Rick Gonzalez is a seasoned real estate agent based in Florida’s panhandle, with a unique focus on serving military members and their families. Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, Rick’s father’s service in the Air Force during the Vietnam War instilled in him a deep respect for the sacrifices made by military families. This, coupled with his own experience serving in the Navy, has given him a unique perspective on the challenges faced by military families, particularly when it comes to real estate. Rick leverages his military background and customer service experience to provide unparalleled support to military families, helping them navigate the complexities of real estate while their loved ones are deployed. His dedication to serving VA buyers and sellers and his commitment to building long-term relationships with his clients underscore his passion for his work. Join Bill Risser and Rick Gonzalez on this episode of The Real Estate Sessions podcast to learn more about Rick’s unique approach to real estate.
00:00:00 – Supporting Deployed Military Members
Supporting Deployed Military Members is a topic that Rick Gonzalez, a real estate agent, is passionate about. With a background in the military himself, Rick understands the unique challenges faced by military families when they are deployed. He aims to be a buffer for military members, ensuring that their families have support and assistance with any housing-related matters. Rick’s focus is on VA buyers and sellers, as well as families who are PCSing (Permanent Change of Station) in and out of the area. He strives to make sure that military members can focus on their duties without worrying about their families’ well-being. By providing guidance and being a go-to resource for the families, Rick helps alleviate stress and allows military members to concentrate on their mission. Overall, Rick’s dedication to supporting deployed military members and his commitment to helping people make him a trusted and valued agent in the real estate industry.
00:02:31 – Moving from England to Florida
Moving from England to Florida at the age of 15, Rick Gonzalez shares his unique experience of adapting to a new country and leaving behind his British accent. Born in Holland to an Air Force father and a British mother, Rick spent his childhood in England before his father’s retirement brought them to Florida. Initially, Rick’s British accent caused quite a stir among his classmates at Choctaw High School, with many mistaking him for being from Australia. Determined to fit in, Rick quickly shed his accent, surprising everyone with how swiftly he lost it. Despite the challenges, Rick fondly remembers his time in England, living with British families and attending British school. His journey from England to Florida ultimately led him to a career in real estate, a path he never anticipated while growing up.
00:08:44 – Disqualification from the Marine Corps
Disqualification from the Marine Corps can sometimes lead individuals to unexpected paths, as seen in the case of Rick Gonzalez. Despite his initial desire to join the Marines, Rick’s dreams were shattered when he was disqualified due to his asthma. This setback prompted him to explore other options, ultimately leading him to join the Navy instead. Rick’s journey took an interesting turn when, dejectedly leaving the Marine Corps recruiter’s office, he was approached by a Navy recruiter who offered him an alternative. Rick seized the opportunity and embarked on his military career in the Navy, undergoing basic training in Orlando. This unexpected twist in Rick’s story highlights the resilience and adaptability that can arise from unforeseen circumstances, ultimately shaping the course of one’s life.
00:14:46 – Real Estate Career
Looking for a fresh start after the BP oil spill, Rick Gonzalez found himself considering a career in real estate. With the money he received from the spill, he decided to give it a shot as a last-ditch effort. Rick had previously worked in various industries, including door-to-door sales and the restaurant business, which equipped him with valuable soft skills for dealing with people and conflict. Despite starting from scratch, Rick’s charismatic personality and determination helped him navigate the real estate industry successfully. Today, he is known for his expertise and ability to connect with clients, making him a trusted agent in the field.
00:19:54 – Handling Hurricanes
Handling Hurricanes: Real estate agent Rick Gonzalez shares his approach to handling conversations about hurricanes in Florida. With a focus on helping people rather than sales, Rick aims to be a reliable resource for his clients during hurricane season. He provides information on hurricane preparation and has even written a blog on the topic. Despite living in an area prone to hurricanes, Rick mentions that these conversations surprisingly don’t come up frequently. He attributes this to the fact that many of his clients, who are military personnel, are already well-trained in emergency preparedness. Overall, Rick’s goal is to ensure that his clients feel supported and can focus on their safety during hurricane events.
00:28:43 – Real Random Podcast
Real Random is an exciting new podcast venture by Rick Gonzalez, inspired by the format of the popular Smart List podcast. With three hosts and mystery guests, Real Random aims to delve into the personal stories and experiences of individuals in the real estate industry. The podcast will provide a unique perspective, going beyond the tactics of real estate and exploring the person behind the profession. Rick has carefully selected fellow agents from different parts of the country to ensure a diverse range of guests and demographics. Real Random is set to launch with at least ten episodes, offering listeners an hour-long deep dive into the fascinating lives of real estate professionals.
00:00:00 – Rick Gonzalez
But so that’s what I try to do. I try to make sure that they understand that, hey, I’ve PCs. I know what this is like. I had a family like this is this is not uncommon to me. And let them know that, look, I’m going to be your family’s goto for whatever they need so you can focus on what you got to do to get home safe. And you don’t have to have those phone calls about the frantic family member back here. They’re saying, hey, how do we pay the mortgage or owe the insurance? And trying to know that role as well.
00:00:34 – Bill Risser
You’re listening to the Real Estate Sessions podcast. And I’m your host, Bill Risser, executive Vice President, Strategic Partnerships with Rate My Agent, a digital marketing platform designed to help great agents harness the power of verified reviews. For more information, head on over to Ratemyagent.com. Listen in as I interview industry leaders and get their stories and journeys to the world of real estate. Hi, everybody. Welcome to episode 361 of the Real Estate Sessions podcast. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you so much for telling a friend today. Rather than a remote recording over the Internet, I’m actually sitting down with my guest in the halls prior to day two of the Tom Ferry Summit in Dallas. On this episode, I’m thrilled to be talking to Rick Gonzalez of the Gonzalez Group, powered by Real Brokerage, LLC. Rick is up in the panhandle of Florida. We’re going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about his military service and as an agent, how he continues to serve those in the military with their real estate needs. We’re going to have a great time. So sit back, relax, enjoy, and let’s get this thing started. Rick, welcome to the podcast.
00:01:38 – Rick Gonzalez
Hey, thanks for having me, Bill.
00:01:39 – Bill Risser
So I owe you apology. We met via inman but also via the industry syndicate and podcasting and all that stuff. And to have you on as a guest this late is flat and embarrassing.
00:01:53 – Rick Gonzalez
Just having the best for last. What’s what I keep telling myself, thanks.
00:01:57 – Bill Risser
For bailing me out. Thanks for bailing me out. Look, you’ve listened to the podcast before. I have a very routine setup, but I love to start at the beginning and with you. I know you’ve been in Florida a long time. I see that you go back to early 2000s. You were in Florida working, doing some things, and I know you served in the Navy. Thank you for that.
00:02:16 – Rick Gonzalez
00:02:17 – Bill Risser
But let’s talk about the beginning. Were you born and raised in Florida? Are you a native?
00:02:22 – Rick Gonzalez
No, I graduated high school in Florida, but I didn’t get to Florida until 89, so I was 15.
00:02:31 – Bill Risser
00:02:31 – Rick Gonzalez
And I actually grew up well, we’ll go back further. I was born in Holland.
00:02:36 – Bill Risser
00:02:37 – Rick Gonzalez
So my dad was Air Force, so stationed in Europe a lot. So he had met my mom in England. Then he had gotten transferred, and so I was born in Holland, and we immediately went back to England after I was born. So I was raised in England until I was 15, so I had a really cool British accent when I moved here.
00:02:56 – Bill Risser
Wow. So your dad serves there’s an Air Force base that he worked at, was he no, no.
00:03:02 – Rick Gonzalez
There was multiple Air Force bases where we lived. It was Bentwaters Air Force Base in Woodbridge. Which Woodbridge for the UFO nuts out there. There’s lots of UFO activity in the Woodbridge area.
00:03:12 – Bill Risser
00:03:13 – Rick Gonzalez
But yeah, Rendelsham forest for the UFO people out there. Look up that one. Rendelsham Forest. So I grew up off base because my mom was British, and so I went to British school, did the whole Harry Potter, the blazer and the tie, the know, the houses in schools, did all that. I was a prefect at one point, and then my parents split, and my dad moved back here to retire, and I stayed in England for a while with my mom until yeah, 88, my dad came back and said, hey, come to Florida.
00:03:54 – Bill Risser
I can’t believe I don’t know that about you. One, there’s not a lick of an accent.
00:03:58 – Rick Gonzalez
And that’s why gone. That’s why right. There’s no accent, so people don’t know.
00:04:02 – Bill Risser
To ask, is your mom over still in English? She here in the States now.
00:04:06 – Rick Gonzalez
Everyone’s passed. Mom passed a number of years ago.
00:04:10 – Bill Risser
00:04:12 – Rick Gonzalez
But yeah, you can imagine coming to northwest Florida, the south, with a British accent. My first days of school for the locals, if anyone locals listening, choctaw High School. Go big green. For the first days of school, there’s that terrifying moment when the teacher’s like, mr. Gonzalez, can you read the next paragraph? And you’re sitting in the back, and as soon as you start talking, everybody in the entire classroom turns around and stares at you like, Where did that come from?
