Describe the initiative and purpose
In January 2009, VAR began a new initiative and division called Member Outreach. The vision for this effort was to open a new channel of communication between VAR and its members around the state to provide enhanced services to its local associations, communicate face-to-face with members, and collect feedback from brokers.
VAR used several opportunities to reach out to the membership, including participating in all local association tradeshows; speaking at local meetings and making presentations to firms; and providing leadership development workshops for local boards of directors and volunteers. VAR was even able to expand local association services to include employment screening for five local associations seeking new AEs, surveying members on local issues and needs, and providing strategic planning workshops for several local boards.
The goal for the first year was to reach 10,000 members through the various face-to-face initiatives.
What method of communication or format/vehicle did your association use?
What is the frequency of the communication?
This is an ongoing initiative, with a goal to reach 15,000 members.
How did you measure the success of this initiative?
In the first year of operation, VAR counted over 12,000 member “touches” – or, face-to-face opportunities to talk with members. They screened five local association executives, and provided numerous board workshops for leadership development and strategic planning. VAR developed a member feedback survey instrument to collect additional information and feedback from brokers following firm visits. Perhaps the most rewarding measurement of success are the comments received from members following a presentation:
- “We never knew we got that service from VAR.”
- “This was the best hour I’ve spent in real estate in several years.”
- “I’m really impressed with the level of services we receive, most of which I never really recognized.”
What improvements can be made?
Last year, VAR expanded the topics offered to members so that additional staff could be a part of the outreach plan. For example, a large firm wanted a program on writing a business plan, so VAR wrote a presentation and its marketing director was the speaker. The current improvement plan involves holding an in-depth conversation with the broker following a local visit to obtain information and feedback about issues, concerns, and changes in the marketplace.
This information, it is hoped, will bring the state association closer to the members’ actual needs, and help VAR to provide better services for its Realtors.
Tips / Suggestions for other AEs
- Set up a spreadsheet to regularly collect information about outreach: who you visited, the topic, speakers, number of attendees, name of broker, etc.
- Report to your BOD regularly on your success. Solicit board members for invitations to their firms.
- Work with the local association executives to schedule local firm visits. These visits can be very useful for local AEs as well, so include them in your plans.
- Share the information you collect with others in the office so that member feedback comes into play when planning programs and services.
- Be flexible enough to provide not only an overview of services members receive from the state, but also current offerings from national and local.
Virginia Association of REALTORS®
Phone: (804) 264 - 5033