Sample Operational Philosophy


The Board of Directors of the ABC Association of REALTORS® completed the NAR Planning Tool to identify the desired level of operational philosophy for the organization. Five major assessment areas were reviewed which identified how the ABC Association of REALTORS® aspires to function relative to Administrative, Management and/or Leadership Models in providing service to its members.  The role of the ABC Association of REALTORS® is to help shape and influence a favorable business environment for its members. The Association has the responsibility to efficiently and effectively provide value to its members. How the Association delivers services and creates value varies based on staff and financial resources, changing member needs and expectations, the economic status of the marketplace and the operating framework of the organization. 

Three models define services that the Association provides:

Administrative Model: The operating philosophy of this model is one that is member-focused, knows basic activities of the REALTOR® and knows where to find information that is important to members in conducting their daily activities.

Management Model: The operating philosophy of this model is one that is a credible source of information and is proficient at identifying and proactively communicating business practices and trends that impact the membership.

Leadership Model: The operating philosophy of this model is one that initiates policy formation and advocacy on all levels and seeks and implements innovative and creative programs, products and services that ultimately provide enhanced value for all members.

Based on the tabulated responses in the five major assessment areas (Governance of Association Structures and Operations; Physical and Financial Resources; Staff Competencies; Member Services; and Internal/External Relations), the overall percentages for the ABC Association of REALTORS® are:

Administrative Model: 0 %
Management Model: 40 %
Leadership Model: 60%

Further defined, the tabulations show the operational philosophy for the ABC Association of REALTORS® through the following organizational statements:

  • Governance of Association Structures and Organizational Operations
    • Staff assists elected leadership in determining strategic vision; staff develops goals and plans necessary to implement the vision.
    • Decision-making authority for determining for determining strategic objectives is vested in the board of directors; authority for most operational decisions is delegated to staff, within defined parameters.
    • Committee structure changes from year-to-year and is based on strategic goals; staff develops specific objectives and time frames for recommending an implementation plan to the directors; staff liaisons participate on each committee.
    • Governing documents and policies are updated on a routine basis by staff to match the association’s mission, to manage goals, and to protect the association from liability.
    • Strategic plan, business plan, and budgeting is based on the organization’s vision; strategic goals can be modified to accommodate changes in economic and member needs.
  • Facilities, Equipment & Technology:
    • Dedicated office location with classroom/training facilities and meeting rooms, up to date office equipment which is analyzed and/or updated on an as needed basis
    • Association monitors and adopts changing technologies; plans and upgrades equipment and technology processes as they evolve; may employ IT staff and uses outside resources and vendors to assist with planning and implementing technology
    • Budget is developed by staff based on strategic/business plan outcomes and is approved by volunteer leadership; staff is empowered to make adjustments within established guidelines and act quickly on opportunities, threats, or new initiatives
    • Financial reserves are maintained and actively managed, with designated funds for certain programmatic functions determined annually; investment decisions are recommended and approved by leadership, with input from an outside investment firm
    • The association has some reliance on non-dues revenue from services other than core programs; non-dues revenue is used to annually to fund operations, core services and additional programs for members; the source for generating non-dues income is not only your association’s members, but includes non-dues revenue from neighboring associations members
    • A written plan is in place for communications along with a chain of responsibility for responding to natural disasters and internal and external crisis situations
  • Staff Competencies
    • The association employs a chief staff executive, who in turn is responsible for a senior
      management team and other employees. Staff is responsible for administration and management
      of the association
    • Compensation is regionally competitive; offers some additional employee benefits
    • Professional development opportunities are funded by the association to enhance supervisory,
      technology and management skills
    • Chief staff executive is responsible for all administration and management of the association
      with a focus on developing visionary skills; develops staff positions based on envisioned real estate
      industry needs
  • IV. Member Services
    • Communication is targeted to internal and external stakeholders; communication systems and delivery vehicles focus on enhancing current knowledge and discussion of future trends; association utilizes various methods to disseminate information, including social media (i.e. create social communities to communicate with members and the Facebook, etc.) to public.
    • Volunteer leadership and/or CEO act as official spokespersons for the association Innovative new member recruitment and retention program, with targeted orientation methods; outreach to specific targeted real estate niche groups, potential members from allied industries, and culturally and ethnically diverse groups (i.e., on-line orientation, new member CD, coordinated office and broker visits, etc)
    • The association is a recognized leader in professional standards enforcement and certification efforts; provides service to others via cooperative enforcement agreement; foster industry-wide ethical standards with other allied real estate groups affecting members’ business; promote and
      utilizes NAR Dispute Resolution Systems
    • Develop, offer, and promote access to education programs based on analysis of current needs and future trends; association is established as a course developer and provider; association utilizes alternative education delivery platforms including self-study, online, webinars, and podcasts
    • Develops and offers innovative marketing tools and other services based on analysis of current and future needs
    • Industry trends are identified jointly by staff and leadership and are based on trend identification and analysis; decision making regarding how to address these issues is mutually agreed upon by volunteer committees and staff
    • Networking and social opportunities are implemented by staff with the goal of strategically positioning the member for career success, risk reduction and global marketing opportunities 
    • Specialty councils are established to promote member interest and support networking opportunities to enhance member career success in these areas; events are planned and coordinated by staff with member involvement; guest speakers are included in general events to bring awareness to all members and are part of the strategic plan of the association.
  • V. Internal and External Relations
    • Chief staff executive is visionary leader of all other staff, and is not focused entirely on day-to-day operations; chief staff executive gives senior staff significant latitude for individual initiative and decision-making and develops a succession plan for key staff positions.
    • Staff recruits, develops, and nurtures volunteer leaders in conjunction with leadership according to a comprehensive leadership development plan or program; staff and volunteers are strong partners based on strong culture of association
    • Outside CPA firm and attorney support association operations and interact predominantly with chief staff and or accounting staff; CPA and attorney may network with counterparts in other REALTOR® associations; written policy is in place outlining the roles and responsibilities of the appropriate individuals; policies exist that identify who may contact these professionals on behalf of the association
    • Social media is used as a tool for developing internal and external relationships with volunteer leaders, membership, community members and the news media; use of social media to create specialty groups/pages for targeted specific events as well as ongoing communication; uses social
      media not only as a communication tool but as an ongoing part of any PR program; develops new programs and services for members utilizing virtual tools; incorporates the use of links and online registration for association events and function; uses social media to network with other community
    • Association is viewed as a resource and industry leader, frequently sought after for information, market statistics and trend analysis; volunteer and staff leaders initiate effective and synergistic relationships with the following:
      • local government leaders and legislators
      • service providers
      • vendors
      • consultants
      • contractors
      • influential and market share members/industry leaders
      • allied real estate groups 
      • media (reporters and editorial writers and publishers)
      • community groups
      • allied organizations and culturally diverse groups, with eye on building and leading political and business coalition
      • Able to inform members regarding legal, legislative and regulatory issues
      • High level of political action, expertise; engages in significant fundraising efforts, member mobilization efforts, and candidate development
      • Effective government advocacy to further association mission, either directly or as an active participant with other levels; initiates and encourages membership to respond to state and national calls to action