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Got a minute? If you're a busy manager, that's about all you have. That's why Carla Cross, management coach, speaker, and author, has created this blog just for you, with ready-to-use tips to master management through people.

Archive for Team building

man with hair in airDo you say your agents are your ‘customers’? Many brokers call their agents their ‘customers’. We thought that, by calling our agents our customers, we would please them, create loyalty and forge recruiting tools. This trend of calling agents ‘customers’ was a reaction to the old-style ‘father knows best’ top-down management. Not a bad thought, but, unfortunately, too limiting. We assumed that, if we provided the services agents wanted, everything would be wonderful. If you’re considering your agents your customers, has it worked out the way you expected?

Who is Your Real Customer?

That thought process has sure gotten us into trouble. Why? Because we forgot that the person who actually pays commissions is called a ‘buyer’ or a ‘seller’—the end user. If the end user is unhappy, they vote with their feet. The result of our lack of focusing on the end user is plummeting commissions and alternative ‘agent-lite’ companies, relying much more on technology than personal service.

The bigger business world got it long ago. When is the last time you were asked about the level of service in a business you were using? I’ll bet you are asked at least once a week. The bigger world of business discovered long ago that they had to satisfy the needs of the consumer-and that those needs were escalating by the minute.

How do we put the real consumer first, providing the services that make them so happy they would never leave us?


  1. Quit hiring non-committed agents. They simply will not do the work, create a business, and serve consumer needs to warrant a ‘generous’ commission. If your agents don’t go to work, it doesn’t matter what you do for them or the services you provide.
  2. Establish standards of production for your agents. What do you expect of them—and when? What do your standards say about you?
  3. Accept that a low-producing agent cannot and does not provide excellent service—and the consumer knows that. If you have many low-producing agents, what level of service are they providing? What does that say about you and your company?
  4. Pretend you are a consumer. Which of your agents would you want to work with? Which of your agents wouldn’t you want to buy a home from?

If your agents aren’t your customers, what are they? Perhaps partners, as one very successful franchise has termed them. You decide. If, in fact, you’re leaning toward ‘partners’, you must establish communications, culture, and values that reflect a partnership–not just call your agents ‘partners’!

LM CoverCould You Use some Help Refining your Leadership Style?

What is your leadership style? How well is it working? Do you want to expand, refine, or re-define it to reflect your values and those of the kind of person you want to recruit today? It’s difficult to do that on your own, and you also need the systems to back up your works. Leadership Mastery Coaching can guide you through the process.

Why not have a complimentary consultation with Carla Cross  to see if Leadership Mastery Coaching is for you?

girl with inspiration sayingsThis month, I’m focused on leadership….easy to talk about, challenging to do.

Leadership: Have you ever thought of your office as your orchestra, with you as conductor? As a flutist and music major, I played in exceptional orchestras and for great conductors all through high school and college.  I experienced how great conductors pulled the orchestra together as a team to create an awesome, inspiring, focused sound—the sound of one instrument.  You could think of this as a vision-focused team.

To do this the overall sound had to have been planned, practiced, nurtured, and led by the conductor—the leader with the end vision in mind.

Where’s the Real Estate Leadership Today?

The development of the orchestra by its leader is a good analogy to use to take a fresh look at how we lead, the things we encourage, and the actions and attitudes we tolerate.  After all, the broker/leader’s challenge is the same as an orchestra conductor’s: To create an atmosphere of common focus, shared values, and teamwork for mutual success.  So, for this blog, I’ll use the orchestral analogy to explore a common problem in real estate offices—negativity–a problem that I believe few managers consciously address well.

When an Agent Hears a Different Tune, Who is Really Leading?

A few days ago, a newer agent in another state who had bought my program, Up and Running in 30 Days, called me to ask this question: “How do I keep my spirit and motivation high when the agents in my office are so negative?”  This is not the first time I’ve been asked this question.  I hear it hundreds of times each year, as I talk to your newer agents and those experienced agents who are struggling.

Yet, I don’t think brokers realize the extent of this negative atmosphere—or the irreparable damage it causes. Worse yet, some brokers actually take actions—or allow situations–that actually ‘nurture negativity’. Why? Simply because they haven’t  thought through the ramifications of their actions as leaders.  How do I know this?  Brokers tell me various ‘solutions’ to their lack of common focus–solutions which really encourage negativity!

