KW Nicaragua: Succeeding During Uncertain Times

Words: Jodi Helmer|Photography: Brian Fitzsimmons|Published: Apr. 1 2019

The real estate market is challenging in Nicaragua, but that hasn’t stopped agents at Keller Williams Nicaragua from closing deals.

Led by the father-son duo Robert Serrano Sr., enterprising operating principal, and Robert Serrano Jr., regional director, the region has risen above challenging circumstances to experience rapid growth. The number of agents has grown from 28 to 180 in the past two years, making KW Nicaragua the largest real estate franchise in the region. The Serranos have launched three market centers so far and plan to open three more in the coming year – all while doing business in a challenging environment.

Nicaragua went from being one of the safest and most stable countries in Central America to a nation in crisis. Protests against the government turned violent in 2018, causing widespread fear that led a growing number of Nicaraguans to flee their country. As a result, tourism collapsed and the economy tanked with an estimated $7 million in assets being pulled from the banking system every day.

Determined to Deliver

Despite circumstances beyond their control, both father and son are fueled by a desire to make a positive impact on their homeland.

“I always had a vision to go back to help the Nicaraguan people somehow.”

“After 20 years in the U.S., we have found a way to tell our people, ‘Stay home, there’s opportunities at home, things are going to change,’” says Serrano Sr. “I think being brave is to continue what we’re doing for Nicaragua in Nicaragua,” says Serrano Sr.

Thanks to Keller Williams’ proven models and systems, they’re able to deliver that opportunity.

Since launching, Serrano Sr. has encouraged agents to capitalize on the KW referral network to earn commissions from closed sales in areas with a more robust real estate market.

“It’s working out for the short- and mid-term solution so our agents can get income,” explains Serrano Jr. “We know that the United States is very active in referrals, Canada is very active in referrals, and the average price per home in the U.S. is three to four times higher than our country, so a 25 percent referral fee is equivalent to a nice sale in Nicaragua.

“Even if no one is buying or selling homes, my dad is always showing them how they can use the referral network,” he adds. “Even if you can’t do it in your country, now you’re part of Keller Williams; it’s bigger than your country.”

Growth share has also been an avenue for Nicaragua’s agents during their tumultuous political and economic climate. The Growth Share Platform allows KW associates to develop passive income. Both KW and master franchisee owners provide financial rewards (based on the volume of closed transactions) to associates who helped their offices and their regions grow. In Nicaragua, where local real estate transactions are almost nonexistent, the passive income earned through the Growth Share Platform is life-changing.

Amplifying Growth Through Technology

Additionally, KW Nicaragua has relied on technology tools to protect its agents and power their success. The franchise hosts online trainings so agents don’t have to leave their homes in the midst of riots. Instead of hosting a few trainings per week, the Serranos decided to host daily online trainings to stay connected to their 40 Nicaragua’s Regional Team agents and keep them motivated. Their virtual offerings range from trainings to propel agents into productivity to team meetings, leadership group coaching calls, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Serrano Jr. says 50 percent of associates participate in the trainings and are “very active” in the sessions, adding, “If you have technology to conduct the training, it makes it better, because associates can be more efficient; they can literally work from their homes, or their phones, and get online to front doors. Technology in our country is going to be a huge game-changer.”

The father-son team also attributes their success to Keller Williams’ culture of shared knowledge and support.

Serrano Jr. calls KW, “A company that puts people first.”

“They are always asking us, ‘What more can we do; what more support can we give … the support of leadership has definitely helped us feel that energy, feel that support, and that type of experience shows us that even in the toughest times, there’s always opportunity.”

KW Worldwide President Bill Soteroff applauds the team for their ongoing efforts to lead in the midst of challenges in their nation, noting, “The success of our company rests on incredible individuals. The KW Nicaragua team is a testament to the courage it takes to lead in uncertain times. We are very proud of how The Serranos and their agents have embraced KW’s culture of collaboration to help them get through difficult times,” says Soteroff.

With the right mindset, you can handle any of life’s problems while finding the good in them.

A Global Mindset

The franchise also works with professionals to address other challenges of working in a difficult environment: A psychologist helps agents deal with the mental strain of living among political unrest and a financial planner helps them navigate the realities of covering their expenses in a sluggish real estate market. To encourage agents to think of real estate as a global business, KW Nicaragua offers English classes.

“We know learning English is going to give them more opportunities to network in the States, Canada and other parts of the world,” Serrano Jr. explains. For Serrano Sr., opening a franchise in Nicaragua means investing in the Central American nation he loves. And, he hopes, a chance to play a small role in the country’s rebirth.

“You’re always going to find people who say you’re not going to make it, but if you have the vision and you implement it, you can achieve it.”

Serrano Jr. calls the decision to open a franchise in Nicaragua a bold move, explaining, “The easy thing to do is to say, ‘Let’s look for somewhere else to go live and start our lives all over again.’ Having the vision to stay is brave. We know we’re going to go through tough times, but let’s keep dreaming, have the vision, and push through the storm.”

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