How Dominique Cagle built one of the most successful corporate housing companies.

With increasing connectivity around the world and developing infrastructure, travel has become a prevailing part of life for most people. It can be a work thing, a family thing or simply one’s pining to explore new scenes, it’s commonplace for everyone. However, what impacts this experience the most is where the camp is set on the voyage. Each person, to be satisfied with their sojourn, wants to stay somewhere they can find comfort and feel like they are home. But it’s difficult to find such a place at an accessible price with constantly rising demand. Such was an issue being faced by Temporary Duty personnel at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida where they were being placed with roommates for six months at a time. It is indeed an arduous situation for anybody at this career point. Luckily, their concern was noticed by Dominique Cagle, who was on a temporary leave of absence from her current job of flying as an On-Board leader. She was eager to provide a better housing situation to take care of the hard-working military personnel who are defending the country. Addressing the need, she established Nika Corporate Housing in 2003 as a side venture apart from her job, beginning with just one furnished apartment. Her business was well received by the service members since she fulfilled every gap by eliminating the roommate concept within their recommended allowance. For a while, Dominque continued doing both the jobs, but as her business boomed, she gave up her flight attendant job and never looked back. Today, with over 17 years of experience in the field, Nika Corporate Housing is serving clients all over the world and is recognized as an exceptional and certified ‘excellent’ service provider in the industry by the US government. However, it wasn’t a straight road that led them to become a premier corporate housing company in Florida and an industry leader in the Southeast region.

“I see challenges like a roller coaster with good times and not so good times. Such is life. Every day is not always that happy positive outcome that I would like."

Dominique shares, “We started with only guests from MacDill AFB. After budgets got cut, governments shut down, policy changes were made, we found the need to diversify our accounts.  We now have all types of temporary housing required for a variety of reasons. We can provide upscale temporary living solutions for all levels of associates from interns to VIP executives nationwide/worldwide. Moreover, we can provide stays as short as a few nights to as long as you need.” The most prominent factor about how Nika Corporate Housing operates is that they efficiently handle all their global contacts remotely without having to establish designated office space in each location. This is enabled by their exemplary and vetted partnership with the ISAP (International Service Apartments Professional) certification and continuous innovation. All the while working towards their mission to ‘exceed guest’s expectations every day’. The most frequent demand for their services comes from people engaged in government contracts, temporary assignments, relocations, medical housing, divorces, disaster housing, remodeling, or renovating a home, sheltering from home in another desired location temporarily, and more. By virtue of the attentiveness and regard they have for their customer’s comfort and budget, Nika Corporate Housing has set a higher pedestal for themselves than any of their competitors.  

Breaking through obstacles

Dominque is a skillful cross-functional team leader who is an expert at keeping her team inspired and managing their talent to help them reach their full potential. In the face of challenges, she chooses to think through and focus on positives. “I see challenges like a roller coaster with good times and not so good times. Such is life. Every day is not always that happy positive outcome that I would like,” says Dominque. “I try to focus on the things that are going right with my business and keep doing that.” She acknowledges being a female leader comes with a unique set of hurdles like not taken seriously. She shares, “Many people misunderstand my name and write, Mr. Cagle just assuming that I am a man, which is among many other examples of not taking me seriously as the Founder and Owner of my business. But what I found helpful was remaining confidant in the ownership of my firm. Also, I am a believer in continual education, and  I am always trying to stay current on new business publications, or take an in-person or online class to sharpen my business acumen and stay relevant in my field in addition to developing relationships across the industry and staying top of mind when a need arises in my zone of the industry.” 

Dominique Cagle, Founder, Nika Corporate Housing.
Dominique Cagle, Founder, Nika Corporate Housing.

"Educate yourself, read free material to better your skills and business acumen. Go for the position that makes you a little nervous in a good way. If you don’t try, you will never achieve that goal that you have set for yourself."

As someone who enjoys the cyclical nature of the market and its trends, Dominique is not easily startled by losing an account or unexpected events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it has impacted her business financially due to global lockdown and limited travel, she was able to pull up backed by their distinction as an essential business and pro-active approach. Nika Corporate Housing provisioned several immediate move-outs and vacancies as the pandemic broke out and is currently working with doctors and nurses that are moving to different locations to provide medical support along with regular people who need housing for various reasons. As a precaution, they have employed additional cleaning protocols such as covering common touchpoint items in a furnished apartment, enabling contact-less move-ins, and taking more time in between reservations to ensure proper sanitization of the living space and safety of their guests. Also, to keep all of its staff intact despite the rapid loss of business at the onset of the pandemic, Nika Corporate Housing has made all the necessary decisions and sacrifices as an employer without any second thoughts. To ensure their wellbeing, it has some of the staff working from home and those who are working in the office are socially distanced maintaining a six feet parameter. As for their upcoming ventures, Dominique asserts, “Our 12-month goals are to add more global clients and serve clients and guests that have been impacted by our competitors that have gone out of business during the COVID-19 that may find themselves without a lease unexpected.” 

Striking that difficult balance 

As a mother of three very young children and President of a globally prevalent business, Dominique openly talks about the challenge that comes with it especially in these unprecedented times and paints an honest picture of how she tackles it. She asserts, “It is difficult to be working from home on my zoom meetings, and monitoring my 3 children school online from home simultaneously on their zoom meetings. Also, helping them follow up and submit their assignments properly. My oldest son Daxton is a bit of a computer whiz, so I think he was able to adapt more quickly to the at-home environment, but Levi age 8 and Mia age 6, needed much more help to download print and complete their required schoolwork. Work-related calendared issues were the toughest for me as I was maintaining multiple calendars, with multiple events that inevitably overlapped. It resulted in me spacing out my meetings farther apart and becoming an expert multi-tasker and meal planner.”  

To conclude, for the women who are striving to reach their career goals, Dominique has a beautiful piece of advice to share: Set the bar high. Set that bar higher than you feel comfortable setting the bar. Educate yourself, read free material to better your skills and business acumen. Go for the position that makes you a little nervous in a good way. If you don’t try, you will never achieve that goal that you have set for yourself,” says Dominique. “Wake up each day and workout, this is good for your body, yes, but it is also good to prioritize your day and set your mind goals for your busy calendar each day. Visualize attaining that new account, visualize being accepted into that program, visualize your ideal self, and show up each day as her.”

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Flying High: Women Leaders, 2020 ​.

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