00:04:43 – Bill Risser
00:04:44 – Rick Gonzalez
And then I became the new kid from Australia.
00:04:46 – Bill Risser
Oh, okay. For some reason, it was going to be Aussie, not not English.
00:04:50 – Rick Gonzalez
Nobody knew the accent. They assumed I was from Australia.
00:04:53 – Bill Risser
00:04:55 – Rick Gonzalez
So some of the girls loved it, the boyfriends, not so much. There was a few scuffles, and that definitely gave me some motivation to start to lose the accent as quickly as possible. So through some effort, my guess is.
00:05:09 – Bill Risser
You could whip it out whenever you want.
00:05:11 – Rick Gonzalez
No, you’d be surprised.
00:05:12 – Bill Risser
Really lost it.
00:05:13 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, you’d be surprised how quickly I lost it and it stayed gone.
00:05:17 – Bill Risser
00:05:17 – Rick Gonzalez
00:05:17 – Bill Risser
What part of England did you live in?
00:05:19 – Rick Gonzalez
The Southeast. So it’s Suffolk. Yeah.
00:05:22 – Bill Risser
There’s, down towards the channel.
00:05:24 – Rick Gonzalez
Felixdale Port is near us. It was a place called oh, actually, it’s right outside of Ipswich. Martlesham Heath. It’s a big plan community.
00:05:32 – Bill Risser
00:05:33 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, it was really neat. I enjoyed it, living with all the British families and going to school.
00:05:39 – Bill Risser
Yeah. They sort of adopted you, right? It was kind of like yeah, well.
00:05:43 – Rick Gonzalez
Because my likes and my mom was British. She was an Er nurse. Yeah. I didn’t really have an American accent, so the only thing that kind of tipped them off that I was not one of theirs was the flamboyant American clothing of the big multicolored bubble jackets.
00:06:03 – Bill Risser
You were paying attention to what was happening over in the US.
00:06:06 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, well, because we would shop on base. We were one of only two kids in my school that had access to the commissary.
00:06:13 – Bill Risser
I love that. That’s cool. So you get over to Florida, you do high school, and you end up going into the Navy. So talk about that process. I mean, what led you there?
00:06:24 – Rick Gonzalez
What was that like? Yes. The Dutch thing and the British thing come into play here. So on my 16th birthday, I got a letter from the Dutch consulate that I was going to be drafted into the Dutch Navy. Which caught everybody off guard.
00:06:41 – Bill Risser
00:06:42 – Rick Gonzalez
Didn’t realize that just because I was born there, they could do that.
00:06:46 – Bill Risser
Like automatic dual citizenship for you. Is that okay?
00:06:49 – Rick Gonzalez
So at some point I really had three. I was Dutch, British and American. And so quickly we had to have a conversation like, well, what are we going to do? Well, we obviously we have to denounce the Dutch citizenship because I’m not going to be exported back to Holland.
00:07:05 – Bill Risser
Nothing wrong with the Dutch.
00:07:06 – Rick Gonzalez
No. For any of our Dutch listeners. We love you guys. But the plan, I think for me in my head with my dad being know, he was always this larger than life hero looking guy, right. He was always in uniform. He was my hero. So I always wanted to go into the military. Our neighbor in Florida was an Air Force pilot, so I was groomed for the Air Force. And then, I don’t know if you remember, there was this little movie back in the mid 80s, top Gun.
00:07:36 – Bill Risser
Oh, you know, I lived in San Diego at the time.
00:07:39 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah. Okay, so you’re familiar. Very familiar. And so I had seen that in the movie theater as a kid, and I was like, wow, those Navy pilots are pretty badass.
00:07:48 – Bill Risser
Yeah, their motorcycles are awesome.
00:07:50 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, right. They get all the and so it was kind of perfect. Well, in high school we had so, you know, it was Air Force ROTC, so I was already getting used to wearing the Air Force uniform. And then in walks the Marine recruiter, Staff Sergeant Williams. Never forget this guy. And he asked everyone what they want to do. I said, I want to be a pilot and join the Air Force. He says, well, you know, Marines are pilots, too. And I said no. I didn’t know. And he know, we go through Navy flight, says, you know, they’re the best of the best of the best. So I was hooked so I started to the process to join the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps poole in high school, we would go and train with the staff sergeant on weekends and everything. And then when I went to the recruiter’s office, he was a little too thorough with his background check and found out I had asthma, and they disqualified me from the Marine Corps.
