RECA’s Continuous Improvement: RECA Communications

The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) believes in continuous improvement. But, in order to improve and demonstrate improvement, we need to know where we are now.

As part of its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, RECA hired Downey Norris & Associates Inc. (DNA) to conduct an extensive audit of RECA communications, both internal and external. DNA provided their final report to RECA in January 2018, and in the spirit of openness and transparency, we’re sharing the highlights from that report with you now.

Audit Goals

The goals of this audit were to:

  • evaluate and assess the effectiveness of RECA’s internal and external communication programs and practices in supporting the organization to achieve the objectives outlined in the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan
  • provide recommendations for improvement of RECA’s internal and external communications to position its efforts to serve organizational and stakeholder needs through the current strategic plan
  • provide recommendations and a plan for development of employee skills and resource requirements to ensure the communications function serves evolving organizational and stakeholder needs and expectations

Method

The communications audit included extensive research, interviews, and surveys with RECA staff, Council, consumers, the Government of Alberta, and industry professionals, including:

  • 22 in-person interviews
  • 2 industry member focus groups
  • RECA staff survey
  • analysis of RECA communications vehicles, tools, media relations, and communications unit structure and resources
  • analysis of third-party research reports, which included consumer focus groups and surveys, and industry professional surveys
  • analysis of industry professional survey on RECA communications (December 2016)
  • analysis of other Canadian regulators’ communications

Hundreds of industry professionals provided their feedback as part of this initiative – whether through survey work or focus groups – and we would like to thank you for your participation. Your feedback and input will help us continually improve.

Key findings

Overall, DNA’s report indicated RECA maintains a wide range of high quality communications tools and processes to support communications with RECA industry professionals, consumers, and employees. The DNA report also identified some areas for improvement.

  • Lack of awareness of RECA among consumers is impeding consumer access to RECA information and resources to help protect themselves in a real estate transaction
  • RECA receives positive recognition from stakeholders for its efforts to improve collaboration. However, a very small segment of stakeholders continue to identify an underlying lack of trust and respect for RECA that could hamper RECA’s ability to communicate and engage effectively with them.
  • Not all industry members see RECA reflecting the “can do” attributes described in the brand guidelines
  • The RECA website is the core communications vehicle. It acts as a central hub and repository for all external communications and as a resource for employees. The site contains a wealth of helpful information; however, it is currently not mobile-friendly, and it can be difficult to navigate and search.
  • Email is the most preferred and effective method of communicating with industry professionals, especially emails highlighting the most important and pertinent information in a few short sentences at the top
  • Industry professionals rely on RECA to sort and highlight what information is most important and to make it clear and easy to access.
  • Industry members understand and accept RECA’s core mandate—to regulate the industry in the best interests of the public. Seventy-nine per cent of industry professionals surveyed say they are thoroughly or very aware of RECA’s roles and responsibilities, and 70% agree that RECA keeps them informed of key Act changes and rules. However, industry professionals indicated they are much less clear about how RECA’s role differs from trade associations.

Now what?

Continuous performance improvement is exactly that – continuous. RECA will continue on its journey of enhancing its communications both internally and externally. The recommendations and findings of the communications audit will guide us and inform our initiatives in the coming months and years.

  • Consumers and consumer protection are at the heart of RECA’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. To that end, RECA continues to increase its consumer awareness initiatives, including digital advertising, participation in consumer trade shows, participation in consumer events such as Fraud Prevention Month and Financial Literacy Month.
  • RECA is developing a new mobile-friendly website, which will launch this summer
  • Openness and transparency are key components of RECA’s current strategic initiatives. In the past year, RECA introduced a number of new policies to increase its openness, and will continue along this journey in the future.
  • RECA will continue to enhance its plain language and customer service skills. This includes providing additional plain language training to all staff.

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