How to Make Strategic Planning Really Work in your MLS

NAR’s Goldberg Kills Amp and Powers Up Upstream

by Victor Lund on February 2, 2018

We’re starting to see the impact of a new leadership team at the National Association of REALTORS® led by Bob Goldberg, a strategic, yet practical leader that is SERIOUS about making the industry function more effectively.  He also seems to be critically evaluating every investment in technology and making some bold moves to re-focus efforts. NAR announced yesterday that is shutting down development on its Advanced Multilist Platform, or AMP. AMP was under development for a few years at a burn rate of $6 Million per year. The concept behind AMP was solid – consolidate MLS data into a single data repository and allow developers of systems like Matrix, FlexMLS, Paragon, Stratus, Rapattoni, Navica and others focus on the front-end software development. Most of all, the ambition was to provide more choice for MLS members to access MLS information and reduce costs to MLSs. There were a number of contrarian opinions about the idea. First of all, the price of AMP was estimated to be $5 per user per month. This was way off the goal of saving money. Large MLSs pay less than that for the entire MLS system. For AMP to succeed, they would have needed to hit a price point of about $1 or $2 at the most. My hope is that NAR will donate the code to RESO and/or make it open source. At a recent broker town hall meeting in California, CAR President Joel Singer talked about the merits of a single MLS database with local service providers. I do not think that this idea will die along with AMP. Two MLSs in California are working on MLS Front End of Choice. Both the Los Angeles based California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS) and San Jose based MLSListings have CoreLogic®’s Matrix® product as their primary system and are integrating Black Knight Financial®’s Paragon MLS® as a secondary system. Both companies have been working on the project for about 2 years or more. Both companies already have an AMP-like database that is connected to Matrix. When the system goes live, agents will vote with their log in preference for one system over the other. The vendor’s only get paid for the users they support. Both Paragon and Matrix will be in a heated battle to serve the agent or watch their market share of users dwindle to their competitor. It will be interesting to watch. It […]

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Want Raving Fans? 5 Gotta Haves for your 2018 MLS Budget

by Marilyn Wilson on September 5, 2017

Budget

WAV Group conducts more subscriber satisfaction research for MLSs than anyone else in the country.  We have a depth of understanding of the key drivers of satisfaction and perceived relevance for MLS organizations. Here’s the 5 key opportunities for improving your MLS’ satisfaction and relevance as you move into 2018: Go TO your Members Create a Field Support/Training Team There is NOTHING that drives up customer engagement and satisfaction for MLSs more than a team of customer servants that go out into the field, attending office meetings, broker events and community events.  These valuable team members can help educate subscribers on the technology and tools offered to drive up adoption and perceived value of the MLS fees. They can also gather input on ways to improve technology, service and support for your customers.  On every survey that we field, satisfaction numbers are off the charts with those that have attended sessions with MLS customer servants. Marketing Make Promotion a Priority    All of our MLS clients wish they could get every one of their subscribers to take full advantage of the tools, support and training they offer, yet,  according to the 2017 CMLS Best Practices Survey, just 18% of MLSs have full-time marketing staff.   In order for your members to take full advantage of the services you offer they need to understand the practical, tangible benefits that will help them succeed in real estate.  2018 is the year to think about hiring a marketing person, contract with an outside resource or a combination of both. Prepare for the Future Strategic Planning Our industry has never moved faster than it is right now. It’s time for every MLS to question every assumption and take a fundamental look at the company’s role, relevance and reason for being.  It’s time to think about important new ways to anticipate the needs of your customers and find new ways to help them be more successful without levelling the playing field. How do you know if you are addressing the needs of your brokers?  As part of the preparations for the strategic plan, you interview your largest brokers to be sure you are getting the whole truth so you can address their needs. Sometimes brokers are more willing to speak to outsides than their own team.  You will get unfettered access to the best ways you can improve your working relationship and value with your brokers. It’s […]