00:08:44 – Bill Risser
00:08:45 – Rick Gonzalez
So in Navy fashion, as I was leaving, very dejected from the recruiter’s office, I hear, hey, because all these recruiters offices are all right side by side. So I’m walking out, hey, you still want to go in the military? I was like, yeah. He’s like, Come here. And so two weeks later, I was off to the Navy.
00:09:04 – Bill Risser
Wow. Where did you do your training, your basic training?
00:09:08 – Rick Gonzalez
00:09:08 – Bill Risser
00:09:09 – Rick Gonzalez
00:09:09 – Bill Risser
Orlando right there.
00:09:11 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah. We were one of the last classes through there in 94.
00:09:14 – Bill Risser
Is that gone now? Yeah. A lot of closures for a lot of bases.
00:09:17 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah. The only one they have now is up in Great Lakes or Great Mistakes, as we call it.
00:09:21 – Bill Risser
And also San Diego still has one.
00:09:24 – Rick Gonzalez
Not a boot camp. Yeah, they used to have three, so it was always like a roll in the dice to see which one you’d go to. And they tried to send me to Great Lakes, and I was like, hey, look, I’m a Florida guy, and it’s February. I’m not going to yeah. And so I went to Orlando.
00:09:40 – Bill Risser
I wanted to ask you a real quick sports question. You know, I ask a ton of sports. Nothing I hear nothing in your past about know Yankees yet. How the hell do you become a Yankee fan growing up in England and.
00:09:56 – Rick Gonzalez
Living in well, like everything else in my life is my dad. My dad’s side of the family is from Puerto Rico via New York, so he moved from Puerto Rico to New York when he was very little.
00:10:09 – Bill Risser
00:10:10 – Rick Gonzalez
And my whole family lived up there before until he joined the Air Force and went to Vietnam. He was huge Yankees fan. Big New York. Sometimes people say they hear it in my accent just a little bit, just from being around him. So it’s I would say the same thing.
00:10:29 – Bill Risser
I would think he might be from the Northeast. When you get going, when we’re having a conversation, you kind of get rolling. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Somehow I always have to get my guests. We have to leave this. I could stay here for another hour. There’s lots of questions. Like Gonzalez in England. That’s different. There’s probably not a lot of Gonzalez’s in Great Britain. Okay. Yeah.
00:10:48 – Rick Gonzalez
It was weird growing up over there because in my whole school, there was me and there was one black kid, and that was so but that’s all I knew until I got over here. And then there’s shorts and flip flops and girls, and it’s a different life over here, Bill.
00:11:05 – Bill Risser
Yeah. You’re okay with it?
00:11:07 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, I’ve adapted.
00:11:09 – Bill Risser
Especially the Emerald Coast.
00:11:10 – Rick Gonzalez
00:11:12 – Bill Risser
All right, so let’s we got to get you in real estate.
00:11:15 – Rick Gonzalez
What pops up?
00:11:16 – Bill Risser
What happens there that, you know, this is going to be the way for me.
00:11:20 – Rick Gonzalez
So it’s another long story. I never thought about being in real estate. I hated any idea of being in sales. So when I got out of the Navy, I was in Jacksonville, and a good friend of mine, Rob Elotegi, it was our first summer in Jacksonville. And this was the time when a little company called America Online was kind of getting started right there in the late ninety s. And so for our first summer job, we went and interviewed at AOL for, I don’t know what, customer service or something.
00:11:53 – Bill Risser
00:11:54 – Rick Gonzalez
I was going to pay like $5 an hour plus stocks, and he says, man, this looks boring. They’re hiring bartenders over at Bennegan’s. They make it like a day, and there’s girls, so okay, cool, let’s go to Bennegan’s. So of course, friends of ours that went to AOL are no longer working. They’re all owning their own islands.
00:12:18 – Bill Risser
But you had Bennegan’s.
00:12:19 – Rick Gonzalez
But I had Bennegan, which put me on the path of, I guess the soft skills of people and dealing with personalities, dealing with conflict. And so that put me on this path of many, many years of restaurant work. And then unfortunately, a few years later, Rob was killed when his helicopter crashed off the coast and kind of put me in a little bit of a tailspin where it had been Rick and Rob for many years, and then he was gone. And so I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do, but I kind of ended up joining a door to door sales cult. All right, soft skills get to be put to work better. I left everything I owned, just abandoned my roommate and all of my belongings, took my Sea bag full of clothes, and we went to Boston with all of these guys. Everyone lived in the same house, and we went door to door in Boston selling. It was verizon fios.
