The following is what I reported at the Board of Directors meeting on June 29, 2017
Recently, I was fascinated by a story that I heard an MLS conference last year about the Mongolian Express train system. The story about the Mongolian Express is simple, but the message is about consistency and standards. You see there are commuters that travel back and forth between China and Russia to work. Russian train track rails are a standard size of 5 feet wide, while the train tracks in China are slightly smaller at approximately 4 1/2 feet wide.
This causes a problem as it is not feasible for these financially strapped countries to have two separate train systems running. So they change out the wheel bases during the commute to get from one country to the next. The commuter train stops in Mongolia in order to change out the bogeys (or wheel base) under the trains, to allow the train to continue to travel into the next set of tracks. Commuters wait patiently (or not so patiently) anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on the time of day. This disruption causes a big efficiency (or lack thereof) problem for the people who ride that train.
The reason this story was told at an MLS conference was because they were discussing the RESO standards for MLS fields. Standardizing the MLS fields makes it easier for MLS systems to talk to each other, share data and generally make it easier for the agents to use the system selling houses to their clients.
But this same idea of standardization, efficiency and consistency can also be carried over into the association world and especially at OAR.
And that is the reason of why I tell you this story. I have spent the last six months applying the Mongolian Express bogey exchange theory and making things consistent in an effort to improve efficiency.
First, we are applying consistency to how we do our handle our leadership turnover, particularly with our committees. June is now being dubbed as “Application Month.” Every June from this point forward will be the time that you decide which committees you would like to serve on for the next year. You can apply for these committees and then your name will go on a list that will be considered by the OAR Leadership Team when they make committee appointments no later than September. You will know which committee you will be serving on by the late Fall, so that you can prepare. Meeting dates will be set with the Chairs far in advance of January. In addition, with June being application month this is the time to send in applications for Realtor of the Year Award, Community Rock Star Awards, Life Membership Awards, etc. All of these applications and descriptions can be found on OAR’s website by going to okrealtors.com/applications.
OAR currently has 18 standing committees, as listed in the bylaws. Technically, there should be 19 (YPN), but that was not added into your bylaws at the last bylaws update this past October. This will change this year. There are a few committees that probably need to be consolidated and there are a few new ones that probably need to be introduced. I am working with your 2018 leadership to start this project of reviewing what we currently have.
Next, we are also standardizing the Professional Standards Administration process. I am working with the local AEs now to refine and update the agreements of the administration contracts. They have not been updated since 2014 when OAR took over the professional standards process and there are some tweaks that need to be made in how the calls are handled and reported. We are now live on our new CasePro software that better manages the files. We are aiming for a goal of 5-6 weeks turnaround time on complaints that are filed, right now we are taking approximately 6-8 weeks due to an extensive load of hearings and not taxing the panels. I expect that this will improve now that our standards are being put in place.
Speaking of local AEs— our communication with them is getting stronger. We just hosted our annual AE Workshop last week at Monkey Island, Oklahoma and it was a huge success. It is a core standard requirement for all associations to make sure that their chief staff executive (paid or not) receive six hours of professional development training. Therefore, if the AEs are not able to attend the national AE Institute each year, we offer a mini institute of sorts that allows them to obtain the training and hours needed to qualify for core standards compliance. We were given notice approximately a month ago, by the AE Outreach Liaison Blair Calvo, that she would be relocating to Dallas, Texas for her husband’s job and her last day was yesterday. She will be missed. The plan going forward is that I will take on the AE Development and Core Standards Compliance and coordinate a strong communication channel with the AEs. To date, there are 21 local associations, 10 MLSs and 1 commercial overlay board in Oklahoma. Our six DVPs have done an outstanding job of keeping everyone in the loop, and their district reports that we received at the time of printing are in your packets. We will post the other reports received that did not make it into the packets.
Another area of standardization that we are working on is with our membership database. The current membership reports are in your packets so you can have an idea of where we are as membership continues to increase. As of June 26, 2017 our membership count was at 10,309 people. Our internal software system, RAMCO, has recently been updated and there have been some membership tweaks we need to make. We are working with the local association executives to update these records, as the point of entry for all members is through the local association. I expect that this project will be wrapped up by the Fall.
We are currently in the process of seeking a new contract lobbyist. Richard Phillips of Sooner Strategies gave us notice that he is going to be winding down his lobbying efforts and would like to end his contract on September 30, 2017. We are working with him on the exit strategy and using the plans to help prepare for the next legislative sessions. We have received submissions from 8 different interested parties and will begin the interview process soon. It is my goal to have a new contract lobbyist in place by September.
In September on September 28th OAR will be partnering with the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce to facilitate an NAR Candidate Training. This will be by invitation only and we will be offering candidate training for those people that are interested in serving in the Oklahoma legislature or any other public office. We feel that this would be our opportunity to make friends with candidates and start lobbying our efforts to protect property ownership. We look forward to reporting back on the success of the program at the October REignite conference.
And speaking of Reignite Conference… October 3-5 in Stillwater is when our annual state conference is. We expect a big turnout, so you will want to register soon to secure your room and registration.
So as you can see, consistency and standards are important. Therefore, I want to be consistent in recognizing the outstanding staff that make the day-to-day operations at OAR flow. We have a team that is amazing and I would love to introduce them to you now…in no particular order:
1) Jessica Dietrich, Government Affairs Director
2) Melissa Marshall, Community Outreach
3) Haley Meyer, Education Director and Professional Development *new*
4) Mel Ramsey, Professional Standards Administration *new*
5) Ann Moham, our new Executive Assistant
6) Ceci Noble, Finance Director
7) Susan Conway, Receptionist
8) Nabeel Jamal, Communications & Marketing
I am going to ask the OAR staff that are here to stand and please give them a round of applause in appreciation for the hard work they do.
Any questions can be sent via email or if you’d rather, you can always contact our President, Pete Galbraith with any questions.
As always, thank you for your support!