AE Talk Association

AE Talk Association

AE Talk Association

AE Talk Resources

Powered by RealTown, AE Talk is for Association Executives of Real Estate Associations.
Association Executives Welcome to AE Talk
REALTOR® Compensation
RealTown & John Moscillo Founder, More GCI at NAR Chicago


Managing Leadership So it Doesn’t Manage You!

A common question CEO’s and support staff often ask me is, “How do I get my leadership to focus on the big issues facing the association and not waste time at Board meetings discussing trivial or operational matters?”  Having experienced this problem for years, I finally discovered not only the cause but a solution!

First the cause, leaders and directors have a constant nagging need to “know what is going on” lest they appear uninformed or unaware as to what is going on at the Association. They feel the need to have answers to any question a colleague might ask concerning the association’s business. This is of course not true, but some elected leaders feel a responsibility to not only know the “ins and outs” of the administrative side of the association but be an expert in it.

They also feel left out of the loop if they come to a Board meeting and an item being discussed is one they do not have complete knowledge in. While it’s true you probably sent them an extensive packet of reading materials well in advance of the meeting, it still may not be enough to satisfy their questions or concerns. 

Solution: Send them small bits of timely information on a weekly basis. Create a “Friday Afternoon Update” on some of the weeks activities. The email message should be short, bullet points work best and personalize it.

 Example:    BOD Friday Update

We had a great week at the Association, here are a few highlights:

Took in 12 new members and increased our total membership count to 1, 238

37 Realtors attended our CE class on Wednesday, great reviews

We are over budget on snow removal but underbudget on office supplies

We sent out a “Call to Action” on the State licensing issue

MLS statistics tell us listings are down over last year, but sales are up

Congratulations to Jack, his wife Heather just gave birth to another baby boy!

Have a great weekend, don’t forget to mention our Legislative reception at your office meeting! 

It’s next Thursday, 5:30 pm, see you there!

Relevant Facts and Gentle Reminders

By providing a steady stream of relevant facts and gentle reminders, you get your point across without overwhelming them with so much information at one time they just tune you out.

Remember Realtors are busy professionals with a life outside of the REALTOR® family. While you may be focused 100% on Association’s issues and concerns, they are not. It is our responsibility as Association Executives to control the BOD agenda so issues of relevance concerning the prosperity of our members are being discussed and acted upon. If Directors feel ill-informed about the small pieces that make up the Association, they will have a hard time concentrating on the larger ones.

A weekly one-page email does not take a lot of time to prepare and send it. You will find it time well spent and it will go a long way in helping the leadership feel more informed and comfortable in their role.  

  • October 19, 2018

  • Christine Todd

Strategic Planning – What’s the Point?


For decades, many associations never saw the point in taking time to do any level of planning beyond the committee work.  Sure, some larger associations invested time periodically to have a retreat, talk about some “big ideas,” go through the motions of writing them all down and then left them on some shelf until the next time someone brought it up and then everyone did it all over again for no good reason.  That is why many association boards of directors thought it was a huge waste of time, effort and money.

The Strategic Plan

Then several years ago NAR – National Association of REALTORS® made having a strategic plan a part of their core minimum standards and it was mandated that each board, no matter what their size, was required to have one.  Some groups became resentful believing that this was no more than an unfunded mandate from ‘big brother’ that was created for the sole purpose of eliminating the smaller boards.

Clearly, that is not the case, nor was it the point. Without a plan, you will always get where you are going since you have no idea where that is. And along the way you are going to waste a lot of the member’s money in the process!   For any business to remain viable, it needs some long-range plan.  Associations are no longer the networking clubs of the past – they are businesses with substantial assets that require strong leadership, clear direction and financial focus.  Boards of Directors are required to manage the member’s assets responsibly and one excellent way to accomplish that is to have a road map of initiatives funded by the organization’s budget.  

So, depending on the size and sophistication of your association, plans can be simple or complex. They don’t have to be costly to create but some are and generally, you will get a much better result if you hire a facilitator that has no vested interest in the outcome.  It all depends on what you need to accomplish and what you want to create.  The important part is that planning should be budgeted for and generally, you should do it every couple years no matter what the length of your plan is.  The reason for that is so that you can take a temperature check on where you are, determine if you are all still committed to the same overall direction for each area of your business and adjust if needed.  You don’t re-do the plan every couple of years – you just stretch it.  

A plan by a good facilitator with a solid plan structure can be a great investment for many, many years.  It becomes an investment rather than an expense if you have the right person leading you through the process.  

The Big and The Small

I have worked with some small associations that are very sophisticated and invest in comprehensive planning to do some amazing things.  I have also worked with some large associations that have only basic planning with no real overall commitment and they aren’t even coming close to reaching their full business potential.  When it comes to associations, size doesn’t really matter when it comes to planning – what counts is everyone buying into the same horizon line and having a commitment to funding your ideas.  Planning is about putting your money where your mouth is, so let’s look at the options available so your board of directors can make the best choice for you.

First of all, let’s understand the terminology.  There is short-term planning, mid-range planning, long-range planning and strategic planning.  A short-term plan is a set of tasks that are meant to be done in under six months and the Mid-Range Plan is about six months-1 year and it is also primarily task oriented.  A Long-Range Plan is around 1-2 years and will have some strategic objectives and strategies to accomplish items and a real Strategic Plan is 3-5 years or so with strategic purposes for each business area along with strategic objectives to accomplish them.  It sounds way more complicated than it really is.  

