Most of the time, when Clareity assists a client with its multiple listing service system selection process, Clareity starts at the beginning of its time-tested, standard process and performs all of the steps, each building on the last. But sometimes—several times this past year—clients have called upon us to assist them with their MLS selection process after they have tried to “go it alone.” Sometimes, they’ve only called after the process has “gone off the tracks.” Though we appreciate being called upon at any point in the process, and are happy to help our clients in whatever capacity they wish, joining a vendor selection already in progress requires extra effort to achieve a desirable outcome.
As we like to say, “When it comes to implementing a new MLS system, members rarely say ‘Thank you for doing this for me,’ but, rather, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’” If the MLS selection committee hasn’t engaged the membership or doesn’t properly balance listening and leading throughout the process, the process can easily run astray. Sometimes we’re brought in after the members have already been engaged, but if the right questions haven’t been asked, it’s hard to “go back to the well” and start again.
Sometimes a client will try to bring Clareity in right at the end, for contract negotiation. We are happy to help at that point, collaborating with any attorney our client wishes. But if the steps preceding negotiation haven’t been carried out thoroughly, the negotiation can be very chaotic. For example, if the Request for Proposal (RFP) has not been well structured and the “winning” proposal is not detailed enough, there may be many details that need to be added to the contract to make sure that features, customizations, integrations, and other services are included in the quoted cost. There’s less room to negotiate if the RFP and the competitive bid process around it hasn’t been managed properly. Also, when the committee and board of directors are in that difficult position of trying to maintain confidentiality regarding their choice during negotiations, the more time that it takes to gather information that is usually gathered earlier in the process, the more difficult it is for information not to leak. Part of Clareity’s role is to make sure everything is done at the right time during the process.
We love helping our clients with MLS and other technology system selection processes. But we can be most effective when brought in at the beginning of the process — ideally, ten months to a year before current contract expiration. Thankfully, most of our clients don’t try to go it alone on a technology selection process. Usually the people charged with making this important decision are volunteer Realtors®, people who understand the need to use a practiced professional to manage any complicated selection and negotiating process. The alternative is to incur the “FSBO” risk — the risk inherent in any unpracticed buyer trying to manage a complicated and expensive transaction on his or her own.
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