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Best Practices for REALTOR Associations Presented by Judith Lindenau, CAE, RCE Traverse Area Association of Realtors July 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Best Practices for REALTOR Associations Presented by Judith Lindenau, CAE, RCE Traverse Area Association of Realtors July 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 Best Practices for REALTOR Associations Presented by Judith Lindenau, CAE, RCE Traverse Area Association of Realtors July 2006

2 BEST PRACTICES /bestpractices

3 AEC Best Practices Work Group Christine Todd, Chair Cindy Butts John Fridlington Nancy Gilmore Carol Hawk Keith Holm Carol Hyman Lee Kurtz Bett McCarthy Sandy Naragon Jerry Panz Diane Ruggiero Ty Strout Kay Wertzberger Malcolm Young

4 Consultants Interviewed: Henry Ernstthal Philip Lesser Dadie Perlov Susan Sarfati Jim Sherry

5 Report Addresses the Following Critical Association Issues: How REALTOR associations can better serve their members. How AEs can achieve desired outcomes for their leadership, staff and themselves. How REALTOR associations can remain viable and relevant to their members in a climate of relentless change.

6 Explores Five Key Aspects of Association Management Member Services Public Policies Leadership and Staff Relations Human Resources Management Financial Management

7 Part One: MEMBER SERVICES The best associations are those that know how to “custom tailor” the services they provide to meet the ever- changing needs of the member.

8 In Member Services: One Size Doesn’t Fit All One association may have the resources to offer many services; another may need to focus on providing just one or two essential programs to members. “Shared Services” may be used among associations to enhance existing services or offer additional services.

9 If You Want to Provide and Maintain the Best Possible Member Services, You Must: Know what the important issues are now and in the immediate future and be able to discuss them intelligently with members Talk to members about what is happening in their business and be able to explain the bigger picture Continually seek input on member wants, don’t just sell current associations services Ask non-members why they aren’t involved in the association

10 Watch the Member … Observe members in their work environment-- you will see patterns that you won’t get from polls or surveys (staff visits) Respond positively to the style of younger members (interest groups, leadership) Focus on the needs of your high-achieving members, avoid always responding to the lowest common denominator (put your target market in your planning, and in your strategic plan)

11 Utilize Member Service Programs … Hold an annual “priority oriented” business planning session and avoid writing open-ended goals The Annual Planning session for incoming and outgoing leaders…Plan and Prioritize Make sure your members know the “real” cost of every program you offer Use Planning Sheets: Use your plan to drive the association’s programs and services and its budget  Relate Each Budget Item to the Plan If you fail now and then make it a positive learning experience Stay away from offering services that do not provide value to the member Who Determines this? The Member! Always deliver more than you promise

12 Member Services -- Recognize geographic diversity and be careful about adopting another association’s program. What works in one area, may not work for your association. Real estate is local and so is the real estate business. Use technology both to network and to deliver programs. Listserve! Blogs! Members only webs (community building!) Continually remind members about the value of the services you offer. Market with logos, slogans, on every email. Be able to react quickly to challenges. Structure Time Management—agendas, preparation.

13 Part Two: PUBLIC POLICY “You have to Educate Both Members and Consumers”

14 “The Stakes are High and Getting Higher” REALTOR ® associations determined to remain effective are now allocating a significant portion of their resources to “advocacy efforts”. Influencing the legislative and regulatory process requires continual development of personal relationships, a commanding knowledge of the issues and strong member backing.

15 Move beyond RPAC fundraising and press releases to become the “Voice for Real Estate” in your community (Affordable Housing, relief housing, smart growth) The Advocacy Goal:

16 Key Components of an Advocacy Program: 1. Provide public policy orientation to incoming leaders so they understand the nature of legislative relationships. Ask local advocacy groups to partner with you on this: Chamber, Education, others.  2. Put volunteer leaders in situations visible to legislators, regulators and public officials. Be systematic—make a list of visible places. Then strategize. 3. Prepare a “Public Policy Statement” that documents the association’s position on issues. Make sure the members have it, and are informed.

