Maria Patterson: Please provide us with a snapshot of your storied real estate career to date.
Dick Schlott: I’m a born entrepreneur. Even as a kid, a friend and I would pick raspberries for a farmer who would pay us 10 cents a pint, then we would buy them from him for 20 cents a pint and go sell them around the neighborhood for 50 cents a pint! I guess you could say I took that same spirit and energy to real estate starting in 1969 as a sales associate in Wyckoff, New Jersey, my hometown. I opened my own office with one salesperson in 1971, and opened two more offices in Bergen County, New Jersey, in 1976. By the time I sold Schlott Realtors in 1991, my brokerage spanned five states with 130-plus offices and 4,500 agents.
MP: Where did you go from there?
DS: I had an opportunity in Kansas City where Heller Financial invited me to take over ERA. From there, I moved on to become CEO of GMAC Home Services where I helped engineer a number of real estate brokerage acquisitions, including Gloria Nilson Real Estate.
After that position ran its course, in 2002, my wife and I entered the restaurant business and ran a five-star restaurant and inn in Bernardsville, New Jersey, for four years. We were fortunate when we sold the business in 2006.
Shortly after that, I found myself in a position to reacquire Gloria Nilson. GMAC was sold to a Toronto-based group called Brookfield and they made the decision when they bought the operation that they would not keep the company-owned operations—the operations I had acquired in 2000. One of the companies up for sale was Gloria Nilson, which I, along with a couple of partners, reacquired in 2009. Today, the firm has 17 offices and 650 agents.
MP: Why did you view the purchase of Gloria Nilson as an important opportunity?
DS: We bought Gloria Nilson because we identified many areas of great potential. We believed and still believe that the economy and the real estate business are going to recover and it is already slowly reviving. So we saw that particular time as a great window of opportunity to purchase such an exceptional company. I originally bought the company for GMAC about 12 years ago—so this is the second time I’ve bought it, which says a lot about the firm.
MP: How has Gloria Nilson evolved and grown over the years to adapt to changes in the marketplace?
DS: First off, it is now part of the Real Living franchise system, which is a very tech-driven franchise. As consumers become more attuned to searching the Web and accessing instant information to prepare themselves to become potential buyers or sellers, they want to be sure that whomever they deal with in terms of a real estate company is tech-oriented and highly capable. That’s why, through the years, the Gloria Nilson company has been committed to developing a real proficiency in the areas of technology that matter to consumers.
MP: What would you point to as the firm’s competitive differentiation in the marketplace?
DS: I think the thing that most sets the company apart is the fact that it has always been consumer centric…always aware of the responsibility we have to the consumer, be they a buyer or a seller. Another point of differentiation is the very sophisticated training program the company provides for its agents. We provide them with the information they need—like the type of information we receive by being a member of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network®—that makes them more proficient and more capable.
MP: What are today’s consumers most concerned with when it comes to buying and selling real estate?
DS: The first thing all buyers and sellers need, which they depend upon their real estate agent for, is information. Many times, a buyer or seller will go to the Internet and believe they have access to full information, but they don’t. Access to timely information, therefore, is high on the list of what consumers need. Consumers are looking for agents who will guide them through every step of the sale, not those who are only interested in the commission.
MP: Based on your history in the industry, what do today’s agents need to focus on to succeed?
DS: I think a lot of agents are lacking because they haven’t fully embraced where the consumer is. Consumers are very tech-oriented and expect information immediately. A lot of agents today are not fully prepared for that. We are preparing agents at our company to be able to fulfill those consumer needs.
For more information, visit www.glorianilson.com.