Other Considerations

Another thing to consider is who you want at your planning table.  Aside from your CEO and senior staff, you want good thinkers at your session and sometimes that is not just your board of directors.  Since the plan is not going to be implemented until after your budget process you want to involve folks that will be involved next year.  Incorporate some diversity at your session – generational, gender, brokers from all sizes of firms, good thinkers from different business specialties in your market environment, some new folks that have no idea who you are and even some folks that don’t necessarily like what you do.  Those different voices and viewpoints can make a huge difference in the quality of your outcome.  

Associations have natural departments – Governance, Community Outreach, Government Affairs, Communications, Professional Development and MLS (unless you are part of another entity).  Each of those areas should have a Strategic Purpose or what I refer to as – ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ in that area.  So the overall goal is to have a business plan for each area of your association business that has a strategic purpose with a set of strategic objectives to make that happen.  All of that should be consistent with your organizational mission, vision and core values.  Once done – your group prioritizes what needs to be accomplished and then you can formulate a financial plan and implementation plan to back it up.  What are they?  Those are topics for another day.

  • October 17,2018

  • Adorna Carroll

Communication Plan for Associations


One of the biggest issues for associations is communicating effectively at all levels of the organization. To do so requires the creation of a communication plan and commitment to its implementation. Creating a communication plan requires the following:

1. Identifying the different channels of communication at your association. Examples are:
  • Leadership to Staff
  • Staff to Leadership
  • Staff to Staff
  • Staff to Member
  • Member to Staff
  • Member to Member
  • Association to Public
  • Committee Chairs to Committee Members
  • Committee Chairs to Committee Chairs
  • Committee Chairs to Board of Directors (BOD)
2. Identify benefits to be derived from more effective communications and which of those benefits you wish to experience.
  • Cost savings
  • More participation
  • Greater understanding of the workings of the association by all, members, staff, public.
3. Identifying current communication tools used by your association and alternate tools you are not using.
  • Meetings
  • Magazine
  • Newsletter
  • Telephone
  • Fax on Demand
  • e-mail
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Listservs
  • Autoresponders
  • Social Media - Facebook/Twitter/RealTown Communities
3. Identify sources of content to communicate besides the "as needed" communications.
  • Minutes
  • Agendas
  • Calendars
  • Magazines
  • Schedules
4. Decide which communication tools you will be employing for each communication channel.

5. Determine frequency of current communications down channels identified.
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Annually
6. Determine desired frequency of communications to various channels.
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Annually
  • President to Board of Directors
  • Monthly by meeting and weekly by e-mail supplemented by website Committee Chairs to Committees
  • Monthly by meeting, weekly by e-mail
7. Determine person responsible for ensuring the implementation of the communication plan.

8. Monitor results.

If you feel you need better communications at your association, what are you doing differently to accomplish your desired results?

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein or Ben Franklin or Rita Mae Brown or an old Chinese Proverb
  • February 25, 2018

  • Saul Klein

Leadership – The Annapolis Method

As a REALTOR® Association Executive, you are not only responsible for the constant improvement of your personal leadership skills, but you are also responsible for the growth and cultivation of the skills of your volunteer leaders. You are the one responsible for inculcating in the mind of the novitiate volunteer, not only the traits, characteristics and examples of effective leadership, but very importantly, what I refer to as the Three Core Principles of association management and leadership, upon which your association was built, and will continue to grow and thrive in the future:

  • Associations have a perpetual life
  • Associations have a continuum of leadership
  • Associations have a continuum of membership

Association Executives and their staffs are the consistency and the glue, the true leaders of our REALTOR® organizations. As such, it is your duty as a leader, to ensure that leadership is part of the DNA of your organization. 

Visibility is the Key

Leadership ideas and concepts should be visible to all members each and every day, and brought to consciousness whenever possible. Strive to create an environment of leadership. Keep in mind that true leaders also make the best followers.

I am a proponent of large, visible charts, graphs, and posters. Repetition is the mother of learning and seeing something day in and day out will leave a lasting impression over time. At the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the walls of Luce Hall (the Naval Science building, where I attended my first formal training in leadership) were lined with plaques with famous naval sayings. The technique was repetition. The intention was to move an idea “from the head to the heart.” Some might call this “brainwashing.” I prefer to call it learning and conditioning. The result is that ideas, concepts and philosophies become part of one’s belief system when observed, considered and weighed repetitively, over time, whether conscious or unconscious.

Written on plaques in Luce Hall, USNA, Annapolis:

“Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.” – John Paul Jones, Father of the American Navy.

This imbued in Midshipmen that one’s men and women are the true measure of success. Is that not true today?

“Don’t give up the ship.” During the War of 1812, Captain James Lawrence commanded the USS Chesapeake in a single-ship action against HMS Shannon. He is probably best known today for his dying command "Don't give up the ship!"

Leaders are called to place mission over personal interests. Since human beings are programmed to do that which is in their own best interest, it often takes time and repetition to displace old philosophies and human tendencies.

