For Ryan Keys, co-founder and co-Director of the Entry Group, real estate education is at the front and centre of his professional life. For six years now, he’s been managing the growth of Australia’s leading real estate academy with his partner, co-Director Michael Dewar.

The unique approach to education taken by Keys and Dewar has brought them tremendous success, a legion of happy clients and a team of loyal staff. With the business now worth more than $20 million, they’ve already achieved a level of success most entrepreneurs only dream about.

Keys is often spotted around the office in a baseball cap, T-shirt and shorts, and he’s known to sit down with clients, or take them out for a beer, in the same casual attire. As an entrepreneur in the digital workplace, he’s changing the way we do business and setting a high bar for the way we look after our employees.

‘You know we’re contactable almost 24/7,’ Keys said. ‘Even if it’s after hours or weekends, our students know they can reach out to us and we’ve got a trainer on call.’ The depth and breadth of service offered by Entry Education is impressive, and it’s no surprise that their support network is a fellowship of dedicated tutors and associated staff who go beyond traditional conventions.

The human approach at the Entry Group isn’t confined to those who are studying real estate courses. Staff retention is consistently at almost 100%, and Keys is proud that his staff enjoy working there as much as he does.

‘The feedback we get from our staff tells us that we have a really good work environment; that it’s inclusive, fun and unique,’ he said. ‘That people have the creative freedom to develop in different areas.’

In addition to welcoming and encouraging contributions and new ideas from staff, there are collaborative spaces for social interaction including a pool table, table tennis table and an open bar. And if staff want to take their dog or kids to work for the day, they’re welcome to bring them along as well.

While Keys acknowledges that getting customers through the door is a necessary component of their marketing, it’s not his main focus. ‘It’s more important that we’re there for students when they’re studying,’ he said. And it’s easy to see what he means. Even their messaging system in the student portal has a real person responding after hours, rather than an automated voice machine.

Students generally have an electronic device that they can use to complete their study, Keys said, but there are options available for those who aren’t comfortable with technology.

‘They can come into the office, sit down with one of the trainers and go through it step by step,’ he said, detailing their ambition to reach 100% of the market. ‘For us it’s about having something that’s not necessarily one size fits all, but having multiple sizes that can fit everybody.’

Case in point is the open age for enrolment, where a new student might be making their third career change or studying real estate because they lost their job. ‘We’ve had students in their mid-80s enrol in a course and others who are 15 years old,’ Keys said ‘They do it because they want to learn.’

Keys, himself, is one of the youngest CEOs of a registered training organisation in Australia. At 27 years of age, he has the insight to ensure his students are an ongoing priority. And his determination that they be made feel welcome and part of the Entry family for their entire learning journey, and beyond, has become a much-voiced motto.

Online education has been around for years, but there’s nothing boilerplate about the real estate training that Keys and Dewar have implemented. They’d worked in the sector themselves and knew how common it was for students to express dismay at the lack of support they received throughout their training.

While most training companies target enrolments in their marketing campaigns, Keys’ focus is on getting students through their courses successfully. ‘We realised quite early that the students who referred business back to us are those who complete the course. Once they have their certificates, they’re happy to refer their friends, their office and their colleagues,’ he said.

Ryan Keys – Director & Founder at Entry Group

Ryan Keys – Director & Founder at Entry Group

The organic growth of Entry Education has been fuelled by student referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations. Students stay in touch long after they graduate, and the directors and staff encourage them to stay in touch and remain part of the Entry family. Add the quality of teaching and out-of-hours support, and Keys and Dewar are clearly winning the race to optimise real estate learning.

When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, Keys said, it didn’t affect normal operations at all. They already had sophisticated technology, specialist online tutors and a strong online support network in place and business as usual just continued.

Entry Education didn’t miss a beat while traditional learning institutions were making the challenging transition to online learning and figuring it out as they went. ‘We were one of the lucky ones.’ Keys said. ‘It’s that thing where everyone was in the same storm, but just in different boats.’

Entry Education is now the leading real estate institute in Australia and its growth isn’t slowing down. Keys and Dewar are knocking over their business targets years early, and recently they added three new companies to their portfolio – Entry Finance, Entry Conveyancing and Entry Recruitment.

Keys said they didn’t anticipate how busy Entry Conveyancing would be. ‘It’s followed the same business structure as education where clients want an affordable price and somebody to communicate directly with,’ he explained. So the Entry Conveyancing team worked hard to make the cost ‘as lean as possible’ for clients.

Conveyancing was a face-to-face service prior to COVID, but now property settlement can be conducted entirely online, with identity verifications available at the local post office. Once again Keys and Dewar are working outside the square and challenging conventional business structures.

‘For us it’s building one brand at a time. It’s about becoming a rounded real estate consultancy, about becoming the number one go-to in the real estate space,’ Keys said.