Alex Vidal is moving ERA Real Estate out of the shadows

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The past nine months have been a whirlwind for Alex Vidal.

The former Coldwell Banker regional vice president was tapped to take the helm from iconic leader Sherry Chris at ERA Real Estate in June 2023 — a move that immediately catapulted him into the spotlight as the first Hispanic president of a major brand with more than 40,000 agents across the globe.

Alex Vidal President ERA Real Estate large

Alex Vidal

“Anytime you take over an iconic brand like ERA, it will be a whirlwind,” he told Inman in September. “But if I could essentially describe my dream job to be a brand president, it would be ERA. In my short amount of time on the job, I’ve already been to 12 cities and been in front of a couple thousand of our agents, and it was literally like walking into a family reunion.”

Now Vidal is about to step into the biggest ERA family reunion of all: the company’s annual three-day Fuel conference at Nashville’s Music City Center. Although this is his first conference as brand president, Vidal is stepping forward with a bold plan to move ERA out of the shadows and into the spotlight — a 180-degree shift from the brand’s usual credo.

“For many years, ERA has been a company that has worked quietly,” he said. “[Our affiliates] just put their heads down, they work hard, and they don’t share it. And we, as a company, just don’t talk about all the great things that we do, and this is an opportunity for us to get loud about all of our accomplishments.”

Inman: This is your first conference as ERA’s president. What are you most excited about for the next several days in Nashville? 

Vidal: I had a podcast from 2018 to 2020, and I had 150 episodes. My podcast guests had a collective net worth of $11 billion, and people often ask what are the common denominators among the super-successful. One of the [common denominators] is the environment these entrepreneurs work in. None of them did it alone — they were in an environment where they were surrounded by people who would encourage them, high-five them, push them, challenge them and call them out on their BS when they had something wrong.

For me, a conference like [ERA] Fuel or even Inman [Connect] is an opportunity to create an environment for success. To get our people together in an environment where we get to celebrate each other, learn from each other and see what we did in 2023 to crush it, and what we’re already doing in 2024 to crush it, is invaluable. The energy that transpires when you get everybody together is amazing, and being able to witness this firsthand for the first time is very exciting.

For many years, ERA has been a company that has worked quietly. We, as a company, just don’t talk about all the great things that we do, and this is an opportunity for us to get loud about all of our accomplishments. ERA has 43,000 agents across the globe — five of our employees and brokers were RISMedia Newsmakers, seven of our Realtors made the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ top 250 list, an ERA broker-owner and I were in the most recent Swanepoel Power 200.

This is the mantra: Be so good that you can’t be ignored. I’m excited to share that and get everybody hyped up and let the world know just how great of a company we are.

I had a similar conversation with [former ERA president] Sherry Chris, so I think it’s great that ERA is taking a bolder approach moving forward. You said Fuel will be an opportunity to talk about what worked in 2023. What are some of the things you feel the brand excelled at last year?

Every brand [leader] talks about how their people are what makes their company special. In the 26 years I’ve been in the business, I’ve seen what other brands are like — privately owned, publicly owned, big brands, small brands, etc. and ERA is truly one of the brands that embody the family atmosphere.

I feel like a broken record when I say this, but if one of our broker-owners needs help with something, they will fly to help each other out. It’s that face-to-face, belly-to-belly, palm-to-palm connection that separates ERA from other brands.

What that translates to is our agents’ ability to connect with people in a way where they feel seen, heard, understood and valued. Other people look at their SLI (service level indicator) as transactional. Our people look at it as, “We’re here for you whether we’re going to do business together or not.”

Those are the things that we’re going to be covering throughout the conference, along with other things like [artificial intelligence] and all that good stuff. But the foundation of what makes ERA special is our ability to connect with people in a way that just isn’t being shared among the industry. That’s what is going to help us win in 2024.

I can see that being an important differentiator. Although everyone is curious about AI and other technologies, people want to be seen and understood, especially when they’re making one of the biggest investments of their lives.

Now let’s touch on those areas for improvement. What can ERA do better?

I think [our] points of improvement are probably like everybody else. How do we use technology in our business to make us more efficient? Statistics show the average consumer knows approximately 12 Realtors. So how do we leverage technology in a way that doesn’t replace us but helps us get in front of the consumer more easily and then leverage our people skills to build a genuine connection?

The other part we’re going to be talking about is mastering our mindsets. A lot is happening in our industry that we can’t control, so it’s important to get our broker-owners and agents to put their energy and focus on what they can control.

My best friend once told me, “Between disappointment and greatness is opportunity and choice.” Every day we have an opportunity to fit in this zone between disappointment and greatness, and we have the opportunity to make the choices that get us closer to being disappointed or getting us closer to becoming great. Those choices are what we’re going to be focusing on throughout Fuel.

One thing I noticed on the agenda is that you’ll be leading a few hands-on mastermind sessions for agents and brokers.

Of course, I’m not privy to every real estate conference that happens, but that seems to be a unique decision, especially for the leader of a larger brand. Presidents and CEOs have a packed schedule for conferences, so they’re often limited to a keynote. Why was it a priority for you to make time for these sessions?

This is how I think about it: I’m an expense to the company. As president of ERA, I don’t generate revenue for the company; our agents do. If the agents aren’t generating revenue, then ERA has no revenue and then I’m the president of a non-revenue creating company. The real bosses are the agents. They are the ones on the frontline.

I’ve been on the frontline, too. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t work for Goldman Sachs. I was a secretary, telemarketer recruiting director, sales coach, sales leadership, sales again, and then leadership again. I have found throughout my career that helping your agents make more money and live a better life is the way to having a very vibrant, successful and happy real estate company.

My entire career has always been about that. I’ve coached over 20,000 agents throughout my tenure. The week before I moved to ERA, I was out door knocking with one of my agents. That’s where the money is and I wanted to help them. So I’m going to put myself in front of our agents and help them live a better life and make more money — it’s my job to help make their lives easier, so that’s where I put 80 percent of my time.

I’m sure ERA’s agents are very excited to get that direct coaching from you. So thinking about your mastermind sessions and all of the other content planned for Fuel, what do you hope attendees will get from Fuel? And how do you think it will impact ERA over the upcoming year?

I’ll say two phrases: raving fans and role models. And what do I mean by that? I want to be able to look back a year from now and say we did our job of making our existing ERA agents even bigger fans of their respective brokers by helping them meet their business goals and live a better life outside the office, whatever that may look like for them.

I also want to improve the overall growth of the number of agents that we have within ERA, and if we’re able to do that, then our broker-owners within our network become even bigger fans of ERA and choose to stay with us. You’ll also see the ERA franchise system grow and the number of companies overall as a result of people wanting to be affiliated with ERA because they know that when they come in affiliate with us, their agents’ production is going to go up, they’re going to be able to recruit more agents, they are going to be able to grow.

We have five other amazing brands under the Anywhere umbrella, and I hope they’ll be able to look at us and say, “What are they doing that their production is going up? What are they doing that they’re growing agent count? What are they doing to open up in markets that nobody thought possible? Can you help us do what you’re doing at ERA?”

So that’s our goal: Being a role model for the industry.

Email Marian McPherson

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