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Five-Star Service Starts With the Right Team

Kathy_KoehlerIn the following interview, Kathy Koehler of The Koehler Bortnick Team, ReeceNichols Real Estate in Kansas City, Mo., discusses the growth of her team.

Years in Real Estate: 37
Region Served: Kansas City, Mo.
Team Members: 53; 45 agents, 8 support staff
Average Market Time: Less than eight weeks in the $350,000 and under price range

Your agent team has been ranked the No. 1 real estate team in the Kansas City Metro area by the Kansas City Business Journal for the last 25 years. What does it take to achieve this status?
Kathy Koehler:
I’m proud to say that I was the first agent to start a team in Kansas City. My whole idea has always been to give the best service possible, and to be the very best that I can be. Doing everything by myself really wasn’t the way to give such service. Kansas City is in the middle of the country—and while we’re excellent in many areas, we’re not famous for firsts a lot of the time—so I attended real estate seminars in California and New York to see what agents in those parts of the U.S. were doing and to find out what I could do better. One of the first ideas that really stood out revolved around their use of teams, so I brought that idea back to Kansas City and started our team, which I run with my daughter, Heather Bortnick. We set up systems for everything, but the accountability program we use for hiring is probably one of our best. My core belief is that a captain is only as good as his crew, which means I have to have the best crew possible.

Talk about hiring and recruiting.
KK:
These days, we don’t really recruit. We have a long list of agents who want to join our team, but I am very selective. To join our team, you have to be interviewed and then go through a six-week training program. I also mentor everyone. I’m looking for agents who fall into distinct personality types. I want to hire agents who have grit—those who are tenacious. They have to have a very strong work ethic equal to that of the top soldiers at West Point. I’m also looking for agents who accept responsibility. I would rather have one of my agents say, “I made a mistake,” than an agent who makes excuses. If I can find these qualities in an agent, I have found an agent who will give excellent service. And excellent service is what The Koehler Bortnick Team is all about. We only want five-star testimonials.

What are some of your best techniques for finding new business?
KK:
I’m always putting money back into the business. While a great deal of our business is referral and repeat business, we’re old school in the sense that we still farm for business. In 2008, when the real estate industry hit new lows, we were out knocking on doors. We were going to banks. We went out and hit the dirt. We did well. What we do today is what I’ve been doing for the last 37 years.

What would you like to see for the team in the future?
KK:
I could say that I’d like to see our sales go from $365 million to $400 million this year, but these days, I’m more likely to say that my goal is for us to be the best we can be, and to be happy.

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