With You All the Way: NAGLREP Creates Community, Engagement and Business Opportunities
“With you all the way.” That’s the mantra of the agents and leadership at Coldwell Banker Advantage in Raleigh, NC. As one of those leaders, Rick Gregory has seen more angles of the real estate industry over his 20-year real estate career than just about anyone. Mortgage, title insurance, franchise sales, leading Coldwell Banker brand operations and now Chief Operating Officer of one of the largest Coldwell Banker affiliated companies in the nation have all given him a unique perspective.
While most of the industry sees the influence of technology and attempts at disruption as the big story today, Rick believes the increasing focus on diverse markets is equally surprising and exciting.
“Since I’ve been in the industry, every few years we go through a period of supposed upheaval, and today is no different,” he said. “Each time the industry has evolved and come out stronger. But I have to admit that seemingly every day now we are seeing more embracing of diversity and going much further than participating just because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ And the LGBT community is certainly at the forefront.”
Rick arrived in Raleigh after nine years in a variety of leadership positions at Realogy, including leading franchise sales for Coldwell Banker, leading the brand’s servicing and operations team, and then co-creating Realogy’s Centers of Excellence strategy. He remembers the day he saw the LGBT movement fully reach the brand.
“Coldwell Banker was a very early participant with NAGLREP,” he said. “That resonated with me and many others. We included our involvement in just about everything we did, including talking about our affiliation with potential franchisees. We were proud of it.”
When Rick arrived in Raleigh April 2018, he noticed that few firms in the region were embracing the changing demographics of the Triangle, as a wide swath of diverse markets have been drawn to the incredible job hub.
He reached out to NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger.
“I was so happy to learn that Raleigh had a thriving NAGLREP chapter and I have enjoyed getting to know Kevin McIntyre and his chapter team,” he said. “I’ve spoken at a few events, and I’m really impressed with the quality of people who are involved in NAGLREP locally. And it’s not only LGBTs who attend. There are plenty of allies and those who simply want to better their real estate careers.”
At his most recent NAGLREP presentation, Rick spoke about the coming wave of voice search in real estate and showed off Coldwell Banker Advantage’s Triangle Real Estate Alexa and Google Home feature.
His involvement with NAGLREP has started to permeate the company, too.
“I had a big smile on my face when our marketing director came to show me the Facebook image he was posting and sharing with our agents showcasing our appreciation of NAGLREP at the start of Pride Month. Engage and embrace is a pretty cool thing.”
Rick has several suggestions for brokers who are interested in participating in NAGLREP and other diverse groups:
Be the leader
“Let’s face it, not every market in the U.S. is the same, but I believe real estate companies are community leaders. We can be a part of change. And while it would be foolish to be involved in divisive issues like politics, your involvement with NAGLREP will say a lot and you will slowly see the support of the LGBT community become a norm in your firm.”
“You have to be prepared that someone – an agent, staff member or even a client – may not understand. Explain your involvement, respect their position and move on. On the flip side, I’ve seen powerful reactions from LGBTs and allies who are incredibly appreciative and supportive. Thankfully, the LGBT community is gaining more support. There is a reason why I just read that about four million people will attend the Pride event in New York City later this month.”
Understand your reason for involvement
“Every day in my job, recruiting is obviously a focus. But I don’t walk into a NAGLREP event thinking about it as a recruiting opportunity. My involvement and the company’s involvement will pay dividends on that down the road. It is more important to participate and learn about the LGBT community and understand the unique challenges and concerns they face. The more our agents understand these – like the reality of housing discrimination – the better we will all be.”
Another marketing channel
“I think all real estate leaders want to provide their agents with new opportunities to network and generate business. The LGBT community is one of those opportunities. NAGLREP can open doors to other LGBT organizations including the local NGLCC, which consists of LGBT business owners. Your agents can also benefit from simple awareness. For example, none of us know if a potential or current client is LGBT. And it shouldn’t ever matter. But if that client shares that information, we want our agents to be comfortable, accepting and understanding of how to be an incredible resource. Our slogan here is, ‘With you all the way.’ And that definitely includes the LGBT community.”