Member Champion

Bay East Association of REALTORS® CEO Tricia Thomas aims to delight members.

Tricia Thomas, RCE, has this goal as CEO: “To create an organizational culture that is focused on delighting those we serve by providing an exceptional experience.” Thomas, often described as an expert on the member experience, offers her take on what engages members—and herself as CEO.

Q: Tricia, how can associations cultivate loyal members?

A: A concise, memorable mission statement is the foundation for building a culture laser-focused on providing an exceptional experience. If you don’t have a culture statement, make it a priority to create one in 2023. Then, being a successful organization boils down to four simple principles of culture: Create it. State it. Share it. Do it.

Q: What’s one easy way to amp up the member experience? 

A: Creating great member experiences isn’t a single action. It’s a collaborative process that’s tied into the culture you create, and staff and leadership should align around it. It centers around all stakeholders committing to communicating the promise of delight, listening to how members define exceptional experiences, ensuring services and behaviors align with your promise, measuring the success of your actions and creating accountability. Then, make that promise your brand—demonstrating who you are, what you stand for and how you will treat members and the community.

Q: What should associations avoid doing in terms of member experience?

A: “I’m so glad I got the automated phone directory when I called,” said no one, ever. Every point of contact with your members is an opportunity for a great or a gruesome experience. Evaluate your processes and practices to determine if you’re compromising high touch for high tech.

Q: How do you pitch your value to prospective members? 

A:In the San Francisco Bay Area, REALTORS® can move easily between associations and MLSs. Our NAR jurisdiction touches on six associations and five MLSs, with 35% of our members coming from those areas. Because we share so many collaborations with our neighboring associations, we don’t market our services to prospective members because we don’t want to poach. We do, however, actively engage with our broker community to keep them advised on industry trends and association services. It’s the brokers who advise their agents on which association to join.

Q: What’s the single most important thing that engages and inspires you as an association executive?

A: Being part of a chorus of diverse voices, singing from the same songbook, making great music—that’s what engages and inspires me. It keeps us focused on our mission, and it means we don’t get bogged down in drama. That leaves room for collaborations, innovation and leadership development.



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