There’s no doubt about it: Steven Rovithis is 100% entrepreneur.
As the sole proprietor of ROVI Homes, he’s built an unconventional team-based brokerage that is not only expanding across New England and Florida, but exploding into a multi-armed ecosystem of ancillary businesses, including a second commercial brokerage, a home improvement company, a flipping/investing company and a full-blown media company.
So, yeah, you could say he’s got vision…and a fair bit of chutzpah.
As the head of a fast-growing and diversified real estate business, Steven is no stranger to challenges. But with his proven system for getting the right people in the right roles, empowering them with the tools and systems they need, and fast-tracking them to success — he’s definitely built an unstoppable growth machine.
And luckily, he was willing to share it all with us.
Click below to watch the full interview with Steven Rovithis!
When he first left consulting and got into real estate in 2006, Steven took to the business like a duck to water. After a great first year, he jumped at the opportunity to join a franchise and get into ownership with five offices…just before the 2008 market crash. 😬
Luckily, Steven and his business partner survived the downturn. In fact, they even came out stronger, doubling the size of the brokerage from 75 agents to 150 over the next couple of years following the downturn.
But by 2015, Steven felt like he’d taken the brokerage as far as he could. It was time to branch out on his own. He decided to get back into the sales side of things and build up his own team from scratch.
“I was thinking we’d build a little S.E.A.L. team, maybe five or six agents,” he says. “And it just kind of evolved.”
To be clear, when he says ‘kind of evolved,’ he means, ‘grew the brokerage to include multiple teams and over 140 agents.’ No biggie.
But Steven can’t help it — it’s just the way he’s wired.
“I’m definitely a driver and I really push myself,” he says. “My father is an immigrant, so hard work was just always ingrained in me. But I look at my first eight years of building that first brokerage, and I worked my butt off every single day for those eight years…and I didn't make nearly as much progress as I've made over the last five years.”
So what changed?
“The biggest difference is that I finally started to let go of some things and get some talent around me,” Steven explains. “We really started to segment the business with specialists and that’s very difficult for a driver like myself, but it's been a game changer to just go, ‘You know what? Let’s take my hands off that.’”
Relinquishing control is never easy, but Steven has seen the light when it comes to making smart hires.
“The phrase that has really stuck in my head is just always trying to replace myself,” he says. “Find one thing that I can take off my plate and bring somebody else in.”
Initially, his expectations weren’t super high. He was just looking for somebody that could take things over and do it at about 80% of what he was doing.
But what he found was that the right hires did a lot better than 80%.
“What I’ve found over the years is that when you bring the right person in, they’re not doing it at 80%, they’re doing it at 110%. They’re doing it better than I was,” he explains.
“It’s tough at first to let go, but once you get used to it and you’ve made the right hires and brought in the right people, they’re going to do it even better. And that’s exciting.”
Exciting...and a bit humbling.
“Especially for a driver like me, a lot of times you might think you’re better than you are. But when you bring someone in and you’re like, ‘Damn, that’s even better than I would have done it’…it’s a humbling experience.”
But in the grand scheme of things, ‘humbling’ is exactly what Steven wants.
“Maybe sometimes you want to think you’re the best guy in the room,” he admits. “But if you’re the best guy in the room, you are setting yourself up for failure. You’ve got to have better people, smarter people, more creative people around you. And you have to be trying to get the best out of everybody.”
Bringing in diverse skill sets and perspectives ultimately makes Steven’s team stronger.
“There are just so many different personality types out there that fit into these different roles,” he says. “And there’s no way that just one personality can be great at all the stuff it takes to run a business.”
But with so many moving parts, how did Steven know which tasks to take off his plate and when?
Steven and the leadership team at ROVI Homes also pass the mic to agents via their YouTube channel so future team members can see what it’s really like to work with them.
If you love working directly with clients, that’s great. But if you want to get out of production and focus your energy on building and supporting your team, Steven can show you the ropes.
