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REAL Trends 500 Podcast: Caleb Hayes, Owner of Keller Williams Green Bay, Keller Williams Appleton, and Keller Williams Eau Claire in Wisconsin

Jun 2, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Caleb Hayes, owner of Keller Williams Green Bay, Keller Williams Appleton, and Keller Williams Eau Claire in Wisconsin.

No. 213 by Transaction Sides REAL Trends 500

With an early passion for investing in real estate, it was inevitable that Hayes would move into brokerage. In this podcast, he talks about his lessons learned and how a passion for your profession is the cornerstone of success.

Tracey Velt:

This is Tracey Velt, Editor in Chief of Content for REAL Trends. We're speaking to the top brokers in the country to take a peek at how they built their businesses. We'll talk about lessons learned, personal passions, and their top strategies for recruiting and retaining productive agents.

Today, we're speaking with Caleb Hayes. He's the owner of Keller Williams Green Bay, Keller Williams Appleton, and Keller Williams Eau Claire in Wisconsin. Welcome, Caleb.

Caleb Hayes:

Hi. Thanks for having me.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah, so we'll start a little bit at the beginning. So tell me how you got started in the business and ultimately came to run your brokerages?

Caleb Hayes:

Sure. I tell people that when I was at a young age, my dad gave me a book and that book was called How I Made $1 million Recycling Old Houses. It was instrumental in growing up. I read it when I was 12 and I just got hooked on real estate. So I found my passion in real estate at a very young age. And then shortly after reading that book, I consumed everything I could real estate.

So with my passion for investing, my passion for anything real estate, it just naturally led me into getting my real estate license investing, and then ultimately settling in saying, "You know what, I'm going to do this for the rest of my life. I might as well own the offices where I work.

So I'm not just going to be a salesperson at some other office. I might as well own the offices because I'm going to do this for a very long time." So that's my passion is what led me into owning the different brokerage companies.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. So tell me how many offices you have with each and how many agents?

Caleb Hayes:

Sure. So we have about 470 agents across the three offices. Keller Williams Green Bay, Keller Williams Appleton, and Keller Williams Eau Claire. 470 agents. We have probably 40 staff members.

So we're just North of about 500 people in our brokerage division. And that equates... We have three large offices and then three smaller, we call them business centers that live off of those three larger offices.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. So obviously you've learned some lessons through the years while building the business. What are your top two lessons learned?

Caleb Hayes:

My top two lessons learned is number one, follow your passion. Do what you're passionate about. If you're passionate about the people that live inside the brokerage world, you're passionate about having relationships with agents.

When you have a passion and if you love real estate, just naturally it's going to lead you... It's going to help carry you through the days when it's not so great to own brokerage companies. So that I would say is the top lesson. Make sure you're following your passion with it.

Caleb Hayes:

And then the second one is people matter. The people that you're in business with matter, the people that you have in your offices matter, and like minds can do some amazing things. So the people, that'd be the second thing. The growth of your company is going to be dependent on the people that you partner with.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. Yeah. Very smart. And since you started this passion early, I'm sure you've had a couple of aha moments as it pertains to growing your brokerage, but what was one that really stands out to you?

Caleb Hayes:

My first aha moment that I had in and around growing a brokerage and owning a brokerage was just when I found the Keller Williams model, it just fit with me really well. So I was very passionate about it.

So as soon as I saw it, I said, "I think this is going to work really, really well in our area." And we literally five years ago had no agents. So we started with zero agents and then in a little over five years, we've grown that to over 470.

So that was my first aha moment that I was on to something is the second we introduced the model and then a bunch of people started being attracted to it and the model and the system is when I started going, "Okay, this is going to work and it's going to work really well."

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. And since we're talking about growth, obviously most brokers they build their business with a strategic mix of organic growth and M and A. So tell me how you grew your business and did you have one year where you just saw a huge growth leap?

Caleb Hayes:

We've had steady growth throughout our little over five years we've been doing this. We grew 420 agents all organically. And then I would say the last 50 in our year that we've jumped is actually this year.

We've just recently closed on our Eau Claire location and that's going to bring in another 50 agents. So it's been all organic for five years. And then in let's say the sixth year is when it all of a sudden now became a mix of a merger.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, that's impressive. So obviously there's a lot of challenges in real estate. What do you see as your greatest challenge in this business?

Caleb Hayes:

The greatest challenge I would just say is having grit. If you... The people that are attracted to brokerages and to running brokerages, a lot of times they come out of the real estate sales field. And the most challenging thing is just getting up when you get knocked down.

