For many organizations, shared services have proven to be a great success, and REALTOR® associations in particular are leaders in the shared services arena.
Shared services help associations expand services and streamline management by creating strategic partnerships. Another key benefit to sharing services is helping associations meet Core Standards requirements of the National Association of REALTORS®. With no association jurisdiction boundaries to shared services, technology is also allowing us to look at shared services on a nationwide level.
It’s different from outsourcing with third-party vendors, with the added cost for those. Its positive aspects include reductions in cost, time, and staff effort. Shared services also create partnerships with like-minded associations and organizations, such as educational institutions. Ultimately, shared services bring a higher level of service to all members with better quality of trainers, instructors, education, and programs. For example, NASA’s Kenneth Newton noted in a 2014 article for The EvoLLLution that the 2006 switch to a shared services model at NASA is realizing nearly $20 million in savings annually.
Illinois REALTORS® offers shared services for professional standards, including hearings, an ethics citation program, mediation, and ombudsman services. Local associations partner with the state association to offer the best professional standards services for members and clients. This saves time and money for the local association and provides a more efficient and well-rounded program in regard to ethics and arbitration proceedings.
“There are several advantages to local associations using the services offered by Illinois REALTORS®,” says Becky Carraher, director of ethics and professional standards for Illinois REALTORS®. “Besides the cost savings, it centralizes the professional standards process; the state association has a pool of trained members to use as an ombudsman, hearing panel member, or mediator; and there are dedicated full-time staff to address issues as they arise.”
Illinois REALTORS® also provides governmental affairs directors for local associations. The GADs each represent more than one association and work together as a team to provide exceptional services in the advocacy arena. For example, Neeley Erickson, a local GAD for the state association, offers REALTOR® Reads, a series of live events—either online or in person. The series aims to empower attendees with skills to battle bias, champion diversity, and discuss uncomfortable truths, with the ultimate goal of furthering fair housing and diversity, equity, and inclusion. No matter where they live, Illinois REALTORS® can attend the hybrid book club/speaker series, which is sponsored by a local partnering association.
One of the best shared services that members and their clients benefit from is the MLS. For example, Midwest Real Estate Data, or MRED, is a regional MLS in Illinois that partners with 16 local associations and serves nearly 50,000 real estate professionals, with listings throughout northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northwestern Indiana, and Iowa. “Sharing services can be a win-win for associations,” says Jon Broadbooks, chief communications officer, MRED. “Certainly, such agreements have the potential to save money, but more important is the opportunity to enhance a member’s experience with the association.
“It’s hard for any association to be an expert on everything. As the real estate business becomes more complex, sharing services can provide added expertise to match a fast-changing world. These agreements really can magnify an association’s impact and relevance for its membership.”
Associations that work together with shared services can save time and the cost of duplication of services. Why not benefit from programs that other associations have already developed? Or, if you have a great program, consider offering the service to other associations. Association executives with success in shared services are open to collaborating to create successful partnerships, benefiting all members of each association or organization involved. It makes them stronger, more efficient, and more effective overall. Together, we are better!