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AEC Cooperative Structures Work Group

Friday, Nov. 9, 2012
1:00p.m. – 2:30p.m.
Orlando, Florida

Work Group Purpose

To identify and create awareness of various alternative organizational structures that REALTOR® associations can consider to more effectively serve their members.  REALTOR® associations will have access to information on shared services, mergers, chapters, federations, and other alliances that may be advantageous to them for a variety of reasons, including shrinking membership size, economic downturn challenges, overlapping markets, geographic considerations, greater membership benefits, and wider recognition in the marketplace.

Background

As part of its deliberations, the work group was separated into two teams to review the NAR Merger Kit and the NAR Shared Services program. The charge of the Merger Kit Team was to consider updates to the Merger Kit to incorporate information on successful mergers along with additional tools and resources to assist associations that are considering a merger. The charge of the Shared Services Team was to recommend updates to the Shared Services resources and to identify and collect examples of successful shared services partnerships, as those that are currently included with the shared services materials are likely outdated.

Merger Kit Team Report

The Merger Kit Team, led by Wayne Edwards, RCE, CAE, met via conference call on August 30, 2012. The group concluded that the Merger Kit continues to serve as a valuable resource for associations that are considering a merger, but the kit needs to be updated with current terminology, more timely references, and additional resources. These updates/resources include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Updates to the self-evaluation checklist to provide a valuable framework for associations to analyze existing association operations, programs, and services.
  • Additional information on potential barriers to a successful merger (e.g. cultural/emotional considerations, loss of autonomy, human resource/facilities issues, etc.).
  • Inclusion of a due diligence checklist addressing legal requirements and tax implications
  • Case studies to highlight recent successful mergers.
  • Information on the value of utilizing a neutral third party facilitator.
  • Availability of the materials in the present word/pdf document format, as well as in an interactive web format.

It was noted there are valuable merger resources in the Winter 2011 edition of REALTOR® Association Executive magazine, as well as other industry publications such as ASAE’s Association Now magazine. The Merger Kit Team recommendations were submitted to the Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee at the 2012 REALTORS® Conference. It is anticipated that updates to the kit will be implemented following the conference.

Shared Services Team Report

The Shared Services Team, led by Al Suguitan, RCE, met via conference call on September 6, 2012.  The team agreed that the shared services materials on REALTOR.org are valuable resources that can help REALTOR® associations expand services and streamline management through strategic partnerships.  But the team noted that the materials need to be updated with more current examples, and they need to be promoted for greater exposure and awareness.  A summary of the recommendations are as follows:

  • Update all case studies and examples.  While some of the existing examples might still be current, they seem dated and irrelevant with 10 year-old references.
  • Some information is duplicated in the various components.  Streamline materials so the information does not appear to be so overwhelming.
  • Consider two separate resources – one for staff and one for volunteers.
  • Identify a way to connect associations that want to partner with other associations to share services or collaborate.

Staff updated the online resources to remove all outdated references and broken links.  Information was centralized, so duplicate references do not appear in the various components.  Case studies were all researched and those that are no longer in existence were eliminated and some new examples were added.  Additional case studies will be included on an ongoing basis.  The updated resource can be found on the AE page of REALTOR.org under “Manage Your Association; Association Structure.”

Staff will look into some options whereby NAR can serve as a connecting point for associations that want to share services or collaborate.  The possibility of developing and maintaining a separate database will be considered, pending budget resources and the volume of potential users.  In the meantime, a new AE Mentor Database, which is currently being developed, will identify mentors who have partnership experiences to share.  State associations may also have a role in connecting associations.  The goal is to reintroduce these shared services resources to state associations who may be aware of locals within their state that can benefit from such partnerships.   

NAR funded a pilot shared services workshop for the Missouri Association.  (All state associations were invited to apply for this workshop and Missouri was selected.)  Alice Martin, RCE, CAE, presented the workshop, which included AEs and volunteer leaders who had some interest in the concept of shared services.  Based on this experience, further enhancements will be made to the shared services resources and specifically the workshop materials.  The possibility of creating separate resources for staff and volunteer leaders can be considered as the partnership process is monitored and we receive input from user experiences. 

Meeting Activity

Team leaders, Al Suguitan and Wayne Edwards, provided reports (above) on their respective teams. 

Russ Cofano also shared his experience with the Missouri Association’s shared services pilot workshop that NAR sponsored.  There were 50 participants representing 21 associations, some of which will continue to move forward to engage in shared services partnerships.  Russ offered the following thoughts on how the workshop experience could be improved for greater results:

  • Provide attendees with more background information and reading materials on organizational change before the session.
  • Ask attendees to come to the workshop with what it is their association does well; prepared to identify their strengths.
  • Provide more take-aways with checklists on how to proceed following the workshop.
  • Shorten the session.

The work group also heard an update on the Membership Structures PAG report from Janet Branton, NAR Senior Vice President, Global Business and Alliances.  Janet noted that the PAG report includes 16 recommendations.  Two of the recommendations, on National Affiliate Membership and a Student Membership, were submitted for approval at the REALTORS® Conference.  Janet also addressed another recommendation that proposes eliminating the Individual Membership category and in its place instituting a policy that provides benefits to all local, state, national, MLS, and affiliate staff without requiring dues.  She also noted that many of the recommendations will require further study prior to implementation.  2013 NAR President Gary Thomas will be making assignments to standing committees and ad hoc work groups to address some of these recommendations, and the AE community will be involved in some capacity in this implementation phase.

Work Group Members

Steve Francks, RCE, CAE (WA) -- Chair
Andrea Bushnell, RCE (NC) -- Vice Chair
Richard Barkett (FL)
Jean Beck (IL)
Lynn Bunn, RCE, CAE (IN)
Russ Cofano (MO)
Ron Covert, RCE (MN)
Timathy Dain (IL)
Wayne Edwards, RCE, CAE (IL)
Brenda Florida, RCE  (PA)
Deborah Frazier (IL)
Nancy Gilmore, RCE  (CA)
Jarrod Grasso, RCE (NJ)
Bob Hale (TX)
Beth Hansen, RCE (MI)
Kathy Harbaugh, RCE (IN)
Peggy Hummel (FL)
Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE (ID)
Dara Rudick (MN)
Laura Rubinfeld, RCE (NJ)
Albert Suguitan, RCE (IL)

Liaison

Joel Singer

Staff Executives

Cindy Sampalis
Kevin Milligan, RCE