The Notorious POD Ep 17: The NAR Speech Code with Phillip Cantrell

In this episode, I speak with my good friend and mentor, Phillip Cantrell. He is the CEO and founder of Benchmark Realty, the #1 brokerage by market share in the Nashville area. We discuss a sensitive and touchy topic — the NAR Speech Codes (10.5 and beyond) and how conservative REALTORS feel about the direction of local, state and national REALTOR organizations.

I think Phillip is representative of a silent majority of REALTORS out there who are somewhere between uncomfortable and enraged about NAR’s shift in direction in getting more and more involved with social/political issues. I say “silent majority” because so few people are willing to take a stance on these divisive issues and talk about how they feel about them. Phillip is the rare leader who is willing to be open about his feelings and thoughts, knowing that it could be controversial. I can say from personal knowledge that there are many, many REALTORS who are unhappy but stay silent. Silence should not be taken as agreement, or even acquiescence.

For being willing to share his thoughts, I thank Phillip. For listening, I thank you. This may be a conversation we need to surface and have to see if the REALTOR movement can actually be salvaged.


Ep. 17: The NAR Speech Code with Phillip Cantrell

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Bio of Phillip Cantrell:

Born and raised in Nashville, Phillip Cantrell graduated from the University of Tennessee in the early ‘80’s, then followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps by embarking on a career path in the commercial printing industry. That career would take him on a 20 year journey. Starting out in sales and working his way up the ladder of some of the largest companies in the area, Phillip spent the last 6 years of his printing career as the general manager of one of the largest companies in the area. During that tenure, he was responsible for building the team that helped the company experience unprecedented growth by increasing sales six fold, along with accompanying increases in market share and profitability.

Simultaneous to his printing career, Phillip began investing in residential rehab properties as early as 1988. Beginning this venture by moving his family into the properties he purchased and doing much of the work himself, he then progressed to spinning off the investing activities into a separate company, with full-time tradesmen and staff. Within a year, it became obvious that a career path decision needed to be made. Either sell the rehab company and continue in commercial printing or move full time into the real estate industry. Given his love for real estate, the choice was obvious, and the 20 year printing career came to an end.

Once the decision was made to become a full-time Realtor® and investor, it was a natural evolution of this “new” career to set his sights on obtaining a broker license and eventually opening his own company. As with most activities in Phillip’s life, it’s 110% effort or nothing…and failure is never an option! That first year as a full-time agent, his sales exceeded $4.8 million and continued to climb from there, with personal production (not the team, not the company) in 2006 exceeding $21,000,000, including both residential and commercial transactions.

Along the way Phillip, in conjunction with partners, opened a real estate company in west Nashville, quickly growing it into a 100+ agent firm before converting to a national franchise brand. Following a series of discussions with a major custom home builder in the area, Phillip decided that his future lay in the hands‐on assembly and management of the team that would provide this builder with major growth. In doing so he allowed his partners to buy him out and Phillip focused his career on personal production. Doing so quickly catapulted him into the top 1% of Realtors®in the area and earned him numerous sales awards.

A very strong believer in continuing education, Phillip has earned the Education Achievement award for the past several years from the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors®and possesses the GRI (Graduate, Realtor® Institute) designation, the e‐PRO designation and the CBR® (Certified Buyer Representative) designation. Recently Phillip has been accepted by the Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers as a CRB‐Candidate (Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager), the highest professional designation offered by the National Association of Realtors®.

2 thoughts on “The Notorious POD Ep 17: The NAR Speech Code with Phillip Cantrell”

  1. Good talk, however, an agents ability to pay dues or the income they earn is not a direct correlation to how agents conduct themselves. Professionalism as a term is biased at best. But I do agree that NAR should not police this and put everyone in the same bucket.

  2. You brought up the example of the preacher/realtor who publicly spewed hate speech. Your guest said he didn’t have his facts straight but clearly didn’t condemn it as hateful or the kind of behavior that tarnishes the Realtor R. He didn’t say that Realtor should be reprimanded or god forbid have his license revoked? One wonders what a Realtor would have to say in a public forum for your guest to get outraged?

    If that preacher had been espousing anti-Semitic hate speech, would that have crossed the line. You see my point; Your guest has arbitrarily drawn the line of what’s offensive to HIM. His earlier statements indicate that in Nashville perhaps, that preacher’s anti-homosexual slurs are more acceptable than in NY or SF. That’s the fallacy of his argument of regional standards; there needs to be one standard.

    I spent the better part of 20 years working with and selling to Realtors, as a salesperson, team leader and VP of Sales at Zillow so I know the range of people and professionalism in the industry. And I agree that by raising the barrier of entry in terms of testing and cost, one can eliminate some of this problem. From my experience though, in order to hold members accountable, there needs to be objective standards such that before a Realtor decides to spew hate speech online, at a little game, at a protest, wherever, he or she knows that it could be a career changing exchange. I don’t care if it’s after a couple of glasses of wine, I wouldn’t think your guest would want that agent representing his brand.

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