For our special March Women in Real Estate issue, RISMedia spoke with the driving forces behind some of those MLS providers who continue to demonstrate effective leadership through continuous education opportunities, market-informed strategies and a pay-it-forward mentality.
How are you helping members navigate the current market challenges?
Anne Marie DeCatsye, Esq., CEO of Canopy REALTOR® Association, Canopy Housing Foundation and Canopy MLS: After emerging from the last recession, Canopy began creating a number of tools including “Talk Smart” talking points to position our members as the market experts, and gave REALTORS® a way to educate their clients about the market. Just last year, Canopy created a website, https://canopygrabandgrow.com, where we house graphics and content geared toward the market or buyers and sellers, which allows our members to literally “grab” a graphic and a message that they can easily upload to social media to “grow” their business.
Dionna Hall, CEO of Broward, Palm Beaches & St. Lucie REALTORS® and BeachesMLS: We’re expanding our consumer-facing campaign, “Only A REALTOR®,” which focuses on reinforcing the essential role of the REALTOR® as a personal, local resource and trusted advisor to consumers. A primary concern, repeatedly expressed by brokers, was the challenge regarding shrinking profit margins and concerns surrounding long-term viability of their businesses. With this in mind, we decided to partner with REdistribute, which puts the power of MLS data back in the hands of the rightful owners, and brokers regain control over their data rights and profit from the income. We’re also participating in MLS Aligned, LLC, with the intent to collaborate and solve pain points in the real estate industry.
Merri Jo Cowen, CEO of Stellar MLS: We’re proactive in watching trends and keeping up with the happenings in the industry. We think ahead and try to anticipate what will be needed—and if we have to be reactive, we’re quick to isolate solutions and implement as quickly as possible to help our customers adapt.
What role does education play right now, and how is your organization increasing educational efforts?
DH: Through our own real estate school, we continually refresh our course content so that our members remain current in the ever-changing real estate environment. We also recently partnered with RISMedia so that our members have the information they need to serve consumers within our communities and those who are relocating to South Florida. The publication is an exclusive partnership with Broward, Palm Beaches & St. Lucie REALTORS®, and it’s a free benefit to our members.
MJC: Education and communication are critical to keep up with the quickly changing landscape, and as an MLS, we provide multiple products that assist in all phases of a transaction. We offer classes on how to best use our offerings, and are always changing our approach to both education and communication to get the biggest audience.
AMD: We’re fortunate to have owned and operated our own school, Canopy Real Estate Institute (CREI), for over 50 years. We intentionally moved away from being a “school” to being an “institute” to better reflect the breadth of professional development and education we offer. Our new virtual campus, “Canopy Campus,” is integrated into RAMCO, our comprehensive membership database management system, making it more convenient for our members to register for course offerings, access their courses and streamline the tracking of their educational experience, professional development and training completions.
What are you most excited about for the year ahead—both for your members and your organization?
MJC: We’re most excited about the next phases of our customizable customer dashboard (we call it Stellar Central) to make MLS easy; we’re in a soft launch of an offer-management platform that will be available as part of our subscription package, adding a new forms offering in July and fine-tuning our offerings for both our commercial and our lease/rental customer base.
AMD: I’m excited about the initiatives we’ve developed to foster member engagement, demonstrate the value and benefits of Canopy, and increase members’ advocacy efforts for the profession and industry. These initiatives keep us focused on our mission, which is to “Advance the Profession and Improve our Communities” and increase engagement among our leadership and their spheres of influence to help promote the value and benefits of the association, MLS, CREI and the foundation—as well as build and promote the Canopy brand among all stakeholders.
DH: We’re most excited about our three key initiatives: the “Only A REALTOR®” consumer campaign, REdistribute and Aligned Showings fully launching so our members can reap the benefits from these programs. The third consumer-ad campaign will allow us to continue to tell our story to a new audience in our community, reinforcing the essential role of a REALTOR® during real estate transactions.
Please share a lesson you’ve learned in your own career that can benefit other women aspiring to leadership positions.
AMD: As CEO, I not only feel responsible for the livelihoods of the staff, but for the association’s and MLS members. The responsibility is tremendous, and teamwork is the lynchpin. I could not do my job without our volunteer leadership and talented staff. When it comes to successful management, I have learned that transparency is key; the process of how one arrives at a goal is just as important as the goal.
MJC: You cannot do it alone. A healthy and collaborative team of staff and volunteers is hands-down the most important factor in building a successful organization. Leaders lead—and to do that, we must create a culture of trust and partnership. And most simply, be kind, be open, invite innovation, execute new tech with purpose and precision, and build leaders.
DH: I would encourage fellow women leaders to not compare themselves to others. With social media being so prevalent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that someone else is doing better in some—or all—aspects of their life. It’s important to be current and up to speed with those who are in your sphere, but every moment you spend doubting yourself or comparing yourself to someone else is time that you could have been focusing on your goals and personal happiness.