Rewarding Negativity Gets More of It….

Let’s take the problem of negative people in a real estate office. This is how many brokers ‘handle’ that problem.  They simply advise the new agent not to talk about business to Sally, Bill, or George, because they’re negative.  Oh, sure.  That’s like the orchestral conductor saying to the oboists, “Don’t listen to the flute section because they’re not playing it right.  Just listen to the clarinets.”  If the conductor did that, he’d have several different versions of the symphony going on.  Let’s get real.  The agent listens to whoever talks to him, because he believes there is only one orchestra in the office (what a thought)!  The manager, though, by her actions, is creating four or five!

They ‘Get’ The Tune and the Rhythm Every Day Intuitively and Automatically

We brokers delude ourselves that, by attempting to ‘segregate’ the agent’s conversations, the agent will hear only what we want them to hear, believe only what we want them to believe, and perform only how we want them to perform. Only in our dreams!

Why Look at the Problem?

Because a strong ‘negative motivation factor’ costs brokers money and wasted effort.  In teaching CRB (Certified Real Estate Broker) courses, I’ve found that brokers estimate it costs ten to thirty thousand dollars to hire a new agent who fails in six months! I know you work hard at recruiting.  Doesn’t it make sense, then, to assure that the agent you recruit experiences the very best, most focused, team-oriented atmosphere available?

Your Turn

What have you found supposed ‘leaders’ do that actually inhibits reaching their vision? How do you avoid it and what positive actions do you take?

small LM CoverGetting Ahead in Leadership Faster

Do you advise your agents to be coached? Do you want to coach them? Are they receptive? One of the things leaders do is to ‘do as I do, not as I say’. Have you considered getting a coach? Why not take part in our complimentary consultation to see if our Leadership Mastery Coaching is for you?  Click here to find out more and request a one-on-one consultation with Carla Cross.


Conductor with His OrchestraThis month, I’m focused on leadership. Why? Because it takes much more than management to move a real estate office (or any business) forward today.

Today, I want to concentrate on the similarity of a real estate office to a fine orchestra–and what we can learn from world-class orchestras. As a long-time flutist, I know an orchestra either played in harmony–or it didn’t. And, it only took one out-of-tune player to make the whole orchestra sound bad! Just as there are negative consequences to orchestras when even one player who play ‘out of tune’, there are also negative consequences to a real estate office whose associates are out of synch with leadership (and the right leadership).  So, let me take the analogy further.

There are three important lessons we can learn from the great orchestral conductors about leading for a productive, focused atmosphere with common values (which translates into more profits.)

Admittance Isn’t Free to Everyone…..

1.  To get into the orchestra is a privilege; you must audition.  Each player must meet certain standards if the orchestra is to succeed as a whole. So, selection is key to top performance.  That means, to the real estate manager, that we must be selective and set standards for hiring, so that the person hired will fit well into our common focus. If we hire Bill, Sally, and George, and them segregate them, we fracture our focus, and create a negative atmosphere that makes it extremely difficult for our new associate to perform well.

Each Person Must Constantly Strive to Improve

2.  Before the conductor allows the orchestra to play the piece together, each person and then each section must practice to perfect their parts.  Musicians know perfect practice insures perfect performance.  When we finally put all the parts and sections together, we also experience the whole as greater than the sum of the parts.  In the business world, we call the results of this practice method ‘teamwork’ and ‘synergy’. How does a real estate manager accomplish this in his office?  By establishing a strong, comprehensive new agent training program, focused on practice and performance, not focused on knowledge.  The training program is the ‘music’, complete with the values and concepts that are endorsed in that real estate office.  Each member agrees to and is trained that way.

The Leader Must Represent the Best Values of the Culture

3. The ‘first chair’ leader (the best player) has great responsibility for the teamwork and focus of his section.  He is charged with assuring his section plays as one and that each player plays well so all players benefit.  On solo parts, he can shine, but he still needs to play within the framework of his section and of the whole orchestra.  This creates a win-win for all in the ensemble.  The first chair must be a consummate leader.  There are actually many wonderful virtuosos who can’t play in orchestras, because they aren’t team players.  They want to ‘play it their way’—and their way is not the orchestra’s way.  Kind of like a real estate office, except, brokers, unlike conductors, many times allow solo performers in their offices even if they aren’t team players!  You brokers tell me that your top agent ‘does her own thing’.  I hear you say that she is ‘not a team player’, but she does make you lots of money.  Oh, really?  So, in what orchestra is that top agent playing?  Obviously, not yours! The lack of common focus and endorsement of maverick behavior by top producers only shatters any teamwork and shared values the broker is attempting to instill in his group.  So, make up your mind. If you want a team, create one with an all-winner group.  Banish your maverick player to someone else’s orchestra. The result: More production from your ‘section’ players, more teamwork, more common focus, and a more pleasant job for you!