“If the mast goes, we go with it, our post is here.”  -Midshipman Jarvis, USS Constellation

Dedication and perseverance are still the marks of good leaders

“He who will not risk cannot win” - John Paul Jones

Leaders are willing to take risks, calculated risks.

Looking at these, in a casual way…day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, I can attest, leaves a lasting impression…from your head, to your heart. They become part of the way you think.

Of course, this methodology is well known. Millions of dollars are spent each year on neatly framed motivational quotes, posted in conspicuous places, and for what purpose? “From the head to the heart.”

What does this have to do with association leadership you may now be asking yourself? Associations require leaders who understand, feel if you will, those cornerstones mentioned earlier in this article. Concepts required for the effective, year after year development of our REALTOR® Associations. It is imperative that these concepts be introduced and held constantly in the eyes (minds and hearts) of all members. Having these concepts integrated into the thoughts of our associations will help provide more consistent, member benefitting decision making, year after year, decade after decade.

Three basic concepts of association management that must be ever present are:

  • Associations have a perpetual life
  • Associations have a continuum of leadership
  • Associations have a continuum of membership

Consider creating posters with these concepts prominently displayed at your association, in the lobby area and in the Board Room. They will make a difference.

Let’s examine each of these Principles and the impact an understanding of them will have upon your organization.

Associations have a perpetual life

Not only must associations serve their members today, they must be prepared to serve their members in the future. Here is an important distinction…serving your current members in the future, while at the same time preparing to serve future members. These are two different things. Associations that do not do both, place themselves in peril of becoming irrelevant, and possibly extinct. The consciousness of perpetual life will help guide your association into the future.

Associations have a continuum of leadership

Decision making at associations should always be done in context. Your association is not where it is today, in the position it is in today, based upon the actions of the current leadership. It has a history as a successful organization because of the work and dedication of many years of volunteer service by others.

Associations have a continuum of membership

Have you ever had a board of directors want to give rebates to the current members because there was a revenue surplus in a particular year? What they fail to realize is that any surplus is only a surplus because the association managed its financial affairs properly. Should new members be entitled to a refund when the reason there is a surplus is many years of work by past volunteers?

Begin with the Fundamentals

Don’t assume that your board of Directors is conscious of good leadership. Provide short, simple, leadership tips and basics on a recurring basis, year after year.

Here are a few fundamental concepts exemplified by those we would consider good leaders...


Commend in public
Reprimand in private

Jobs of a Leader:
Perform their current job
Prepare for the next job
Train their successor

Follow Through:

Begin with the end in mind and work projects to completion.

Leadership is not just a position. Because one is a president, officer, or director of an association does not make one a good leader. Leadership is a skill which, for most, improves with practice and experience, over time. 

Make this year the year you create and build a “Culture of Leadership” at your association. Now is the time to set in motion simple leadership projects which will pay huge dividends to your organization in the future. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Saul Klein is a 1972 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and spent 6 years in on Active Duty in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. He has been a licensed California Real Estate Broker for 32 years and he was the 1993 President of the San Diego Association of REALTORS® and its 1999 REALTOR® of the Year. Saul was the Real Estate Industry’s first Internet Evangelist and the creator of the NAR E-PRO online Technology Certification Program and the creator of many online communities, including AETalk and RealTalk. He is the CEO of RealTown and resides in San Diego, CA with his wife Janie, who has been his inspiration for the past 35 years.

  • February 2, 2018

  • Saul Klein

REALTOR® Association President's Manual 


Structural changes are taking place in every aspect of the workplace.  The real estate industry is not an exception.  The way our members sold real estate ten years ago is not the way they sell it today and the way they sell it today is not how they will sell it ten years from now.  Their market, job description and needs are being transformed.  Driving forces and concepts affecting and threatening our members and our associations as they currently function include:

  • Board of Choice
  • Public access to the MLS
  • Agency liabilities
  • Loss of MLS to outside entities, which results in loss of MLS income 
  • Buyer Brokerage/Broker Buyer Brokerage/Broker Compensation 
  • Alternative revenue sources 
  • Decreasing membership 
  • Professionalism 
  • Staff driven vs. volunteers drive, the dynamics of changing leadership
  • Added value, more for less 
  • Dealing with the "I want it all, I want it now, and I want it for  nothing" syndrome 
  • Decrease in available volunteer time as time becomes more valuable and the membership shrinks 

But in every threat, there is an opportunity, an opportunity to ride the forces of change in the direction in which it is already headed, and reaping the benefits.

A Time for Managing Change

The time to deal with all this change is now.  The margin of error is slim.  Association leaders, staff and volunteers, must create the Association of the future or their Association of the present will perish!  Our industry is going through nothing less than a paradigm shift. As stated by Joel Barker, author of Future Edge, "When a paradigm shifts, everything goes back to zero."  Large associations and small, rich and poor, it matters not, all are in danger of extinction.  Become the creator of your future, not the victim.

Creating a future by design instead of a future by default requires being able to deal with massive (and increasing) amounts of information in a fast-changing environment.

The problem is, few people know what to make of it.  So instead of knowledge being power, random knowledge is just information, and too much information leads to confusion.  And technology continues to quicken the pace.  Associations across the country are talking about it. The question is what are they doing about it and is it enough, or is it too late?

We are experiencing more than change; it's a revolution of greater historical significance than the Industrial Revolution.

