Calling all agents: Let’s strengthen the Realtor® name

By Roger Parham, Association/CarolinaMLS President

Do you want our Realtor® brand to become a Circuit City, Blockbuster or Borders Books?

I didn’t think so.

Today these once large and successful retail stores no longer exist. That’s a place our Realtor® brand could be if we’re not conscientious about advocating for it.

We have an array of outside disrupters — think Zillow, Amazon, etc. — who have made their money differently than the way we make ours and who see real estate as just another revenue stream. Our revenue stream is real estate. We are at the heart of the transaction, advising buyers and sellers on what is often the largest purchase of their lives.

We need to protect our brand as more people look at different business models in the marketplace, especially via the internet. Competition is great, but consumers need to truly understand the benefits Realtors® provide. And our members are great ambassadors for this message.

That’s why I have assigned our current Leadership Academy class the topic of “member engagement” as the group’s Presidential Challenge.

We need more of the most active and successful members of our Association and CarolinaMLS to become involved with advocating for our industry. Many highly successful Realtors® are already part of our leadership, but it’s essential that we keep expanding that number so we stay fresh and effective in supporting the Realtor® brand. Challenges to our industry are growing and our member participation needs to grow as well.

I know our most successful members are busy people, but don’t we each have 90 seconds to give a few times a month?

90 seconds. That’s all it takes to participate in any of these three critical activities: responding to NAR and NC REALTORS® Calls for Action, investing in the Realtor® Political Action Committee or voting for Association and CarolinaMLS officers. These easy activities help keep our profession strong in the political and leadership arenas.

Our typical membership participation in these activities is not something I’m proud of — 12 percent with Calls for Action, six percent with RPAC contributions and 15 percent voting in Association and CarolinaMLS elections. Last year our Association was the biggest dollar contributor to RPAC in the state at $128,995, but sadly we had the lowest percentage of membership participation. We can do much better if members currently on the sidelines just give $15 or more each year.

The Leadership Academy class is looking at how we can boost these political advocacy and Association/MLS voting participation rates. The class is also studying participation in other vital pursuits: Mingle School post-licensing and continuing-education classes, Realtor® Hot Topic sessions, designation/certification courses, the Workforce Housing Certificate Program, events such as the Realtor® EXPO and Oktoberfest and other Association activities.

The class will share its ideas around growing member engagement on Sept. 21, speaking to the Executive Committee, Association department heads, committee staff liaisons and the Leadership Academy Selection Committee. I’m eager to hear their thoughts.

I’m also eager to see the ultimate end result — more member engagement. With the greatest amount of skin in the game, our most active and successful members receive the greatest benefit from promotion of the Realtor® brand — so being a part of those promotional efforts should be a logical step.