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Insurance Agency in Phoenix, AZ with Eddie Gonzalez

Eddie Gonzalez Headshot
Episode #: 193
Insurance Agency in Phoenix, AZ with Eddie Gonzalez

Guest: Eddie Gonzalez
Topics: Insurance, lease deal, commercial real estate


Chris Ressa 0:00
This is Retail Retold, the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris Ressa, and I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC Management.

Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I’m joined by Eddie Gonzalez. Eddie is a broker for SVN in Phoenix, Arizona. Welcome to the show, Eddie.

Eddie Gonzalez 0:29
Thanks for having me, Chris.

Ressa 0:32
Eddie, tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do.

Gonzalez 0:35
Yeah, absolutely.. So I’m a commercial real estate advisor here in Phoenix, Arizona. I like to pride myself, I tell a lot of people that I spent 14 years working for the Ritz Carlton Phoenix, I learned a ton about customer service at the Ritz Carlton, and I like to roll that service into brokerage.

Ressa 0:55
That’s amazing. So what did you do with the Ritz Carlton? I think that’s interesting experience. Would you do that?

Gonzalez 1:01
Yeah. So one of the fun facts that I wanted to tell you is I actually met my now business partner at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix. He was the first person that I interacted with when I walked through the front door to interview. He was a valet at the time. He said, Can I help you find anything? And I said, Yeah, I’m actually looking to apply. And he’s like, come on, walk with me. I’ll show you where to go. So he walked me through the heart of the house. It was about a three minute walk to get back there.

And he looks at me and he said, You should be a valet. And I’m like, Yeah, I’m actually here to apply to be a valet. And he’s like, Yeah, you’re built like a valet. And I’m like, right, cool. Everybody laughs about that, built like a valet, like, young guy, fit, ready to go. So literally, we walked back there. I went through the process. And it is not an easy process getting hired at the Ritz Carlton. They have personality tests, then you have to go through five different interviews. And I finally make it out to the front drive.

And he looks at me and smiles, and he’s like, you made it through the process! We worked together there for two years, he pushed off and went into commercial real estate. And I was gonna stick with the hotel route. So I literally started as a valet. Then I was a bellman. And I was an overnight bellman, then I was a doorman, than I was a door captain. And then I was running the department. So that was kind of my process.

Ressa 2:25
Wow. And did you love it?

Gonzalez 2:30
It was an awesome job. What I really miss about it most. There were 300 people that worked in the building. It was true. Like, it was truly like a family. Everybody knew everybody’s name. I purchased a house, right around the corner from the hotel. So after hours was always at my house with everybody to come hang out. It was so much fun. And the camaraderie and just the bonding as a Ritz Carlton family was amazing.

Ressa 3:02
Wow. Really, really cool. I think that’s a unique experience. And I love how you translated that into taking what you learn there and providing that to the commercial real estate space. To valet and the bellman and the doorman and the being the the captain. Do they put you through a lot of training at Ritz Carlton for all those things,

Gonzalez 3:30
Millions of dollars worth. Millions and millions of dollars worth. So something that’s cool about the Ritz Carlton that most might not know, is there is a daily newspaper that comes out. And literally, it goes through different stories that happened at different properties. It’s like a five page deal, who’s checking in, who’s checking out, going through that process and being a team lead. It gives you everything that you need as a leader.

And then once you kind of so you start as a team lead. And then you go into actual training classes within the Ritz Carlton, which some of them were held every week. And then some of the bigger ones were held quarterly. But it was, you’re always training, you’re always learning new things. They’re handing you books to read. It was an amazing organization. It is an amazing organization.

Ressa 4:21
Wow. So cool. Okay. I want to bring us on to the next piece of the show we call ‘Clear The Air’. I got three questions for you. Are you ready? Question one. When’s the last time you tried something for the first time?

Gonzalez 4:40
I just started playing pickleball. Yeah, there’s a course right down the street from my house. It’s awesome because I’m meeting new people. And I used to play racquetball with my dad. And there’s a little bit of a kind of a, yeah, there’s not there’s not many racquetball courts left. So pickleball is my new thing. And now that the weather’s getting really nice in Arizona, that’s where you’re gonna be able to find me when I’m not working.

Ressa 5:11
Amazing. Yeah, those pickleball courts are popping up everywhere. It’s pretty amazing,

Gonzalez 5:16
Fastest growing sport in America is what I just read.