The world is in the midst of the greatest social, economic and technological explosion that has ever been experienced.  The question each of us must ask is, "Do we want to be part of it?"

We will witness in our lifetime a greater change in the job descriptions and skills of workers that took place during the Industrial Revolution.  Real estate is not an exception.

Understanding, identifying and capitalizing on change will make the difference between economic (and personal) success and failure. Remember, change does not happen all at once.  It is continually taking place, unseen by most.  Only by becoming an astute observer will you benefit from the opportunities created by global transformation.

Today is not the age of information, it is the age of applied knowledge.  Information out of context is worthless, yet information framed in the right context can be worth millions to someone who knows how to apply it.

Congratulations on reaching the highest elected office of this association.  Read this manual as early in your President-Elect year as possible.  Refer and add to it as often as possible, pass it on to your successor.

Have a great year. And take advantage of the excellent learning experience in front of you.


This is a year to pay attention to the issues, decide where you would like to have an impact, learn as much as you can about the functioning of the organization from the top, and support the President.  Take the time to attend as many committee meetings as you can.  The more you are seen or visible to the membership, the more valuable you are to the organization.  It's a great job, all the glory, none of the responsibility. A lot of the members don't know the difference between the President and the President-Elect. Sometimes it is difficult to be so close to the seat of power.  Just remember, you'll get your shot at the helm.  Listen to the staff.

On Becoming President

One year is not a long time.  Your time as President will fly by and you will not have time to accomplish as much as you would like. Choose that which you want to achieve and accomplish, focus the bulk of your effort on it, and rely on your incredibly professional staff to carry out the day to day affairs of the Association.  Do not attempt to micro-manage, that is what the E.O. gets paid to do.  Always remember that there is a "body politic" and that many people will attempt to influence you, intentionally and unintentionally.  Be on guard for personal agendas.  Utilize the Officers, staff, and committee's (Chairs and Vice Chairs) time and expertise to accomplish your agenda for the Association for the year.  Stick to the Strategic Plan.

This is the only known manual on becoming President of this organization.  Even though we spend a year as President-Elect, the fact is that because there is no manual for that position, you will do a lot of on the job training as President.  As early in your President-Elect year as possible, read:

  1. Association by-laws
  2. Primer on Robert's Rules of Order (don't be afraid to talk to our parliamentarian and to utilize his services) 
  3. Committee Formats - expectations of the President sometimes appear in these documents. 

This job can be extremely time-consuming, taking half of each working day (plus the seven trips a year, 35 to 40 days of travel).  Even then you will not be able to keep up with everything that goes on.  Try to attend all committee meetings at least quarterly.  The only volunteer who has access to "everything" that is going on at the Association is you.  You are also the inspirational leader, so it is necessary that you read all the minutes to all the committee meetings and correspond with the chairs and vice chairs in writing at least quarterly.  Also "well done" letters to as many people as possible as often as possible.  You are the association and a letter from the President is a treat for most people.  

In addition to dealing with the volunteer side, you can also be very valuable to the association by taking a personal interest in the staff.  Special commendations, birthdays just saying hi to as many of them as you can every day makes them a happier and therefore a more productive resource (We do spend a large portion of our budget, appropriately so on this resource.)  To summarize:

  1. Attend each committee meeting at least once; quarterly is ideal.  It shows a real interest in the work of the volunteers.  Attend all Budget and Finance Committee Meetings. 
  2. Read the minutes of all the meetings.  Check at least quarterly to see that committees are accomplishing their goals as delineated by the strategic plan. 
  3. Send letters to the committee chairs, vice chairs, directors, officers quarterly. 
  4. Send "well done" letters to members and staff who have been brought to your attention.  A commendation from the President sometimes results in an association supporter for many years. 
  5. Be interested in the staff.  Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge. 
  6. Remember staff and directors on their birthday. 
  7. Make as many office visits as time allows.  No more than two per day, about 20 minutes to 30 minutes in duration.  You may take another officer, director, or member of staff with you who may have some vital information to relay to the members. Examples would include your Government Affairs Director, Education Director, Special Events Director, MLS, etc. 
  8. Send thank you letters to the office manager/broker/office contact that set up the appointment. 
  9. Remember and use as many names as possible.  The most critical word in anyone's vocabulary is his or her name. 
  10. Be responsive to the press.  Remember, they have deadlines and your association wants the press.  Visibility is essential to the self-esteem of the members. 

 Office of the President

This organization needs to look at what it wants its President to be and do.  Our staff is capable.  If you don't have the time to perform some of the functions, they can be delegated.  If during your year as President-elect you know that you will not have much time to perform a lot of the President' duties, have discussions with the current President and next years President-elect to see about spreading some of the workloads around.

How much time is feasible for a President or President-elect to spend each week on behalf of the association? Two hours a day, five days a week equal 10 hours, which is 25% of a 40-hour week.  Should we expect someone to sacrifice more or less than 25% of their income when they serve in this position?  Whatever that level is, any time spent above that should be compensated. (A fee should be paid.)

Set the association calendar to fit your schedule.  Because I travel, I like to get all my "staying in town" in the same week.  Before my year as President-elect, Executive Committee and the Board of Directors met a week apart.  Orientation was on an odd week.  I preferred to have all three in the same week.

