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MLS-Subscriber surveys: more important than anyone imagines

With the majority of MLS providers missing a tremendous opportunity, members continue to suffer from lack of information and involvement. But there’s a fix.

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According to a recent Clareity Consulting survey, 58 percent of MLSs don’t survey their subscribers about MLS system satisfaction. That’s a huge missed opportunity. I suspect that many MLS executives – and subscribers who are on the boards of directors – don’t understand the tremendous benefit of conducting a well-constructed subscriber survey.

If subscribers understood the benefits that could result from their MLS surveying them, they would march en-masse to the MLS office and demand to be surveyed at once.

mls surveys

Becoming a Great Customer

When MLS staff goes to bat with their MLS software provider to get improvements made, how do they know what to ask for? That’s right, subscriber surveys.

Figuring out the Communications Gaps

So many times, when I perform an MLS survey, a member asks, “Why in the world doesn’t the MLS system do THIS!?” where “this” is something the MLS system already does. This opens up a number of opportunities to improve MLS service. MLS staff can reach out to the individual (through the survey provider, if the survey was conducted anonymously) to inform them about the “missing” feature.

And, if it seems to be a common issue, there’s an opportunity to communicate to subscribers more broadly about it. Maybe people don’t know about a feature because it’s just too buried in the software. In that case, it’s another opportunity for the MLS to be a great customer and advocate for a system interface improvement.

Communicating Benefits

Some MLSs mistakenly think that surveys are just for “taking the temperature” of subscribers. They couldn’t be more wrong. When a survey asks about a benefit or initiative (and links to more information about it), subscribers will find out about it, and will better appreciate all that their MLS does for them.

Illustrated below is the result of one MLS survey where 72 percent thought the MLS was doing a good or excellent job communicating with them, but 74 percent didn’t know about the impending MLS system rollout… at least until we did the survey! Surveys are great tools for communicating with members – not just for listening to them.

mls-surveys-graph

Speaking of listening…

Speaking of listening, one of the biggest mistakes MLSs make when they survey subscribers is to use simple multiple choice polls instead of surveys that include open-ended questions. Sometimes it’s useful to not ask about much of anything in particular. Just ask, “How can we improve?” and listen.

Measuring Service

Is service from MLS staff (and MLS software provider tech support, if applicable) up to snuff? Is it offered during the days and times it is needed? Are those answering the emails and calls knowledgeable, professional, friendly, and able to resolve problems quickly? What are the service targets and are they being reached?

Tool for Overall Accountability

Surveys aren’t just a tool for MLS staff to learn about the subscribers. They’re also a way for subscribers to learn about the MLS organization and how well (or not-so-well) it is being run. A concise report based on the survey results should go back to the board of directors and back to subscribers, providing accountability for the operation of the MLS.

Of course, for the survey to be useful, subscribers have to be willing to answer truthfully, which is why confidential, independent surveys are the way to go rather than using a survey created and analyzed by staff who are already subjects of the survey.

Surveys have limitations that must be recognized

If an MLS asks a question about a subject (i.e. product licensing or an MLS system selection) that requires a lot of education and discussion to understand fully, the answer won’t be useful. And sometimes decisions – especially strategic decisions – can only be made properly after a lot of research, not by getting a simple “yes or no” answer from those who haven’t put the time into understanding an issue.

But, what an MLS can learn from the survey is that there may be a need to communicate more about a strategic issue so that subscribers do understand why the leadership has made a decision. However, sometimes the MLS leadership has to do just that – lead. Just because a loud minority wants the MLS to be free doesn’t mean that doing so would be good for the organization or its subscribers.

The takeaway

The MLS is an important business system for real estate professionals, and it can be better. Using well-designed surveys correctly as a mechanism for benchmarking and transparency is crucial for MLSs and subscribers alike. A lot more than the current 42 percent of MLSs need to use surveys to gauge MLS system satisfaction. Getting there is a change that can be led by MLS organizations or by their subscribers.

#MLSsurveys

Matt Cohen has been with Clareity Consulting for over 17 years, consulting for many of the real estate industry’s top Associations, MLSs, franchises, large brokerages and technology companies. Many clients look to Matt for help with system selection and negotiation. Technology providers look to Matt for assistance with product planning, software design, quality assurance, usability, and information security assessments. Matt has spoken at many industry events, has been published as an author in Stefan Swanepoel’s “Trends” report and many other publications, and has been honored by Inman News, being listed as one of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders.

Real Estate Associations

COVID-19: What NAR is doing politically to protect members

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR is fighting for Realtors be they in an association, self-employed, or independent contractors. The relief package should encompass them all.

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As the U.S. government worked to draft the historic $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package, Americans across the country voiced their concerns and hopes that the package would offer them some economic relief as many have, and continue to, lose their income. Small business owners, the self-employed, and independent contractors have been particularly vocal about their need for economic relief during this crisis.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been hard at work in Washington speaking with Congressional leaders to ensure that realtors across the nation are included in the relief package. The President of the NAR, Vince Malta, spoke recently about the organization’s efforts saying, “Over recent weeks, NAR has worked tirelessly with Congressional leaders to ensure small business owners, the self-employed and independent contractors were included in the federal response to this national crisis. With every two home sales generating one job in this country, the real estate industry will represent a key piece of our national recovery, and NAR will continue fighting for key provisions in a fourth relief package expected in the coming weeks.”