Ressa 5:19
Wow. Okay. Question two. What is one skill you don’t possess but wish you did?

Gonzalez 5:27
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, and I read this in your media packet. I can’t sit still. I’m always on the move. And your media packet said sit still. So right now I’m in this chair. And I’m like, ahhh. I really, we’ve got a great park right around the corner from the office.

Two days, two, sometimes three times out of my day. I just go walk and think in the park. Because if I’m just sitting at the desk all day, I just get antsy. So I always need to be moving. But I wish I could just sit in my desk for eight hours and just concentrate, but it’s not in me.

Ressa 6:05
Can you put your phone down, sit, and watch a movie?

Gonzalez 6:10
Two hours? Yes. More than that? No.

Ressa 6:14
Got it. Okay, last question. What is one thing most people agree with? But you do not?

Gonzalez 6:22
What is one thing that most people agree with that I do not? I like this question. And I was actually talking with a friend about this question last night. Millennials get dumped on so hard about being lazy. And I hear this from a lot of people. I don’t believe that to be the case.

I do a lot of my deals through social media, which are mostly millennials, the bless their ass. I think that you take a very small or some people take a very small group of the community of those millennials and think they kind of throw everybody in that same bucket. In my experience working with these entrepreneurs, that is not the case.

Ressa 7:08
Yeah, I would add to that, which is, what is lazy? So, and I think, I think the definition of lazy is morphing. Like, I always say this to people. What, let me rephrase that. I don’t think the definition is morphing. I think we are taking something that might look like lazy, but isn’t lazy. I always say this all the time. What’s more lazy, circling the parking lot of a shopping center, looking for the closest spot to your store, circling for 20 minutes. Or parking in the first spot because you don’t want to circle for 20 minutes and you just want to park the car.

Gonzalez 8:04
Yeah, a different way of thinking.

Ressa 8:07
So what I would say on lazy is, in my experience, they don’t want to do, or, they, I’m not going to use that. There are people who were willing to do certain things, tasks, jobs. And now based on presented new options, opportunities, and seeing the world from a different lens. There’s a lot of people who want to do things a different way. And because they don’t want to do things the way that they used to be done, can be considered lazy, when it might just be different, not necessarily lazy.

Gonzalez 8:54
I’m right there with you. Yeah.

Ressa 9:00
So you mentioned social media. Let’s talk about social media for a second. You mentioned you do a lot of prospecting and make a lot of deals on social media. Give me a high level, what does that look like to you?

Gonzalez 9:13
Yeah, so a lot of people asked the question about cold calling. I sort of jokingly say I don’t cold call anymore. I warm call. Because most of my processes involve connecting with potential prospects on either Instagram or Tiktok. I start that relationship before I make the phone call. So literally what I’m doing is playing on social media, posting different types of information in the Phoenix market, sharing that with other people on social.

Sometimes they’re coming to me, sometimes I’m going to them, so if there’s a brand or a person that I want to get ahold of, I will ping them or DM them, and that’s just how I start the relationship. Instead of it being a phone call, it turns into a warm call. But what’s really cool about it now is, a lot of people, I work with a couple of different architects.

And people see my posts, and they’ll reach out to those guys, because they have a ton of credibility and say, hey, who’s this Eddie Gonzales guy? Can you make an introduction? So that’s when they’re turning into deals. It’s so much fun. Versus I don’t find it a ton of fun jumping on the call, jumping on calls for three hours and just cold calling my fingers off.

Ressa 10:27
Sure. But you’ve done that.

Gonzalez 10:31
I have. Yeah. It takes both and you really kind of have to mix it up.

Ressa 10:38
Yeah, I like to say that, I think one of the things with prospecting is there’s no one thing that’s a magic bullet. But if you dabble into a bunch of things, then they all come together. And that’s what it is. That helps. So I think there’s that’s amazing that you’re able to do that. Got a question, tough question. If other social media platforms, you know, filed bankruptcy tomorrow and went away. What would you do to continue to increase the revenue of your business?

Gonzalez 11:27
Honestly, probably cold walkups, cold walkups, is something that we learned. And I don’t know what actually, I do know why. And I’ll tell you this, Chris, this hasn’t been brought up in a long time. I spent 14 years standing in front of people, and having conversations. And then I came into commercial real estate, and they handed me a phone, and you can’t read body language, you can’t read anything, when you’re on the phone.

