Keller Williams NYC pioneers in-house coaching dep’t

Headed by industry vet Ann Guttman, program aims to boost broker productivity
By Hayley Kaplan | August 12, 2013 01:00PM

Keller Williams NYC is doing what seemingly no Manhattan residential real estate firm has done before by creating an in-house productivity coaching department, headed by industry insider Ann Guttman, the firm’s CEO Eric Barron told The Real Deal.

Guttman and Paul Buttenhoff, who are the firm’s head productivity coach and rental productivity coach, respectively, will work with agents individually and in small and large groups to fine tune their business plans, Barron explained. For instance, he said, a coach would help an agent map out ways to go from $20 million to $30 million in listings.

Coaches will act like “personal trainers for [agents’] business,” Buttenhoff said. Although many brokerages hire outside agencies like Broker Heaven to coach their agents, it is uncommon for firms to have in-house coaching departments, he noted. The programs are meant to “augment” Keller Williams’ existing education courses, he said.

“It’s not a babysitting plan,” Barron said, emphasizing that coaches are different than sales managers.

Guttman is a seasoned real estate manager, with 25 years of New York City real estate experience. She came to Keller Williams from Bond New York, where she was hired in 2010 as a senior managing director with the task of transforming the firm’s 64 West 21st Street office from a rental into a sales office. Beginning in 2005, Guttman was managing director at the now defunct Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy. Besides her managing experience, she’s taken an intensive course in coaching from iPEC Coaching, a coaching certification school, which she describes as “an art form.”

“[Coaching is] very much about working with [agents], starting from where they are and working with their strengths and growing their strengths so they become more productive,” Guttman said.

Buttenhoff, who has been an agent for four years, was previously the director of sales at Platinum Properties’ Midtown West office.

The advantage of maintaining staff coaches, as opposed to sales managers, is that they provide “agent development and support without having to manage the day-to-day minutia of the office,” Buttenhoff said.

Greg Young, the founder of real estate training firm Broker Heaven, said that managers should be responsible for coaching agents, but at many firms the ratio between manager and agent can be as great as one to 100.

“To me, it’s a manager’s job to manage agents,” Young said. “I’m all for agent support. … [But] at an awful lot of companies train their agents but they don’t manage them.”

In the coming months, Keller Williams plans to expand the department from its two current employees to three to five people, Barron said.

Although the program may be unique to Manhattan, it is not uncommon in Keller Williams franchise offices around the country — holding true to the firm’s model of being “a coaching, training and consulting company that just happens to be in the real estate business,” Barron said.