Great Ideas In: Association Management

One of the great things about REALTOR® associations is that they are not (for the most part) in competition with one another, so sharing great programs, products, and outreach ideas is encouraged. We've featured thousands of great ideas from hundreds of associations in the pages of REALTOR® AE magazine. Here are a few of our favorites designed to inspire, guide, and motivate you.

Every year, the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® pays all expenses for three members to attend the National Association of REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. The association's investment has been worth the cost because not only are members updated about advocacy action by their peers, but 95 percent of those who have had their expenses covered have gone on to serve on MAAR committees and more than a third on NAR committees. 

The Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS® launched a partnership in 2017 with the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri–Kansas City to develop the UMKC REALTOR® Leadership Academy, a seven-month leadership development program designed to provide REALTORS® with advanced education in management, business planning and development, state and local government affairs, and personal growth.

One of the most effective, and overlooked, methods of providing real value while streamlining services is collaborating with other associations. There are infinite ways to cooperate with your neighbors, or even with those farther away with virtual means (and needs). There are also many opportunities to share with community organizations that have similar goals, such as the local builders association, chamber of commerce, homeless shelters, and banks.

The Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® in New York recently launched an online membership portal where members can log in to a personalized page to pay their dues and register for classes. The portal (a new feature in their membership software solution) also has personalization capability, enabling the association to select groups to target for customized messages.

"The advantage of merging with larger boards is, generally, the resources and the professional staff that are on board, and this enables the small-board members to dream bigger." 
— Kipp Cooper, RCE, CEO, Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS®

The skills required to run a successful REALTOR® association are deep and constantly evolving, but instead of hiring new workers, consider training existing employees, sharing staff with another association, educating yourself to do the task, hiring freelancers, outsourcing to specialized contractors, and seeking out talented volunteers.

"Our biggest success lately was purchasing a new headquarters building that is more centrally located in our jurisdiction. It provides more staff office space, a classroom, and more rental space. I learned that members are excited for the move and that they are looking forward to being better served."
— Nicole Banbor, RCE, AE, Metro Centre Association of REALTORS®, N.J.

The Tennessee Association of REALTORS® educational foundation generated $16,500 from the approximately 1,100 REALTORS® in the state who ordered or renewed its special "Celebrating Homeownership" automobile license plate. 

The Scottsdale Association of REALTORS®' stylish Wi-Fi café attracts members to work and meet with clients with comfortable seating options, soft music, a patio with seating and TVs, fresh food, and, of course, coffee for sale.

The Southland Regional Association of REALTORS®, Calif., specifically seeks out members of different backgrounds and areas of expertise to run for the board. The two primary reasons: to assemble a board that represents the diversity of its membership (geographic location, race, age, and other aspects) and to find leaders who represent varied business functions, including residential sales, commercial sales, and property management. 

"As an organization, we traditionally recognize REALTOR® Safety in September, but it's really a year-round job. I'm encouraging you to make a year-round commitment to member safety." 
— Jarrod Grasso, RCE, CEO, New Jersey REALTORS®

To understand which association products and services have the most value for members, the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® created the member-led Products and Services Advisory Focus Group. Its mission: to help NVAR better understand, from the member perspective, how to organize the aggregated products and services from the local, state, and national associations in a way that will best benefit members' businesses.

Members explaining the value of their membership is your most powerful marketing tool. Arm your leaders with a script about the value of each major member benefit so they are ready to promote membership value wherever they go. Plus, craft a page of testimonials at your website to showcase members' unique membership value stories. 

When leadership or staff violated the association's social media guidelines by posting something confidential or severely objectionable, Teah Hopper, former vice president of marketing and communications at Missouri ­REALTORS®, had a plan. She'd meet with her CEO, identify specifically which of the social media or other policies was violated, and then seek input from in-house legal counsel before approaching the member directly. 

John B. Leonardi, RCE, CEO, Buffalo Niagara Association of REALTORS®, N.Y., presents a four-hour, 55-slide leadership orientation program that takes his new volunteers through all the information they need to feel fully integrated and comfortable with their positions and to understand the AE's role. 

"Nonprofit is our tax status; it is not our ­business plan. Diversifying our income is essential to keeping membership dues low while also offering attractive, high-quality services to our members." 
— Dave Stefanides, CEO, Orange County REALTORS®, Calif.

The most well-written and well-intended sexual harassment policy will have little protective effect if the association does not adhere to it. To ensure that your association creates a zero-tolerance environment for harassment, you must not only implement policies but also follow them by promptly addressing each complaint in accordance with the policy.

"The biggest complaint about recognition programs is that they feel contrived and procedural instead of sincere. If the message of appreciation isn't believed to be genuine, you're wasting your time. Take the time to learn how volunteers perceive appreciation." 
—Guyla Greenly, former CEO, Wyoming Association of REALTORS®
 

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