So then, I just started going in, even before we knew I knew that, I was doing cold walkups and doing well at it. So I think I thrive at it, because I spent 14 years at the Ritz standing in front of people reading their body language and being able to create the relationship that way. So I shied away from the phones, then I went into the phones, then I learned about social media. And that’s when I started going that path. So I would go back to cold walkups.

Ressa 12:29
Okay, I would, here’s a recommendation I would make on that.

Gonzalez 12:34
Tell me.

Ressa 12:38
One, I would, so cold walkups. To me, that’s, you know, the social media you’re doing in the branding, that’s creating a warm call is the marketing you’re doing. And then it’s turning into the warm call that makes the sale process easier. And the the cold walk up I don’t think is akin to social, I would take, I would, if you do cold, you know, canvassing and cold calling as sales, part of your sales process, I think that’s good. I would continue to do all those.

But what I would do is I would just morphed my marketing into a different media. So maybe that’s mailers. Maybe that’s my own website and driving people to my website from a digital prospective through a variety of arrays, and it would probably be more traditional media. Because the reason that social media is so prevalent is because the cost is, yeah, exactly. Right. So the cost is inexpensive. Traditional media still works, right. In fact, you know, we still get mailings from people all the time.

They wouldn’t be spending that money on it if they were getting zero from it. The problem is, is it worth the cost? And I would argue that if there was no social media, it probably would be. I think it would bring back some traditional media, versus, as the price of traditional media routes, whether that’s mailings, or your email list, or print content continues to come down.

You want you might have a resurgence one day in that because there are good ways to scale get in front of in front of people. So I like that. Okay, full circle. Let’s bring it back. You have a story happened in Arizona, about an insurance agency. I did it that’s the way it tells the story, Eddie.

Gonzalez 14:59
Yes. This is speaking of cold walkups. And speaking of Beth Azar, our friend, and a mentor to me, I was doing cold walk ups one morning, approached a insurance agency that was right down the street from a space that I was leasing, I actually had two spaces that I had for lease, walked inside the store, they had just opened, both ladies sitting on the desk, we’re both on their phone, they both kind of looked at me gave me the one finger thing. I sat down for like, two minutes, and I’m like, Okay, this isn’t gonna end quickly.

So I took my brochure, I wrote down on it, give me a call. And I handed it to the one lady walked out was going to get in my truck. And the lady burst through the front door and comes over and knocks on my window. She’s like, come back inside right now. So I walked back inside. With her. There’s a gentleman standing there. And he’s like, hey, can I talk to you in the break room? So he pulls me back into the break room. He’s like, we’re on a month to month lease, the landlord is about to bump my rent drastically.

How quickly can we get a deal done? In this particular landlord was the type of guy that said, Eddie, I don’t care if I’m at a soccer game, if it involves leasing at one of my shopping centers, I will walk away from a soccer game or anything to get a lease. So I said very quickly. And he said, how quickly? And I said very quickly, and he said, what about tomorrow? And I said, Oh no. I get the landlord on the phone. He doesn’t live in Arizona. And I said, I’ve got a wild idea for you. And he said, What?

And I said, I’m in a break room right now with a tenant that wants to move in or shopping center. And he said, all right, great, get everything written up. And he said he wants to move in tomorrow. And he said, whoa. So he has in-house counsel and everything in his office. I put him on speakerphone. It was literally my first back of the napkin deal. We write down all the details, I go back to my office. And I wasn’t using DocuSign either at this time.

So we went back and forth a couple times, email back and forth a couple times. I drive past the space on the way to another meeting that morning, and I see the U haul in the parking lot of his space. And I’m like holy smokes, this is actually going to happen. Landlord signs the document, sends it to me. I do the same. They handled their own insurance, obviously. Literally, I started at 8am. The next day at 10am, they drove the U haul truck down the street and started unloading their stuff, the fastest deal that I have ever done.

Ressa 17:53
Wow. Unbelievable. So, so much fun for sure. How? Well, I got a million things running through my head. Here’s one. How did you get through the qualifying process?