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Coach

None of the brokers we’ve worked with believe that their office managers are doing what they are supposed to be doing — sales training. Instead, they act more like den mothers. When they could be working on sales coaching or recruiting, office managers are consoling agents who lost big deals, troubleshooting broken printers, or retrieving lost MLS passwords. It’s too easy for office managers to spend the day putting out a series of small fires. Its easy to use all of those daily tasks as excuses for not focusing on the most important roles that managers are responsible for. The path toward a More Profitable Office The first thing for brokers to understand is: You are going to have to change the way you — and everybody in your office — thinks about success and productivity.  Office managers are stewards of productivity. You need to arm them with resources and tools they need, and you need to shift the expectation (both in yourself and in your agents) that the office manager is any kind of glorified fire marshal. Here’s how you do it. The 5-step process You probably already have the basic tools you need to make this shift work — the array of technology offerings that you’ve made available to your agents, and your hard-working office managers. Step 1: Clear the decks. Everyone in the office needs to be trained on how to manage basic administrative tasks. A transaction coordinator is a good hire at this point, someone who understands the law and can help agents with sticky deals or contract negotiation scenarios that the agents haven’t seen before. Step 2: The “reset” meeting. Hire a facilitator to come in for a planned meeting; this person can explain to managers how their jobs will change — and get them excited about it. The facilitator should explain the renewed focus on sales success and shift away from administrative tasks. They will also have to talk about the gentle balance of retention and how helping agents sell more real estate will be the BEST way to retain them in the long run. Step 3: Training the trainers. You want to turn your office managers into technology trainers, and that means they’re going to need to understand the technology. Ideally, they will use appropriate technologies in their own business. How about learning how to use the CRM system to manage recruiting efforts […]

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It is indeed a bright day in the MLS. The largest MLS consolidation in history is on the countdown to launch. A memo was released today to REALTORS® who will be impacted by the project called MLS Evolved – revealing the new name of their future MLS – Bright MLS Memo from Tom Phillips, CEO of Trend MLS As we continue to update you, TREND, MRIS and 7 other organizations are working to consolidate and create the next era of the MLS. I am excited to announce the name of this new MLS organization will be Bright MLS. 

We chose this name based on our vision for the new organization and a desire for it to: Inspire belief that each day is an opportunity to give real estate professionals all they need to shine, today and tomorrow. Instill the vision of something that empowers our customers for a successful future. Lift us out of the sea of acronyms most MLSs use. These acronyms are often based on geographies or basic descriptions of informational databases. Be imaginative, clever, empowering, and supportive. Project leadership and innovative thinking. As I’ve mentioned before, you likely have questions about the new MLS and in January we anticipate being able to provide you with more information.   MLS Evolved is one of the most impressive initiatives in America. It is a shining example of how organizations can place self-interest to the side and have an open and transparent business discussion and critical evaluation of the future of our industry. And, the role that MLSs must play to support REALTORS and Brokers in the best possible way. Anne Bailey of Pranix Consulting had a very moving discussion on stage at CMLS with David Charron of MRIS, a company that, along with Trend MLS, is at the heart of this MLS consolidation. Charron asked Bailey the question of “How many MLSs should we have in America?” It was a longish answer that centered on the notion that over 700 is too many, and one is probably too few. MLS Evolved covers multiple States, demonstrating that State lines are not necessarily the answer. There are many statewide MLS initiatives. Perhaps the number is 10 or 20 or 30. We do not really know. With Bright MLS, and California Regional MLS, we are seeing the emergence of two mega MLSs. For the first time, we will see multiple MLSs with […]

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Annual Strategy Planning and Management Retreat

by Victor Lund on October 19, 2016

Puzzle Strategy

There is a curious coincidence about the relationship between strategic planning and success. Large, successful companies always have strategic plans and management retreats to celebrate accomplishments and recognize opportunities for success. Interestingly enough, start ups do the same thing. Where is the middle ground? For whatever reason, companies that are in the middle of the pack typically do not have plans. Or, the plan they do have is stale – the product of a moment in time when the leadership or board of directors insisted to cobble something together which, in turn, was saved in a remote desktop folder or shoved into a drawer somewhere. For decades, WAV Group has been providing strategic planning facilitation for leading real estate brokerages, technology firms, large MLSs, and large Associations. We have also reviewed strategic plans and business plans for the most ambitious young start-ups. If you are planning your strategic plan to launch your business powerfully into 2017, be sure to consider a proposal from us. Organizing your strategic planning session will be unique to your business and culture, but here are some elements of strategic planning that may point you in the right direction. Discovery – Interview the board of directors and key staff to understand their perspectives about the business. Great boards and business leaders are often closer in their perspectives about the strengths and weaknesses of a company than you might expect. Using an outside facilitator opens the door to more candid discussion. Research – Every Company has its Key Performance Indicator – it may be onboarding new agents, satisfaction with technology, consumer satisfaction, retention, growth, or whatever. Update your KPIs and understand how you are tracking toward your goals. The benefit of using a firm like WAV Group is that we can benchmark you against peer groups to better understand your performance. Preparation and Event Planning – Strategic planning is an event. You need to create an environment that is conducive to effective planning. This requires preparation to make sure that participants arrive in the right frame of mind. WAV Group performs a number of strategic plans each month. Preparation is a science. Start the day with an industry overview. When you being your planning, you need to begin with your lens zoomed way out. Be sure to spend about an hour reviewing recent events and industry initiatives that are shaping our industry today and into the future. […]

