KW’s #1 Team, The Loken Group, Achieves More Through Accountability

July 27, 2020

Houston-based team The Loken Group stands 89 members strong. In 2019, they were listed as the #1 large residential real estate team in the United States by The Wall Street Journal and the #1 Keller Williams team worldwide. In 2020, they reached an all-time record for signed representation agreements for listings and buyers for the month of June, for a total of 226 agreements.

To get there, the team has embraced radical accountability, beginning at the top with co-founders Lance and Karina Loken, and their executive leadership team.

“As leaders, accountability is our responsibility,” Lance shares. “We believe people want to be held accountable deep down and we owe them that service. Because, ultimately, they are looking to us to be successful. If we were to allow our organization to slide downward due to a lack of accountability, we’re doing a disservice to everyone.”

This is a lesson The Loken Group has learned by embracing failing forward.

CEO Lance Loken reminisces: “When we first started, we were completely prospecting based. As our organization grew, we became more marketing based. In the fourth quarter last year, we lost $600,000 because our team was accustomed to leads coming in; we were not outbound-prospecting at a high level. When we lost that large dollar amount, it was a wake-up call for us to move back into being a prospect-based business.”

Related Reading: Karina Loken: Reflections of Authentic Leadership

The team took this road bump as a learning experience, combing through their processes and creating a new list of standards that would ensure their profitability. “We apologized, because we did our team a disservice by not truly holding them accountable, and because we love them as much as we do, we began holding them accountable to new standards,” he says. “It was a challenge at first, and yet, people rose to the occasion and we had a record month by January 2020.”

Here, Lance shares the accountability standards that brought the team back on the path to success.

What accountability looks like

Accountability begins on the first day when joining this team. Each new member starting with The Loken Group receives a 30-60-90 plan tailored for their role and experience to help build a strong foundation for success right away. New members also each meet with leadership to share their personal goals. They work together on creating a set of goals that will help the agent get there. “We work as a team to support each other’s success and each have a responsibility to each other to do so,” Lance says.

The Loken Group dissects what it takes for the member to achieve those goals, while also looking at the team’s goals, priorities, and strategies (GPS). The well-rounded team has multiple departments including inside sales, operations, marketing, and buyers. Each member of the team receives in-house coaching from the team’s department leaders and success coaches. The team also provides a robust offering of resources on their website.

Depending on which role a new member finds themselves in, the responsibilities and KPIs differ. Here is a peek into how this plays out within The Loken Group.

Accountability KPIs in place

  1. Buyer’s Agents: consulting new clients on the buying process, getting buyer rep agreements signed, and the steps that follow until a client is under contract. Though the minimum standard is four units closed per month, each buyer’s agent is responsible for a different number of agreements signed, which is dependent on their individual goals and conversions.
  2. Success Team: works with each client from agreements-signed to active on the market (therefore, responsible for everything in between including the coordination of home staging consultations, photography, etc); the team is working on getting the number of days down to 25 (currently around 28 days).
  3. Seller’s Agents: the team’s sellers agents are responsible for attending listing appointments, securing listing agreements, negotiating offers, repairs and appraisals and reviewing closing statements with the sellers.
  4. Inside Sales Team: the inside sales team is the team’s lead generating department. They are tasked with reaching 35 contacts per day and setting eight kept appointments per week (the team defines the contact as two-way communication; the person on the other end needs to respond in order to be considered a contact)
  5. Executive Leadership: reviews departmental KPIs, assesses gaps, leads monthly town hall meetings where leaders share wins, announce challenges and explain their action plans for overcoming them, and holds weekly accountability conversations with each member of the leadership team around departmental KPIs. In addition, each member of the executive team is enrolled in one-on-one KW MAPS Coaching.
  6. Client Experience: client surveys are collected at multiple points in the process to understand how to best serve clients. Collectively, the goal is a 97 percent client satisfaction rating.

If an agent is struggling to achieve their goals, a following four-phase plan goes into place:

  1. Coaching opportunities: The issue is first addressed during their weekly accountability meeting with their internal business coach. During these meetings, the coach consistently talks about the agent’s business goals, their current status, and discusses opportunities and action items focused around bridging that gap and moving them forward.
  2. A fierce conversation: If the challenge continues, the team uses the ‘Confrontation Model’ script from Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations book in order to progress. This model is focused on helping members understand the impact of their own success to the overall success of the team. Generally, the coach wraps up this conversation by asking the agent to create and provide an action plan that they are willing to commit to. They also ask what tools, training, or resources the agent needs from the team in order to feel supported. 
  3. 30-day performance improvement plan and the chance to improve their process: Should the agent continue to experience issues, the next step is a performance improvement conversation – leading to a much more formal, documented plan that ensures action items and outcomes are outlined in detail. The plan specifies a timeframe for changed performance to occur. This conversation also makes it clear that failure to achieve these outcomes may result in separation of their contract. 
  4. Helping the agent find a different opportunity: If the agent does not change their behavior and reach the agreed-upon outcomes, the coach is able to have an honest conversation, which can help the agent self-discover and look toward the future. “Ultimately, as a leader, we have to be willing to have the difficult conversations so that we can help those we serve to live their life by design,” Lance says. “It is equally important to everyone on the team that we uphold our standards and hold the line of what we expect of our teammates in business.”

The art of goal setting

Every September, The Loken Group sets aside time to come up with their GPS road map, available on their website. The GPS is created as an organization to address challenges, as well as goals and strategies that will be employed to reach them. “The entire organization masterminds on how we’re going to get there,” Lance says. “It is done together at the company level first, a departmental level next, and finally, on an individual level.”

The Loken Group employs a robust agenda during two days that the GPS is completed:

  • Monday is reserved for getting everyone into the GPS mindset. That afternoon, the team puts together a team-building activity. 
  • On Tuesday morning, the team enjoys a breakfast together and dives straight into the numbers. “We spend about 15 minutes on last year’s results, just because we’re already looking forward, we’re not looking backward. The remainder of the hour we are discussing our game plan for the next year from a numbers perspective, and then we have a keynote speaker chosen specifically based on our focus for the year.” The GPS creates the ultimate accountability platform.

Once the GPS is formulated, volunteer task forces are created in order to move the action items forward. Here is what their task force makeup looks like:

  • Lead Conversion: 6 people 
  • Unforgettable Experience/Service/Excellence: 8 people
  • Databank Overhaul Optimization: 5-6 people
  • Talent/Staffing/Training/Coaching: 4-5 people

Every month, each task force will share their accomplishments and upcoming action plans with the organization at the town hall meeting. 

The Loken Group is living proof that embracing accountability can help you grow your business. Take a page out of their book and implement accountability practices that will motivate your agents to propel your own business forward.

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