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Chair Report: The Art of Value

January 1, 2009

When financial and economic times get tough, we concentrate on what value our associations bring to our members. For some, the value proposition is ongoing, drives their strategic thinking, and factors in today’s economy as just another part of the mix. But for many of us, we were caught in a wave of new members, higher membership retention rates, and an eagerness to raise our budgets to match the new revenues. Life was too easy, and for many years, we did not have to face our relevancy.

Now, economic issues challenge us to define, or redefine, our value and relevancy. We need to clearly establish the value for each level of the organization. All too often, we get lost in a maze of redundant programs and services rather than asking each segment of the organization to concentrate on specific and unique functions. So what assumptions can we make about our ability to demonstrate value?

First, hopefully we all agree and understand that what we bring to our members not only has financial value, but also intangible value. Some of our most daunting challenges are making our members understand the true importance of government and legislative advocacy, smart growth programs, international outreach, diversity education, and many other programs and initiatives.

Next, to clearly establish value to the member, we must segment our membership. Members see value for a variety of reasons and not everyone will see the same services as being valuable. When we meet a need, there is a value and a return on the member’s investment. Much like the for-profit side, we are looking to differentiate and to offer excellence so our members know we are effective in what we offer, and can be trusted and respected.

As valuable as the three-way agreement is to our members, the value that we associations offer to one another is of equal importance. I would highlight the “Right Tools, Right Now” initiative as an extraordinary value proposition. I believe the services that Dale Stinton and the NAR Leadership Team brought to the table are unmatched in our history and possibly unmatched for all associations. While the broad and continuing scope of programs and services have assisted all of us, you cannot underestimate the psychological value of timing and quick availability.

Speaking of value, you are in for a treat next year when Dave Phillips, RCE, CAE, CEO of the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®, Va., becomes your 2010 AEC Chair. He, along with 2010 Vice Chair Steve Francks, CEO of the Washington Association of REALTORS®, will provide leadership skills, talent, and humor to the AEC. I would like to thank each of you for this opportunity to serve and for the many hours of volunteer time you have provided and continue to provide to our committee and the REALTOR® association community. By the way, you are the value proposition at all three levels.

Take care.
— Gary Clayton, RCE, CAE
2009 AEC Chair
CEO, Illinois Association of Realtors®
217/529-2600,
gclayton@iar.org