While you may have more free time on your hands than usual, there are infinitely better ways you could us that time than attempting to read an 880-page legislative bill. A few of the key items in this bill include a loan program for small businesses which will be managed by the Small Business Administration, an expansion of unemployment insurance for self-employed and independent contractors, an employee retention tax credit, rebates of various amounts depending on tax filing status, and a 60-day foreclosure moratorium and up to 1 year of mortgage forbearance.

In order to keep members in-tune to recent happenings, the NAR has published a comprehensive guide to the COVID-19 relief package. The guide is intended to aid realtors in understanding how the relief package will impact them, their business, and their clients. Topics include: housing, credit reporting and student loans, SBA provisions, infrastructure, tax, unemployment benefits for self-employed, and FFCRA Amendments. These topics will be updated as new information is released. Now, more than ever, it is important for realtors to stay knowledgeable about changes to legislation.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR launches polished new ad campaign: ‘Look for the R’

(REAL ESTATE) The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is rolling out a new campaign today to continue educating consumers on the value of a Realtor, and their collaborative effort really paid off.

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Starting today, a new ad campaign will be splashed across television screens, social media, radio, and more, urging consumers to “Look for the R,” as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) rolls out brand new 15- and 30-second ads:

Last year’s “That’s Who We R®” campaign rolled out as a foundation on which to build future branding to promote the Realtor values in local communities, such as the above videos.

In this new campaign, the theme of communicating what a Realtor is continues, and as consumers are directed to look for the creative letter R in each campaign, it all comes into focus as a delicious “aha” moment for the viewer, just as consumers experience when they gain the clarity of Realtors’ value.

The campaign is a play on the visual combined with verbal, which NAR Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Victoria Gillespie tells us “took great work and collaboration so that at the end, the ‘R’ seems organic, but you still work through the journey of having that placement be aligned to resonate with everyone.”

Your inner marketer will notice the clever alliteration – reassurance, rights, reliability, road to un-renting (which btw, is a wildly clever phrase we’re upset we didn’t come up with ourselves).

You’ll also notice that they included the traditional blue for ads featuring residential Realtors, and the traditional red for ads featuring commercial Realtors.

Gillespie states that the association hosted a pre-launch viewing for the 46-member Consumer Communications Committee, which was consulted on everything from clothing attire to voiceovers, to make sure that in deep collaboration with ad agency Havas, members (and their values) were accurately depicted.

All feedback so far has been “extremely positive,” notes Gillespie, adding that it was urgently important to precisely represent their broad and diverse member constituency.

NAR 2020 Consumer Communications Committee chairman, and managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty, Jay Mitchell said, “’Look for the R’ showcases why prospective property buyers and sellers should seek a Realtor®’s unmatched expertise, reliability, and integrity to help them realize their goals and dreams. The full suite of campaign assets allow our members to personalize and localize these important messages to consumers in their respective markets across the country.”

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Real Estate Associations

NAR en Español: Breaking records because of new members

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) NAR en Español is rising in members because of the rise of Spanish speakers in the US, and this is opening new avenues in other countries.

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NAR en español

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and the Pew Research Center has projected that it’s only going to keep growing. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports similar, noting that their Spanish-speaking membership numbers are increasing rapidly. As such, it makes sense that the NAR has begun to expand their accessibility.

One notable expansion is the inclusion of a Spanish session in the annual NAR Conference & Expo. This year’s session, titled “NAR en Español: What does the future look like?” is the fourth session done entirely in Spanish. The event garnered record-breaking numbers: over 200 members were in attendance.
This session is just one part of the NAR en Español Initiative, which was founded in 2018.

The initiative works to increase the amount of networking opportunities and industry resources available to Spanish-speaking members, as well as creating a stronger connection to Realtors® on a global scale.

Global connections could be seen in the Spanish session, with members from Peru, Ecuador and Brazil each helping to moderate the event. The panelists were also made up of national and international members. Including members from across the globe allowed for valuable experiences and perspectives to be shared, helping make the event a unique experience for all involved.

Topics covered in the session included women in the industry, Multiple Listing Services and NAR resources for international members.

Alejandro Escudero, manager of global alliances and business development in the NAR, reported that the audience was highly engaged, which created a dynamic atmosphere for those in attendance. The session was able to provide valuable educational and networking resources to attendees.

As interest and attendance have grown over the last four years, it should be no surprise that the Spanish-speaking session has quickly become a highlight for members. In fact, Escuerdo reports that, due to the popularity among U.S. and international members alike, there is a huge potential for growth – especially after record breaking attendance this year.

According to Mario Rubio, NAR Regional Coordinator in South America, “Opportunities like these allow members to feel included while sharing their story with counterparts from around the world.”

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