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5 MUST HAVES for your 2017 MLS Budget

by Marilyn Wilson on September 28, 2016

We’re getting to budget time again and  starting to think about what products and services that MLS’s should offer their members in 2017 and beyond. MLSs, of course, need to continue to offer their core MLS system, but there are a few other areas to consider as you move into your next budget planning cycle that will help your members.  WAV Group believes you should offer products and services that are designed to address a core need of your subscribers.  No MLS should offer a technology just because it’s exciting or new. They ALL need to address a fundamental challenge or create new opportunities for your subscribers.  There are five key needs that we believe are vital to the success of any MLS organization that need to be considered in 2017.  We have outlined the strategies and the proposed solutions below: Making Earnest Money Collection Safer Providing Broader Data Access Helping your Members Succeed with Technology Keeping your Subscribers Safe Making it Easy for Brokers to Leverage MLS data Making Earnest Money Collection Safer Our industry has done a good job of bringing the transition process online.  We now have great methods for filling out, signing and distributing disclosures and forms online via a myriad of document management, transaction management and electronic signature solutions. We haven’t yet addressed the final mile though.  Today, agents are still driving all over town to collect and deposit earnest money checks.  There is more risk within this part of the process than any other yet we as an industry have ignored.  Read this interesting case study about how Northstar MLS is addressing this problem very effectively. Providing Broader Data Access The core job of the MLS is to provide comprehensive, accurate and up to date real estate information that every REALTOR can leverage in their business.   Brokers continue to be frustrated by their inability to get one regional source of data for their websites, back office tools and mobile solutions.  MLSs will be doing their members a great service by finding ways to get them broader data access beyond JUST their local MLS.  While consolidation is the ultimate way to accomplish this task, many regions just can’t get beyond the politics. In the meantime, you can look at a variety of FREE and paid methods for accomplishing broader data access with data sharing efforts. I recently published a white paper on the topic entitled […]

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The Future of Anything

by Victor Lund on May 30, 2013

I would attribute the series of postures on The Future of the MLS to Saul Klein. He may not have been the first to coin the phrase, but he has embraced it and made it his own. It is with due respect that we leave that posturing behind and set forth on a new journey. Our industry is at an inflection point, and my fear is that we are too blinded by current affairs to look beyond the steps in front of us. This morning, I encountered a quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery, a French writer, poet, and aviator who lived from 1900 to 1944. I did not take the time to research the setting for the quote, but it really does not matter because I want to use it to frame a new strategy for our industry leaders. “Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.” I pecked out an industry overview of the governance of MLSs earlier this week. You can view it here if you like. I did not expect the flow of phone calls and emails. Apparently there are only a few people that are keenly aware of how different or fractured the governance of MLSs can be in America. Most brokers did not even know the governance of their MLS. It is a strange fog. Lets turn now to the key insights gathered in the rethink program. rethink is an organized effort to modify strategic planning at NAR. Here are the key insights presented at NAR Mid-year. I will provide commentary through the lens of enabling the future. Restructure Data and MLS Systems National MLS Take back REALTOR.com Be the Source for Big Data It would be a far reach for a trade association to morph itself into a data services company. This is the providence of brokers, not associations. Brokers are the group that need to enable the future of the MLS, online advertising, and big data. I would love to write the action plan for this. By the way – the action plan would likely retain local MLSs and REALTOR.com – but change them. Most MLSs and REALTOR.com have extraordinary talents at providing their services. It would be a mistake to restructure data and MLS systems without retaining the experience and talents of those service providers today. The real restructuring that needs to occur is broker involvement in […]

