Profit share is one way in which Keller Williams Realty exemplifies the principle of success through others. Each month, market centers share roughly half of their profits with the agents who helped grow the market center and make it profitable. But in order for there to be profit share, there must first be success.
And, thanks to the company’s recent growth and agent production gains, it has distributed more profit share in the past four years than in the preceding 21 years combined.
“As a company, we’re motivated by helping people fund their lives and create opportunities,” CEO John Davis says. “Giving back is part of our culture. Profit share allows our people to earn passive income for life so they can pay for their kids’ education, take care of their parents, and invest for the future.”
The historic achievement comes as Keller Williams is closing in on its most successful profit share year yet. Through the first 10 months of the year, KW has shared $151.9 million with associates in the United States and Canada, an increase of 14.1 percent compared with the same period in 2016. (Keller Williams associates outside of the United States and Canada participate in a similar program called “growth share.”)
Individual Keller Williams market center owners share roughly 50 percent of their office’s monthly profits with associates who have helped the business grow. As of Oct. 31, 98 percent of Keller Williams market centers were profitable for the year. Moreover, a record four market centers had already distributed $1 million or more this year. There are also individual agents who have received seven-figure distributions.
In the six years since Keller Williams launched its companywide Growth Initiative, profit share payouts have grown substantially:
- $154.4 million in 2016
- $129.8 million in 2015
- $98.1 million in 2014
- $78.2 million in 2013
- $55.3 million in 2012
- $38.3 million in 2011
Keller Williams Co-Founder and Chairman Gary Keller and early company leaders created the profit share program to ensure the goals of KW owners and agents remain permanently aligned. Innumerable lives have been changed as a result.
“Profit share saved my life.”
Dawn Braithwaite, a top-producing agent out of Ridgewood, N.J., credits the profit share program for saving her life. After a bad fall, Braithwaite sustained severe injuries to her wrist and within 24 hours learned she needed surgery. Her heart sank as her insurance company told her the surgery would not be covered.
“I just got divorced and was trying to pay all my bills,” Braithwaite says. “There was no way I could afford it. I didn’t know what to do.” After meeting with her doctor early in the week, she learned her only options would be to negotiate the price of the surgery down or have it performed by medical students at another clinic on the other side of town. But even at a discounted rate, the surgery was out of her price range.
She canceled her surgery and resigned herself to being stuck until she received an unexpected message in her inbox.
“On Thursday, I opened my email and saw that my profit share check had been deposited,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it!” Stunned and relieved, Braithwaite contacted her doctor right away and was in surgery the following day. It ended up being the surgery that saved her life.
“What should have taken an hour ended up taking two and a half,” Braithwaite explains. “It was a complicated operation because the doctors found that I had severed an artery and nerves. I could have bled to death. If profit share hadn’t come in, I don’t know what I would have done.”
“With profit share, our opportunities to give are so much greater.”
Linda McKissack, Keller Williams’ number one profit share earner, calls the program “the greatest gift we’ve been given.” Since becoming purposeful about profit share in 2007, McKissack has built a significant business and teaches agents how they can fund their lives long after their last deal is finished.
While McKissack has enjoyed the money, “the real gift is significance,” she comments. “It changes people’s lives.”
She has seen the impact firsthand with her family.
“My son-in-law was sick for 10 and a half months with terminal cancer,” McKissack shares. “My husband and I only worked three weeks during that time because money was coming in passively. Helping him fulfill his life wishes and being with my daughter, granddaughter and family – it was priceless. If you have profit share covering your expenses, you have freedom. You never know what’s on your horizon.”
“It allows me to be free. I will pass it along to my children.”
Since profit share is willable, agents are able to leave a lasting legacy for years to come. When Charles Bowles – a Keller Williams agent from Tulsa, Okla., and a significant profit share earner – died, Steve Whitaker was astonished to learn he had been included in his will.
“We were good friends and I helped take care of him during the last few years of his life,” Whitaker explains. “When he passed, he left everything to me, including profit share. I was able to take the proceeds and build my own house with it.”
Today, Whitaker is thriving in Oklahoma and owns a waste-removal company called Git-Er-Gone along with numerous properties. He partners with many Keller Williams agents in the area to remove unwanted items from homes. The monthly income from profit share “allows me to be free,” he says. “I don’t have to work as hard as I would.”
Just as Bowles paid his profit share forward, Whitaker plans on willing his profit share to his children so they can benefit from him. “I will put it in a trust so they can continue to take care of the properties we own.”