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Getting It Done: Programs & Value

July 1, 2011

How to uncover the value of every member benefit

Articulate the advantages of member benefits and identify programs that no longer offer a real member value in four easy steps.

Step 1. List every program, product, and service you offer, from telephone customer service and support to leadership training. Be specific and don’t list general categories, such as “education” or “MLS.”

Step 2. Identify the desired or intended outcome of the service and what’s in it for the member. Note: If you can’t complete this step, or the intended outcome isn’t achieved in reality, then the program, product, or service likely should be discontinued.

Step 3. Draft a few messages in as few words as possible to describe for members the “what’s in it for me.” For example: Save money with X, gain competitive advantage with Y, protect your livelihood with Z.

Step 4. Promote the value often, using a variety of communication methods. Use the brief value statements (mixing them up) in e-mail subject lines, in flyers promoting the item, on your Web site, and everywhere you can think of. Also, talk about some of your key member benefits at every REALTOR® function. Encourage members to tell their friends, and to go to your Web site, where there is (of course) a list detailing the value of each of your benefits.

16 answers to member questions on NAR’s dues increase for 2012

To help members understand why the national association’s Board of Directors passed a $40 dues increase for 2012 and why it is stepping up its REALTOR® Party Initiative, associations can use a 16-point Q&A posted online at REALTOR.org/topics/membership/qa_2012dues_increase.

8 NAR offerings to aid & empower REALTOR® associations

NAR’s Association Investment Program with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

RAMCO (REALTOR Association Management Cooperative), a feature-rich, comprehensive Association Management System (AMS) for all REALTOR® associations.

The REALTOR® Association Resource Exchange (RARE), a database of recommended speakers and instructors, sample job descriptions, strategic plans, mission statements, policies, brochures, special initiatives, and much more—all contributed by fellow REALTOR® associations.

REALTOR® Association Management Models Planning Tool, online guide to help align staff and leadership expectations, guide your association in developing a strategic plan, and help you and your volunteer leaders get on the same page.

The Association Executives Institute and the Leadership Summit (also for presidents) are two annual events where all AEs are invited to attend together. It’s an opportunity to network, learn, and grow.

Member Orientation Kit, sent annually, includes a new member orientation timeline, a video, promotional materials and REALTOR® pins to help you welcome new members.

REALTORS® Federal Credit Union has created a partner program for associations that is designed to enhance the benefits you already provide to your members.

REALTOR® association Certified Executive (RCE) is the only professional designation designed specifically for REALTOR® AEs. It exemplifies goal-oriented AEs with drive, experience and commitment to professional growth.

Best selling products in the REALTOR.org store (during the past 5 years)

Professionalism in Real Estate Practice booklet: Valuable reference to the articles of the Code of Ethics, the Standards of Practice, and case interpretations.

Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual: Procedures for conducting ethics and arbitration hearings for board/association execs and counsel.

“It’s a Great Time to Buy”: Informative resource to help buyers overcome objections to the changing market.

Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers: Annual survey with updated statistics on the home buying and selling process.

“Why Rent When You Can Buy”: Great resource for first-time buyers outlining the financial benefits of owning a home versus renting.

“It Pays to Work with a REALTOR®”: In-depth piece explains the advantages Sof working with a REALTOR®.

“Getting It Sold”: Consumer resource on preparing a home for sale, with tips on curb appeal, staging, and showing.

Antitrust Pocket Guide for REALTORS® and REALTOR ASSOCIATES®: Guide designed specifically for licensees on how antitrust impacts real estate practices.

“What Everyone Should Know About Equal Opportunity in Housing”: Informative resource about the value and requirements of fair housing regulations.

“Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home”: Consumer resource with tips for using renewable energy to power your home.

8 places to market the value of membership

Dollar-and-cent breakdowns. Include language like this in some of your publications and dues billing letter: “The cost of membership today, including your lockbox key and MLS service for a year, is about $XX, or about $XX per day. Where else in America could you go into business for yourself for $XX per day, including inventory?”

Social media. Your Facebook page or blog is a great place to start a discussion about the value of membership. It’s an opportunity to counter—with facts and member testimonials—any negative opinions.

Brochures. Nearly every association develops some type of printed member benefits brochure to disseminate. Visit the REALTOR® Association Resource Exchange (REALTOR.org, search “RARE”) to download PDFs of association membership benefits brochures.