Set Agenda for yourself.  Some of your year will be comprised of unfinished business from the year before (and maybe before that) plus whatever other items come to the surface during your term (or whatever items you bring to the surface).  Here was my agenda as formulated during November/December before I took office:

My Areas of Focus

  • Existing areas:
  • SANDICOR – Dealing with a new, failing regional MLS
  • Examine MLS Alternatives
  • Strategic Plan - Emphasis on education and technology, "Knowledge is Power"

New Areas

Prepare the leadership and the membership for change, paradigm shifts. What is impossible in your business today that, if it were possible, would fundamentally change the way you do business?

  1. Buyer Broker's Task Force 
  2. Examine potential outlawing of dual agency 
  3. Employee vs. Independent Contractor 
  4. No Association geographic boundaries 
  5. Increasing membership 
  6. Structural Review Task Force 
  7. Financial Management Review Committee 
  8. Less dependence on MLS income as it may not always be there

Buyer Broker Task Force - This entity must develop its mission statement, format, decide meeting dates and membership, before the first of December (as must any new task force).

Financial Freedom for the Realtor - individual integrated business and personal financial planning.  Message from the top.  Plan for yourself because the government is not planning for you.  You are responsible for your financial future.

Analyze and implement a financial plan through the Financial Review Committee.  This committee must develop mission statement, format, meeting dates and members before December 1.

Be visible to the members.  Have a "Heard on the Street" segment in a monthly message. Make at least one office visit per week, report exciting findings in the monthly message.  The best form of communication is face to face.  The members appreciate a visit from the President and you will accomplish the most for the Association if you are accessible to the membership.

Complete Structural Review for decision

Review by-laws by by-laws committee

On Leadership

It is the leader's responsibility to train the future leaders to think in visionary terms rather than focusing on the present.|

Don't take things personally.  Because of the politics of associations, you will always have someone second-guessing your decisions, actions and motivations.

Pay it little mind (it's only human to let it get to you a little).  Show your anger rarely, when you do show it, it will have more impact.  One of the first things I learned in Leadership 101 at the Naval Academy was:

"Commend in public, reprimand in private."

This basic management principle will be the cornerstone for a successful year.  NEVER forget it.  It applies to both volunteers and staff.

You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.  Always remember leadership through precept and example.

A leader's three primary tasks:

  1. Perform your current job and responsibilities to the best of your ability 
  2. Prepare for your next position
  3. Train your replacement

On Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs

Listen to the recommendations of staff, they work with these people, your volunteers.  Give yourself plenty of time by starting the selection process in August of your President-Elect year.  Also, solicit input from your volunteers, give yourself time to decide.

On Executive Committee at Large Positions

It is important to appoint people who not only are qualified but who are in agreement with your goals for the year and who will support you at Executive Committee Meetings and at Board of Directors.  Remember that part of your job, as a leader is to groom future leaders.  The Executive Committee is an excellent place to do this.

You are an Ex-Officio member of all committees, but pay particular attention to the following:

  • Budget and Finance Committee
  • Attend all meetings of this committee.  Remember, and make sure the committee members remember that this is not a policy-making committee.  Its job is to oversee the budget process and not to decide which individual budget items should be cut in the name of prudent money management.

Nominating Committee

You are a member of this committee.  You may have an interest in participating in some of the interviews.  Take the time early in the year to fill this committee. Your job as President is to train the future leadership.  Your interest in the nominating process is extremely important.

Public Relations

Be prepared for requests for interviews by either the print media or television on Christmas Eve. It might be a good idea to be proactive at milestone date (Christmas, New Year, etc. and at least have prepared statements or interviews set up on your schedule).

Committees should be just about filled no later than the week before Christmas.  The sooner you find out which committees need members the sooner you can see that something is done about it.  Perhaps help select some particular committee.  It may be possible, in the future, to line up next year’s committees at orientation.

Have a list of all the directors and officers and their spouses.

Have a birthday list of the directors and officers.

Have a list of all staff and their spouses.

Have a birthday list of all staff and give them a card or present on their birthday.  I got each one a box of 9 Nordstrom's truffles on their birthday, presented by me to them on their birthdays or the Friday before in the event it fell on a weekend or holiday.  A personal note about them was included on the small card.

Staff Changes|

Always notify appropriate committee chairs and vice chairs when a staff liaison leaves the Association, be it termination or just temporary departure.  Also, notify your President-elect.  Keep in mind that the staff is the realm of the executive officer.  While your input may be asked for, it is not necessary and always let the EVP make the staff decisions.  That is something else they get paid to do.

Strategic Planning Committee

Most people do not understand the strategic planning process.  The link to the budget process is very important.

The context for the year is developed here.  I believe that it is important enough to always budget for a facilitator.  Do not be "penny-wise and pound-foolish." Schedule a 2-day (minimum) retreat each year.

If any of your projects for your year need to be funded, your input is required here.  Always have a good number of directors on the strategic planning committee. When presenting the Strategic Plan (and the budget) to the Board of Directors, the following process is suggested:

  1. Three weeks before Board of Directors Meeting send Strategic Plan and Budget to Directors with a cover letter.  Letter to indicate: Importance of documents and that supplemental material is available at the Association office. Request directors submit all questions in writing one week before BOD meeting. 
  2. Two weeks before the meeting, President (and President-Elect) call all directors and officers to remind them of the deadline. 
  3. You may even consider that the only items on the Director's meeting agenda that month are the Budget and the Strategic Plan. 

