A new year is upon us and the perfect time to reflect… how was 2021 and what is in store for your 2022? It’s time for an important business checkup. Many create a formal business plan for the year ahead… but let’s be real… most REALTORS don’t because they find the whole process intimidating. Here’s a suggestion. Find a quiet 1/2 hour to ask yourself some simple questions, explore the answers, write down some notes and then give yourself a break. Go back in a few days to see what jumps out at you.
- What did you do exceptionally well this year?
- What do you need to pay more attention to in the coming year?
- How many clients did you assist… should you set 2022 goals based your service capability (how many you can serve effectively), or based on your income?
- How many clients do you have now? And, how many clients would you need to serve in the year ahead to meet your goals without sacrificing service?
- What steps will you take to cultivate and nurture existing relationships from past clients (remember that well over 60% of buyers and sellers use agents they know or were referred by a friend)
- What steps will you take to cultivate new relationships. Will you join new groups, expand your social network, volunteer in the association or local charitable organizations?
- How can you tweak your marketing plan to be realistic with the time and costs yet still be effective?
- Create a [sigh] realistic budget. Where did you money come and go last year, how can you tweak that to improve your situation?
- When creating a budget, consider expenses including new equipment, classes or courses, taxes, software, marketing, and reinvestment in signs, branding, and new initiatives.
- Where can you improve your communications, paperwork and organization?
- How well do you keep track of your clients and how well do you keep in contact?
From these answers, you’ll find your plan. If your online marketing is lacking, make a plan to commit 1 hour a week on research / posts. Put it in your calendar as an appointment. If you have to break it, you have to reschedule it. Then, prepare for your appointment in the same way you do any appointment – determine where, how, what? Will you spend that time investigating real estate options for agents? Will you call the board office to talk to the staff about training opportunities, will you search online for webinars? Will you join a real estate facebook or linked in group to share? I bet if you approach your 1 hour per week this way, you’ll be far ahead of your 2021 self in no time. What about a simple goal of asking for your clients to write a testimonial after closing? What about setting a goal to reach out to your past clients at least twice a year with something helpful or thoughtful?
Now is a great time to review your service standards… those little pesky details that can guide your business in the coming year.
- How rapidly will you return phone calls and respond to e-mail and text requests?
- Do you have an easy method to electronically convey who you work for and what services you provide at the first point of contact?
- How frequently will you contact existing clients and customers with progress reports?
- What specific services will you provide to the seller during the selling phase—a marketing plan, conduct open houses, list the property on the MLS, create a virtual tour of the property, add floor plans?
- What level of care will you give to the promotion of a seller’s property, time spent on staging, photos, listing data, compelling remarks, marketing?
- What specific questions should you ask in first working with buyers and sellers?
- What specific services will you provide to buyers when representing them?
- How rapidly will offers / counter offers be presented?
- What specific services will you provide to the seller during the closing phase—schedule inspections; follow-up on loans, title insurance, and other documents required for closing; attend the closing?
- How will you ensure that you make proper disclosures & obtain necessary acknowledgements in writing?
- What specific services will you provide after the closing takes place?
- How soon will you follow up with your clients after the closing to “check in”?
Simply answer these questions, put it on paper, and commit to and work by the promises made. Establishing service standards, or operating benchmarks, is an effective way to control risks because it lets your clients know, up front, what to expect from their brokerage relationship.
Your Personal Growth:
Sometimes, you have to sit down and future out what direction you can grow, who can help get you there and how to begin. Now is a great time to look inward and see how to make small steps towards your personal goals.
- What areas do you need education or training on to become a better REALTOR? This business changes on a dime, and constant learning is the trait of the successful.
- Will you allocate the time and money needed to grow? Most classes and courses require a small time commitment or financial commitment. If funds are especially tight, how will you get that needed training? (You know what they say, cut out that 2-3x week coffee stop and save $100 every quarter!)
- What areas do you need help to become a better business owner (and all REALTORS are small business owners!). Taxes, finances, marketing, technology? What are you lacking or worst yet, what are you avoiding?
- Identify those resources available to help. You have a legion of friends, family members, colleagues and business contacts. You have an association you belong to and many groups that you may participate – you have Google and desire to learn / grow… there are resources aplenty if you just look and ask.
- Identify the areas that you could improve your relationships with other brokers, office mates or professionals in ancillary businesses.
- Hint: Incoming MLS President Andy Perenick will be soon sharing a reading list of favorite books that helped motivate, focus and appreciate a life/work balance.
There are many, many self evaluation tools you can use to examine your business year past and prepare for the year ahead and this is just an informal start. But a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step (lao-tzu)… and now is a great time to take it!
Above all, we wish you a year of health, happiness, and prosperity – and the wisdom to know that means a lot more than money!