Because the real estate industry is changing so much with introduction of technology, with the introduction of things like Zillow, realtor.com. Just the changes that we're seeing inside of our industry, that challenge is you need to be able to change with it.

Caleb Hayes:

So as you see a pattern going in one direction, you need to either get on with it or go in the opposite direction. So having that grit, sticking it out, and just working really hard to make your office's a success and making them successful is I think the biggest challenge.

Just constant, it's a constant changing and evolving industry and you need to be that, which is typically a state of uncomfort over time.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah, definitely. Good advice. So with challenge comes opportunity. So where do you see the most opportunity in the coming year in real estate brokerage?

Caleb Hayes:

Where I see the most opportunity in the real estate brokerages is in and around technology. Having our offices adapt technology, run with technology, and then use it to make our agents have more connections, more real connections with their customers and clients is what's going to differentiate brokerages in the future.

So whoever can leverage technology, I believe to the highest level is going to have the best opportunity to grab the most amount of market share in the future.

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Tracey Velt:

Okay. And let's talk about recruiting. So what are some lessons you've learned trying to figure out the recruiting puzzle?

Caleb Hayes:

Sure. With recruiting, number one, I never ever try to recruit anyone unless I believe that my business and my place that I'm trying to attract people to is the best. So what I mean by that is if I don't believe I absolutely in the bottom of my heart have the best product for our people, I wouldn't recruit anybody.

I wouldn't work at it. I would work on the product first. I would work on what we're trying to deliver to the agents and then I would start recruiting.

Caleb Hayes:

So that's the first picture of it is, is just make sure that what you're trying to attract people to into your brokerage, that you have your office as dialed in as you best possibly can and you believe in the bottom of your heart it's the best place to be. And if it's not, keep working at it until it is.

Caleb Hayes:

And then the second thing is, is make recruiting all about the person sitting across the table from you. It has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with their brokerage. Make it all about that person that you're sitting with.

And then if you can solve problems to make that recruit's life better, share that with them and if they choose to join you, then deliver on that. That I think is the biggest piece that I think we make.

We try to say, here's what my brokerage is all about. When in reality, we don't really know what that agent really needs. That agent might want more time with their family, that agent might want to make more money, and we just need to tailor your office to what that individual business owner needs. That's where I found the most success with recruiting. And I don't even really want to call it recruiting. It's more like just attracting people to your organization.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. Now we're going to get personal with our last two questions. So tell me what or who inspires you?

Caleb Hayes:

So what inspires me is I'm a Christian, I believe in God. And so my faith is what inspires me. And another thing that I believe is that everything that you're blessed with in life, I believe that how you take care of that matters and to the level that you take care of it is to the level of which you'll receive more blessings.

So for those who are given little, they will be given a lot. And then as you're given a lot comes a lot more responsibility with it and accountability. So I guess my faith would be what I would call that inspires me the most.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. And that is a quote that we used to tell our son when he was younger all the time. Much is given and much is expected. I can't remember the exact quote, but yes, exactly. So my last question is tell me about a childhood or teenage experience that shaped the person you are today?

Caleb Hayes:

Sure. So I'll give... So as I said earlier, I was very passionate at a young age about real estate and I tried to buy my first investment property when I was a sophomore in high school and my dad said, "No, you're in every sport known. You're in every sport, you will not regret it. You need to stick it out, stick it through with sports. And then after you graduate, you can do whatever you want and buy whatever properties you want."

Caleb Hayes:

So two weeks after I graduated, I was 18 years old. I bought my first property and I didn't have a job. I just was super intrigued about buying... I bought a commercial property, it had a retail front down below and it had two apartments up above it. And I literally sold a bank on just my passion for wanting to buy this project, wanting to fix it up, and make it a nice property.

Caleb Hayes:

And I did everything. I did all the work. I did all the contracting. I had to basically convince a bank to lend me money when I was an 18 year old kid with no money and nothing other than, "Hey, this is what I'm going to do to it. Here's all the work I'm going to put into it. It's going to be a great project.

I think it would be a great investment. Can you give me money?" And that really shaped that, hey, I can do this. And then quickly after getting that property under my belt, I moved on to additional properties.

Caleb Hayes:

But I think that really shaped me as a young man just going, you know what this is. It just reaffirmed as much in hard work as that first real estate project was. It just shaped me as who I am and that really set me on the trajectory of just being in real estate.

Tracey Velt:

Oh, that's great. That's a great experience. Well, Caleb, thank you so much for joining REAL Trends on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

Caleb Hayes:

No, no problem. Thanks for having me.

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