2019 was a year full of changes — many of which have laid the groundwork for what’s to come in 2020.
As CEO of MARIS, I take pride in our commitment to be a truly member-centric organization. In the past year, we conducted three major surveys to uncover member needs around our products, education and service. We also listened to member feedback through other forms of engagement. As a result, we’ve learned a lot from our members and made every effort to put them at the center of each decision we make as a company.
As we move into the new year, we’ll continue to take the same approach. I’m excited to share the plans we have in store for 2020, but I also want to take a moment to give a quick recap of 2019.
A Look Back at 2019
Salesforce CRM Conversion. At MARIS, we strive to build meaningful relationships with our members because they are at the core of everything we do. When we found a need for a more robust and intuitive CRM (Customer Relationship Management),we chose to go with Salesforce — a leading provider. Earlier in the year, we successfully converted member records into Salesforce. This has provided us with the ability to track the progress of member issues, gather key engagement metrics, build dynamic communication campaigns and has the potential to do so much more.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud Implementation. An important component of the Salesforce conversion also included the implementation of its digital marketing platform, Marketing Cloud. We’ve been successful in utilizing Marketing Cloud to deliver enhanced email communications with personalized and dynamic content. In the summer, we also launched our new member journey — a comprehensive, automated email series that guides new members through the onboarding process.
Remine Pro Upgrade. We also learned from our surveys that many members wanted more mobile and modern solutions. This brought forward the decision to upgrade all members to Remine Pro. Remine Pro provides all the essential MLS functions that REALTORS® need to do business within one mobile-friendly platform — outside of listing add/edit. We also partnered with Remine to deliver in-market education around the new Pro features and benefits.
Restructured Governance. In October, we announced the separation of Association Shareholder ownership from governance and moved from 32 directors to 13. Transitioning to a broker-driven board gives brokers more control of business operations and allows them to provide more strategic input. We also appointed two well-respected thought leaders in the industry as external board members, Craig Cheatham and John Mosey. They bring with them many years of experience and diverse perspectives from outside our marketplace.
Association Education Program. We enhanced our association educational experience by delivering training designed specifically for association members. First, we survey association members to find out which topics are most important to them. Then, we provide an educational plan based on their feedback. Once the sessions have been completed, we follow up with a list of additional resources so members can continue their education.
Elevated Marketing Team. We added two new members to the marketing team to improve our marketing efforts. This has given us the ability to create engaging content including educational videos, informational blog and social media posts, and personalized emails. We also gained a key resource for our Salesforce implementation efforts.
New Office. As our MARIS family continued to grow, we found ourselves quickly outgrowing our old office space. We decided to move to a new office in order to unify our staff, cultivate stronger interpersonal relationships and provide a more productive work environment. Members also have access to an upgraded educational space.
Here are some quick stats for 2019:
A Look Ahead at 2020
In 2020, we have several key initiatives …
A Common Data Platform. We’re partnering with NorthstarMLS to build a common data platform (CDP) that will allow our members to gain access to a larger marketplace footprint. This move will give MARIS — and brokers — the full ownership and access to our data and empower us with the ability to build customized services. With CDP, MARIS will eventually be able to offer listing add/edit features on a mobile-friendly platform such as Remine Pro.
MLS Grid. In 2020, we plan to convert all IDX/VOW data vendors from the Real Estate Transaction Standards (RETS) to MLS Grid. MLS Grid uses Web API technology, which enables quick and transposable development of applications across MLSs. When the conversion to MLS Grid is complete, all data from MLSs will feed into a single data feed, simplifying data access for MLSs, brokers and IDX/VOW vendors.
Evolution of the Marketing Team. We recently said goodbye to a key member of our marketing team who went on to pursue a different endeavor. While we lost a great strategic leader, I see this as an opportunity to better leverage the diverse skills within the team and develop emerging leaders.
Education. As we move into the new year, we will continue to explore new ways to deliver relevant and meaningful education to our members. We’ve already begun to do this by offering workshops — smaller, hands-on classes where attendees work through a set of exercises to test their knowledge. We'll continue to gauge member feedback so we can develop programs to meet divergent needs.
Investments in the Future of Real Estate. MARIS will continue strategic investments into the NAR REACH classes of 2018 and 2019. REACH is a growth accelerator program that focuses on helping companies develop products and services for the real estate, financial services, banking, home services and insurance industries. What these companies all have in common: they create products that keep REALTORS® at the center of every transaction.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last year, but I’m most excited about what the future will bring. Cheers to 2020!