Gonzalez 18:09
When I mentioned to the landlord that they had four stores, he pushed it to the side, we did not do the full on application process for this tenant. So that’s something that is worth saying, there was a ton of risk involved in this deal. And one thing that I did mention that I should have is, so we had two suites at the center. One was ready to go. The other was not. So we put them into the spec suite. So they could just open their doors the next day, get the desks in and go while we actually built out the other space for them, what they needed.

Ressa 18:46
Interesting. From a, they got in, was their free rent period. Are they paying rent day one?

Gonzalez 18:55
It paid rent day one.

Ressa 19:00
Wow. I imagine if they were willing to sign that quickly, there wasn’t too many comments to the lease. It was a pretty standard, standard lease dock.

Gonzalez 19:11
It was very standard, very easy to get through. And the fact that they had three, they had four stores, was one of those deals that they had done the process so it’s not like they were brand new person reading through a 50 page lease. They knew what was important to them. And they got through quickly. We went back and forth redline wise, I think twice. It wasn’t a big deal with your mind.

Ressa 19:39
When you think about that story, because I imagine you work on deals now that don’t take 26 hours to do. True?

Gonzalez 19:47
Facts. That was, that was the one and only, I think the, I think after that I’ve done a few that took a couple of weeks. But most lease deals as you know, will take two, three months Four, six months, a year, some of them get crazy.

Ressa 20:03
Yeah. So how, when you when you think about that deal? What do you take away from that, that how this happened? Like, what’s your, what do you try to apply to other opportunities to try to see if it’s possible to get to a similar result?

Gonzalez 20:21
Honestly, I think everything just lined up perfectly, I showed up at exactly the right time. He was, the rent was about to escalate, almost double. So he had a huge pain point. I had a space that was available and ready to go, I was still in the same demographic area, literally six buildings down from where he was. So I don’t know if that can be replicated. I think it was timing, and the right landlord and the right tenant.

Ressa 20:51
So I would take the position to disagree. So I, so timing is always everything. Right? What I think you can pull from that is, how do you… And in order to make timing work, you have to show up. So you showed up? Right, you showed up? And therefore timing worked. What I think, for me, my takeaway is, is how do you put yourself in a position to show up at the right time? And I think you can tilt the scales, so that you show up at the right time more often.

Here’s an example. If, you know, if you’re a broker, and you know the market well, where are the properties where rents are rising rapidly? Right, there might be the insurance tenant who doesn’t want to pay the escalation? Where are the properties where their short term lease roll? Right, so that you can, when you show up, you’re putting yourself in a position to have timing be on your side. So, you know, all these things, like, you know, I used to when I was canvassing I used to love canvassing in the rain.

Because you go into some stores and people have buckets because their roofs leaking. What a, what a good time to show up. Someone’s you know, not happy with their space. Right? When their roofs leaking.

What’s rain? What’s rain?

Now you’re in Arizona, you’re in Arizona. But anyway, that’s just an example. No, it’s more you get to repeat it, you can put yourself in a position to tilt the scales to that you show up when timing in anything you do in life when timing is on your side.

You know, whenever you’re, sometimes you have to manufacture and force opportunities. And those are super rewarding at times. But sometimes those usually take the longest. They might be super rewarding, but they they could end up taking the longest. So Eddie, this was fantastic. I appreciate the story. I want to ask you three more questions. Are you ready?

I’m ready.

All right. Question one. What extinct retailer do you wish would come back from the dead?

Gonzalez 23:43
I listened to this podcast. And I’ve heard Toys R Us a million times. And that was the first thing that came to mind. But I am not going to say Toys R Us. I’m going to take it back to my childhood memory. And some people may know about this store and some may not. There was a store called Yellow Front. Are you familiar with it? I am not. And I know a lot of stores. I did a little research. Arizona and Nevada. There were 104 stores. They opened in the 1950s and shut all of them down in 1990.

Imagine almost like a, ‘everything store’. So they started and went into kind of sporting goods. The front of the store had those little three, you remember those popular three-by-three tile?. The whole front of the store was covered in bright yellow three by three tiles. So it popped. What I remember most about yellow friend is it was bicycle distance from my house when I was a kid. So my brother and I would always go to yellow front. In the front of yellow front, they had thrifty ice cream, you know those big cylinders?

So they had four flavors. We We’d always get a scoop of ice cream on a cone. And then we would go down away to the baseball card store and hang out there. The funny thing that happened with that portion of it though, is we had the ice cream cones.

