by Marina R. James
WinnipegREALTORS®’ first quarter of 2018 was marked by strengthening our connections to our members and to our stakeholders. As the year progresses, working alongside our directors and volunteers, WinnipegREALTORS®staff continue to fulfill its 2018 strategic directives, while laying the groundwork and planning for future projects and achievements.
We here at WinnipegREALTORS® strive to institute a positive culture of engagement and discourse with our members. Together, we can establish WinnipegREALTORS®and its members as industry leaders and attain an association that creatively adapts and responds to commitments with its members.
A major component of the 2018 Strategic Plan involves an extensive review of the association constitution and by-laws. A special task force composed of members of the Executive Committee and three of our Past Presidents work in collaboration with senior staff. Together, we have developed a comprehensive framework for the governance review, focusing efforts to drive WinnipegREALTORS® to become an organization of increased responsiveness and accountability.
Efforts to increase engagement with members continue with the first-of-its-kind Rural Broker visits. During the week of March 12-23, 2018, over 57 members from Steinbach, Selkirk and the surrounding areas, joined Senior Vice President Crystal Hollas, Director of Publications Tracy Mainland, Learning & Development Coordinator Vern Toews and SentriLock specialist Ruth Gosselin for an informative week of information exchange and resource sharing. Members were provided with training in Matrix, valuable tricks and tips about the SentriLock lockboxes and the substantial marketing benefits of using association publications such as the Real Estate News and the Condo Lifestyle Magazine. Various WRA forms and materials were also made available for purchase. The positive response to these visits serve as an encouragement to create similar events for our members in other areas.
We remain committed to the continual growth of our members at both a personal and professional level. Our Professional Development Program (PDP) of 2018 provided our members with educational sessions helping them become better business owners and REALTORS®. Recent workshops including a business tax seminar, a FINTRAC webinar and a workshop about online business generation were well received by its attendees. Upcoming sessions will look at maintaining a positive balance between our wealth and health. You can view all the upcoming sessions on the Keystone Training Centre.
The IT department is going full steam ahead with the development of our two new websites. A thorough selection process concluded with the decision to secure the website development company Visual Lizard (visuallizard.com) to design and build both new sites. Detailed site mapping and content creation will provide a robust development structure as we move forward in creating innovative and user-friendly websites, serving as information portals for our consumers, and digital marketing platforms for our members. WinnipegREALTORS®has the advantage of having the entire range of property listing information and open house data; information which we can utilize to make the sites relevant, current and accurate. The websites are scheduled to be launched in the fall.
The Publications department launched a successful redesign of the Real Estate News on March 9. A dynamic front page design was created for more impact which can be easily identified as a new issue each week. A new theme is showcased weekly such as Parade of Homes or Cottage Living, while the front cover photo reflects the content found inside that week’s issue.
New workflows and applications have been integrated within the Publications department, giving them additional resources for a more efficient process and more opportunities to refresh current ad layouts. The previous layout application QuarkXPress has been replaced by the industry standard application Adobe InDesign, along with the most current versions of Photoshop and Illustrator. The cutting-edge functions and features found within InDesign enables the graphic design team to create more dynamic designs for your brand and your ads, re-imagining old graphic elements and revamping them for a modern current look and feel. This also positions our production department to generate digital designs for future website and online needs.
WinnipegREALTORS®, through its External Relations department, reinforced its message regarding the City of Winnipeg’s Climate Action Plan and its proposed endorsement of mandatory energy labeling for the buildings — residential and commercial. The association does not believe this should be implemented, and consider it a major bureaucratic overreach with attached unnecessary costs including the potential of stigmatizing older homes where a poor energy designation makes it difficult to sell on the market. Strong representation from the real estate industry was present during the meeting and there was unanimity in making it clear that energy labeling is contentious and mandatory energy audits, particularly at a point of sale, should not be considered. We will provide more updates from this file as they occur.
Planning continues for the WinnipegREALTORS® Mayoral Forum, with a target of increasing audience engagement and reach. New technical partners are being researched to provide online exposure such as live streaming of the forum, increased social media engagement and the production of videos with all of the civic candidates. Peter Squire, Vice President of External Relations is working diligently to frame the forum to increase awareness among the candidates of the pressing issues and challenges surrounding our local market and organized real estate.
On behalf of the association, I want to convey congratulations to our Commercial Division for not only celebrating a major milestone with 2018 being their 50th anniversary, but being recognized as an outstanding commercial real estate division by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). For the sixth time, the Commercial Division has won the Canadian Commercial Network (CCN) Merit Award. You can read the article found in this month’s Relator.
The accomplishments and milestones of our first quarter are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our directors, volunteers and staff. As we dive deeper into the 2018 Strategic Plan, I am grateful for the on-going trust and belief bestowed to me by our members. The significant role that our staff have in achieving our planned projects should not be underestimated and I firmly believe that we are ready for the challenge. Our relentless focus on creating an industry-leading association, and our unwavering commitment to member solutions, drives us forward and into the future.