An AE Work Group Tackles the Tough Questions
Every year, the National Association of REALTORS®’ AE Committee assigns work groups to come up with solutions to tough issues, such as how to boost member professionalism or how to recruit and maintain commercial members. In 2013, there was consensus that AEs needed more tools to help them build better relationships with their broker members.
A work group of 19 AEs representing large and small associations from across the country set out in January to find best practices to six key challenges ranging from initiating the first broker meeting to encouraging broker involvement in the REALTOR® Party.
Tips, suggestions, experiences, and best practices came flowing in from AEs nationwide in response to the work group’s call for feedback. The accumulated knowledge is being developed into an online resource for building stronger relationships between AEs and large brokers that will include tips, suggestions, and sample materials.
A session at the 2015 AE Institute on developing and maintaining healthy relationships between associations and their large brokers is also in the works.
Look for the online resource kit later this year, but extracted here are some key tips from the work group’s collection of anonymous AE feedback.
Q: How can I overcome fears and confidently approach my first meeting with large brokers to establish a productive and harmonious relationship?
A: “For the actual meetings with the large brokers, I wanted to make sure that I got them talking, so I came prepared with a few leading questions and made sure they knew I wanted to understand what made their company unique so that we could best serve them. Most of them were willing to share their thoughts and ideas. For the couple who were less willing, I was able to refer to a handful of talking points about what the association and/or MLS was doing to keep the conversation going. By the end of the meeting, every one of them had given me a great deal of insight into their issues, concerns and thoughts.”
Q: How can I deliver meaningful education that large brokers and their agents need and want?
A: “Our state president this year implemented three broker forum meetings throughout the state. The purpose was to ask the brokers what we are doing right for them and what they would like from us and to answer any questions they might have. The programs were well-received and the brokers appreciated being asked their opinions.”
Q: How can I encourage large brokers and their agents to get involved in the association’s committees and events and to assume a leadership role?
A: “Ask. This is by far the most effective and most assured way to get a large-firm broker involved. Every member of our group cited this as their No. 1 method to obtain a ‘yes’ from the large broker.”
“If the large broker cannot or will not serve, ask them to appoint someone from their firm.”
Q:. How can I encourage large-broker involvement in RPAC fundraising and legislative issues and integrate this political advocacy focus into the broker’s culture?
A: “Talk about issues they can relate to: sales tax on commissions, sign ordinances, and restrictive building and zoning issues.”
“Personally reach out to the large brokers and sign them up (with their permission) for the Broker Involvement Program. This will dramatically increase your participation in calls for action.”
Q: How can I influence large brokers to use statistical information (such as Realtors Property Resource® data) in a meaningful way?
A: “Our association adopted RPR early. We invite RPR to present and hold classes often. They are regarded as a resource for the brokers. Many of the brokers have invited RPR trainers into their offices to conduct private classes for their agents. Regarding statistical information, we produce a monthly report for the members to use in their marketing. We provide a fill-in-the-blank news release and an infographic that can be branded by the broker/agent. Another sample of products provided is Terradatum. By becoming the resource, the brokers support the efforts made by the association.”
Q: How can brokers help bridge the communication gap between their agents and my association?
A: “I find the best way to communicate with agents from large firms is to speak to them directly at their sales meetings. I am always on the road with my 45-minute ‘Economic Update’ PowerPoint presentation. The sales managers love it because I customize the data for their market and the agents like it because I am not ’selling anything.’ I find it very effective because I always end the presentation with five minutes on all of the great things the REALTOR® family offers. It is time consuming, but with large offices it works very well.”
Changing Minds About RPAC
Helping members understand what the REALTORS® Political Action Committee really is and what it does for them is an ongoing challenge. The Birmingham Association of REALTORS® employed the member-to-member approach, inviting Florida broker and 2014 NAR RPAC Fundraising Liaison Summer Greene to speak at the association’s annual membership awards luncheon in August.
“What Summer brought to our members is firsthand experience seeing the power of political action in the REALTOR® community,” says Chip Watts, 2014 president of the Birmingham association. “We wanted our members to see that the money going into RPAC comes out and works directly for them, their industry, and ultimately the clients they serve. So much is going on behind the scenes that our members need to know their voice is being heard.”
Greene’s presentation encouraged several former major RPAC investors to recommit themselves to donating support, BAR CEO Cliff Long says. Several Birmingham YPN members were also inspired to become involved.
“REALTORS® have a much bigger impact when they have an association of more than 1 million members speaking for them, rather than the voice of an individual,” Greene says. “RPAC’s defining role is to be that voice, the unifying voice, representing our issues, our needs, our profession to the people with the power—the people that made the rules.”
RPAC Phone Bank Raises $5K
Instead of hosting a hotel-ballroom RPAC luncheon or an RPAC bowling night, the Ada County Association of REALTORS®, Idaho, took a more direct approach to fundraising: calling and asking. The association’s RPAC committee took to the phones one afternoon to reach out first to top producers and those who had given only at the fair share goal, then to other members. The group raised $5,000 within hours. The RPAC committee called members using the Aristotle RPAC Tracking Software and a script developed by the state’s GAD, Miguel Legarreta. Aristotle simplifies the compliance reporting process and automatically transfers the 30 percent fair share to NAR.
Board of Directors Book Club
To better engage her board of directors in discussions about the future of the association—and real estate in general—Dallas Hancock, CEO of the Peoria Area Association of REALTORS®, gave each director a copy of Game Changers, The Unfounded Fears and Future Prosperity of the Residential Real Estate Industry by Steve Murray, Lorne Wallace, and Lon Welsh in partnership with REAL Trends.
“I saw this as a great educational tool because it was thought-provoking,” says Hancock. “How can board members lead the association if they themselves do not understand the changing world around them? This spurs that dialogue, and hopefully they carry some of that back to their offices.” Hancock opens each monthly board meeting with a discussion of one chapter.
“I think it gives directors another level of value of serving on the board because they are learning something that will help in their own businesses,” Hancock says. “I feel very strongly that they should take away something of value from volunteering their time; they should get as much as we get from them.”
Other books Hancock’s directors have discussed are Stefan Swanepoel’s annual Real Estate Trend Report and The Pursuit of WOW by Tom Peters. The PAAR staff, during its weekly meetings, also uses these publications to guide discussion about the industry and evolving association services.