Strategic Planning - General

The strategic planning process is more important than the planning document your committee creates.  Leadership should encourage "strategic thinking" which is a necessity for the future success of the organization.  The strategic planning process must be designed to develop a permanent, dynamic planning attitude.  It must become part of the Association culture.  Strategic planning is a state of mind, not a destination.

The strategic planning questions:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What are our strengths?
  • What are our weaknesses?
  • What are the threats to the association and the membership?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • What are the outside forces and threats that we will encounter as we implement the plan (social, economic, governmental, industry and consumer trends)?
  • What is currently impossible (possible) to do in this business, that if it were possible (impossible), it would fundamentally change the way in which you do business?

You must analyze the internal and external forces that will influence the organization as it moves to accomplish its mission.

Don't get lost in the details, or choose people for the committees who do.  This is all about the "Big Picture."

Include radical thinkers and innovators.

Make sure all the people appointed to committees understand the commitment that will be required, especially the time.

Always bring in an outside facilitator for your strategic planning process.

Chairs and vice chairs must develop plans of action to implement the strategic plan (possibly at a workshop that will help them write and build their POA's (Plans of Action).  This should be done in November and before the annual leadership meeting.

Participants in the process will gain experience and information that they can take back to their companies and daily life.

It is an educational process.  Only people who are interested in being part of the future, acting instead of reacting should be made part of the team.

Strategic leadership is in the follow through.  How is it carried out and monitored?

The budget process should be integrated into the strategic planning process.  Members of B & F should be on the strategic planning committee.

President's Secretary

This person must be able to work with you or your scheduling entity to coordinate your time.  He/she should confirm all your travel arrangements three weeks from the scheduled event, even if you make the reservations yourself.  There are so many people flying to CAR/NAR if you don't make your reservation early enough, you may not get departure and arrival times you desire.

President's Diary

Keep notes and even make recorded voice memos using your phone.  You must discipline yourself to do this.  It will create a valuable record not only for you but also for the Association.  Often we need to recall decisions of past leadership and it is always nice to hear from someone who was there and in the proper context.

Association Voicemail

Call in at least three times a day and check your messages.  If possible, be reachable by cell phone (call or text).

Accessing Member's Needs

Must be done at least semiannually, and the organization must respond to the needs of the members in a timely manner.

Final Thought

Your association must be a resource to its members, a partner, indispensable to their business.  Have a great year and feel free to add to this.

  • January 11, 2018

  • Saul Klein

Emerging Marketing Strategies “Where’s the Beef?”


For REALTORS® to compete successfully in an evolving online and connected world, they must understand how to create and implement marketing strategies that take into consideration changes in technology, evolutions in consumer expectations and competitors actions. 

But when is the right time for associations to recommend a new piece of technology to its membership? It seems that everyone is jockeying for position in a race where no one is quite sure of either the starting line or the finishing line.

The decision to adopt new technology is no small one, especially if that technology replaces a core business function. For REALTORS® this may include using new technology to manage sensitive areas such as gathering leads or interacting with prospects. The importance of the decision is compounded by the limited marketing resources REALTORS® have available.

To better serve their membership and offer sensible advice on adopting new technologies, REALTOR® associations must stay informed of industry and technology changes in their local and national markets.

If associations are to serve as a member resource, they must not only be able to look at the marketing landscape, but also be able to gather information for members about future marketing possibilities. Too early adoption of some technologies can be just as costly as too late adoption. 

Technologies are not adopted overnight and are implemented in a somewhat predictable pattern (predictable except as to the time frame) as discussed by Geoffrey Moore in his technology-marketing classic, Crossing the Chasm. In his book, Moore names the phases of technology adoption. Several of them may well seem familiar to associations that struggle to help their membership decide which new technology is relevant. 

The following distribution of how users interact with technology is provided to us by Moore and can provide a valuable resource for understanding how technology makes its way into a marketplace.

Innovators (2.5% of Users) 

The earliest adopters of new technology fall into this category. Innovators tend to be young with more financial flexibility and thus less risk aversion. They are comfortable placing themselves at the forefront of new technologies, most of which may ultimately fail. 

Associations can learn from innovators by gauging the type of technologies they are using. For example, when innovators began to experiment with many new and varied social networks, it represented the dawning of the social age of technology. This trend continues today and has changed the professional landscape of many business sectors including real estate.

However, associations must also be wary of the innovator's passion for a specific piece of new technology as most new tech adopted at the earliest stages will either completely change in its nature or fail entirely.

Early Adopters (13.5% of Users)

Those who like technology and want to be among the first to own it, even if there is no actual practical application with only the idea of how the technology might be applied. Early adopters are valuable for their open mind and passion for technology products. But recommending technology en mass before it's well-vetted leads to all kinds of potential issues with security, adaptability and usability. Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of new technology, even at this slightly later state will still fail.

Early Majority (34% of Users)

The first of the masses to use a successful product are far more pragmatic, want solutions to their existing problems and only buy thoroughly baked products. While early majority adaptors will find technology at this stage better established, there must still be some level of patience for working through bugs and rough patches that exist as with all newer technologies. 