00:13:24 – Bill Risser
00:13:25 – Rick Gonzalez
And so I did that for two years. Boston, Knoxville, Tennessee, Atlanta and Jacksonville. And finally I think I had purged enough and had enough of that life where I called my dad and I said, hey, I think I need to come home.
00:13:43 – Bill Risser
So you’re able to head back?
00:13:45 – Rick Gonzalez
Well, he had to come pick me up because I had nothing but my clothes in a Seabag. Okay, so here I am in my God, this was I think I was maybe 34 at the time. And so I came back, was sleeping in his spare room, went back to what I did in high school, which in the panhandle, a lot of things there are either military or they’re vacation resorts. So I went right back to the company I used to work for in high school and got a job at the front desk at one of the resorts and was moving up nicely into a salaried position when the BP oil spill came along. And so I was the last manager in. So first manager out.
00:14:28 – Bill Risser
Yeah. Business dropped a little bit then when you couldn’t go in the water well.
00:14:32 – Rick Gonzalez
And that was the know, I was actually being a social media influencer early back then because I’m out on the beach taking pictures and sending them to guests like, hey, there’s no oil here. That’s way down the beach. Like we’re fine. Keep coming. But it didn’t work.
00:14:44 – Bill Risser
00:14:46 – Rick Gonzalez
So BP gave me a check, and with that check, I tried a couple of things, and when nothing worked, a friend of mine had suggested, hey, you got a pretty good personality. You might do good in real estate. Think about it. And so as a last ditch effort, I told the wife, I said, Look, I’m going to try this real estate. And, yeah, that’s how it worked. I used the money to get started.
00:15:08 – Bill Risser
So, Rick, I would imagine there’s an Air Force base up on near you, right?
00:15:14 – Rick Gonzalez
We’ve got three.
00:15:16 – Bill Risser
00:15:17 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, we have Herbert Field. We got Eglin Air Force Base and Tyndall Air Force Base.
00:15:21 – Bill Risser
Okay. So as an agent, I think it’s called PCs.
00:15:27 – Rick Gonzalez
00:15:27 – Bill Risser
Pretty good. What does that stand for?
00:15:29 – Rick Gonzalez
Permanent change of station.
00:15:30 – Bill Risser
Perfect. And that happens on the regular for people, especially who are maybe going to do 20 years, get their time in. So you’re certified as a military relocation specialist?
00:15:43 – Rick Gonzalez
I am, but can we be honest on this podcast?
00:15:47 – Bill Risser
00:15:48 – Rick Gonzalez
I don’t put a whole lot of stock in that one. I took the class and I was very disappointed.
00:15:53 – Bill Risser
It kind of was just like checking off some boxes to check off boxes, but not really helping. More or less. Yeah.
00:15:59 – Rick Gonzalez
So the MRP is great for anyone who has no military experience, but for whatever reason they want to I’ll say market to the military.
00:16:12 – Bill Risser
00:16:12 – Rick Gonzalez
Because I don’t feel it gives them enough education to help the military. So I’m a little critical of that one.
00:16:20 – Bill Risser
00:16:20 – Rick Gonzalez
I have it because I thought you kind of needed it.
00:16:23 – Bill Risser
00:16:24 – Rick Gonzalez
But I’m a little critical.
00:16:25 – Bill Risser
Okay, but you’ve helped. I am going to guess you’ve served many military families that have had to relocate in and out of Florida for whatever reason. Talk about that a little bit, how important that is for you.
00:16:37 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah. So one of my things when I got into sales was, I don’t like sales. I don’t want to talk someone into something. I want to help people. And part of what we do is relating to the customer and the client. And so it’s just easier for me to relate to a military person because we have some of the same experiences, been to some of the same places. We speak the same lingo. So I understand the stressors that are going in with PCs. So that has become my focus. So I’d say probably 60% or more of my business is VA buyers and sellers, PCSing in and out of the area and referrals. And it’s not uncommon when a family PCs that the military member deploys soon after they get there, which leaves a family behind in a new area, not knowing people kind of just fending for themselves and that’s a stressor for the family, but it’s also a stressor for the military member who’s deployed now. And I’m just thinking to myself, like, I don’t want the military member not focused on what they’re supposed to do, worried about the family and I don’t want the family worried about where do we go for things. So I try to be that buffer, but so that’s what I try to do. I try to make sure that they understand that, hey, I’ve PCs, I know what this is like, I had a family, this is not uncommon to me. And let them know that, look, I’m going to be your family’s go to for whatever they need so you can focus on what you got to do to get home safe. And you don’t have to have those phone calls about the frantic family member back here saying, hey, how do we pay the mortgage? Or, oh, the insurance? And trying to be that role as well. And it’s been fulfilling personally where the reviews are great and I’ve built a lot of friendships with the client.
