Point/Counterpoint with Gregory J. Berta and David M. Peretti

REALTOR® Image: Whose Responsibility is it?

July 1, 1996

POINT: The REALTOR® Organization Has a Role

By Gregory J. Berta

I take great pride in the fact that nearly three years ago the elected leaders and committee volunteers at our local association had the vision and sense of urgency to develop and implement an annual image enhancement campaign.

The success of our program is directly related to the commitment of the association's Public Relations Committee, a group of dedicated individuals who wouldn't take no for an answer. In 1991 the Lancaster County (Pa.) Association of REALTORS® hit the streets with a billboard campaign focused on falling interest rates. The PR committee wanted to extend the message by adding broadcast and print media to the mix. But because of costs and a belief that the message had been heard, our directors declined the request for funding.

That decision didn't deter the committee. It spent nearly a year conducting focus groups, brainstorming sessions, and financial impact studies. In late 1993 the directors gave unanimous approval to fund an image enhancement program.

LCAR unveiled its first image campaign in 1994 and has allocated nearly $60,000 per year to the program. The campaign includes television, radio, newspaper, billboard, and transit advertising. It targets adults ages 25-54 and focuses attention on the theme "REALTORS® get the job done, professionally and efficiently."

The campaign has been very effective. Within the business community, we've generated a feeling of respect for our professionalism. That's the kind of attention we wanted, and the kind of response we wanted.

I acknowledge that each of us has a role to play in promoting the REALTOR® image, but I believe it's vitally important that local and state associations take the lead.

...COUNTERPOINT: Individual Initiative Will Solve Our Problem

By David M. Peretti

The issue is not whether a better image is desirable. It is. The issue is whether it's prudent or even effective to spend the many millions of dollars we'd need to provide the frequency and longevity required for a success-ful campaign, when a better approach would be to recognize the importance of individual responsibility.

How many minutes of prime-time television does it take to reverse the image of a REALTOR® who's late for an appointment? How many ads in the local newspaper does it take to counter the impression of a REALTOR® who's not in tune with the local market?

Here's a short list of ways---you may have more---you can help ensure that consumers see the wisdom of using a REALTOR®:

  • Knowing the market---Do you know your market cold? Can you effortlessly discuss the inventory, pricing, availability?
  • Investing in yourself---You expect your company to spend a large amount of its budget each year to improve its business. What percentage of your income did you spend last year to make yourself more competitive?
  • Having a professional appearance---Do you present yourself professionally? How's that car looking? Is it clean and neat?
  • Being dependable---If you say you'll be in touch, are you? Are you on time for your appointments? What impression do you have of other professionals who make you wait?

No amount of spending is as effective as the REALTOR® who takes personal responsibility for being a professional. The image we generate through individual commitment to professionalism will be stronger and last longer than any 30-second spot you'll ever see or hear.

Gregory J. Berta is a salesperson with Coldwell Banker--Slaugh & Co., Lancaster, Pa., and 1996 president of the Lancaster County (Pa.) Association of REALTORS®.

David M. Peretti, CRB, is treasurer of Hammond Residential Real Estate, Chestnut Hill, Mass., and a member of NAR's Board of Directors.

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