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The MLS Battleground

by Victor Lund on May 28, 2013

The National Association of REALTORS® Midyear Legislative meetings may have reached a tipping point on the role of the MLS in real estate. To be sure, it is the battleground of our industry where brokers and associations struggle for power within the oversight of the Department of Justice. Competing MLS entities develop their operating philosophy that draws the boundaries of how everyone coexists without behaving like a monopoly. To be sure, the MLS is a common use term that takes on a lot of different definitions. Here are the top 5 governance models that define the operating philosophy. Association Owned, Broker Governance Association Owned, Agent Governance Association Owned, Association Governance Broker Owned, Agent Governance Broker Owned, Broker Governance At the heart of any MLS is the governance. It is the single most important determinate of what products constitute the MLS service and how those services are divided between Core, Basic, and Optional. Today, there are many self-interested parties within our industry that compete in the battle to control the services of the MLS – Agents, Brokers, and Associations. Agents want everything for nothing. Small brokers are similar to agents and also want a low cost full service MLS. Big brokers just want the data. Associations just want non-dues revenue to maximize their investment in the MLS. There is nothing at all unnatural about this. An endeavor to shape your MLS to optimize your benefit is not only normal, but it would be irresponsible not to. Get involved! MLSs compete too. Neighboring MLSs do as much to recruit, acquire, or merge as anyone. To do this, they frequently endeavor to optimize their offer – the most services for the lowest price. The more MLSs compete with one another, the more services they offer, and usually the more they begin to compete with brokers. Like MLSs, brokers also try to offer the most services with the most attractive splits for agents. As such, brokers are constantly at odds with the mls for leveling the playing field. Again, this is very natural and probably adds a healthy pressure that powers the industry forward. There is really no such thing as a level playing ground. The bigger you are, the more power you have. The more power you have, the more money you make. There is no advantage to being small in this industry, nor is it a benefit to be thrifty. The agent, […]

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Your Elected Friend

by Victor Lund on May 13, 2013

Chairman

MLS and Association leadership brings forth an unusual ‘changing of friends’ on an annual basis. It is in the spring of each year that we begin to see these friendships take hold as CEOs arrive at NAR Midyear with their new Board Chairman in tow. It is all part of an important synthesis that takes place in our industry – one that often goes unappreciated. For five or more weeks each year, CEOs are on the road with their Chairman, building a friendship that is pivotal to a successful year, and in some cases, lasting a lifetime. WAV Group strategic planning appreciates the culture of leadership in real estate. We recognize that each year, the Board Chairman takes aim at challenges for the organization, balancing goals for the year with long range planning. The National Association of REALTORS® is even more specific about this paradigm. Each year, the NAR leader is explicit about their charge. In many ways, success comes from energizing the State leaders and local leaders to adopt the mission. Adoption by the nation’s Mega Boards plays a significant role in that success. Similar extension happens on MLS boards also. Continuity plays a key role in the long-term success of any MLS or Association. If the company were to dramatically change course each year with the churn of the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the disruption would erode the effectiveness of the company and undermine the services offered to the members. It is more common for the Chairman to pick a cause each year, but also play a sustaining role in moving along the long-range goals of the company. Great CEOs of Associations and MLSs recognize this. It is critical that they bring the past chairman, chairman elect, and standing chairman to industry conferences. Conferences are important conveyors of business strategy for these companies. These conferences provide two key references. One is the conference content itself, offering sessions about the topics of our day. The sessions also allow similar organizations to share strategic information and case studies about how they are moving their business forward. The second key reference is more informal. It is the conference behind the conference – the coffee breaks, and meals with peers where fellow chairman and executives commune with their peers about the goals of their organizations. When you add up the conferences that shape the direction of our industry, you recognize […]

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When disaster strikes your online software systems

by Victor Lund on April 3, 2013

Disaster Plan

Over Easter weekend, an outage happened to the largest real estate technology company in America. They recovered quickly and elegantly. On another side of life, a broker client of ours with 400 agents was given one-week notice that the company who provided Microsoft Exchange Mail services is going out of business. The realty is that software systems and hardware systems break. And when it happens, it is very disruptive. It is a good idea to think about your disaster plan every year, and review your vendor contracts. You should have a document that outlines everything that happens when systems fail. If you are looking for a reliable software then check out tanning salon software. Redundancy, Back Up, and Co-dependence Redundancy and Back Up are loaded terms. It is one thing to have copies of your critical systems (Back Up) – it is another think to have those systems online and available (Redundancy). Moreover, a lot of online software is co-dependent on other software. Here are a few examples. When the MLS system went down, other services did not. However, since many of those systems were only accessed through the MLS single-sign-on system – agents did not know where to go to access them. This could mean different things for different MLSs. For example, if the sign on security system or the MLS is not available, services like Instanet, ZipForms, or Realist may be working just fine – but agents do not know how to access those services without going through the MLS. The solution to all of this is to have a plan in place, and have staff ready to manage DNS so that users trying to access services can get information on what happened, what is happening to fix it, what systems are impacted, and how to access solutions that were not impacted. (DNS is “Domain Name System” – it directs consumers to specific webpages and allows traffic to be redirected as necessary). Stop and Think Many agents lost their minds when the MLS service was interrupted. Strangely, I don’t know why. Aside from a temporary inability to add or edit a listing – all or most of the information that an agent needs was available through other sources – including their own website. I know that showing instructions and agent remarks are invaluable to agents. But you can always pick up the phone and call the listing agent […]