00:18:41 – Bill Risser
Yeah, a lot of long term relationships and these are people that are going to be leaving the area. It’s not like you’re working this person who’s going to, working with a person who’s going to be in the same area. However, I’m sure a lot of referrals have come your way.
00:18:54 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, you get a lot of the same people. They transfer in from a lot of the same bases and then they usually transfer out to a lot of the same bases. So yeah, there’s lots. One family that I served years ago, we still stay in touch now. They were a young married couple, like just recently married. I helped them buy their first house. Now they’ve got two kids. He’s already out of the Air Force, but we stay in touch all the time and he constantly refers me. Yeah, like I said. And it doesn’t make me feel like a salesperson, genuinely just trying to help people.
00:19:28 – Bill Risser
Absolutely. Helping people. Yeah, that’s great. In a time they need it the most. The Emerald Coast. Let’s talk about the Emerald Coast. Are you around the big curve or are you part of the big curve first? That’s my first question.
00:19:42 – Rick Gonzalez
No, we’re around, you’re around it.
00:19:44 – Bill Risser
You face due south, your beach is face to the south. And Rick, I don’t know if you know this, but there’s hurricanes. Love you guys.
00:19:52 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, we have a big target.
00:19:54 – Bill Risser
It’s amazing. Yeah. So I want to know how do you handle that as an agent? I’m sure those conversations come up all the time. I would imagine you have some content out there that talks about stuff. You tell me how do you handle that part of it?
00:20:09 – Rick Gonzalez
Because you’d be surprised how infrequently that conversation actually comes up. I did do the whole hurricane prep blog on the website, and I have some information at the ready. And of course, I mention it. We have the discussion. But in Florida, we’re kind of silly when it comes to hurricanes. The last one I think that came through our area was a category Three. When I went to bed and we were fine, and I was like, yeah, it’s only a three.
00:20:46 – Bill Risser
Yeah, it’s only a three.
00:20:47 – Rick Gonzalez
We woke up and it was a five, and I was like, oh, maybe we should have left, but we were fine. So it’s almost like on the West Coast with the earthquakes, it’s like you experience so many that you kind of become a little numb to and knock on wood. Our little area in the Panhandle has been pretty lucky. A few years ago, Mexico Beach obviously.
00:21:07 – Bill Risser
Got devastated as Michael, I think.
00:21:09 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, that was the one where I went to bed and I woke up and it was a five, and I was like, well, should have left.
00:21:14 – Bill Risser
00:21:15 – Rick Gonzalez
But I don’t know. We’ve just gotten very lucky in my area. Michael was just a few miles east.
00:21:22 – Bill Risser
That’s all. It yeah, especially to be on the dirty side or whatever it takes. I mean, there’s all kinds of different tampa, St. Pete, we’re the same way.
00:21:29 – Rick Gonzalez
00:21:29 – Bill Risser
Everything just wiggles a little bit in the last going to one day, it’s not going to well, you know, we.
00:21:37 – Rick Gonzalez
Get a little bit of heads up, but nobody wants to leave that early in case it doesn’t yeah. And then everyone gets on the road last minute and you’re stuck on there. When I was in Jacksonville, when I lived in Jacksonville, the first hurricane I went through over there, I decided to leave, and I had a soft top Jeep, and I got stuck on 95 in my Jeep. I was like, yeah, I’m not doing that anymore.
00:21:55 – Bill Risser
Yeah, I went back to the door. If you don’t go with four or five days, leeway, if you’re there the day before, you’re stuck.
00:22:01 – Rick Gonzalez
Just all the hotels above everything is where do you go?
00:22:05 – Bill Risser
But, yeah, don’t go anywhere.
00:22:06 – Rick Gonzalez
We cover the prep part of it because I think that’s important, how to protect the house, make sure you’ve got supplies. We cover the basics, and you probably.
00:22:14 – Bill Risser
Get calls or questions if things are happening.
00:22:17 – Rick Gonzalez
And let’s be serious, Bill. These guys are military. They’re trained for a lot more than hurricanes. So when it comes to emergency prep, they’re plenty qualified to take a lot.
