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Mike Pappas is the president/CEO of The Keyes Company.
When did you decide to launch your independent brokerage and why?
My brother and I are the third-generation owners of a company that was founded in February 1926 at the peak of the first Florida real estate boom. We are stewards of our proud past and have a focused vision for our future.
We are blessed to be located in one of the most desirable regions in the world and carry on the dream of our founder to be a leader in the real estate market in this growing, dynamic and exciting area.
Why do you stay independent when there are so many great franchises to join?
We have it all. Our strong brand is built on an 89-year history of being a real estate leader in Florida. Our size and resources, combined with our talented management team, give us the flexibility to stay abreast of the ever-changing environment and provide first-class tools, technology and services to our associates and customers.
As a shareholder in the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World network, we have access to the most powerful real estate network in the world.
What factored into that decision?
We existed before franchises and believe our offering is more robust and comprehensive than any offering we have seen.
Why did you think it was the right time and the right move for you?
We purchased our firm from our father in 1993 at the depth of the real estate recession at that time. We believed that South Florida would continue to grow and that an independent firm that cares for each associate, while offering cutting-edge services and programs with a fun culture, could not only compete, but thrive.
How old is your brokerage?
It was established in 1926.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting your brokerage off the ground?
Flexibility. The Internet, technology, our full-service model — with mortgage, title and insurance, plus rising commission splits — all have demanded that we adjust and adapt with the times.
What was the easiest part of getting your brokerage off the ground?
We were fortunate to take over a well-run, well-respected organization that we were able to help diversify into additional businesses and grow at the same time.
What’s your approximate agent-to-staff ratio?
Fifteen to one.
Are you part of an independent brokerage network?
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Realty Alliance.
What’s the quirkiest thing about your firm?
We are a big family and will protect those under our umbrella.
Describe your office. Where is it located? What does it look like?
We have 35 offices across six counties in Florida. Each office has its own feel based on that particular local market.
What kind of floor plan do you use?
Our offices have an open and welcoming feel with conference rooms available to all and private offices for top-producing associates. Many have the ability to show homes to our customers on large flat-screen TVs.
How many agents and offices do you have?
2,400 agents across 35 offices.
How do you recruit new agents?
We have a dedicated recruiting department with corporate recruiters whose sole focus is to recruit new and experienced associates.
Where and how do you market your brokerage?
Most of our advertising is focused on the online market and our local market.
Do you have office parties? What are they like?
Our offices hold holiday parties throughout the year. Because we have such a diverse associate base from many different countries, many of our offices have international potlucks. We also hold a summer tour where our executive management team will visit each office to let our associates know of any new products and launches.
Our largest party is our annual awards ceremony. The event is held every March for our entire company and celebrates over 500 award winners.
Describe your brokerage’s digital presence.
We have our main website, Keyes.com, and we also have websites for our luxury and commercial divisions. Alongside these, we also own the No. 1 real estate website in Florida — ExpertRealty.com — and have a partnership with RealtyTrac. We are active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
What would you say are the biggest advantages to operating as an independent brokerage versus as a franchised firm? What are the biggest challenges?
Flexibility, speed to execution and an entrepreneurial spirit. We don’t see any challenges in comparison.
What sets your brokerage apart? What makes you different from your competition?
We have been family-owned since 1926. Our leadership team and associates feel and know the difference.
We are a company that cares individually for our people while striving to help each one reach their full potential. We have a bottoms-up structure with advisory boards in each office, partnering with our management team and department heads, and have a culture of continual improvement.
We are on the street with our ear to the ground and able to guide our organization through the changes in the market.
What’s the biggest business improvement you made last year? What’s the biggest improvement you have planned for this year?
Rolling out our regional structure allows our management team to collaborate and leverage their local resources and strengths. Our luxury property presentation is best in class and is a “wow” for our luxury owners. Lastly, our commercial renaissance with technology and tools is seeing strong results.
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