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While brokers have lots of technology tools at their fingertips today, a high impact website is still a critical tool driving success for any size real estate company.  Third parties continue to gain traction and traffic with consumers because they know what consumers are looking for and they deliver on their needs consistently!  If brokers want to become THE source for real estate consumers, they need to find ways to enhance and re-invent their own web presence. Brokers also need to learn about how to use their online presence to nurture new customer relationships for their agents. RED and RE Technology are working together to host a really interesting webinar to help brokers learn how to make their online presence work much harder for them and become the preferred choice of consumers online. In less than an hour, learn how you can start to drive more traffic to your site, improve your consumer experience and turn visitors into leads! Take advantage of this FREE webinar and learn how to make your online spending work much harder for you. Here’s just a few of the tips and tricks you will be learn in this action-packed hour: Don’t waste a consumer’s time…understand the top 5 behaviors! See the “Make or Break Page” Learn the key performance indicators for your site Opportunities in “Organic Search” Today’s SEO: Think Beyond the Link Understand what the user – the consumer – really wants Date:Monday,  November 5th Time: 11 am Pacific, 12 noon Mountain, 1pm Central and 2 pm Eastern Time   Speakers David Camp, RED Platform Expert Real Estate Digital Corey Quinn VP, Business Development The Search Agency, Inc.  

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Your company is a mess and that’s ok

by Victor Lund on September 17, 2012

Adapt

If you look around your business and recognize a mess, everything is probably working a lot more smoothly than you imagine. It sounds counter intuitive, but companies that are progressive and evolutionary are likely to have many things left undone. Here are three things that you are likely to recognize in your company that are unseemly, but good. Wrong People There is no such thing as a perfect business team. When you evaluate your team, you will recognize that they all have strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is always working on improvement in some area of their professional responsibility. In today’s environment where responsibilities are diversified, it is likely that you have tasked people with jobs that do not meet their training or core strengths. You should not expect them to be rockstars at doing jobs that are new to them. Accept that your staff is evolving. I know a guy in the Midwest who was retasked with being an MLS communications director as a result of a management change. He had not written a blog, and rarely used facebook or twitter before he was tasked to be the champion of this business goal. Here we are 3 years later and he is among the most respected in the industry. On day one, he was naturally clueless. What you need to look for in your people is their spirit. Do they approach their job with passion? Do they drag themselves into work for a paycheck or do they show up each day with a fresh spirit and a willingness to champion your cause? You will have bad customers No mater how much you try to convert every client you court into a customer, it will not always happen. You will loose sales, and some of your customers will always be unhappy. If you are an Association or MLS, you need to swallow this one pretty deeply. Since you cannot fire a customer, you need to get along with the worst of them. If you are a technology company, a broker, or an agent – good news. You can fire a customer, and it may very well be the best thing that you can do to keep you and your business team happy. When you see an unhappy customer, you think your business is broken when it probably is not. Unhappy customers are those that want things that your company either cannot […]

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Great Companies Execute Effectively