17 4. Have a dedicated advocate. This could be a volunteer. 5. If resources are limited, share a GAD. In Michigan, we depend on the state association. 6. Allow your advocate to receive input, provide testimony and offer regular reports to the members on all issues 7. Form partnership and coalitions with other associations. Really important, and some unlikely bedfellows…it depends on issues 8. Don’t hesitate to think creatively. Be proactive on some issues, like environment and affordable housing.

18 8. Use electronic contact systems to generate customized email/fax/mail messages to legislators, regulators and public officials 9. Use surveys, polling, etc. to provide elected officials with useful data 10. Regularly set aside funds for issues mobilization 11. Educate homeowners to become advocates on key real estate issues. Keep the focus on “ordinary people” (Homeowners groups)

19 Keys to Involving Members in Advocacy: 1. In all issues, focus on the bottom-line impact to the members’ businesses 2. Obtain relevant data (including input from members) before making decisions on political positions 3. Supply members with regulatory and legal information in a summarized and understandable format--REGULARLY

20 4. Use websites and email to speed grassroots communications and contact 5. Promote the benefits of legislative success to the membership 6. Don’t let the lack of resources ever be a reason to avoid involvement in political issues (you have volunteers…) 7. Outcomes (passage or defeat of particular bills) are what matter

21 8. Manage members’ expectations -- a favorable outcome at the municipal, regional or state government level may not always be possible

22 Media Tips: 1. The media needs valuable information it can sell to the public. But don’t appear self-serving. 2. Become a knowledgeable source of information on housing and “quality of life” issues. If you need to, hire some data collection and interpretation. The media will get this information somewhere, so you be in charge! 3. Look for creative ways to get PR. House the affordable housing group, host a community website, TAAR’s wireless program, Hurricane Relief ( 4. Have a primary media spokesperson for the association (usually the President or the AE, or both.)

23 Part Four: HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT “Everything Starts with the People”

24 Successful REALTOR Associations Attract, Train and Retain Great People Top real estate associations are distinguished by their talented, dedicated and motivated staff. What does it take to recruit, train and retain the “best and the brightest” in association management?

25 Everything Starts with People: Regardless of non-profit status, REALTOR ® associations must still compete with the private sector for top staff people (and volunteers). To be competitive, associations must offer equal salary and benefits, an attractive work environment, the opportunity to learn and develop professional skills and the potential for advancement.

26 Recruiting the Best and Brightest: 1. Take adequate time to prepare and conduct staff interviews 2. Be clear about the position 3. Look for traits like: leadership, motivation, and conflict management skills

27 4. Interview candidates from inside and outside the real estate industry 5. Look for professional credentials such as RCE and CAE 6. Hire people with positive, “can-do” attitudes and personalities -- you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude

28 The Interview: Ask questions related to leadership situations. Ask the candidate if they have any questions. What they ask is often an indicator of the person’s priorities Know the law, and what questions you legally CAN’T ask.

29 Avoid Sources of Conflict: Lack of clarity in job roles (revise job descriptions annually &Start=1&Count=30&Expand=2#2) Undefined expectations “Hidden agendas”

30 When You Hire: Provide new employees with an “Entry Plan” Teach them about the organization’s culture Insist that they meet with members Have them get to know other staffers Cross-train and “cross-team” staff members from different disciplines Make certain you have an up-to-date policy manual and that the new staff person is familiar with it.

31 Retention and Career Development: Give staffers autonomy and decision-making power to address problems while being guided by the CEO Build a team and recognize team members Keep staff challenged and provide growth opportunities Use meaningful tools to evaluate performance Not all rewards are expensive: look for meaningful perks!

32 Consider Outsourcing or Shared Service Alternatives: Explore outsourcing options when appropriate, including professional recruiters Share services with other REALTOR ® associations (or other organizations in your community)

33 Part Five: FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT “If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It!”

