“If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
As we stand on the cusp of a new year, real estate agents across the United States are gearing up for the challenges and opportunities that the new year presents. This offers brokers a key opportunity for connection, mentorship and guidance in annual business planning exercises. Whether this is accomplished through group sessions, one-on-one mentorship, or virtual training and resources, assisting your agents with establishing obtainable goals and developing a measurable path for success plays a big part in your annual recruitment and retention efforts.
I work with many brokerages each year in the development of strategic annual planning programs. Below are my tips, tricks and strategies for brokers looking to stand out from their peers and serve as true servant leaders.
Setting the Course Though S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting:
Business planning is akin to charting a course for a ship in uncharted waters. It involves a meticulous analysis of past performance, a realistic assessment of the current situation, and a forward-looking vision for the future. The key is to assist your agents with setting clear objectives, identifying potential roadblocks, and devising strategies to navigate the challenges that may arise. Brokers should focus on helping agents with S.M.A.R.T. goal setting to ensure realistic, obtainable growth.
S = Specific (Clearly Identity Each Goal)
M = Measurable (Ensure You Can Measure Progress and Success)
A = Achievable (Sent Goals That Are Realistically Achievable)
R = Relevant (Set Goals That Are Relevant To Your Values and Long-Term Objectives)
T = Time-based (Establish Incremental Deadlines Via Task Prioritization)
One of the key components of effective business planning is financial forecasting. By evaluating past years income and expenses, agents can make informed predictions about future revenue, expenses, and profitability. This not only aids in budgeting and resource allocation but also provides a solid basis for making strategic financial decisions. Whether it’s allocating funds for lead generation, investing in new technologies, or managing cash flow, a well-thought-out financial plan is indispensable….especially in a business that is many times “feast or famine”.
In today’s volatile and competitive real estate environment, risk is an inherent factor that cannot be ignored. Business planning exercises allow agents to conduct a thorough risk analysis, identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities. Armed with this knowledge, agents can proactively implement risk mitigation strategies, ensuring they are well-prepared to weather unforeseen challenges in the market. Having a ‘Plan B” acts as a shield against the uncertainties that may arise.
Alignment of Resources:
Strategic planning facilitates the alignment of organizational resources with overarching goals and objectives. This not only maximizes agent productivity but also fosters a sense of purpose and direction throughout the year. When everyone within the organization understands the broader strategy and their personal contribution, it creates a cohesive and focused environment, driving the entire organization towards success.
Adaptability and Innovation:
A well-crafted business plan is not a static document; rather, it is a dynamic roadmap that allows for adaptation to changing circumstances. By regularly revisiting and updating the plan, agents can stay agile and responsive to emerging trends. It prompts agents to explore new opportunities, embrace emerging technologies, and continuously seek ways to improve the end-to-end real estate experience.
Following is a list of resources that I suggest brokers present to their agents for annual business planning. Once again, you can offer these resources via group planning sessions (I’m a big fan of these!), one-on-one meetings, or via your online training / resource center (if applicable). Regardless of your approach, I recommend some sort of personal outreach and/or follow-up during the annual planning process, as well as a mid-year check-in to see how things are going.
- S.M.A.R.T. Planning Worksheet
Encourage agents to self-explore questions such as: What do I want my real estate career to do for my overall life? Why is this important to me? Who else will benefit? How? What will drive me every day to accomplish my goals? What will my life look like in 1, 3, 5 years if I don’t grow my business?
These open-ended questions are a great way to understand the motivation around each agent’s business and what is most important to them.
- S.W.O.T. Analysis
Having agents take a look at their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats helps in setting realistic goals. Have your agents outline their top 3 business goals along with daily, weekly and monthly actions that will help them hit those goals over the course of the coming year.
- Financial Analysis via Income and Expense Tracking
Provide agents with an interactive spreadsheet that will serve as a guideline for tracking month-by-month personal and business expenses in comparison with their income. Is your agent upside down? Help them seek opportunities to eliminate or offset expenses to mitigate risk, and evaluate the past year’s production numbers to see where income came from, exploring how to redirect or “double down” on growth opportunities.
By committing time each year to help agents be successful, brokers foster an environment of collaboration. These types of exercises also help brokers evaluate the tools and resources they provide their agents annual. For example, if your agents are struggling with lead generation, what types of products and / or training can you provide to drive greater success? Do you see specific trends across your agents’ productivity throughout the year that you can help compensate for through ancillary revenue streams?
Successful business growth is a team effort, and taking the time to support your agent’s businesses is the sign of true servant leadership. Your time and effort will be repaid with not only good karma, but also with happy, productive agents that will stay with your organization and stand beside you through the ups and downs of the real estate market.