Q1. What is the purpose of shared services, and why did NAR develop the Shared Services Toolkit?

A. Shared services programs help REALTOR® associations expand services and streamline management through strategic partnerships.  Shared services are not about mergers.  The Shared Services Toolkit was developed for use by REALTOR® associations that are considering collaborations, partnerships, and other mutually beneficial relationships with other REALTOR® associations to enhance the level of service to all members and increase the association’s efficiency and productivity.

Q2. Is this another push for local association mergers?

A. Shared services is not about mergers – it’s about collaborations, partnerships, and other mutually beneficial relationships among REALTOR® associations that enhance the level of service to all members and increase the association’s efficiency and productivity.

Q3. Who can share services?

A. Any size association can benefit from shared services that leverage the talents of one association and staff to better optimize services to other associations. Partnerships can build greater efficiencies between state associations, state and local associations, and local associations among themselves, and all can partner with the national association.

Q4. Can we share services with other organizations?

A. Yes. Case study examples describe several instances of REALTOR®  association collaborations with other organizations, educational institutions, and others.

Q5. How does this impact associations’ jurisdictions?

A. There are no association jurisdictional barriers to sharing services. 

Q6. What is the benefit?

A. Shared services can save associations the time and cost of duplicating services that other associations have already developed. By pooling resources to develop programs, association executives’ workloads are lessened, staff responsibilities are reduced, and potential new revenue streams are created. Associations in mutually beneficial partnerships make the REALTOR® organization as a whole stronger, more efficient, and more effective.

Q7. Can we download and copy the tools on nar.realtor?

A. Yes. State and local associations of REALTORS® have permission to download and reproduce any of the NAR developed tools and information resources provided on the shared services toolkit page.

Q8. How do we get started?

A. Most AEs who are involved in successful shared service partnerships report that personal networking is a good way to get started. Informal discussions are often a prelude to formal planning and implementation. In the absence of networking contacts, participation in a state-sponsored planning session can uncover opportunities for collaborations and partnerships.

Q9. Local associations are already sharing services. What's next?

A. If your local association already has a successful shared service arrangement, consider offering the service to other associations. Consider using your success experience as a model for developing new member benefits through shared services.

Q10. Our local association is interested in sharing services, but our neighboring boards are not. Who can we collaborate with?

A. Technology has removed many geographic barriers. Partners need not be limited to neighboring boards. Consider partnerships with the boards outside of the neighborhood, state or national association, or other real-estate-related organizations, education institutions, or nonprofit organizations.

Q11. Does volunteer leadership need to be involved?

A. Volunteer leadership buy-in, involvement, and long-term commitment is key to the success of shared service initiatives. 

Q12. Are there any examples of successful shared service initiatives?

A. Yes. Case study examples are available here.

Q13. Do we need to hire a facilitator for a planning session?

A. While not absolutely necessary, most associations find that a professional facilitator can function as an objective coach and referee, keep the process moving along, and keep participants involved. A professional facilitator also frees up association staff and leadership so they can be full participants in the planning process.

Q14.  What is the benefit of hosting a shared services workshop?

A. A workshop, often hosted by a state association or a group of local associations, is an opportunity for staff and volunteer leaders from various local associations to meet together to discuss the shared services process. Participants can better understand the benefits of a strategic partnership and learn more about how to engage in such a relationship. Upon request, NAR will provide workshop materials and facilitator resources. For more information, contact Andrew Scoulas, ALD.