The third VAR Strategic Planning Committee meeting proved to be one filled with great and heated discussions. We ended up so engaged in discussions that we ran three hours behind and will be starting our next meeting earlier than usual to make up time.

This session focused around things such as gap analysis and drilling down the mission and vision statements. We also had a fourth group come in, brokers, for a panel discussion just like we had in last month’s meeting. They definitely gave us more insight and things to consider, but some of the core issues such as communication and engagement that we’ve heard from other groups was evident with the broker group.

Part of the gap analysis was grading ourselves. To do that, we had to come up with a way to measure our performance in an objective manner. Thanks to our facilitator, Duke Kuehn, we came up with a way to do that and the results were a reality check and crucial to what we have to address moving forward.

On some things, we totally hit the market, if not exceeded it. On others, we fell short. But the good thing is that we fell short on goals that most local and state associations are having a hard time with, including NAR, so it’s not just us. Some of those things were

  • communicating with and engaging our members,
  • the perceived value of VAR to its’ members (including local associations), and
  • the perceived value of REALTORS® by consumers.

Overall, I’d have to say that we’re doing pretty well. But there’s always room for improvement and we’re well aware of that and will work to bridge those gaps.

I do have to commend VAR on one key point – they are definitely remaining flexible enough to quickly address current and future issues and trends affecting REALTORS® as well as consumers as they happen, if not ahead of time. This includes the market, emerging business models, emerging technologies and consumer and Realtor needs. Rather than being a 900 pound gorilla, VAR is acting like a small to medium size business that is constantly paying attention to the business climate and the needs of its customers and members.

The mission statement was also a topic of heated discussion. That’s one reason why we ran so far behind. Since all of the things VAR does over the next three to five years has to pass the mission statement test, it’s important that we get it right. And it has to take into account current and future trends, which is not easy. One of the items we addressed was more of a focus on consumers. Without them seeing value in REALTORS®, we’re all in trouble. Even NAR addressed that issue in their mission/vision statement and Strategic Plan:

“The National Association of REALTORS® is the business and public policy advocate for its members and the consumers they serve.”

This meeting helped us objectively look at what we do best and what we need to do better or start doing altogether. It sets the tone for the next three meetings which will focus on actually creating the Strategic Plan and holding itself accountable.

The next Strategic Planning Committee meeting is April 16 and 17. Look for the recap shortly afterwards.