Are You Sure You Can’t afford it?10 Ideas Beyond CE NonDues Revenue

I was having a FB conversation with one of my mentors today about non-dues revenue. I have had the good fortune to be a member of the REAL TRENDS AE Council for 7 years. Brilliant minds! One of the discussions was always on nondues revenue and also how that revenue related to direct member benefits/service. NAR has a list of nondues revenue generating ideas if you want to start simple. However, this is for AEs that already have all the basics in place. Here are some of the ideas I have been exposed to during the REAL TRENDS AE Council meetings.

  1. Think like Sam Walton. Are you running your store like a gift shop or a repository for forms and lockboxes you are missing an opportunity. Go into your local Wal*Mart. Really look at how they merchandise to their target consumer. I significantly raised revenue and profit at both the OKCMAR and SLAR R-Stores. Our signs weren’t in boxes or bins that a member rifled through. At least two walls were covered with peg board slats to prominently display the signs. While many franchises require use of their signs a good portion of your membership is not in a franchise. If you are going to sell clothing display it on 4-ways and shelving like a real retail store. Sell candy at your check out. Put items- like your lockboxes near check out to remind them they probably will need one soon. We sold more tasers (please check the legality in your state) than any other safety item- the tasers looked like and operated like a flashlight so as not to intimidate the members’ buyers but a quick flick of the wrist can stun an assailant long enough for the REALTOR to get away. Make sure your members can order paper forms (if they are still using them or if they are still required) like Target does for  They take their ticket up to the counter and someone gets the item for them.
  2. Renting  your building is great but renting your land can be even more lucrative AND you and your staff don’t have to do any work. At SLAR we rented our ridiculously large parking lot to a local car dealership- very lucrative. One of my REAL TRENDS colleagues rented association land to one of the large cell phone carriers to put up a cell tower- another lucrative proposition for the association.
  3. Think beyond the ordinary affiliate program. At Rockheads we had a vendor certification program rather than affiliate dues. There was also a side benefit to this. They were no longer a stakeholder member. I think we have all seen at least one association where the affiliates are running the show because they are members too. Instead each vendor went through a rigorous application process which ensured they were in fact a credible company. In the application they were asked what they were going to do to market their product to our members removing the responsibility of the association to promote their products. We also required a formal process for how they would resolve a member complaint. They were required to give the member a discount of at least 10% minimum (many gave more) and the association 5-10% of what they sold to our membership. They all agreed to a quarterly reporting process. If they failed to report and we learned they got a warning, second time a suspension, third time their certification was revoked. We had agreements for everything from CPA services, to IT Services, to PR companies, to equipment, to glue, to sinks, to marble, granite and quartz purchases. The stone and sink agreements were very lucrative. We were a small group but went after large national accounts and were successful.
  4. Create a stock photography service. This association created a repository of stock photos for member websites at a nominal fee as compared to the professional services such as IStock and Shutterstock and the member was relieved of any potential copyright problems.
  5. Think like Joel Singer of CAR. He was a member of the council during my time with them. This association creates technology they don’t just buy it. Leverage your in house talent. At SLAR a staff member created an interactive commercial board orientation program and we sold it to other associations. At OKCMAR a talented staff person allowed us to look into video production for our members.
  6. Think like Jeff Bezos of Amazon. If you aren’t using a registration program that sends an automatic thank you and if you liked this class/event  may we suggest these upcoming classes/events. You are missing a non-dues opportunity to increase sales.
  7. Publish on Kindle. Yep. Your staff and committees are daily content producers. Create a series of e-books on any relevant topic or trend- sell for $2.95 it’s Amazon’s best price point. You will not only be raising the professionalism in your own association but others in the industry will buy it and benefit from your knowledge.
  8. Advertising. Its often overlooked in the form of sponsorship but it doesn’t need to be. Inexpensive annual ad contracts are a phenomenal way for the small affiliate vendor to have a large presence in your association. At SLAR in both our online monthly magazine (we used and in our bi-weekly newsletter we accepted advertising. I want to stress annual otherwise it is not worth the time and effort of staff. If the income is small $50-100 per month, it needs to be consistent. They get the coverage but in return you demand consistency. The Lexington association sells advertising on their website and on their public facing MLS website.
  9. Special Segment publications. In Wisconsin, the brokers paid $12 extra dues per year for their mandatory broker magazine subscription. This was a monthly 4 page publication which covered primarily legal issues and reviewed calls that had come into the legal hotline. Be creative, maybe a publication in Spanish or a publication specifically for the commercial or urban market REALTOR.
  10. Don’t forget the NAR grants. Seriously, they are not that hard to get and can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line. One year (bear in mind we used the legislative analysis grant and the polling grant as well as the Major Donor grant- where NAR pays the provider directly- but this is actually money in your pocket in terms of trade) SLAR brought in over $90,000 in grants (including the three direct pays). The true beauty of these grants is that NAR really is your partner in success and the members receive the full value of the grant even if it is paid directly to a provider/vendor.


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