Here’s his three-year path to shifting roles from producer to leader:
Of course, it’s easier said than done. But according to Steven, trying to be all things to all people, isn’t really an option.
“I remember working with buyers, running through a house on the phone, negotiating another deal…because I kept thinking our clients needed to work with me,” he says. “But they really just wanted a good experience. And we can coach that, we can create that with other agents.”
In fact, bringing in specialized agents allowed the team to deliver better service to clients. “With a buyer’s agent, they are solely focused on that consumer, making them feel warm and welcome,” Steven explains.
“For a while, I was stuck in the idea that I needed to run the business, and it was so reliant on me,” he says. “But now, we’ve created something that can run without me.”
Getting into real estate is like learning a new language — and for Steven and the team at ROVI Homes, there’s no better way to get up to speed quickly than complete immersion.
Believe it or not, Steven and his leadership team start training people on culture before they even get licensed. It’s called Lift Off and is part of the Agent Launch Program.
“We’ve noticed that there’s a big gap between the time that you apply for your real estate license and when you actually get to sit for that exam,” he explains. “So we’re letting people get into our culture, and get ingrained into it. You can come on our calls, you can test out our training program.”
Once an agent is licensed and in with the team, ROVI welcomes new agents into their Universe training with Agent launch! This comprehensive training offers a combination of virtual meetings for Auto Pilot database building, in person learning during Boost, and Virtual training with Orbit. The program was designed to complement all learning styles.
More than a training session, the ROVI Homes Agent Launch program is really more of an “intense, collaborative training”, setting new agents up with everything they need to buck the industry statistics and hit the ground running.
But the support doesn’t end there.
The structure of the ROVI Homes brokerage is pretty unique. They’re a team-based brokerage with 143 agents, but only 73 of those agents are actually on The Team @ ROVI Homes. The rest are independent.
For some folks, that might be a turn-off. But Steven knows how to make it work. His secret? Transparency.
“We’re an open book here. Everything is full transparency,” he says. “You can come to all the team meetings, all the training. There are a lot of opportunities.”
He’s not kidding. Whether you’re part of a team or an independent agent in the ROVI Homes family, you can take advantage of:
Any agent can join the call to share their input, get perspective, and learn through each others’ experiences.
That last one is really important — especially for the new agents.
“Agents need about a hundred transactions to really understand this business,” Steven says. “If you’re an agent doing 10-12 transactions a year, you can only learn so much. So our goal is to get a hundred transactions’ worth of knowledge into your head and expose you to all the hurdles as fast as possible. Real Estate Round Table calls will absolutely do it.”
So what’s the point of making all these training sessions open to everyone?
Because, as per usual, Steven is always thinking bigger and looking to the future.
“Those agents on the independent side might want to run a team, right?” he says. “So maybe you come to understand how a team runs. Or we do a monthly meeting for team leaders to learn from each other. Hey, this is what we’re doing on the team. Maybe you should try it on yours?”
It’s all about providing opportunities for people to learn and grow — and Steven believes this is also crucial for the future of the industry.
“The independent agent of the future is going to have to have a real solid business,” he says. And as far as he’s concerned, he’s here to help them develop a business mindset.
It’s no surprise that a guy with Steven’s background would view entrepreneurship as the key to success, but it’s not every day you see a broker who is actively paying it forward the way that he is.
Some team leaders might be wary of over-training their agents only to have them leave the team, but Steven doesn’t think like that. He sticks by these words of wisdom:
“What happens if we invest in training our people and they leave us? What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
For Steven, the training is 100% worth it, no matter how it shakes out. But for the most part, things have been pretty spectacular.
“I really think that the way we bring an agent into the marketplace is special. As we’ve started to bring great people into the organization and give them space to do their thing, that’s where we’re really starting to level up,” he says.
“We’ve really seen growth out of the people we put our hopes and dreams into, and then they’re turning around and they bleed our red and black, and that’s how we’re getting to the next level.”
“At the end of the day, I can put my head on the pillow every night and know that I’m putting the people in my organization in the best possible position to win,” he says. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”