OstrichsLeaders that are confident in their abilities and passionate about the value their organizations deliver welcome new competition. They KNOW in their hearts they have what it takes to deliver value to their customers.  They have strong relationships with their key stakeholders and they course correct regularly to meet the ever-changing needs of the market.

These are the kinds of companies that are always looking for new partnerships and methods to expand their impact and value.   Leaders of organizations like these don’t worry about losing their jobs. They focus their energies on doing the right thing for their paying customers.  They strive to find new and unique ways to continually redefine their role to deepen the relationships they have with their customers. They are not afraid to scrap programs, product lines and pricing strategies if the marketing is moving in a different direction.

I would call the leadership of these organizations the PROGRESSIVES. They strive to continually progress to the next level to meet ever more important needs for their customers.

In real estate, there are a few organizations like this that come to mind.  How about MRIS and Trend MLS?  Both groups had large and highly profitable MLS operations.  Both were national industry leaders.  From where we sat, both of these organizations were creating value and relevance for their customers. We conducted customer satisfaction research for MRIS so we saw first-hand how they demonstrated on-going improvements in customer satisfaction and regularly expanded the breadth of meaningful product offerings.  So why did they come together and “blow up” each of their respective organizations?   Because they saw a bigger vision for an MLS to serve the entire mid-Atlantic region, making it easier for brokers to expand into new markets, reduce cost and complexity of data aggregation and significantly increase listing exposure.

MRIS and Trend MLS demonstrated progressive thinking in forming Bright MLS. They had the guts to chase a much larger vision and completely re-think the organizations they had fought so hard to build even though they knew they had a long and difficult road ahead to make their vision a reality.

Let’s turn our attention next to the New York State Alliance of MLS. The MLSs in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York came together so that brokers could access 1 IDX feed for all regions abiding by the same rules and regulations. The three MLSs also aligned their service offerings so that brokers could have access to products like the Broker Public Portal, Corelogic’s Matrix system and many others.  Members of any of the three MLSs now have access to all of the listings available inside of their home MLS system.

Any one of these three organizations could have felt threatened by this depth of collaboration and could have resisted or downright avoided this relationship. They could have been more focused on isolating themselves to make it nearly impossible to create the innovative thinking demonstrated with the NYS Aliance. Instead, they welcomed the idea to serve the need of brokers and agents by expanding the listing exposure to several thousand more agents and hundreds of thousands of home buyers and sellers.

All too often, I see MLS organizations deliberately isolating themselves believing that somehow it will make them a stronger organization.  They feel like if they huddle together on an iceberg that has just broken away from the glacier hoping not to get attacked by polar bears that somehow, they will be safer.  What they don’t realize is that they are quickly going to float away to the point of no return.

This kind of protectionist thinking is very dangerous.   It does not consider the needs of brokers that may operate in more than one MLS and can operate more efficiently if they have only one set of rules and one set of technologies to train on.

When MLSs try to isolate themselves from one another and create artificial barriers for data aggregation or online marketing, they are handing themselves a death sentence.   Our industry
must have collaboration to survive.  The profitability of the broker model is getting attacked from all sides. Brokers need their MLSs to help them run more efficient and profitable operations.  Protectionists slow down a broker’s ability to compete effectively, especially with national third parties that have a national footprint to leverage.

If you are a leader of an MLS it is your duty to find ways to collaborate with your neighbors.  It is important to investigate national MLS data collaborations like the MLS Grid, MLSAligned and join industry initiatives like the Broker Public Portal and UptreamRE.   Instead of worrying about protecting your job, you need to look long and hard at the best ways to serve your brokers and their clients and do what it takes to get there, even it is means blowing up your organization like MRIS and TREND did or assembling a team of your local peers to brainstorm ways to better serve your members collectively.

If you don’t do this, I’m afraid that your organization will not be long for this world.  Brokers across the country are growing weary of organizations that are more interested in maintaining the status quo and protecting their turf than helping the industry evolve so that it can remain vital for the long haul.

The next time you’re going to make a decision to choose a technology solution simply because your neighbor does NOT have it or refuse to even discuss ways to come together think again. That protectionist thinking could lead to the death of your business ultimately.