We would just leave our bikes out front, walk down there. It got to the point where, we were doing this a couple of times a week, especially during the summertime, we would walk in the store and the owner of the baseball card store would say, all right, boys, you know what to do. So we would go in the back and wash our hands because we had sticky all over us. So it’s a combo Yellow Front and a baseball card shop at 16.

Ressa 25:35
I can’t wait to look up Yellow Front. I have not heard of it. But 100 store chain? Wow.

Gonzalez 25:41
Yes.104 stores in Phoenix and Nevada. Arizona and Nevada.

Ressa 25:47
I got a question. If they made a comeback today, and they brought it back. You think they could be successful?

Gonzalez 25:52
I don’t know, sporting goods is tough. Yeah, I don’t know if they could, but I personally, I would love it.

Ressa 26:00
Okay, question two. What is the last item over $20 you bought in a store?

Gonzalez 26:06
This is kind of funny. So the iPhone 14 just came out. I don’t have the iPhone 14. But I do have my case for the iPhone 14. I still love going into retail stores. I think I’m one of the few. So there’s a Best Buy not too far from here. And I went and I got my case, thinking that I would be able to very easily go into Verizon and just get my new iPhone. Not the case. There’s a wait. So I have the case, which was $49. But I don’t have phone.

Ressa 26:39
Well, good luck. I’m sure you’ll get the phone soon. Okay. Last question, Eddie. If you and I were shopping at Target, and I lost you, what aisle would I find you in?

Gonzalez 26:52
That’s an easy one. Book section. Yeah. Sanctuary. I like to, I like to hold books. I like to read books. I’ll listen to them, but I don’t retain them well when I listen to them. So if I’m driving, I will be listening to a book. But if there’s something that I really want to retain, I need to read it. And I love going to, I’m not a huge target fan, to be honest with you. But that’s the closest store to my house that generally carries the books that I want. So Target, books section.

Ressa 27:27
I’m a huge Target fan. Sorry. But, so what book are you reading right now?

Gonzalez 27:34
So I’m reading one by Ed Mylett. It’s called The Power of One More. Are you familiar with?

Ressa 27:39
I am, I haven’t read it, but I’m familiar. Yeah.

Gonzalez 27:45
I like it a lot. It’s, the whole premise is no matter what you’re doing, you’re gonna give one more, whether it’s you’re working out, and you’re gonna go one more rep. Or if you’re in sales, and you’re gonna go one more phone call, or one more email, and he goes down some cool storytelling. He truly came from the bottom and did very well in financial services.

So he kind of tells his backstory and also goes down a path his father passed away pretty recently. And his dad was an alcoholic. And that was one of his dad saying it, he would ask his dad, you know, are you going to stay sober? Because it truly affected the family. And he would always say, son, one more day. So that was kind of also into the premise of it.

Ressa 28:33
Interesting. Interesting. I’ll give you one I just started, because I saw a clip of Reshna. And I don’t want to mess up her last name. So Johnny, I think she’s the CEO of Girls Who Code. She wrote the book Brave, Not Perfect. And I saw this, you know, it talks about the power of social media. I had not known about her. But I saw this clip that was her being interviewed. And it was about, you know, it might have been a promotional tour for the book or something like that.

But the premise of it was, she had been invited to speak at this event where like, it was major political figures, celebrities, you name it. And she said something like, you know, it really hit home to me, because she was like, there was someone, she she met and she didn’t know what the person looked like. And, you know, in her mind, she was like, do you?

You’re running what? Oh my god, me and my girls could run circles around you. It gave her, she didn’t say that out loud. But that’s what she was thinking to have, like, the confidence to be able to do things that potentially, you know, girls were told they couldn’t do for a long time. So I have a daughter, so I’m reading the book.

Gonzalez 30:24
That’s cool. We were talking about this at a meeting the other day, and I think it came out quite a few times at the CRDi events as well. Just the confidence, right, the power of confidence, and just kind of putting yourself out there is such a powerful tool.

Ressa 30:40
Sure. Well, Eddie, listen, thank you so much. Thanks for really appreciate the time and I hope we can connect soon.

Let’s do it.

Thank you for listening to Retail Retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show, please reach out to us at This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney Also don’t forget to subscribe to Retail Retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode.

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