With a goal of 100% participation in the REALTOR® Party’s Broker Involvement Program (BIP), the Arizona Association of REALTORS® (Arizona REALTORS®) is not messing around. The numbers are ambitious, but with energetic volunteer leadership, a dedicated staff member, and the support of a new grant program from the National Association of REALTORS®, Arizona REALTORS® is approaching that goal, one broker-member at a time.
The Broker Involvement Program is a turnkey operation allowing broker-owners and managers to take a leadership role in rallying their agents to advocate for REALTOR® Party issues. Brokers enrolled in the program can automatically send their agents company-branded calls for action from NAR and state associations, communications whose directness and brand-familiarity increase participation rates. Ashley Slechta, the association’s REALTOR® Party Director, says the BIP is an increasingly important facet of the culture of advocacy that the association has been building in recent years. She credits Liz Harris, her volunteer counterpart who represents Arizona REALTORS® on NAR’s Broker Involvement Council, with the steady growth of the state BIP: “We rely heavily on Liz’s direction,” says Slechta, “her drive and determination and leadership have enabled us to succeed.”
Initially, the association focused on attracting the state’s very largest brokerages to the program. Last summer, it took its efforts to the next level with one of the REALTOR® Party’s new Broker Involvement Grants, created to promote activities that recruit, retain and educate brokers and their agents in the BIP. The $5,000 grant funded “Like A Boss,” an engaging interactive event targeting brokers from around Arizona with more than 30 REALTORS®. Held at a Phoenix hotel in early September, the 90-minute program fell conveniently within a two-day span of association activities and featured two dynamic speakers: Arizona Department of Real Estate Commissioner Judy Lowe and 2012 Arizona REALTORS® President Holly Mabery.
Participants ate, drank, won gift cards and networked at the reception that opened the event. Then they settled in to learn about becoming involved in NAR’s advocacy efforts at the grassroots level by providing legislative and regulatory information to their agents. “The key to the program was educating brokers about what the state and national associations are doing on our behalf, so that we can run our businesses,” says Harris, adding, “it came as a shock to a number of the participants who hadn’t been focused on how these issues had been playing out beyond the local level. They were excited to take the information back to their offices.” She notes that there is an important correlation between the goals of the Broker Involvement Program and the goals of RPAC and the various local REALTOR® PACs. “Separating out the initiatives and calls for action provides real clarification of what the PAC funds are doing to help the industry and property owners.”
One-hundred percent of those who attended the “Like A Boss” event joined the BIP. In fact, ten broker-members who were unable to come, joined as well, thanks to Harris’ thorough follow-up. “Liz was amazing,” says Slechta. “She tracked the responses and took the initiative to call her fellow brokers who’d declined the event invitation to say, ‘Hey, let us do this for you!’ She made it easy for them to send in their company logos, and start sending their agents branded advocacy messages from NAR and our state association.”
To date, about 20,000 REALTORS® are in the BIP by virtue of their brokers’ involvement, which is nearly half of the association’s membership. Looking ahead, Slechta says the recruitment events will continue, with the next level of focus being offices with ten or more agents. In the meantime, advocacy in Arizona is going strong: early in January, on the second day of the new legislative session, more than 65 state senators and representatives and their staff met with almost 400 REALTORS® at the annual “Arizona REALTORS® at the Capitol” event. When legislators need information or assistance with a property rights issue, they’ll know where to turn!
To learn more about how Arizona REALTORS® is mobilizing members by engaging brokers, contact the association’s REALTOR® Party Director, Ashley Slechta, at 602-248-7787; or Liz Harris, the association’s representative to NAR’s Broker Involvement Council.