1. Promote Pride
Make it a strategic initiative at your association to enhance the REALTOR image by enhancing members’ pride in being a REALTOR. Put this on par with helping members make money.
2. Publish Pride Stories
Feature a regular column on professionalism in your publications. It can detail best practices and recognize members for their exemplary ethical conduct. At the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS, we dedicate an entire issue of our quarterly magazine to professionalism every year.
3. Display Pride
Encourage members to wear their REALTOR pins every day around the office, out in the field and to all association functions and meetings.
4. Use the Media
Use the press to promote positive stories about local REALTORS and their involvement in the community. Many radio stations in small to midsize markets will give associations free time each week to host a program about buying and selling real estate--use this opportunity to promote your members. Also, here’s a tip that has earned us free press, solicit an affiliate member from the local newspaper or radio station and put him or her on your PR committee.
5. Meet Politicians
Take members on a trip to the state or national capital to see the legislative process in action. It’s a great opportunity for members to see how organized real estate is respected on “the Hill.” Seeing how others respect the profession and the REALTOR organization’s work to preserve private property rights for all Americans can instill a new sense of pride, which is the cornerstone of professionalism.
6. Invite Consumer Feedback
Educate the public about how REALTORS abide by a Code of Ethics. Act as an ombudsmen between the public and members, encouraging consumers to call with questions and concerns about ethics. Have printed materials on hand that explain what the Code of Ethics is and how it is enforced by the association. Let members know about the nature of the consumer calls through your publication and Web site.
7. Assume Responsibility
Hold members accountable for their actions by enforcing the Code. There’ll be complaints at first when questionable practices are red-flagged and sanctions are levied, but in the long run it will decrease unprofessional behavior.
8. Lead by Example
As AEs, it’s our responsibility to set the standard and wave the professionalism banner for the industry, for RPAC, for patriotism, and for an outstanding profession. For instance, at my association we address mail by including the word REALTOR before a member’s name (i.e., REALTOR Bob Smith).
In addition, look the part. Your association headquarters should look professional, neat, clean, and dignified. Staff, too, should present a professional appearance and pleasant demeanor to consumers and members.
9. Get Involved
Sponsor charity events; take part in blood drives, festivals, and parades—anything to make the association’s presence felt in a positive way.
10. Listen to and Respect Members
At my association, we host Donuts with Dale meetings, an informal chat session with members that lets them know we value their feedback. Whenever possible, praise the members for their professional and community involvement by recognizing them in association publications, on the Web site, and in the press releases you issue to the media. For example, recognize members who’ve earned real estate-related designations and who participate in specialty programs, such as NAR’s At Home With Diversity.
11. Exhibit Patriotism
Display the U.S. flag in your offices and recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of all association functions. At my association, an American flag greets visitors in our entryway, in the training room, boardroom, and CEO’s office. Additionally, we have a four flag cluster of the national, state, REALTOR, and POW/ MIA flags along the busy highway.
12. Keep Your Chin Up
Never lose your spirit, even on days when dark clouds hang overhead. Remember that ours is a fine industry worth protecting and valuing.
By Dale P. Zahn, EVP, West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS