PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Getting Ready for the ‘Next Normal’

Gail Fattizzi | May 2020

Gail Fattizzi, HGAR 2020 President

I heard this term “the next normal” recently and it immediately resonated with me. Normal is what we get accustomed to, but it is not stagnant. Normal is always evolving and so we move from one version of normal to another…next!

As we continue to work towards defending against and defeating COVID-19, we must be looking ahead. Every person I speak with seems ready for what’s next, with hope and optimism that it’s far better than where we’ve been these past couple of months.

“Next” for HGAR and its members holds so much positive potential from my perspective. We started this crisis with making the most immediate and necessary adjustments and decisions. We quickly came to realize that many of these changes would withstand the crisis and better position us for the long-term. As the saying goes, in every challenge lies opportunity.

We have certainly learned a lot in these past eight weeks! We’ve learned that we should have bought stock in Zoom! 20/20 hindsight aside, “Zooming” has quickly become a verb and the platform is now ubiquitous, like Googling or spamming. We’ve learned that in many ways and for various industries, working from home can be as or more productive. To an extent, this is even true for real estate, though we all recognize the dire need for those one-on-one in-person showing appointments. We’ve learned that committee members will be more engaged if they don’t have to drive to get to a meeting and that virtual office meetings generate better attendance than live ones.

At HGAR, we are carefully evaluating where we want to be on the other side of this crisis. I respectfully suggest that this is an area that every person give some serious thought to. We want to have learned enough to not slide backwards just because it’s what was before. For HGAR, we want to be more nimble. We need to be prepared to pivot on a dime. We need to reach our members where they live, and that’s as much metaphoric as it is literal. We have to make sure our value proposition parallels the needs of our members. Our communication, not just during times of crisis, is one of the most vital areas of our relationship with our members. We have discovered new means and venues for engagement and we must continue to expand upon those. Everyone’s expectations have changed, and there’s no going back.

Some of the changes and initiatives we’ve effected during the pandemic and plan to continue with, at least in some form, include:

• More online skill and industry-specific training

• Live remote CE classes to replace (for now) or augment in-person classroom training

• Committee, task force and Board of Directors meetings in virtual format

• Getting comfortable with the use of video to convey messages and information

• The launch of our very first Leadership Accelerator program

• Development of online member Toolkits (so far, we have Toolkits completed or in development for Fair Housing, OneKey MLS, Clear Cooperation and New Members)

• Review and updating of our Association’s Bylaws to allow us to be more responsive

• Advocacy with local and state lawmakers continues virtually (for now)

• Support of local area non-profits through our HG Realtor Foundation, including online or “distant” fundraising activities and volunteer projects.

The next normal will no doubt also include shifts in the consumer’s expectations from us beyond the scope of the pandemic. There will be some new priorities in housing needs including space, location and community. Technology has now become almost everyone’s friend. Respect, consideration, compromise and graciousness have an elevated place in our daily lives and dealings.

It’s been a rough and a sad time for so many, but I believe that the silver linings and strength of the human spirit will shine their light on a promising next normal. We’re ready, bring it on!

Gail Fattizzi
is the 2020 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc