By Toby Welch
Christine Cowern, a salesperson with Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty in Toronto, puts her team’s business plan together at the end of every year for the following year. She then re-visits it every quarter to adjust as needed and make sure that they’re on track.
“It’s much more difficult to manage and grow your business without a business plan. If you’re serious about what you do, a business plan is crucial. Not only does it provide greater clarity on different aspects of your business, but it also sets actionable goals and strategies for growth, essentially creating a roadmap for success.”
Ron Sally, a broker at Re/Max Millennium Real Estate in Woodbridge, Ont., has a business plan on steroids. “I don’t create just a business plan anymore. What I create is an annual life plan that has a combination of both personal goals (such as physical, travel, educational, spiritual) and business goals (production, recruitment, training, income).”
Sally says, “I normally create a full plan in the beginning of the year of everything I want to achieve or do. I then split all of them up quarterly. The purpose of your quarterly plan is to drive your annual plan and your long-term strategy forward. I keep updating and re-adjusting the quarterly plans as I move ahead in the year. Life is not straight lined. So much is happening and changing all the time that you have to constantly review your goals weekly, if not daily.”
When constructing a plan, be as detailed as possible. That not only allows you to determine what steps to take to reach your goals, it keeps you focused on results. For example, planning to contact 10 past clients every week is more actionable than planning to spend time each month reaching out to past clients.
Diane Allingham and Jennifer Stewart, brokers with Royal LePage Team Realty in Ottawa, have been updating and redoing their business plan annually since they became partners 10 years ago.
“We have found a business plan to be vitally important to the growth of our business. It allows us to take stock of what has been and to focus on where we want to go. If nothing else, it facilitates accountability at the end of the year. For us, the goals are important and reviewing at year-end gives us a sense of satisfaction and pride. As lead agents for a team, planning some aspects together really helps to draw everyone together as a more cohesive unit.”
An effective business plan evolves. Keep revising it and adding to it as your career changes. Consider getting input from your broker or someone else you trust for suggestions on making your plan even stronger.
Glenn Wildenmann, a broker with M Real Estate in Montreal, considers his business plan a living document.
“My business plan is my road map, so a lot of activities/objectives roll over from year to year. I do look at it with fresh eyes about twice a year, once after my busy winter season is coming to a close and again towards the end of fall as I prepare for the year to come.”
Lynne Faucon, broker manager for Coldwell Banker First Ottawa Realty in Ottawa, says, “A good business plan will focus on your personal and professional goals balanced against the reality of your local market conditions. Begin with where you want to have your business be at the end of the year. Start your planning with the end in mind. In preparation, reflect on the current market and where it is going and how it will affect your business. Adjust as needed. Set business and personal goals with rewards. Set short and long-term goals (one, three, five and 10-year). Have a marketing plan and budget. Always monitor and track what you do for effectiveness, cost and your time.”
What do real estate business plans cover? Cowern’s plan includes gross commission and sales volume goals, listing and buyer appointment goals, target markets, marketing initiatives, content creation goals and expense targets. Allingham and Stewart cover sales projections, revenue, expenses, where they want their business to come from, marketing, changes they want to make to their systems and overall growth strategy, plus any other areas they want to improve upon.
Sally includes income goals, recruitment goals, gross commission, appointments, transaction goals and sales volume. “There is so much available online through videos, articles and blogs that you can figure it out on your own if you put a little time into it,” he says.
Wildenmann’s business plan includes his expectations for the coming year for new client acquisition and repeat client retention, marketing, advertising and branding, and an associated budget to keep him on track. He also has a section for analyzing the different markets and neighbourhoods in which he works, as well as what his competitors are up to. “I think a Realtor’s business plan is very personal and can contain anything you need to keep you focused and on target.”
If the thought of crafting a business plan seems daunting, start small. Determine what your main goal is for the year. Then pin down three or four main actions you need to accomplish to reach that goal. Finally, determine the steps you need to take to reach those actions.
Wildenmann says, “Preparation makes execution that much easier. A plan leads to consistency in all aspects of your work. It creates a discipline. When I started, I would have good months and bad months; it became a roller coaster. When I implemented a plan, it removed some of the unknown and made my goals easier to achieve.”