Keller Williams had another great family reunion, their annual convention in Anaheim drew more than 17,000. Perhaps the most remarkable information conveyed is that they have hit a lot of their ambitious targets for growth, and are now re-targeting to leverage data and technology as their next conquest. According to Teresa Metcalf, their big bet is on the underlying framework and Platform – and the AI component is on top of that.
Today, the franchise has 948 market centers. You could sense that they really wanted to hit the 1000 number by family reunion, but smart growth is more important than hitting a number (they are adding about 2 per month). They reported that 98% of their market centers are profitable. KW now operates in 29 countries. Their sales volume eclipsed $300 Billion in America, with over 1 million units (the total market is about 6 million homes, 12 million sides). For the longest time, they measured growth on the number of agents. Now they seem to measure growth more on traditional values of profit and production. They have huddled masses of agents and provided rigorous training on how to sell more real estate. It has worked.
At the heart of Keller Williams technology investments is business automation for agents. They are leveraging business intelligence tools to provide support and assistance to agents around activities the boost productivity. Agents do not need to look up homes, they will be able to ask the assistant to “find properties around 123 Mainstreet that have sold in the last 12 months,” “build me a quick CMA,” “build listing agreements for 123 main street and set the price at $2.5 Million,” “set an open house for 123 main street for Saturday at noon,” “show me today’s expired listings,” “mail a just listed postcard to 1000 houses around this house that are similar in size,” “show me today’s leads for follow up,” and the list goes on. Note: this is not specific functionality that they have launched, but a sample of things that a virtual assistant can be programmed to do. “The goal is to enable agents to focus on relationships, not doing mundane tasks across multiple systems,” says Metcalf.
There are plenty of critics who look at things like Alexa, Siri, Google Voice and other virtual assistants with disdain. Although they have been around for a long time, they have a lot of misunderstandings. But the really interesting thing is that they are getting much, much better at an insanely rapid pace. I heard the CEO of Ojo talking about their chat bots. What they do is allow the bot to try to answer the question or perform the activity. When it fails, they have humans backing up the machines to do the job. Situations that cause a lot of failures are prioritized for programming and user training to perfect the most commonly encountered failures. Over time, these systems get better and better.
Many of the activities that agents perform are routine. For the most part, our industry has done a good job of integrating tools like Single Sign On to allow agents to access programs with a click. Keller Williams is taking a different tactic – just tell me what you want done, and we will have the machines do it. Machines cannot do everything, but they can do a lot of routine activities that agents spoil selling time to accomplish. Today, Keller Williams has a basic foundation that they are putting into the hands of their sales associates. It’s a humble beginning with an audacious end goal in mind. It’s worthy to note that they took their referral program out of the lab and October, had it developed by January and launched at Family Reuntion – that’s pretty agile.
Keller Williams knows that systems integrations of software solutions will be a keynote to pulling off this effort. I would suppose that Keller Williams will publish some type of integration tool that will allow technology vendors to integrate with their virtual assistant bots. For example, with a Quick CMA, the activity will be started by the agent. The bot will collect the vital information. The information will be sent to a partner like CloudCMA who will return the quick CMA to the bot. The bot will relay the CMA to the agent. The turn time on this activity would be under 1 minute and the agent can do it by speaking to their phone in their car. By the way – this is functionality that already exists today. You can send an email to CloudCMA today and get this type of service. What KW is doing differently is not only supporting activities like CMA, but many, many more activities or skills that support agents. Metcalf reported that KW has over 110,000 agents using KellerCloud to access Kelle (AI/Voice) and Referrals in 30 days of the release.
We are excited to watch and learn from Keller William’s development in these efforts. If successful, it will be an amazing. It will probably take longer than expected, because the industry does not have thousands of developers working on it. But rest assured, when Keller Williams offers partners the opportunity to introduce products to 1000 offices and 175,000 agents doing $300 Billion in trades, smart vendors will heed the call. This was evidenced by their partnership/data alliance with companies like NextDoor. Market scale has a strange way of inspiring partner companies to accommodate the unique needs of large real estate firms. We see this happening with Leading RE, NRT, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and even large indy brokers like Pacific Union and Howard Hanna. Many doors open when you have scale.