WAV Group has been purposefully quiet during the storm of enlightenment whereby the industry pundits that recognize the role of the real estate broker in our industry. In truth, the leading MLSs in America are perfectly cognizant of the role and needs of brokers in real estate. Frankly, many of The Realty Alliance brokers own MLSs or are standing members of the Board of Directors.
Even in the absence of having a broker owned MLS or having broker led governance in your MLS, there is plenty that you can do that involves the broker in your MLS strategic planning. Every WAV Group facilitated strategic planning session segments the brokers of all sizes to measure their satisfaction with MLS service and opinion on MLS policy. MLS ‘participants’ are the first customer of the MLS. Subscribers to the MLS are the welcome guests of the Participants.
If you are not a Participant focused MLS, make that a strategic goal for 2014.
In strategic planning, every MLS should have a positioning statement for each of its customers. You should clearly know what you do for brokers. Complete this sentence: For brokers, MLS name is the only MLS that ____________________ for brokers. Reasons to believe this are 1) ___________________ 2) ____________________ 3)_____________________
The positioning statement for broker participants should be harvested from broker research. Broker research means that you need to know your brokers, by name! You should know where their offices are. You should know their technology partners that are powered by MLS data. As the MLS, you play a pivotal part in making sure that data gets to their systems. Granted, you cannot do this for every broker. But you absolutely must do this for your largest brokers. Think in terms of your top 10 first. Your 10 largest brokers probably absorb a large percentage of your subscriber base. If your services fail to meet their needs, then you are also failing to meet the needs of a large segment of your subscribers.
Having a MLS broker focus group of 10 large brokers, 10 medium sized brokers, and 10 small brokers is a great idea for MLS. Simply asking the focus group questions about current or upcoming initiatives will be a great barometer of how they think about current or future initiatives. Sometimes you will learn that they need information. Sometimes you will learn that they have information that you do not have. The dialog is critical.
When you find a service that is in competition with services offered by brokers in a significant way, talk to your brokers and determine a path that you mutually agree is in the best interest of the broker, agent, and consumer. That answer will be different in your MLS than in other MLSs. Go with it. Finding your path does not mean that you need to cancel the service. There are many other options. For example, you could make it a premium service of the MLS rather than a member benefit. Other alternatives may include more simple tactics. You may simply allow the broker to approve the member benefit for their agent or engage the broker in a way that allows them to discuss the best option for the agent and give the agent a choice.
Consider a CRM Solution for your MLS Customers
A recent trend has emerged among leading MLSs in the nation. Customer relationship management. MLS Listings, among others, has deployed Salesforce.com. They treat brokers and agents as customers. They track every point of contact. Every service is provisioned off of Salesforce. Every help desk call is recorded in Salesforce. Billing is integrated into Salesforce. Customer satisfaction is tracked in Salesforce. With a keystroke, MLS Listings staff can pull up a 360 degree view of their relationship with every customer they have. With my fingers I can count the number of MLSs who have installed a CRM solution to manage their business.
My point in this post is that MLSs who know their customer and deliver excellent services every time do not have a problem with their brokers of any size. If you treat your brokers like a herd of cattle, you are positioned to fail.
Brokers have great respect for MLSs that are awesome. They have disdain for MLSs that don’t get it and have a tendency just to say NO without truly understanding the rules governing data access and distribution.
For example, recently more brokers have been engaging with VOW providers. Some MLSs will not approve a VOW feed even though they are required to do so based on the Department of Justice ruling several years ago. This is not only dangerous from a legal perspective, it also demonstrates a lack of understanding and acceptance of the tools available for MLSs to facilitate business opportunities for their brokers. This lack of support sends a clear signal that their local MLS is not on top of things and is not focused on broker success.
If your MLS needs support with becoming more broker centric, or measuring how successful you are at meeting the needs of your broker participants, contact WAV Group. We can help.