Effectively Wielding the Personal Touch

Dale Zahn in REALTOR® AE Magazine

Dale Zahn's actions and outreach elicit member participation.

There's perhaps no better AE to feature in an issue about being personal than Dale Zahn, CEO of the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of -REALTORS®, Mich. In his 27 years as an AE, this former REALTOR®, broadcaster, racetrack announcer, publicist, journalist, and public speaker has cultivated an authenticity that resonates with everyone he meets. He truly cares about his members as individuals, he gives back to his community, and he values the service his elected leaders give to the association.

The results of Zahn's personal approach are evident in the dedication he inspires among his members and the robust community volunteer program, enthusiastic advocacy participation, and record-setting RPAC investments.

Association programs, such as the Veteran's Scholarship, which provides free licensing courses and first-year association membership to servicemen and women, reflect his personal patriotism. The association's REALTOR® Memorial park on the grounds of the headquarters building, which features the names, etched in granite, of individuals who were dues-paying members at the time of their death, shows Zahn's gratitude to each member's service. And the latest member benefit, a safety app called Forewarn, is available free of charge to every member because their safety and well-being is of paramount importance," Zahn says.

Champion of the personal and professional Among the causes Zahn is known to promote, professionalism ranks high on the list. "I believe in the Code and what it stands for," says Zahn. "I believe in encouraging the filing of complaints, or 'business as usual' will continue."

Zahn developed a class called "Professional Courtesies: How Do You Want To Be Remembered?" "This course is about what a person does and how it affects their reputation for years to come—in other words, how they are remembered by peers and the public alike," he says. Hundreds of REALTORS® and AEs in Michigan have taken the course and Zahn has presented it to audiences in three states and at the 2017 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Zahn͛s personal approach to relationship building extends to organizations outside of real estate as well. He builds effective collaborations by personally reaching out and opening pathways to dialogue. "Our relationship with county health departments has resulted in publications for home seekers explaining well and septic systems, and the collaboration resulted in awards from the Michigan Environmental Health Association," says Zahn. "We showed how -REALTORS® and counties can hold hands for the good of public health and well-being."

With persistence, one-on-one outreach, and by personal example, Zahn stokes a strong culture of RPAC investment among his association leaders and members, who are rank first in the nation in terms of participation at 75 percent.

Modeling personal behavior members can follow At WMLAR, "RPAC is everywhere," says Zahn. "The word I use when asked how we do it is ͚'relentless.͛ It starts with new members during orientation and it isn͛t uncommon to get 70 percent or more from each new class to invest in RPAC."

Zahn is a Golden R, President's Circle member, and Hall of Fame Investor. "As CEO, I͛d never expect members to invest if I personally did not," he says.

Personal and public recognition is also key to boosting RPAC investment, says Zahn. RPAC major investors are acknowledged by name and level of investment at general membership meetings and major investors have red, white, and blue ribbons attached to their name tags. "We reach out to the top producers individually by way of personal phone calls, emails, and visits to their offices," says Zahn. The association even takes out full-page ads in local newspapers to feature photographs of major investors and lists all investors at each level.

WMLAR͛s response rate to Calls for Action is very high and its Government Affairs committee is large, active, and enthusiastic. The committee makes a point to visit member offices in person to talk about issues and candidates. This year, WMLAR plans to livestream its candidate interviews for state and federal congressional representatives.

"As CEO, I like to wear the REALTOR® R pin with the American flag on it because it says something about who we are and what we stand for," says Zahn, a Bud Smith Leadership Society inductee. His personal dedication and accomplishments speaks volumes about what he stands for.

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