Mark Willis Takes Aim At Anywhere In ‘State of the Company’ Remarks

Key Takeaways:

– Mark Willis called on agents to rise up and topple Anywhere, the world’s largest real estate franchisor
– Keller Williams had a mix of successes and challenges in 2023
– The company’s agent count remained steady with 162,000 agents in the U.S. and Canada
– Willis emphasized the need for growth and recruitment to regain market share
– Chris Cox announced upgrades to KW Command and KW Connect, including a chatbot and predictive tools
– Keller Williams aims to surpass Anywhere in market share based on agent count
– Willis highlighted the company’s brand recognition and culture as key strengths for growth and success

inman:

In his first Family Reunion address since returning as CEO of Keller Williams last year, Mark Willis called on agents to rise up and topple Anywhere, the world’s largest real estate franchisor.

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Keller Williams’ 2023 was a mix of roses and thorns, with the Texas-based franchisor handily securing their position on multiple “best of” lists for leadership, company culture, agent production and technology all while being mired in two landmark buyer-broker commission lawsuits, both of which the company settled on Feb. 1 for $70 million.

The company’s agent count remained steady with 162,000 agents across the U.S. and Canada closing 895,000 transaction sides worth $379 billion. Meanwhile, Keller Williams Worldwide’s 18,000 agents closed 87,000 transaction sides worth $17 billion.

Mark Willis

Although the company outperformed the rest of the industry in agent count growth based on National Association of Realtors statistics, Keller Williams CEO Mark Willis said the Texas-based franchisor had flat agent count growth in 2023 — a sobering statistic for a company that’s known for robust recruitment and retention.

“KW family, our growth was flat and we did not capture additional market share,” he said during his first KW Family Reunion State of the Company address in eight years. “I remember a time and I know many of you do too when we would routinely outperform the industry year in and year out.”

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Willis attributed lackluster growth to elevated mortgage rates, worsening affordability, low inventory, and several other macroeconomic headwinds that suffocated sales throughout 2023. The record rise in new agents over the past several years didn’t help either; leading to an incredibly competitive market.

“Now I could get up here, I can talk about the models that position us to thrive in this market. Because believe me, they do,” he said. “Our economic model, our operating model, our organizational model that absolutely set us apart from every single competitor we have.”

“That’s not to mention all of our wonderful education through KW and our amazing technology platforms,” he added. “But if I’m being honest with you it isn’t enough. For a mature company like ours, we need to do more.”

Echoing the insights from his Inman Interview a few days before the conference, Willis challenged agents to “reject the status quo” and regain an “insatiable hunger” to be the real estate experts buyers and sellers count on. He also called on leadership to fulfill a goal of recruiting 100,000 agents this year, which would account for one-fifth of the new agents that are expected to get their licenses in 2024.

“For all the leaders in the room, I want to be really clear, that priority is 1,000 percent focused on growth. Growth is the lifeblood of our business,” he said. “KW family, if half a million new agents enter the industry this year,
we should recruit a minimum, a minimum of 100,000 of them.”

Willis said Keller Williams’ leverage lies in its expanding agent education empire with Coursera and Kaplan, and its sweeping proprietary technology platform KW Command.

Chris Cox

Keller Williams Chief Technology Officer Chris Cox joined Willis onstage to announce several upgrades to KW Command and education platform KW Connect, namely the addition of a ChatGPT-esque chatbot that will debut later this year.

“Imagine this. What if we were able to put all the wisdom of “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” or “SHIFT” and all of our other playbooks into one gigantic resource library with our version of ChatGPT?” he said. What if we could make that available in Command and Connect in a chatbot format and give our agents and teams the ability to have all that information right at their fingertips? Well, that’s exactly what we’ve been working on.”

“AI is only good if it’s making you more intelligent,” he said. “If it’s not actually saving your time and helping you make more money, it’s not worth it.”

Cox also touted the addition of a proprietary tool that predicts how many buyers and sellers will enter a given market, new collaboration tools on KW.com such as an affordability calculator and home valuation tool. Willis and Cox said all of these upcoming tools will be key to getting KW back on track.

“We’ve built technology for agents by agents [and] there is absolutely no limit to what we can do to reimagine how we work, how we sell and ultimately how we grow,” Cox said.

If all goes according to plan, Willis said KW is on track to match — and even surpass — New Jersey-based real estate giant Anywhere in market share based on agent count.

“We have yet another Goliath to topple. Our single brand of Keller Williams will be larger than the seven combined brands of Anywhere. It is within reach,” he said to applause and cheers from the audience. “We are within two market share points of toppling that Goliath that represents seven brands that are household names.

“We have brand recognition that is second to none, and we will prove it with more agents, more signs, more market share, and more referrals,” he added. “I believe that we will when we are the best culture that has ever existed. Our destiny is to be the largest real estate entity on the planet.”


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Property Chomp's Take:

In his first Family Reunion address since returning as CEO of Keller Williams last year, Mark Willis delivered a powerful message to agents: it's time to rise up and topple Anywhere, the world's largest real estate franchisor. This call to action comes at a pivotal moment for Keller Williams, as they navigate a challenging real estate landscape and strive to regain their competitive edge.

The past year has been a mixed bag for Keller Williams, with impressive achievements in leadership, company culture, agent production, and technology overshadowed by two significant buyer-broker commission lawsuits. Despite these challenges, Keller Williams maintained a steady agent count and closed a substantial number of transactions, demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity.

Willis acknowledged the tough market conditions that impacted Keller Williams' growth in 2023, but he emphasized the need for agents to reject the status quo and strive for excellence. He called on leadership to prioritize growth and set a goal of recruiting 100,000 agents this year, a bold move that could reshape the company's trajectory.

Chief Technology Officer Chris Cox also shared exciting updates on Keller Williams' technology platforms, highlighting new tools and enhancements that will empower agents to work smarter and more efficiently. With a focus on AI-driven solutions and innovative features, Keller Williams is positioning itself for future success in a rapidly evolving industry.

Willis and Cox's vision for Keller Williams is ambitious, aiming to surpass industry giants like Anywhere and become the largest real estate entity on the planet. With a strong emphasis on culture, education, and technology, Keller Williams is poised to make a significant impact and solidify its position as a leader in the real estate market.

As agents and industry professionals gather at Inman Connect Las Vegas this summer, they will have the opportunity to witness Keller Williams' transformation firsthand. The reinvention of this iconic event promises to shape the future of real estate, driving collaboration and innovation in an ever-changing landscape.

In conclusion, Mark Willis' rallying cry to Keller Williams agents is a call to action that demands courage, determination, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. As the company charts a new course towards growth and success, the stage is set for Keller Williams to rise to the top and make a lasting impact on the real estate industry.

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