by Victor Lund on August 16, 2012

zillow Logo

Marilyn Wilson’s post yesterday set off a storm. The DMV, known for its historically horrid service experience has changed their ways. They do a good job, at least here in San Luis Obsipo, CA. When WAV Group is providing strategic planning support to an MLS, Association, Technology company, or broker – we measure stuff. There is usually a comparison chart created that shows a checklist of features or service offerings that compares company or product A vs. company or product B, C, and D. This is an important exercise and the information drawn from this type of benchmarking is helpful at directing organizations to fill gaps in their offerings. Component to measuring features or services, is measuring satisfaction. For people using a product or service, we need to know how much they value it or what they hate about it. The survey question works with branches. Question 1: Do you use X? If so, Question 2: how would you rate X? Question 3: Why did you say that? WAV Group also measures adoption. This is sometimes the funny part. We get adoption numbers if they are counted, and we also ask customers if they use a product. Our current national MLS survey has a question about RE Technology. Do you use RE Technology? How long have you used RE Technology? Some agents indicated that they have used RE Technology, and a number of other products like RPR for 10 years (RE Technology and RPR have only been around for 3 years). What customers do and what they think they do are often very different things. There is much to be learned from this. At the end of the day, the performance of a brokerage, MLS, Association, or Technology company comes down to communication and execution. A bunch of leading MLSs and Associations do a good job at this. Houston Association is a good example, but there are plenty others. Pretty much every Mega-Board is nailing it – I pay attention to Orlando, Las Vegas, Long Island, Metro-Tex, Main Street and others. MRIS is a good example, I also pay attention to MRED, MLSListings,  The MLS Claw, Sandicor, MLSPIN, MyFlorida MLS and a bunch of others. As for brokers, I like what Intero is doing. They have three posts each week that go out to all of the agents. One comes from the CEO, another comes from the company Attorney, and […]

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Strategic Failure

by Victor Lund on June 5, 2012

Strategic Planning

Preparing for a Strategic Planning session involves a process of gaining a holistic view of the organization from every perspective. Understanding your customer’s perspective is always the primary driver that informs everything. But understanding of staff culture and capabilities; system strengths and limitations; financial conditions; and industry trends pave a path to developing a plan that works. At the end of the day, the board of directors and the management team agree to a group of initiatives that will make the business stronger, and the strategic plan is born. Some organizations in real estate take the plan and execute it flawlessly where others fail. Harvard Business Review outlines three causes of failure that recur in organizations that cause great plans to go off track. We see these three causes persistently in real estate and they are worth examination. Passive aggressive disagreement: It’s unlikely that everyone in an organization will agree with all of the nuances of a major strategic shift. Disagreement can be based on logic, experience, or (perhaps unconsciously) discomfort with change or loss of power. In any case, if the culture of the company does not encourage dissent, the resistance will go underground. People will voice their support but not actively do anything to make it happen. To detect this in your organization, you can ask stakeholders the following questions. 1. Do you believe that the strategy is on target? 2. Do you believe that others will agree that the strategy is on target? The answers will be amusing. Normally people will tell a leader that they are aligned with the plan (perhaps mentioning their favorite piece), but will be outspoken about how their peers may have reservations. Fear of confrontation: In most nice organizations where teamwork is encouraged, volunteer board members hesitate to confront leaders who are not fully engaging in the strategic plan. They may not want to make waves or fear harming the relationship. So instead they try to work around it and end up accepting and even promoting a sub-optimizing the strategy. Allowing Directors to anonymously grade the progress on each segment of the plan during board meetings (silent ballot) is a great way to get unfiltered feedback. Lack of persistent top-down demands: If the successful implementation of a strategy requires change across a number of functions, then a senior leader needs to get everyone on board. Without this explicit expectation — reinforced again […]

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MLSs and the Marketing Center

by Victor Lund on May 14, 2012

Marketing Center

MLSs have long been a marketing center in some small way. Agents working with buyers and sellers create reports that are organized to provide listing information to clients. The reports are very useful, but aside from the ability to insert a broker logo, agent photo, and contact information, the design of these reports often falls short of achieving the goal of a well-branded and unique marketing piece. Some MLSs have begun to partner with providers to enhance or augment this MLS system functionality, and offer marketing systems that have full feature functionality. MRIS, Metrolist Colorado, MLSListings, MLSLI, and a handful of others have taken the position that the best way to accomplish serving these member needs is to create a robust vendor partnership program. They have taken the position that MLS vendors can not be all things to all people. Although various MLSs System solutions excel at certain areas of technologies that benefit the agent-consumer relationship, they recognize weaknesses in other areas. Here is a snapshot crafted by MRIS that outlines their strategy which is being delivered through a partnership with Seattle based Imprev. The Marketing Center will provide MRIS customers with free and unlimited access to an integrated suite of professionally designed and simple to create digital and print marketing products and tools including Flyers, eFlyers, Postcards, ePostcards, and Virtual Tours. In addition to supporting marketing and promotional efforts, there’s productivity savings as well since MRIS customers will pull in real-time listing data – including photos –to create any of the marketing materials without having to re-enter data or upload images, tasks agents already complete when they create the listing. “My Marketing Center will be the fastest way to reach home buyers and sellers with real-time, in-depth marketing information instantly. In seconds, a link to a polished Virtual Tour is posted to Realtor.com or to the agents website, another click and an eFlyer with the broker’s template and branding is posted on Facebook or sent out on Twitter,” said John L. Heithaus, MRIS Chief Marketing Officer, adding, “The faster an agent can respond in today’s digitally-driven economy in real time, the more successful he or she will be to generate more sales commissions.” MRIS and Imprev also announced that a Premium suite of digital and printable marketing products and tools will made available to MRIS member agents and brokers at a low-cost. The lineup of Premium marketing products is […]

