I’ve had is that there’s some negative connotation to being No. 1 or that somehow we lose the personal touch by being such a large brokerage. The biggest opportunity we have is by being the largest with the best tools.
SBJ: How are you adapting to market challenges, such as low housing inventory?
Holt: What we’re trying to do is understand what the challenging points are for both buyers and sellers. The market is never the same. We coach (agents) to understand what today’s market is and coach and teach to that. It’s kind of like the stock market, in all fairness. We have to understand the market is ever changing, and we have to understand where it is.
A baked goods vendor at Farmers Market of the Ozarks expanded to a brick-and-mortar operation; the first lending center for Old Missouri Bank opened; and London Calling Pasty Co. added a new food truck.