judy johns signs her name with no capital letters. This characteristic trait offers a clue to her personality. Upon meeting Judy, you can tell she’s a people person. Sharp, witty, and charming, she puts you at ease immediately, and is genuinely glad to meet you.
Judy credits her people skills and unceasing search for excellence as the keys to her success. She brought the first Keller Williams franchise to Kansas City in 1999. Beginning with 8 licensed agents, Judy has grown her office to 465 agents, and Keller Williams now has 1,900 Realtors® in the greater metro area.
A former math teacher, Judy finds that teaching is a big part of the real estate industry. “We teach people how to stage their home, we teach people how to buy a home.” Judy educates sellers on the most cost effective strategy to get their hose on the market, get it sold fast, and walk away with the most money in their pockets. She educates buyers by pointing out when the house they believe to be their dream home could turn into a money pit. Teaching, it turns out, is a big part of the Keller Williams business model and culture.
Keller Williams Business Model
“Well, Gary Keller, number one, is brilliant,” says Judy. Owner of his own brokerage at 25, Keller took his top sales people and asked them what would create a company they would never want to leave. Their reply created the beginning of the Keller Williams business model:
• a higher commission split,
• profit sharing,
• a voice in how things were run, and, unheard of at the time,
• open financial books.
This quickly evolved to be a model unlike the other dominant models. The first is the dependent model, organized top down, and resembles the relationship between a parent and a child. The agents are dependent upon the agency. The second model is the independent model, more loosely organized, resembling a landlord tenant arrangement. The agent is essentially an independent entity. Keller Williams practices an interdependent model, resembling a relationship between a parent and adult children. This model includes training at a high level for all associates, assuring excellence.
Keller Williams has used this model to grow into the largest real estate company in the world, with 130,000 agents in 20 countries.
Keller Williams Culture
The Keller Williams business model only works with the Keller Williams culture. As the relationship between agents and owners is interdependent, so is the relationship between the business model and the culture. Any organization can leverage this interdependent blending of its business model and culture to its advantage.
According to Judy, the three tenets of the Keller culture are “God, Family, Business.” The center of the culture is WI4CTS:
• Win-win—or no deal
• Integrity—do the right thing
• Customers—always come first
• Commitment—in all things
• Communication—seek first to understand
• Creativity—ideas before results
• Teamwork—together everyone achieves more
• Trust—starts with honesty
• Success—results through people.
As Judy says, “When you lead with love and caring for people…and train at a high level how to be, who to be, how to treat people [the results] just happen.” This culture is all about servant leadership. “If you’re a ‘sales person’ it’s about you; if you’re a ‘sales servant’ you’re about them,” Judy says regarding the agent-client relationship. She goes on, “It’s not the awards, but the rewards we get from serving our clients. We’re not here to sell a house; we’re here to help people get what they want.”
Keller Williams’ program KW Kids, led by Gary Keller, provides millennials with the opportunity for such training to find their purpose. Thus Keller hopes to impact the world through this new generation.
Purpose—Your big Why
Purpose is the driving force behind the culture and business model of Keller Williams. A student of that training, Judy asks “What is your big why? What is the passion that’s propelling you to where you need to be? And let’s define that, and let’s have that before you guiding you and leading you.”
Aligning your purpose with who you are is the secret to success. The key is mindset. “At the end of the day it’s all about mindset. It’s being absolutely certain and determined that what you’re thinking, and saying, and feeling, move you and propel you to where you need to be—your purpose.”