How do you overcome fears and confidently approach your first meeting with large brokers to establish a productive and harmonious relationship?
- Instead of inviting brokers to the association office for the first visit, go to their offices. They may be more comfortable in their own environment, and after that initial meeting they’re more inclined to attend a broker’s council or other association meeting.
- After an initial meeting with a broker, suggest periodic meetings. Depending on the broker that may be monthly, quarterly, or even annually. But try to always have something on the calendar. Be sure the brokers know that you respect their busy schedules and won’t waste their time with unnecessary meetings.
- Make every effort to accept a broker’s invitation to his or her meetings or conventions. Your participation confirms that you’re interested in their needs and wants.
- Encourage brokers to get involved in the association. If they can’t, suggest that they identify an office manager or someone else in their office to get involved on their behalf.
- Be sure you are aware of major events on a broker’s calendar, so you don’t conflict with association activities that you want them to join.
- Prepare for your broker meetings with some open-ended questions, such as:
- What does the association currently do that you think should be different?
- What, if anything, do you hear your agents saying about the association?
- Is there an industry trend that you think the association should pay attention to?
- How can the association better engage others in your office, such as your social media staff?
- Expect to be listening more than talking. In most cases brokers will want an opportunity to be heard and to air their grievances.
- Be prepared for conversations with brokers who want to listen more than talk. For those who are less interested in sharing, refer to some talking points about what the association does.
- Be open-minded, fair, and honest, as it’s important to earn the broker’s trust in your initial meetings.
- Be sure your brokers understand the association governance structure and chain of command, so they know you’re carrying out the directives of the board of directors.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and be sure you follow-up with unanswered questions. It’s important that the brokers know they can count on you to be true to your word.
Know the Needs
- Schedule broker forum meetings throughout that include the association staff and volunteer leaders such as the president, chief staff, legal counsel, and communication staff. The purpose of the forum is to ask brokers what the association is doing right and what other services they would like from the association.
- Find out early on what association services the brokers welcome and which ones they think are in competition with what they offer their agents. This real or perceived competition can be a huge obstacle in an association/broker relationship.
- Don’t make special rules or exceptions for brokers depending on their size. While the needs may differ, try to employ the same practices and relationship-building techniques with both large and small brokers.
- Find out who runs the office and determine administrative and logistical preferences. For example, if a broker wants invoices sent somewhere other than their office, make the effort to accommodate that request.
- Get to know the personality of each brokerage and understand the differences between them.
What kind of interaction or communication do you think would lead to a productive and harmonious relationship with your local and state association?
- An association annual forum, town hall meeting, or quarterly roundtable discussion where large brokers and association staff and volunteer leaders can discuss goals and objectives. Provide virtual meeting options for those who can’t attend.
- Find ways to interact with agents that may not be real estate-related. Reach out in ways that impact other aspects of their world. For example, the association might offer scholarships for members’ children who are college-bound.
- Invite brokers to special association events.
- Discourage brokers from taking advantage of opportunities at association events to recruit agents from other brokerages. Many brokers don’t want their agents to get involved in association activities, because they fear they will lose them to other companies.
- Associations should ask members their preferred method of communication – email, text, phone.
- Personalize email communications to brokers and send them from someone in the association whose name is familiar to them. Be sure subject lines are direct and meaningful.
- Schedule communications to brokers so they are sent at slower times when there is not a lot of other messaging, such as Sundays.
- Be sure to communicate the benefits that an association provides, so brokers understand the value of their membership.
- Welcome the new agents that are encouraged by brokers to attend association classes and functions. Be sure brokers know that the association appreciates the referrals.
- Establish a point person or liaison at each office to deliver and communicate information from the association; be sure it’s someone that the agents trust and respect.
- Associations to focus on educating brokers on the latest legal updates and training.
- Provide more online legal updates. Be sure brokers are apprised of risk reduction and trends in lawsuits, new lending laws, and court cases that have changed the way statutes are being interpreted.