The early majority tends to be comfortable with technology and are often the best guinea pigs for an association to test new technology. This stage of tech development is a sweet spot for savvy associations to look at new technology. Many tech startups are willing to negotiate incredible deals to get fresh blood into a developing platform. However consider that while the risk of product failure is reduced at this stage, associations should still be wary of bringing in new technology at early stages, especially if it impacts critical systems.

Late Majority (34% of Users)

Are among the last to adopt technology after it has become established in the mainstream. Late majority folks are skeptical about technology and are only comfortable adopting new tech after the market leaders have blazed a successful path in using it. For associations, this group of technology users are comfortable to hang back and see how others experience success with new technology before signing on themselves.

When technology has reached this stage, it is generally safe to bring it into core systems and recommend it to an association's user-base. (Assuming the tech is useful in servicing the needs of the membership.)

Laggards (16%)

Skeptics who are slow to adopt even established technologies. Users in this category are typically older and more focused on tradition. They also tend to be the loudest detractors about adopting new technology and can present significant hurdles for organizations to adopt new systems.

Finding the Way Forward

Understanding how users adopt new technology is one consideration, but most associations are ultimately most curious about which specific piece of new technology will become the next big thing in real estate. We can't guess which specific company will change the face of traditional real estate sales. But it is safe to say that some piece of newly developed tech will likely create a significant impact on the next business cycle. 

However, we are prepared to make a definitive statement about which technologies in the real estate world will likely be at play in the next paradigm shift. This includes everyone's favorite real estate subject Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

  • The MLS is and will continue to be the number one marketing tool for real estate brokers and their agents into the foreseeable future. 
  • There is no substitute on the horizon for the gathering, cleansing, maintenance, and dissemination of real property inventories that could replace the current system. 

Two concepts that could have a dramatic impact on MLS are:

IDX – Internet Data Exchange

Creates a new way to advertise. It is of significance to brokers, agents, and MLSs as the rules of use of content by competing brokers will become established locally. You can find out more about IDX on the National Associations of REALTORS® website where they discuss this topic in some detail here.

VOW – Virtual Office Web Sites

VOWs might lead to brokers having their own intranet sites for the licensees in their firm. Which then might lead brokers to demand a different fee structure from MLS as their agents access the broker’s own, internal database, and not use the MLS infrastructure for access and searches. 

A VOW could also use instant messaging or chat technology to provide consumers with virtual agents. These technological creations are available to answer questions online about property availability, their specific transaction, or real estate in general. Once the questions asked by a consumer exceed the technology of a chatbot, the client can be routed to a live agent.

Here is a wiki link that provides more detail about VOWs. You can also find more information about VOW's on the National Associations of REALTORS® website

However the future of technology in the real estate industry unfolds, we can be assured that as tech companies continue to build new products for real estate, associations must continue to analyze and critique this technology to ensure their membership remains relevant and in touch with an ever-changing market.

  • November 5, 2017

  • RealTown

Association Executives Welcome to AE Talk

Welcome to AE Talk. We are the resource for Association Executives of Real Estate Associations. This blog is powered by a partnership between RealTown and RE Altitude. We invite you to explore this site and maximize the value that you can bring to your association.
  • November 1, 2017

  • RealTown

Organized Real Estate

Technology companies often make the mistake of developing products for the real estate professional without understanding the many ins and outs of working with the technology that runs real estate and the associations that control that technology. Long-time real estate expert Saul Klein dives deep in this video to explore the world real estate tech development and what issues must be considered before diving into real estate tech.
  • November 1, 2017

  • RealTown

Facilitate and Communicate


Communication Plan for Associations - What's Your Plan of Action? - In our decades of working for and with real estate associations across the United States, we've found the most common complaint coming from association staff and membership is regarding executive directed, organization-wide communication.

Communicating effectively at all levels of the organization seems to be a challenge for many associations. Great communication requires the creation of a communication plan and commitment to its implementation. 

We've encountered this exact issue so often we've developed a communication implementation plan. Use these guidelines for enacting a new communication plan for your association. Or review these guidelines to ensure your current communication plan is robust and thorough.

Communication Plans Require the Following Considerations

ONE. Identifying the different channels of communication at your association. Some examples could include:

  • Leadership to Staff
  • Staff to Leadership
  • Staff to Staff
  • Staff to Member
  • Member to Staff
  • Member to Member
  • Association to Public
  • Committee Chairs to Committee Members
  • Committee Chairs to Committee Chairs
  • Committee Chairs to BOD

TWO. Identify benefits derived from effective communications and which of those benefits you wish to experience.

  • Cost Savings
  • More Participation
  • Greater Understanding of the Workings of the Association by Everyone (Members, Staff, Public, etc.)

THREE. Identify current communication means used by your association and other tools you are not using.

  • Meetings
  • Magazine
  • Newsletter
  • Telephone
  • E-mail
  • Website
  • Autoresponders
  • Social Media - Facebook/Twitter/RealTown Communities

FOUR. Identify sources of content to communicate besides the "as needed" communications.

  • Minutes
  • Agendas
  • Calendars
  • Magazines
  • Schedules

FIVE. Decide which communication tools will be employed for each communication channel.

SIX. Determine the frequency of current communications down the channels identified.