34 The Issue: Top Associations know: 1. How to add up the numbers 2. How to report them to the members 3. How to analyze figures, maximize profits and increase income Top AEs use these talents to assist leadership in making timely financial decisions based on strategies and not emotions. How do they do it?

35 If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It: Successful associations link financial management with their strategic plans. They identify priorities and allocate funds based on stated plan objectives. Don’t spend money which can’t be tied into the plan. Sound financial controls ensure the fiscal integrity of an association and show the members the association is acting responsibly. Pay particular attention to internal controls.

36 Financial Management: Fundamentals Either the AE or the “number two” must have strong financial skills Board members need to be educated in several areas: Fiduciary responsibilities of Elected Leaders Conflict of interest policies and procedures Roles of the treasurer, finance committee and audit committee Employee management (not something they always understand) Use the Association Legal Counsel to review this subject regularly with staff and Directors!

37 Financial Management: Fundamentals Select the volunteer treasurer based on his or her financial skills Eliminate automatic progression to the Presidency Put the financial reserve policy in writing Be aware of federal and state legislation related to financial mismanagement Know the percentage of budget from dues income, and keep that equal to the risk of losing members.

38 Financial Management: Budgeting Adopt program-based budgeting procedures and add a powerful tool to justify the addition of new programs and get rid of “sacred cows”. Use separate corporations for some projects, and always present a financial impact statement after a program or event. Be effective when you present the annual budget to the Board of Directors. Construct a presentation which meets their informational needs. Pay more attention to next month’s financial needs than to last month’s financial reports Always try to reduce operational costs

39 Suggestion … Consider adopting an association policy that: no resolution be sent to the Board of Directors unless it includes a statement on direct costs, physical resources and staff and volunteer time required!

40 Financial Management: Generating Revenue Separate the association’s income stream into dues, fee-for-service, and non-dues revenue AEs and consultants have varying opinions on the three income sources--common opinions are: Dues are ridiculously low in most associations Board should focus on core services (Cost analyze them—Pro Standards, RPAC, dues collection, Code of Ethics Enforcement). Some affinity programs drain the association -- stick to the business of the association (NAR’s affinity programs—example of affinity program management through stated expectations)

41 Financial Management: Internal Controls and Audits Create a system of financial checks and balances Be sure the audit and finance committees are composed of different members to avoid potential conflicts Provide the financial committee with clear, consistent and easy-to-digest information and remind them that their role is to ask questions. Think graphs!



44 Financial Management: Internal Controls and Audits Provide the audit committee with the ability to both hire and fire auditors and to review the association’s financial records Hold a closed-door executive session with the association’s auditor, allowing board members to ask candid questions in a confidential setting Bid out the audit process every few years

45 Financial Management: Reporting to Members Provide members with regular summary reports of the association’s financial performance Present financial data graphically when possible At dues billing time, use financial data to show members the benefits of their dues dollars (create a benefits letter)


47 JOB EFFICIENCY 1. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL Policy manuals Personnel holidays, work hours, dress Leadership Job descriptions spokesperson stationary use Financial General Operations

48 Job Efficiency: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, part 2 Internal Use Forms Project Analysis (pre and post) Staff Evaluation Purchase Requests Recurring Event folders, including suggestions. Regular staff meetings Use resources already available (ie, Subcontract some jobs that need doing

49 Organizational Efficiency Leadership Planning: goals, year’s work plan, strategies, time frame Annual Calendar by January. All association events (local, state national) Your staff/volunteer work calendar dates, indicating when work on a project begins (such as the Christmas Party, or elections)

50 Organizational Efficiency Count Time as a Resource Add it into project planning and into final project cost analysis Add a dollar amount, when necessary Make this an association mind set!

51 Personal Efficiency Get to work early: spend an hour ‘off stage’ Make lists: Don’t be victimized by events Create systems for recurring events Use technology for efficiency and quick response Take time off Work at home Vacations hobbies


53 thanks for the opportunity! Judith Lindenau, CAE, RCE Traverse Area Association of Realtors 852 S. Garfield Ave. Traverse City, MI 49684 231-947-2050

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