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PWR Launches 10K Reports

by Victor Lund on May 13, 2012

PWR Logo Pacific West Association of REALTORS

The Minneapolis Association of REALTORS developed a company called 10K a few years ago. The mission of the company is to offer REALTORS outstanding market analytic reports. They have been canvasing the country offering the product through MLSs and REALTOR Associations. Pacific West Association of REALTORS (PWR) is a large and recent new customer for 10K. WAV Group had a Q&A session with Lalaine Castillo, PWR VP Marketing and Communications to understand the strategy behind their vendor selection. Question:What differentiated 10K from other stats vendors? Answer:10k understands the business of REALTOR associations and our members,  having deployed similar solutions for other associations.  Also, Greg Sax and his staff were great to work with (accommodating, responsive.) Question:How are you deploying the 10K products to members? Answer:Members go to our website, click on the PWReports icon, & enter their username & MLS pw  to gain exclusive access to PWReports Question:What is your communications plan? Answer: Periodic emails explaining value, flyers/handouts through new membership orientation, coverage through local papers (2 papers agreed to allowing PWR be the exclusive provider of market data in our area) and a live demo during our annual Tech Day event.  We are also considering a youtube “training” video, and a live class on how to effectively use the reports. Question:Are there already other solutions within CRMLS? If so, why add another? Answer:Other solutions are either paid solutions, or the data is not readily assembled in a usable format (for example, you’d have to “crunch” data on your own then develop your own spreadsheet or bar chart.) Question:Is this a member benefit? Answer: Yes, PWR will be adding the service without any dues increases Question:How is this different from the CAR-provided solution? Answer:CAR’s “Market at a Glance” Solution covers aggregate data for the entire state of California, where as PWReports gives detailed information on the specific cities & ZIPcodes for PWR’s market area (OC & South LA.) Question:Can agents share any of this publicly in their own marketing? Answer:Yes, agents can use this data on their website, listing presentation, or for reporting purposes. Pacific West REALTORS (PWR) is a local chapter of the National Association of REALTORS active in Orange County and South Los Angles, California.  They are among the largest Associations of REALTORS in Southern California. PWR provides MLS services in cooperation with the California Regional MLS or CRMLS. CRMLS is a participating member of the Southern California […]

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RPR Logo

Every MLS and Broker in the country knows how difficult it is to successfully roll out new products to REALTORS®.  There are so many technology options out there and it’s so difficult to get a busy agent’s attention. It’s even more difficult to convince them to try out a new service that may help project a more professional image when they are in the throes of trying to conduct business. WAV Group has watched Realtor Property Resource® (RPR®) with interest as more and more MLSs and Associations have signed up for this service. From its early beginnings, the product has continued to evolve with more and more tools for REALTOR® members. As of May 6, 2012, 384 MLSs and Associations have signed agreements with RPR, representing 618,914 REALTORS®.  244 have RPR installed and operational for their 503,444 members with more in the review process. While these numbers are impressive, REALTOR® usage and adoption of these products is the ultimate goal. So how can the industry “cross the chasm” from simply providing RPR for its members to actually helping them learn how to use it regularly in their business?  That was the question RPR posed to WAV Group. RPR asked WAV Group to interview some of the early adopters of RPR to build case studies to help the industry understand the key benefits and value of RPR for agents, brokers, and MLSs. With this information in hand, WAV Group set out to build easy-to-understand, focused, and informative case studies to help every agent and broker understand how RPR can help them be more successful in positioning themselves as a local expert.  The case studies being published today provide practical suggestions about how to leverage RPR effectively to impress clients by providing them more insightful and professionally presented data and insights to real estate consumers. The information shared in the case studies came from highly successful REALTORS® who are using RPR to bring more insights to their clients than non-REALTORS® can. Download the RPR “Best Practices” Case Studies here. The purpose of these case studies is to help agents and understand just how easy it is to get up and running with RPR quickly.  It’s also intended to provide MLSs with some practical suggestions about how to engage their members with RPR, helping them understand how RPR offers features and benefits not available in other MLS technology offerings. For the past three days […]

