Having managed nearly 60 MLS mergers, we hear many excuses why a consolidation won’t work:
- Our market is unique – we don’t have a problem here
- They need us more than we need them
- Our members are not asking for it – I don’t see how they would benefit from this
- Our vendor contract doesn’t expire for two more years
- My leadership would never go for it – I cannot convince them this is a good idea
We recommend 7 steps to overcoming these obstacles:
- Educate leadership that MLS consolidation isn’t synonymous with association consolidation or job loss. Someone must lead and have an interest in exploring the options, possibilities and potential benefits. Others will follow – they always do.
- Gather information by asking the right questions. You don’t have to figure out how to do it all on your own. Start this conversation with your board before moving to an informational luncheon with your adjacent MLS neighbors. This way your leadership and peer organizations can finally see the bigger picture from 30,000 feet.
- Share specific examples where consolidation has worked well for others. Bring in a guest speaker with lots of experience across the country. Discuss exactly how they went about it. Talk candidly about the challenges, downsides, costs and how long it took. MLS consolidation can be achieved in 6-18 months depending on how many organizations are involved. A merger with 14 MLSs takes longer than 2-3. We have experience with the largest initiatives if you want to learn from others.
- Shift internal focus from talking about fears and the past to talking about the possibilities. What’s best for our brokers, subscribers and ultimately the consumers they serve?
- Involve all stakeholders in the exploration and decision-making process. If you don’t start the process by including key staff and the people with the power to make change happen, they will torpedo your success.
- Let all voices be heard, including the staff, boardroom, influential brokers and members.
- Multiple MLS technology platforms are always involved. Delay vendor discussions and system selection until the team has outlined its collective business needs, then pick the technology that best supports these needs. Doesn’t that make good sense?
“It’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t care about who gets credit.”
MLS mergers, consolidations and collaborations – whatever you prefer to call yours – are incredibly complex, and unless they are managed correctly, you are highly unlikely to achieve your goals to better serve your members and brokers. As President of T3 MLS, I provide consulting services to Realtor associations and MLSs regarding mergers, collaborations, strategic planning, technology, joint ventures, request for proposals and more. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how my team can serve you.