Business planning is top of mind for most business leaders this time of year. Lofty goals, dedication and drive are commonplace, but what is going to get you to a new level of success is not looking forward, it is looking backward and analyzing what has room for improvement.
In all my years of both selling real estate and now as a coach and trainer, there are common challenges that always doom a business plan and sabotages goals. Agents aren’t consistent, they aren’t leveraging their time, they don’t track their money, they don’t connect, and don’t take enough time off.
So before you look forward, I encourage you to take a good hard look at your 2021 and ask yourself the following questions:
ARE YOU CONSISTENT ENOUGH?
Meaning, are you following through on your campaigns? Successful real estate businesses have campaigns for:
- Their database
- Potential clients
- Past clients
- Closing and the first year
- And if you aren’t getting enough business from your database, a lead generation campaign may be in order.
Are you running these campaigns on a schedule and not missing any communication? For many agents, this is the one area that is the biggest challenge which is too bad because it is also the biggest determiner of success. If you weren’t consistent in 2021, my advice would be to make a commitment to get consistent OR delegate aspects of this job to someone else or a company that specializes in campaigns (we can help!).
ARE YOU LEVERAGING YOUR TIME ENOUGH?
Having someone else tackle some of your campaigns is a great example of leveraging your time. As real estate agents, we are often the rainmaker, the janitor, the runner, the bookkeeper, the graphic designer, the writer, and our own personal assistant. If you were constantly burning the candle at both ends in 2021, make a plan to leverage your time in 2022.
Here are some easily-delegated tasks:
- Get someone to clean your house
- Hire someone to run some of your campaigns
- Hire someone who can do random administrative tasks, even 10 hours a week
- Hire a bookkeeper (if you have an accountant already, see if they have someone on staff who can do some light bookkeeping)
- You should also check with your brokerage to see what help is available there (and that you may already be paying for)…which brings us to our next topic.
ARE YOU TRACKING YOUR MONEY ENOUGH?
Don’t even begin to make loftier goals with your money before you really dive into your 2021 expenses. Remember, it is not what you make, it is what you take. Before you make more work for yourself and to give yourself a bigger piece of the pie you are already working hard to bake, ask yourself the following:
- Are you tracking your mileage or vehicle expenses? This can equate to thousands of dollars saved per year. Work with your accountant to create a system for this if you haven’t already.
- Are you deducting home office expenses if you work out of your home?
- Do you have a budget or a percentage earmarked for each listing you take for staging, photography, and marketing? I have seen a lot of agents this past year throw a lot of money at listings, money they hadn’t budgeted, that took a big percentage of their commission.
- Are you tracking your eating-on-the-go expenses? It is likely more than you think!
- Have you evaluated your brokerage expenses and made sure you are getting all out of your brokerage you should?
- Are you getting a strong-enough return on your lead generation investment?
- Is your accountant doing enough to help your tax situation? If you feel that your accountant is too busy to give you good advice or that you could be saving more in taxes, possibly by making more retirement investments, it is probably time to find another accountant. I know it is a pain to make a change, but this tax season is a great time to have a one-on-one meeting with your accountant, express your concerns, and see if a new plan is available. If not, it may be time to see if there are other options exist.
ARE YOU CONNECTING ENOUGH?
COVID has done a number on the way most salespeople are used to connecting. Zoom isn’t a great alternative for real face-to-face interactions, many group meetings were cancelled, parties and get-togethers were toned down or cancelled altogether. Client appreciation events, if planned, looked a lot different than events of years’ past. Many sales meetings are also not back to being live as COVID cases have crept back up. Frankly, frustration, dismay, and depression have made it difficult to connect. If you know you didn’t connect enough in 2021, make a connection plan for 2022. Here are some ideas:
- Connect one-on-one with your past clients – if you had traditionally done some sort of an event and that is not possible, consider how you can connect one-on-one. I loved creating an Annual Client Review report for each past client and then offering to go over the results in a one-on-one meeting, but if the thought of that intimidates you, perhaps just set up a meeting to discuss their real estate plans.
- Connect with the community – With community events few and far-between, how can you make a connection with people in your community? This might be a good time to talk with local business owners and let them know that you are supporting their businesses in this tough time. Can you be a guest at your local Rotary Club meeting (whether live or on Zoom) or Chamber of Commerce? If you live in an HOA, are you showing up to meetings? This is a great time to also attend your City planning meetings and find out what developments are on the horizon.
- Connect with your potential clients – 2022 is the year to assume that potential clients are not going to come back your way when they are ready. This will be the year that you will need to not only step-up communication with your potential clients – this will be the year that you may need to be proactive to make things happen. It is a collaborative process, but keep it as light and fun as possible with your potential clients along for the ride. Be proactive by sending market updates, listings, information gleaned from the City planning meetings you are now attending – simply put, custom communication for conversion will be key in 2022.
- Connect with those who have made a difference in your business and life – Practicing gratitude by sending a heartfelt notecard to people who have made a big difference in your life is a great way to make you feel good too and feel more connected.
ARE YOU TAKING ENOUGH TIME OFF?
Yes, COVID has made it difficult to plan a trip overseas, but there are safe ways to travel while staying close to home. You don’t have to go far to recharge. The real estate market over the past two years has been grueling. Take some time to do an Energy Audit of your 2021. If you had more than a few days in which you hated your job, were ready to be a barista rather than talk to another buyer, or rage-quit, stayed in bed and ate a gallon of ice cream once a terrible transaction closed, then you didn’t take enough time off in 2021.
The best way to take time off is to schedule it. How much time off should you be taking? At least one full day off per week and half of another day, one full weekend a month, and at least four weeks per year is a good general guide. However, you may need six weeks off per year and half a week per month. The key is that transactions and conditions are going to continue to be a challenge in 2022, and if you aren’t taking time off to recover (just like athletes), you are going to burnout. Taking time off is not only good for your business, it is critical for your health.
We are now almost two weeks into the new year and the best of intentions from January 1st are likely starting to hit their first challenges. Don’t lose ground and lose sight of your goals! Take a look backwards to determine where your actions are likely to fall short and adjust for an amazing 2022 and beyond!
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By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI – The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.