I’m going to preface this blog by saying please do as I say, not as I did in the early days of our business. If I’m honest, I wasn’t always a planner, especially for business. In the early days of our Real Estate business, we kind of just winged and said yes to any opportunity that came our way. Starting a rent roll and running a business wasn’t really in my life plan at the time, heck I was going to be a TV presenter! So ,while it worked to a degree for us in the early years, there was a lot of blood, sweat, tears, hard work and rock bottom moments that went into our ‘no planning required’ approach. I guess it was ok as there was only really three of us in the business at that time and we were all simply flying by the seat of our pants. Hanging with bated breath that no sales contracts fell over or we were going to struggle to put food on the table that week, I’m not even exaggerating.
After our small but mighty business started growing quickly, it was clear we needed a more structured approach. It wasn’t a huge plan we developed but just small attainable goals and worked the rest out as we grew. With the benefit of hindsight, I’ve now become that planner person. I like to know where I’m heading, what I need to do to get there and what success is going to look like when I get there. That said, if the one thing Covid has taught us, is that it is ok to have a plan, but you can’t control what happens outside that plan and it is important to be able to pivot and adapt your plan to the circumstances beyond your control.
Our plan changed dramatically when Covid hit. We decided not to buy into the panic and doom and gloom, kept things going as normal as much as possible and doubled down on our marketing. What happened is we came out the other side with one of our biggest sales quarters in over a decade in business and a bunch of new managements. Who would have thought a global pandemic could be so good to the real estate industry?
No doubt most of you enjoyed some down time over the holidays, had some time to reflect on the year that was, and shone the spotlight on the year to be? If you did that is great, because that is exactly where your annual business plan starts. Keep it simple and think of it more as a guide or framework to keep you on an even keel, when you are feeling as though it is all too hard or nothing is going right. An annual plan should also be developed for your personal life as well, where do you want to be in 12 months, what are you goals, what do you want to achieve? It doesn’t have to take hours, you don’t need any fancy software or calendars, simply take a pen and paper and start writing.
FIVE STEPS TO AN ANNUAL BUSINESS PLAN
REVIEW YOUR LAST YEAR
This is an important step. It’s not about looking back we all know we can’t change the past, but the past can highlight some valuable lessons for the future. What worked really well for you last year, what didn’t go so well, how could you do these things differently or how can you improve on your successes. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not so good list is longer than the well done list. The best lessons and growth come from the challenges you faced so take stock of those lessons and implement them in your new plan. Some of the areas to review include:
Rent roll growth – what worked well with bringing in managements and what didn’t
Sales listings compared to number actually sold – are you great listers but not closers
Office procedures – is there a gap there somewhere?
Customer Service – is there a lot of unhappy or happy clients?
Leadership – how did your relationship with your teamwork out?
How do your numbers look – are you spending too much or not enough in certain areas?
What felt off to you throughout the year
What lit you up throughout the year
You could do a SWOT analysis – what are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
WHAT IS YOUR WHY OR PURPOSE?
This is an important step many people in business and life forget, what is your why or purpose? It is no point going through the daily grind, you are simply existing if you don’t have a why? Is it to provide a private school education for your kids, that was one of my why’s, is it to have a lifestyle business, are you wanting financial freedom, an investment portfolio, an overseas holiday, whatever it is, know what you are getting out of bed every day for. It is a good motivation boost when you reconnect with your purpose.
OUTLINE TOP GOALS
It seems like all we hear about this time of year Is goals, but I’m going to say it, you really do need goals. Otherwise, your why just hangs there, without any pathway to reach it. You should set some high level goals, for example, if you are a business owner you might want to set a target of the number of new managements you want to acquire or the total Gross Commission you want to achieve, you might want to grow your team and start up a new office. The list of personal goals is endless and up to each individual to determine.
MAKE A QUARTERLY PLAN
You can then break these big goals down into smaller quarterly goals, that way it is more tangible and you put together a step by step plan to get where you want to be. If your big goal is to grow by 100 managements in a year, in the first quarter your action plan might be to revamp your brand and increase your marketing budget or it might be to employ a gun BDM. You need to work out a plan to attract new managements, will you do more social media advertising, what can you do with your existing clients to bring in new managements. Same goes for doubling your GCI, how many sales each quarter do you need, how are your sales team going to achieve that, do they need more training on closing deals. If you have a goal to retain 100% of your managements, how is your customer service and communication initiatives going to look each quarter?
By having it broken down into quarters, it is not so overwhelming, and you can always review and change things around as you go, nothing is set in concrete, it is just a framework to come back to when you need it.
MEASURE SUCCESS AND CELEBRATE WINS
Your annual plan is the road map for you and your team for the next year. The roadmap needs milestones, success metrics and celebrations for any wins you have along the way. It is important to be flexible, review and change on the run, in the event of another Covid situation for example. This might be something as simple as a team dinner, or something more extravagant like a weekend away or an upgrade on some software or office equipment. Whatever you decide to make sure you take stock of the success moments, after all you have earnt it.
Going through the process of creating an annual business and life plan is something everyone can benefit from, regardless of where you are in life or business. If you are a business make sure you get your team involvement and buy in from them, everyone needs to be on the same path and clear on the vision. What are you waiting for? Grab that pen and paper and go for it!
By Kylie Walker, Co Founder iThink Property & Founder That Property Mum