A company many thought was doomed is now the largest in Oregon and SW Washington.
It was a busy end to 2017 for Premiere Property Group. They opened a Bend office in August, a Salem office in November, and in January this Oregon-grown real estate brokerage hit a goal that they have been aiming at for several years — over 1000 agents and the title of largest in Oregon (and SW Washington). Eleven Premiere offices now stretch from Battleground to Salem and from West Portland to Bend. Not bad for a real estate company that started in the depths of the recession with just six agents.
Since their improbable start, Premiere’s phenomenal growth has been fueled by two things: their unique business model, and the simple word of mouth between agents that model has continued to generate.
In Bend, forty agents have already signed on with Premiere, and founding owner and President Kelly Yock has set some ambitious goals for the near future. “Our goal is to have ten percent of all agents in Bend in the next year, that’s about 160 agents, and in the next three years, twenty percent of all Bend agents.”
Really, that’s not out of line with Premiere’s growth elsewhere in the Northwest. In 2015, Premiere was ranked the eighth fastest growing company in Oregon by the Portland Business Journal, adding agents at a rate of twenty per month at the time. And Premiere made the list again in 2016 and 2017. Lately, Premiere has been adding agents at an astonishing rate of sixty-seventy per month.
The draw for many agents is pretty simple. As Kelly Yock says, “When an agent hears that they can save $1000 or more a month in fees by switching to Premiere, you have their attention.” In fact, Premiere was founded on the determination to shape a brokerage that gave more back to agents. Premiere’s fees are fifty-seventy percent less than a typical brokerage, and Premiere includes lifetime recruitment bonuses, a first-of-its-kind mentorship program, and top-rate marketing and education systems created in-house. Their motto is to give agents “more for less.” But, in the beginning, many thought Premiere’s model was a recipe for disaster.
In 2009, Kelly Yock was just four years into his real estate career when his Lake Oswego Keller Williams branch had to close their doors. “We were shocked,” he recalls, “This was the largest office in Oregon at the time.” Three months later, the neighboring branch went bankrupt as well. Hundreds of agents were set adrift. But Kelly and five other agents saw an opportunity. “No one was saying now is a good time to start your own brokerage, but we decided to lean back into the industry and create something different.” They looked to other industries, and Kelly’s past experience at Tektronix, and the team designed a model that would be centrally owned rather than franchised, and would focus on prospering by lifting everyone, rather than maximizing profits at the top end.
“At first, our goal was simple-to survive! We were happy to have 25 agents after the first two years,” Kelly remembers. “But the agents we had were thriving, and word started to spread. That’s when we jumped to 100-150 agents very quickly.”
What’s next for Premiere? “In 2018, we plan to settle into the footprint we have,” Kelly said. “We want to support the agents coming to us before adding another office.” Looking ahead, Premiere plans to push further south through the Willamette Valley, and further North and East in Washington.
Over a 1000 agents, 2.5 billion in sales…When asked which of Premiere’s impressive numbers means the most to him, Kelly Yock replied, “our most important measure of success is happy agents. We measure our success on the promises we keep to our agents.”
Now, the idea of “flipping the pyramid”, or keeping management lean and focusing resources on front-line producers, is growing in popularity in the business world. Premiere’s story lends proof to this idea that sacrificing short-term profit in order to invest in your people can lead to long-term success, even in the toughest of market conditions. It will be interesting to see if Premiere Property Group finds the same success in Bend as they have elsewhere in Oregon.