The internet is full of business planning templates that will allow you to make lofty goals. But, without a path that will lead you to achieve what you envision, it just isn't worth your time to do a business plan. Without the path, a business plan is just a list of dreams!
Simply put, the path is the most important part. Without it, you really have no way of knowing if your goal is achievable - let alone how to achieve it. Your path, the one what will take you towards successfully reaching your goals, is a path that includes clear tasks and a timeline. Your path is your action plan.
For example, imagine you injure your knee and have to go to a physical therapist. The therapist won't just do a consultation with you and then send you on your as they tell you, “Well, we need to get that knee into shape. I will see you in six months and see how you are doing.” Of course not! A therapist will determine your current knee health and functionality, the desired range of motion, and how much improvement they would like to see at the six-month mark. Then that therapist will give you a prescription – an action plan – for getting there. Your knee-recovery action plan might include regular therapy sessions and exercises for you to do on your own at home.
That is an action plan! And that is what I would like to see each and every one of you do for your businesses in 2023.
Let's say there is an agent whose 2023 goal is to have a more-balanced business between buyers and sellers. Since 2020 we have seen a lot of buyers who lose-out on multiple offers, got frustrated, gave up, or are now sitting on the fence, waiting for interest rates to come down. Our example agent has worked with many buyers like this. They are tired. This coming year they want to make a change, conserve their energy, and work with more sellers. How should this agent start?
I would advise the agent to start by asking these questions:
Let's break down the above example into five clear steps that you can follow as you create your own action plan.
To answer this question, this agent would have to break down the goal a bit more. Where do they want these sellers to come from or more-specifically, what is the easiest way to get more sellers? Are these sellers going to come from their database or do they need to create a specific campaign to attract sellers they haven't met yet? What action do they need to take to connect with these sellers? In this case, perhaps there are several actions needed:
First, this agent will need to connect with past client homeowners in their database with a one-on-one consultation to answer their questions about the real estate market and to share their current market value.
Second, the agent will use the MLS to target single-story property owners in areas where single-story homes have sold for top dollar – even in this market.
These are the two actions become business campaigns that this agent is going to work on.
We've identified two business campaigns that will help us reach out goal. Let's take a look at the actions we will need to take to do each one.:
Campaign #1: “Connect with past client homeowners and offer a one-on-one consultation”
The agent would need to determine if they wanted to do all of these at once, focus on this action in the first quarter, offer these on the anniversary month of home purchase, or something else. If I had more than 30-40 past clients, I would probably do these on the anniversary month to spread out my consultations throughout the year. However, if this agent really wants to start their year out with a full pipeline, they may choose to hunker down and get them all done over the first couple of months. For the purposes of this example, let's say the agent decides to connect on the past clients' anniversary month. The action plan would look something like this:
On the 1st of each month:
For the consultation they schedule they will use their market value report template.
Campaign #2: “Use the MLS to target single-story property owners in areas where single-story homes have sold for top dollar “
The agent may decide to run this campaign once or twice a month to a new group of homeowners each time or only run the campaign until they get x number of sellers for the year. For the purposes of this example, let's say the agent decides to run the campaign once per month. The action plan would look something like this:
On the 5th of each month:
You may have noticed that we referenced a few action items in the list above that the agent may not have in their toolbox yet. Part of the action plan is determining what you need to get the job done.
What is needed for the past client homeowner campaign?
What is needed for the single-story homeowner campaign?
Ideally, the agent would use the month of December to get these six items done so they are ready to go in January.
In this case, the agent can tell if they are on track based on whether they are completing the actions we outlined in step 2 above.
This is where some crucial accountability enters the picture. This agent may want to ask their managing broker, business coach, or a fellow agent who also needs some accountability to check-in with them or set up a monthly meeting. A little pressure is a good thing, especially when just getting started!
Let's say it is now the first day of April. Our example agent was so busy in March that they let both of their campaigns go undone. How should they get back on track? They could certainly double-up in April, but is that realistic? If it were me, I would double up on the past client campaign, but maybe skip the single-story homeowner mailer for March – then double-up later in a month that is quieter like August or September. That way, the agent is still making their annual goal, but staying on track with past clients which is really the highest and best use of their connection energy.
I hope you found this exercise helpful in creating your 2023 Action Plan! Remember, the key to creating an action plan to achieve your goals is to make sure the actions are achievable.
If you find yourself adding 25 too many actions to your calendar each month, you may need to rethink your goals or be prepared to hire someone to help. There are only so many hours in the day.
It is also important to not lose sight of the highest and best use of your time along the way. If you are most productive talking with people and making live connections, don't include action steps that involve you sitting behind a desk writing a blog. Instead, capitalize on your strengths in order to achieve your goals.
Here's to your action-oriented 2023!
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.