In the business world, there’s a fine line between accountability and micromanaging, fine-tuned systems and creating busy work. For large brokerages that manage hundreds or thousands of agents, however, striking the balance is an important part of ensuring success. Patricia “Patti” Kremser, Executive Vice President at CENTURY 21 Circle, a 45-office brokerage that spans Illinois—including the Chicagoland area—Indiana and Florida credits the company’s growth finding that balance.
“We collectively hold each other accountable and make goals as a group. That way, our leadership team and staff, managers, team leaders and agents all understand the systems and know what we are working toward, (which is) to be the real estate company of choice for consumers and sales professionals in the markets we serve.”
CENTURY 21 Circle’s successful first year, in which they earned recognition in the RealTrends 500 as #77 in total volume for all U.S.-based brokerages in 2022 as well as being named a member of the Billionaires Club, stems from promoting a culture of accountability and implementing efficient systems.
“We have grown exponentially,” says Kremser noting that CENTURY 21 Circle is now 90+ staff working on behalf of 1,300 sales professionals. “We did that with the strength of our leadership team and strategic timing by finding the right companies to fold under our umbrella.”
In terms of accountability, agents focus on meeting sales targets, maintaining client satisfaction, and adhering to ethical standards. Brokers are held accountable for the overall performance of their teams, compliance with regulatory standards and maintaining a healthy and productive work environment.
CENTURY 21 Circle also relies on robust systems to encourage growth. Systems in place allow for the seamless merger of other brokerages into the company fold. Mergers at this scale require meticulous planning, a transparent communication process and detailed systems designed to minimize disruption and maintain high levels of service quality.
To ease mergers, CENTURY 21 Circle uses a combination of relationship and culture building with market and company data to ensure a ‘fit’ between the companies and the agents. Additionally, a detailed plan outlining how different departments will be integrated is crucial, alongside clear communication about any changes in roles or responsibilities.
For single offices who are feeling the pressure of a changing market coupled with the fast-paced evolution of technology, merging with a larger, multi-office brokerage that has structure and systems built in can make a difference in agent retention and profitability. It relieves some of the financial and administrative pressure off brokers, making them more available for clients and agents.
When she merged her office with CENTURY 21 Circle, broker Joan Sinnott found that joining a brokerage that had everything running smoothly took much of the pressure off her.
“Like many others in the industry, the pressure to run a profitable, agent-centric business led us to the realization that it was becoming too difficult for us as a single office to offer our agents and their clients’ the benefits, tools, technology and marketing that a multi-office company can,” explained Sinnott. “Merging with CENTURY 21 Circle was the best decision we made to be able to fulfill the promise we made to our agents to provide the culture, the tools, support and training to help them achieve their personal growth expectations.”
Sinnott says she found that CENTURY 21 Circle’s collaborative structure, robust support, resources and continuous training and marketing tools reduced the load on her individual agents, providing them with the space to strategize and grow. The top-down approach to accountability also encourages performance.
“Is there a little bit of peer pressure, yes, but accountability standards also serve as an impetus to be better. If goals are not met, we meet. If budgets are in danger of exceeding their line items, we meet. The key differentiator is accountability.”
A shared sense of purpose where CENTURY 21 Circle operates on a united front and the success of one is viewed as the success of all, coupled with supportive leadership, helps agents step away from mundane tasks and focus on scaling their business.
“Being part of a huge, multi-office powerhouse like CENTURY 21 Circle provides a layer of insulation and a higher sense of security because of the fundamental trust that the EOS accountability culture they rely on offers everyone on the team,” said Sinnott. “Knowing you can rely on one another and feel confident to withstand the ebbs and flows and any downturns in the market, leads to greater results and outcomes no matter where we are in the cycle.”
“By embracing an EOS culture, everyone understands the vision of the organization and their role in achieving it,” added Kremser, who notes that an EOS, or Entrepreneurial Operating System, is one that emphasizes having the right people in the right roles, working towards a shared vision characterized by six key components: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction. “By focusing on data-driven decision making, we’re able to replace egos and emotions with facts and figures.”
The story of CENTURY 21 Circle’s inaugural year is a testament to the power of effective systems, collaborative culture and strong accountability in driving organizational success. By centering their operations on an EOS culture, they cultivated an environment where the right people are in the right roles, decisions are driven by data, agents can focus their time and energy working on their business, and issues are addressed head-on. This approach, Kremser notes, will allow CENTURY 21 Circle to expand their brokerage in 2023 and beyond.