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success manager

At WAV Group, we conduct strategic planning sessions for many of the nation’s largest MLSs. As part of our due diligence we conduct in-depth interviews with many leading brokers and MLS Board members.  During these interviews, many tell us how they appreciate the depth and scope of services offered by their MLS. There’s a problem though…many of those we interview have not used the services offered by their local MLS.  In some cases, they are not even familiar with the services being offered. These board members haven’t taken the time to learn about each of the services offered by their MLS. And further, they have not figured out how to incorporate each technology into their own real estate practice, nor have they trained their agents about how to leverage the tools in their businesses. Books like The Race For Relevance and Boards that Deliver discuss best practices for highly productive boards, and they speak to the importance of board members immersing themselves in the business of the company they govern. They underline the importance of understanding the key issues, trends and importantly, threats, facing the business. The authors of these important books also talk about the need for each board member to be familiar and comfortable with the services offered by the company. How can a board member govern effectively when they don’t know what the company offers?   How can they help drive effective decision-making when they don’t know what value is driven by investments in technology? I pose that for a board member to be effective at governing investment decisions in new technologies, training and other services, it is critical that they become more intimately aware of these offerings. I know how hard it is to recruit board members- but on the other hand- isn’t the job of a board member critical to the success of the MLS?   Shouldn’t we require participants at the board level to be familiar with all of the services offered by MLS?   Wouldn’t they be able to provide better input and feedback?  I would even go so far as to require that every board member attend training for each of the technologies offered, and then encourage them to use them regularly. How much more engaging do you think board discussions would be if everyone at the table was intimately familiar with every technology being discussed? I would love to hear your thoughts about this. […]

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Explaining an MLS App Store

by Victor Lund on May 1, 2012

RE Technology Success Store

I am not sure if anyone is allowed to use Apple’s famous App Store name, but lets suffice it to say that the term App Store is familiar to most – so lets use that anyway. The key components of an App Store are Instant delivery, Platform Specific, eCommerce enabled. This is really important to understand because FBS truly is launching the first real MLS App Store. This is different from the RE Technology Success Store, which we call an App Store, but it is really an eCommerce solution. Let me explain: Instant Installation The key component of an App Store is that when you buy something, you download it or install it and it works. It works immediately. Think of the iPhone App Store, or the Adroid Market or the Blackberry Marketplace. When you go to the app store and click the install or buy now button, you are alive in an instant. For real estate technology products, instant means instant access. Most real estate products do not need to be installed. Rather, the subscriber needs to gain instant access to the product via single sign on or username and password. Next comes configuration: personalizing the application with branding or localization features. My hopes are that the personalization attributes for agents and brokers become available to vendors for automatic provisioning. Platform Specific All of today’s App Stores are platform specific. Platform specific means that there are business rules. For example, you must have a specific version of hardware or software to have access to the App – like an iPhone 4S or operating version 5.1. Otherwise you are not allowed to play. The MLS is a perfect Platform environment for business rules. The MLS has participants (brokers) and subscribers (Agents); REALTORS and Non-REALTORS. This information is generally curated accurately in the MLS subscriber Roster. I say generally because the roster data bases are sometimes a mess – full of duplicates, and inaccurate contact information. Much in the way that there is no clean single source of property records in America; there is no clean source of real estate agent and broker information. The closest thing is a NERDS Id for REALTORS, but that is missing all of the non-REALTORS. My hope is that MLS App Stores will somehow find a path to circumvent the need for the three party data license agreement by replacing it with some form of instant click […]

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Are People Really Resistant to Change?

by Mike Audet on April 27, 2012

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Broker Summit put on by the Michigan Association of REALTORSâ this week in Detroit, Michigan.  The topic I was asked to speak on was the “Future of Real Estate”, just a small topic right?  But this was really a fun topic because it gave me an opportunity to talk about some significant changes I have witnessed over the years impacting our industry, like the change in the broker/agent relationship, changes in technology and the changing role of the consumer and what these changes mean for our future.  In this post I don’t want to repeat my talk but I do want to touch on one of the topics I addressed, the whole notion of change.  I asked the audience the following question:

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