Jeremy Beard already had several successful careers under his belt when he joined LoKation Real Estate in 2015, and he draws wisdom from each of them now as the company’s director of business development.
After a childhood spent in Boulder, Colorado—exploring the outdoors and fishing in local streams—Beard wasted no time jumping right into the thick of the free-market action upon graduating from college. “In my first career, I was a pit trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, screaming and yelling,” he says with a laugh. “I wanted to do that since I was 13 and saw the movie Trading Places—it was pure capitalism.”
The job provided monetary rewards and a singular education in the financial markets, but the stress took its toll. “I had a great run there, but at 30 I looked older than I do now at almost 50,” he explains. “So, I got out of that game and sold my book of business, which gave me a lot of latitude.”
Keen for a different challenge, he moved into the burgeoning field of infrastructure/key resource security, work that involved writing facility security plans for airports, marine ports and other strategically important properties. Before long, Beard found himself living in Texas and working as a specialist in mergers and acquisitions, which is what he was doing when he received a call from a longtime friend from Boulder, Nathan Klutznick.
Klutznick was the CEO of a Pompano Beach-based real estate brokerage known at the time as The K Co., and he was in the process of migrating his firm to a new business model called the 100% commission model. Under this structure, Realtors are paid 100% of their commission in exchange for a monthly fee and an a la carte menu of support services, an attractive option for those used to giving away thousands to their brokerage with each transaction.
“In the first year of transitioning our model,” Klutznick says, “I recruited 187 agents, moving us from a 17-agent firm to just over 200. It was then we realized we had tapped into a niche. We’re filling a void for real estate agents and built a better brokerage model that increased their opportunity to earn.”
The model intrigued Beard. “My background had been going into small companies with $2-$3 million in revenue, taking them to $10 to $15 million, and then acquisition,” he says. “Nate called me and said look, ‘I know you’re happy in Texas, you have your home, your kids were born there, but I’m on the precipice here of really taking off.’ ”
Seeing the potential of the 100% commission model and the value he could add, Beard didn’t hesitate. “I was well versed in what he was doing, so I said, ‘Absolutely,’ ” he recalls. “If there’s free rein to make decisions quickly and pivot and meet market conditions, I think the sky’s the limit.”
Among the first orders of business: updating the company’s imaging and branding—including the name. “We had discussed changing the name of the company, and Nathan came up with LoKation with a K, because we had already trademarked the K,” Beard says. “I’m not one to adulterate the queen’s English, but it has been very well received.” Other changes went well beyond the cosmetic, including a massive push to provide agents with bleeding-edge technology, with a dedicated app, website and toolkit of resources, including both virtual and in-person training programs.
“Instead of ‘location, location, location’ being the three rules for real estate, for Realtors now, it’s technology, technology, technology,” he says. “It’s about employing good systems, the organization of clients and contacts, having a website for lead generation, differentiating yourself vis a vis your branding, and, most importantly, the lead nurturing aspect of your clients.”
Another unique benefit Beard implemented is a de facto retirement plan for agents, unique in an industry where agents are usually left to fend for themselves. The idea was inspired by his own experience selling his book of business at the CME.
“For every buyer they have at the closing table, they can offer them an upfront cash settlement, say $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the value of the home, and basically we’re asking for a forward listing agreement,” he says. “If you go to retire and you have a lot of contracts outstanding you can reassign them.”
One experienced agent who was looking to retire, he recalls, had 77 of these agreements representing almost $800,000 in sell-side commission. “She had two younger Realtors under her wing,” Beard says. “One of them said, ‘I will absolutely buy that right now and pay you $240,000,’ since listings are, of course, the pantheon of what Realtors want to achieve.”
Chief operating officer Jonathan Lickstein further elucidates the company’s special environment for agents: “In the beginning,” he explains, “the focus was to create a culture for agents to operate as part of a community, breaking down the wall of brokers taking large pieces of the agents’ business and bottom line. When agents were able to make their own businesses more profitable, the clients were winning because the agent could offer more, provide better exposure and dedicate more time to each client. This all evolved into a culture of agents supporting agents, a company that operates with the mentality of a frictionless experience for all parties involved in a real estate transaction.”
What Klutznick is most proud of is the company’s growth. “We’ve grown every year we’ve been in business,” says the man who founded the company in 2010. “Each year—12 straight years and counting—we’ve set out to better our services, increase sales production and recruiting, and we’ve grown in each one of those categories every single year. With growth being our absolute No. 1 priority, I consider that a success.”
The company currently operates in Florida, Georgia and Colorado, with further expansion to Texas and Alabama rolling out soon. Among its newest developments: a move into the luxury home market called LoKation Luxury.
“This has been a pet project of mine where we package all the marketing, branding—everything all together—so it’s a turnkey product,” Beard explains. “We have a number of high-end agents who love being with us and only do $2 million-plus homes who would like to compete more from a branding perspective, and we heeded the call.”
Photography by Larry Wood