E-mail taglines. Every e-mail you send to your members is an opportunity to market your programs, products, and services. At the bottom of each e-mail, add a line that highlights a program and links members to more information online.

Web site. Post an extensive member brochure as a PDF or put a prominent “Become a member” button on your home page that links to a list of benefits and discounts, an online membership application, and an annual dues breakdown.

Annual/monthly report. Use your annual report—published in your monthly magazine or online—to drive home the value message to members. The report can detail the year’s legislative accomplishments; cover legal, education, and event highlights; and summarize the association’s work on behalf of members. If annual isn’t enough, launch a monthly report, as NAR did in 2011.

Member Guide from NAR (also available via iPhone/iPad app.) details the member benefits from all three levels of the REALTOR® organization. Your message, logo and events are included for free. Search REALTOR.org.

Dues billing letter. Your annual dues bill shouldn’t be the one place you spell your member benefits, but it can detail your services, including advocacy through government representation, association publications, networking opportunities, educational programs, and money-saving member discounts.

9 things that might make your life a bit easier … from an AE who’s been there

  1. Send your staff and directors a message every week with a list of the activities, meetings, and things you will be doing for your association. (They typically have no idea what you do every day.)
  2. If you haven’t already done so, complete the online REALTOR® Association Management Self-Study course, and then complete the advanced course.
  3. Use the REALTOR® Association Resource Exchange (RARE). Borrowing these resources from other associations keeps us all from reinventing the wheel.
  4. Encourage your leadership to complete the free REALTORS® Excelling in Association Leadership (REAL) online course.
  5. Have your staff complete the e-PRO® certification course.
  6. Put the NAR AE Institute in your budget every year—and attend.
  7. Get your RCE designation!
  8. If you travel by airplane a lot, invest in a set of noise-canceling headphones. They are well worth the investment.
  9. Take some time for yourself, no matter how hectic things get.

—Terry Murphy, RCE, e-PRO, CEO, Pasadena-Foothills Association of REALTORS®, Calif.

Most popular ed classes right now!

“... anything that will increase their bottom line, specifically foreclosures, broker price opinion, short sales, getting back to basics ...”
—Leticia Oliver, Miami Association of REALTORS®

“... the six-hour core CE course covering several risk reduction topics that all licensees have to take. Next to that would be the CE courses: Navigating Our Changed Economy and Timely Tools, which cover free and inexpensive Web-based services that REALTORS® can use to augment their services.”
—Pug Scoville, Tennessee Association of REALTORS®

“... ANSI [American National Standards Institute voluntary room size standards], technology, and short sales. The new e-PRO one day course exceeded expectations due to the technology angle and fresh content. Agents are less interested in the ‘extras,’ such as more CE than required or designations, if it means any additional out-of-pocket cost.”
—Hunt Cooper, Kentucky Association of REALTORS®

“... ‘How REALTORS® Make Money on Facebook’ course. Agents want any class that shows them how to use social media to advance their business. Other hot topics are those that explain recent changes in local and state laws.”
—Phaedra King, Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS®

“... definitely classes on becoming a distressed property expert, plus short sales and REO sales are hot topics.”
—Alison Martinsen, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, Calif.

“... free classes are more popular than ever. We’ve seen a decrease in registration for short-sale classes and an increase in the required classes agents need to renew their license.”
—Wendy DiVecchio, Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS®

“... property taxes and purchase agreements.”
—Stacey Hartman, Indiana Association of REALTORS®

“... anything on social media and short sales.”
—Wyndi Austin, Southeast Valley Regional
Association of REALTORS®, Ariz.

“... social media and tech classes are still filling up fast. Certain instructors have a following no matter the class content, and food (breakfast or lunch) always tends to sweeten attendance.”
—Greg Sax, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®

Top qualities members value in their small associations

Personalized (“where everybody knows your name”) service.

An AE and staff who take the time to meet with members personally to answer questions and resolve issues.

An association office that is nearby, making it easy to attend meetings, education, and events, and to be active in the association.

Strong involvement in the local community, including influence on local political issues and candidates and participation in local fundraisers and beautification projects.

Unique local issues and challenges can be addressed by the association.

More opportunity to rise to a position of leadership in the association.

Services, education, and programs that are unique to the local area’s needs.

Transparency in where dues or fees are spent because programs and services are all used locally.

Fewer disputes and conflicts between REALTORS® because members know one another and can work out their differences.