Keller Williams, the world’s largest real estate franchise by associate count — 129,000 — has distributed more than $113.7 million in profit share to its 51,000 stakeholders who have helped the company grow this year.

In 2014, the Keller Williams profit-share and growth-share programs distributed a record $98 million, a figure the company surpassed in nine months this year. Since 1997, Keller Williams has distributed more than $687 million through its U.S.-based profit share and worldwide growth share programs.

“For Keller Williams, 2015 marks another record year for growth, productivity and profitability gains,” said Chris Heller, CEO at Keller Williams. “Our owners and investors are proud to share this success with our people, our true partners in driving long-term growth and prosperity. Profit share provides passive income — for our associates and their families to live better lives.”

Four market centers distributing $1 million apiece

The Arlington, Texas-based market center became the first office in the company’s history to distribute more than $1 million in profit share to its associates in a single year; that happened in 2014.

“This year, no fewer than four of our market centers are pacing to exceed this high bar of achievement,” said John Davis, Keller Williams President. This includes Arlington, Texas, again, as well as another market center in Texas and one in Georgia. The KW market center in Charlotte, N.C., is at $1.2 million already with two months to go in the year.

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Gary Keller

Keller Williams co-founder and chairman Gary Keller, along with other early company leaders, created the profit-share program to ensure the goals of company’s owners and agents remain permanently aligned.

As part of the profit-share program, individual Keller Williams market center owners share close to 50 percent of their office’s monthly profits with associates who have contributed to growth. Over the past five years, profit share per agent across the franchise has nearly tripled.

Said Chris Heller: “We’re outperforming the market — if you look at our growth, agent productivity, pretty much every metric, it means that we are taking market share.”

“It’s a zero-sum game — there is not an infinite number — this is all our growth,” he said.

He attributed the company’s success to John Davis bringing the franchisees together in alignment.

Looking ahead

Heller is optimistic that there will be further strong growth in 2016.

“Next year with an election year, there is not likely to be a lot of change, but there’s still a lot of demand in the economy,” he said. “It’s still healthy; we are seeing a lot of activity on the buying and selling side.”

Expanding on teams

Asked if it was the teams’ effect at KW that was contributing to the growth, Heller said teams are part of it.

“Teams are growing more popular because people have seen the benefit of teams, not just on the agent side but the consumer side, too,” he said.

Heller said the more recent concept of expansion teams moving into multiple places was really exciting.

“What’s happening with expansion teams is they are moving into two, three, four, ten new markets. It’s really taken off,” said Heller.

Moving out and moving up

In North America, KW added 27 market centers in the U.S. in the past year. Its global count for market centers now totals 763.

Heller said the company was continuing its international expansion by adding five regions this year, including Shanghai, Colombia and Belize. In 2016, a further three or four are expected. More news about international action for KW will come out in February.

“Our strategy for international expansion is to look for great leaders or great business people to do business with. It’s hard to determine where we will find them,” said Heller.

Rather than diversifying into other business areas as Realogy has done, Heller said, “Our focus and our resources really go into helping our agents build better brands and businesses.

“There is a tremendous amount of investment we are making in tech and innovation,” he said. “More tools and more training will help them generate even more leads.”

Lead generation remains the highest priority, he said. At the Keller Williams February 2016 Family Reunion, there will be new platforms, tools and training announcements made, said Heller.

Email Gill South.