00:22:29 – Bill Risser
Of that kind of training in the military. Yeah, good. Let’s talk a little bit more about your career. You were with EXP for a few years, like, 2017 or 18. You kind of went to EXP, and I understand that move because a lot of agents were doing that at that time. But then you’ve also now made a change. Just a year or two ago, you decided to go with Real. Let’s talk about that transition.
00:22:57 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah. So EXP was definitely not my first brokerage. I was at four or five before.
00:23:02 – Bill Risser
Yeah, you were kind of worked your way up. Right?
00:23:04 – Rick Gonzalez
I’m a mover. It doesn’t feel right. I move.
00:23:07 – Bill Risser
00:23:07 – Rick Gonzalez
So I’ve done the big box, the kw, the remax. I’ve done the small boutiques. I’ve done the 100% brokerages, like World Impact. So EXP for me at the time was kind of perfect. I hated going to the office for the meetings, so the cloud brokerage thing was great. And I’ll be honest, what really sold me on EXP at the beginning was, you know our friend Shannon Milligan?
00:23:35 – Bill Risser
00:23:35 – Rick Gonzalez
She had just joined, and the team I had previously had left, they were using Commission Zinc as their CRM.
00:23:44 – Bill Risser
00:23:45 – Rick Gonzalez
And at the time, EXP was offering that for free.
00:23:47 – Bill Risser
00:23:48 – Rick Gonzalez
So I said, Wait a minute. I get that for free. That’s a $2,500 no. And so I didn’t know anything about the revenue share or the sky. I just knew Shannon was going, and I like, Shannon? And I knew I got this great CRM for free. So I joined and loved it for the first two years, and then it became very recruiter heavy. I’m involved at my association level on the board and on committees, and I found myself getting I was like, hey, how are you doing? I’m rick with EXP. And they kind of look me up and down like, oh, you’re one of those. I’m sorry, excuse me. And so it soured a little bit.
00:24:31 – Bill Risser
00:24:32 – Rick Gonzalez
And then kind of fast forward a little bit. I had met our friend Tim Macy at EXP. He was a mover and a shaker at EXP. And one day so at this point, I’m at EXP for four years. My business was doing okay. I still wasn’t a fan of some of the antics happening there, but it was the best thing that I knew about at the time. So I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. And then I saw a post on Facebook that Tim Macy had just moved his team from EXP to Real Broker. What the hell is that? Never heard of this. So I called Tim, and he explained everything to me, and I said, well, okay, that sounds like an even better deal. And by better just it was a fresh start. EXP had blown up, and Real was at the beginning, and then the numbers made a little bit more sense, too. When I put in my business, I made just a little bit more. So I was like, okay, well, there’s no downside here, right? And so I threw all my trust in Tim, as I did before with Shannon, and called a few of my guys, said, hey, I know you just joined EXP, but we’re leaving. If you want to come with, you can. And I’d say half came, half went elsewhere. Now, I’ve been at Real for three years.
00:25:46 – Bill Risser
Yeah, it’s been fun to watch the development, the growth. I mean, it’s real feels like it’s looked at what EXP’s done and that model that Glenn developed, which really was fantastic. Right. To get away from profit sharing, because profit could be manipulated to true revenue sharing, but somehow figuring that out because you got to make sure it’s going to continue and work. You can see where people could start gaming the system and try to pull some crazy stunts. But I think they’ve done a good job of catching that and fixing that. I think then for Tamir and for now, are they’re doing some great things at Real to do the same thing, to kind of keep everything in place and make sure that it’s a scalable growable company.
00:26:32 – Rick Gonzalez
Right. Yeah. When I first came over, the big word that was thrown around, the emphasis of everything that they were trying to build was the culture, and it was trying to bring the right people, put the right people in the right seats and continue to kind of nurture that same culture and bring in the people that believed in that same thing. And you’re always going to have a few bad actors that squeeze through, but that kind of works itself out in the wash. But I’d say, for the most part, I still feel like the culture here is unmatched. It’s really crazy. I just spent last week, as you know, down at Florida Realtors where we saw each other, and there’s all the Florida agents there. That’s my state. Right. And I come here to Texas to a Tom Ferry summit, and there’s all my Real people here. And I feel so much more at home with these guys than some of these other just they’re my people. Yeah, the culture here really is crazy.
00:27:34 – Bill Risser
Awesome. Let’s talk a little bit about podcasting before we wrap this up. You had the modern agent, I had the real estate sessions going. There were some big plans. Like big plans happen. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but you let yours kind of fade away. I think we talked about it. The reason was you weren’t very passionate about it.