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Annually


  • President to Board of Directors - Monthly by Meeting and Weekly by E-mail, Supplemented by Website 
  • Committee Chairs to Committees - Monthly by Meeting, Weekly by E-mail

SEVEN. Determine person responsible for ensuring the implementation of the communication plan.

EIGHT. Monitor results.

If you feel you need better communications at your association, what are you doing differently to accomplish your desired results? 

We've heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think Albert Einstein said this, or maybe it was Ben Franklin, actually, it's probably a Chinese Proverb. But getting serious about communicating with your membership and the other people within your association is no laughing matter.

Too often Association Executives delegate communication plans to others, rubber stamp the entire process, or leave out disciplined communication entirely. But building, implementing and monitoring an organization-wide communication plan is one of the most important tasks an AE can endeavor.

What's your experience with communication within your organization? How did you overcome obstacles set in your path to deliver a great communication plan? We'd love to hear from you!

Schedule a Free Discovery Consultation

  • November 16, 2017

  • Saul Klein

reAltitude Vendor Review: Chalk Digital

As you may or may not know, one of the core missions of reAltitude is to identify high-value member benefit products/services that can not only aid the members in their business but also can bring direct operational value to the association or MLS. 

That’s why I was so excited when I found Chalk Digital in my backyard here in San Diego, and to my amazement, I don’t think anyone is grasping what these guys have created. 

Every time I have started a conversation about Chalk Digital with a realtor or broker and mention that Chalk Digital offers “In-App Mobile Adverting” I get the same response. 

  1. “Yeah, I already do Facebook advertising.”

  2. “Yeah, I have already heard of Adwerx.”

Let’s see if we can solve this disconnect for the members and make a clear distinction in what is happening in the digital advertising space. 

The first thing to be aware of is the MAID- Mobile Advertising Identifier. All you need to know about this is that every mobile device has one, it is unique to that device, and can serve  up to ad networks what other applications are on the device. 

The second is delineating between CPM and unique viewers. CPM is the cost per thousand impressions or times your ad was seen. Unique views are just as it sounds, if the same device views your ad more than once it’s not counted.

The third is to understand the difference between browser-based (desktop & mobile) advertising and “In-App Mobile”. There a couple of very important items to highlight here and let’s use a Facebook Open House campaign to illustrate. 

In any environment that you use to build a Facebook ad including Facebook itself as well as ad builders like the one that Homesnap Pro offers you can: 

  • Create an “ad unit” that may or may not be optimized for a mobile browser.

  • Choose an audience

  • Choose location

  • Choose time frame

  • Launch

This ad can be seen on Facebook’s website, in its app, and can be retargeted off. Location is referenced via zip codes or IP addresses of their ISP. 

“In-App Mobile” references the MAID for location. The GPS location of the device! 

There is a whole bunch more to understand here like having the ad service videos, GIFs, scrollable images etc. But let’s touch on that another time. 

Using the same scenario as above a campaign in Chalk Digital looks like this:

  • Create an “ad unit” that is optimized for mobile applications

  • Choose a location based on the number of potential unique views

  • Choose time frame

  • Launch- the AI ad network references what apps are on the mobile devices in the selected area, and your ad now has the possibility of being served upon any of them that allow “In-App Mobile Advertising.”

  • Geo-fence the parcel where the open house is being held

  • Go back to your analytics dashboard and see the unique views on apps for music, news, entertainment, games, weather etc.(+100k different app possibilities)

  • See which device got a view, the time, the location, and if that device walked through the (Geo-Fenced) door of your open house!!

The possibilities boggle the mind. What jumps to the top of my mind are to fully leverage the great data prospecting tools like Remine and Rebogateway. 

I have always thought that there was a huge disconnect when prospecting an area off public record data and predictive analytics only to find out a parcel has a 17% chance to list in the next 12 months and that someone at that address got a divorce. Then what do you do with it?

Direct mail is ridiculously expensive with no trackable ROI, and you are not going to knock on someone’s door and say “You don’t know me but I heard you got a divorce. Do you want to sell your house?”

Remine has done great by making email and phone information available, but you are still essentially cold calling/emailing. Smartzip is awesome at offering a comprehensive ecosystem but only supplies direct mail, the traditional CPM model, and email nurture once someone has engaged with the ad. 

Chalk Digital would allow you to serve ads on the mobile devices that live at that parcel (even when they are not home) and tailor the ad unit to fit the specific analytics that one of the tools mentioned above gave you.


The 17% chance to list and just got divorced parcel gets an ad when they are in bed reading the news saying, “Comps have recently closed in your neighbourhood and the value of your house just went up $X”. Then later in the day while eating lunch at the local deli, the same device sees an ad while checking the days weather saying, “Is it time for you to downsize? It is a great time to sell.”

These capabilities are not new, but until Chalk Digital came along, it was reserved for Fortune 500’s. It would cost GM $25k to run a 3-hour campaign. What I just described above, Chalk Digital can do for couple hundred bucks. We never even talked about using it brand a neighborhood, just listed, price changes, in escrow, and another property sold by Jill Smith. 

What an add-on to some of the great tools already out there!

At SDAR, we have used it to advertise our Expo, inform on new member benefits, distribute important news, and made a pile of money by offering the channel to our affiliates to advertise on. 

  • reAltitude

Join the AE Talk Discussion