00:27:57 – Rick Gonzalez
Is that kind of well, the workload, when you’re doing it by yourself and.
00:28:03 – Bill Risser
You’Re a full time Realtor?
00:28:04 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, it’s a lot of work. And a husband and a dad. Yes. So it’s trying to find a guest every week or do everything, the recording, the editing, it was a lot of work, and I did enjoy it. And every time I got someone that reached out and said, hey, man, I love your podcast, learn something, I wanted to. Keep going. I just didn’t have it in me to do it to the level that I thought it should be.
00:28:29 – Bill Risser
So you decided and I don’t know if we can talk about this. No, we can’t talk about this.
00:28:34 – Rick Gonzalez
We can talk about it.
00:28:36 – Bill Risser
Yeah. You’re in the middle of getting ready to launch something new and different that divides up the workload.
00:28:43 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, we’re excited about it. So I’m sure people who listen to your podcast may also listen to smartlist. I didn’t know of Smart List, the podcast, but I watched the special where they did their tour, and I thought the setup they had was absolutely fantastic. Three hosts, mystery guests, just off the cuff. And I said, man, how cool would it be to do a real estate version of this? And so I reached out to some fellow agents. I purposely wanted agents in different parts of the country so we would have access to different people, different demographics. And yeah, so we’ve got two other hosts. We’ve recorded, I think, six episodes so far.
00:29:27 – Bill Risser
00:29:27 – Rick Gonzalez
We’re going to wait to launch until we have at least ten in the can and then we’ll launch it. So we’re hoping for when Real has their event in October, our Rise event, hoping to have it all buttoned up and ready to release at Rise.
00:29:41 – Bill Risser
00:29:42 – Rick Gonzalez
So it’s not released yet, but the name of the podcast is going to be Real Random. I was trying to come up with a way to play off of the Smart List idea, but we couldn’t come up with it. And so through a little chat GPT and a little brainstorming, real Random. So every week, different guests that two of the hosts won’t know about runs about an hour on average. And it’s just us digging into similar to what you do, digging into a little bit more than the tactics of real estate, more the person behind it.
00:30:12 – Bill Risser
Yeah, there’s some really cool people in this industry. Great thing.
00:30:17 – Rick Gonzalez
The first few of ours, I was amazed because it seems like everyone we’re interviewing is like a closet musician and in a band or something. I’m like what?
00:30:25 – Bill Risser
00:30:26 – Rick Gonzalez
Yeah, there’s some great stories, Dungeons and Dragons geeks. And it’s like, wow. You just don’t see it in the polished real estate side. So it’s kind of cool.
00:30:34 – Bill Risser
Rick, you know the drill with me. I’ve asked the same question to every guest for the last eight years. I’m going to throw it your way. What one piece of advice would you give a new agent just getting started in the business?
00:30:47 – Rick Gonzalez
Well, I just gave this piece of advice, too. I think the best thing you can do if you’re a new agent in the business is get out of your local bubble. I think sometimes when you’re too focused on your team, your office, your association, you’re restricted on what you’re learning. And for me, the big learning curve started hitting once I started coming to events like this traveling, meeting people outside the state, meeting people from different brokerages, because those people don’t see you as competition. And if you meet the right ones, they’re very willing to pour into you and give you all of the tips and tricks that work. Whereas your local guy, he sees you as competition. He’s not going to do it. So I would say just as soon as you possibly can start planning and saving for a convention, an inman or a Tom Ferry or something, get out of your bubble, get to a big convention and do some networking with some people outside of your area.
00:31:46 – Bill Risser
I love that. I think that’s the first time that has been yeah, think about that. 361 episodes.
00:31:52 – Rick Gonzalez
You’re the reason you saved me for last, Bill.
00:31:54 – Bill Risser
I knew you could come up with something. Rick, if somebody wants to reach out to you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
00:31:59 – Rick Gonzalez
I would say the best way is Instagram. Rick a gonzalez. And that’s Gonzalez with a z. So G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z. So just reach out on Instagram. DM me.
00:32:10 – Bill Risser
Awesome. Rick, thank you so much for your time today. And we’re in day two of the Tom Ferry summit. My first one. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen today.
00:32:19 – Rick Gonzalez
Lots of AI coming today.
00:32:20 – Bill Risser
I know it’ll be great. Thanks again.
00:32:22 – Rick Gonzalez
00:32:23 – Bill Risser
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