What do you see managers do that unwittingly undermine their abilities to create a congruent team?

LM CoverAre You Reaching your Potential as  Leader?

It’s easy to talk about leadership. It makes you feel good. But, that’s not very productive. You must also engage in leadership ACTIONS. How can you learn, implement, and be confident in those critical actions? By engaging with a coach who can lead you as you lead. Why not find out if Leadership Mastery coaching is for you? Click here for a complimentary consultation.


7 Leadership Truisms to Lead By

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This month, I’m featuring the topic ‘leadership’. Why? Because new leadership styles are one of the biggest real estate industry trends (and probably world trends) of this decade and beyond. Look for leadership strategies and trends (not just in the real estate industry), plus ready-to-use documents to go from ‘maintenance management’ to leadership. Also: more agents are forming a company within a company, to build their brand, their team, and expand to other markets. The minute an agent hires an assistant, he/she goes into management and must exhibit leadership skills. What a challenge!

Is your leadership style ‘tell them what to do and expect them to do it’? It seems so easy. You’re the chairperson or manager. Just take charge, tell people what to do, and they’ll do it. NOT. It’s just not that simple. At least, it’s not that simple unless systems are already in place and people on the committee know what their tasks are.

Seven Truisms about Effective Participative Leadership 

It’s not enough today to be good at a traditional leadership style. In fact, you have to really ‘turn your leadership style’ upside down to become effective. You must become a ‘participative’ leader. Here are seven truisms to help you flex your natural style toward more participation from your team members.

Truism #1: New chairpeople don’t know what’s expected of them

Just because people accept the title it doesn’t mean they know how to proceed with the job. Most people have never chaired a committee, so they don’t have the skills. It’s especially challenging when it’s a new task. They need to have clear direction, a job description, job responsibilities, and exactly who to go to when the job doesn’t get done.

Truism #2: People don’t know HOW to get it done 

Even when people know what to do, they don’t usually have checklists, systems, deadlines, and assignments to get it done; it doesn’t work to leave it to a person (95% of the time, the other 5% will figure it out on their own) to decide how to get the job done.

Truism #3: Myth: “Leaders are the  “idea people” and aren’t supposed to get into implementation (someone else will figure out how to get the work done)

When leaders say that, they immediately put others into the “secretary” mode. Their mentality is, someone else beneath them should be able to figure out how to get that done. That’s a secretarial or assistant’s job, isn’t it? But, your committee members don’t work for you. They work with you. You can’t expect someone to raise his hand and offer to be your assistant because you came up with the idea.

Truism #4: Verbal-type people resist processes and systems

There is a natural resistance in us (maybe especially in we verbal-type people) to organizing processes and systems. We love to talk about the idea. We don’t like to clarify exactly how that idea gets into process.

Truism #5: We ‘big idea’ people think we can delegate systemization to an assistant  

Having worked with assistants for over 15 years, I have found that not true. Assistants need help in systemizing any process that YOU want done. They are good at systemizing their own processes–but not good at all at systemizing ours!

Truism #6: Leaders know committees take most of their time REPORTING to the larger group, not deciding on issues or processes

A mistake that committees make is to try to design processes within the large committee meeting. Instead, create task forces to report back quickly to you.

Truism #7: When accountability factors aren’t built in, things don’t get done.

This is a dicey issue, because you’re working with volunteers. Or, in the case of a real estate company, with independent contractors. At the same time, your association or business also expects the services and programs you promised. There’s a great difference between “do it the way you want” and expecting results and “do it the way you want” and let’s check how it’s going regularly.

Sharpening Your Participative Leadership Skills

What truisms do you want to add from your experiences in leadership? What do you see of yourself in these truisms? How can these help you lead? What needs to be done in  your leadership position to gain greater skills? These skills are learned over time, and the pay-off is an association or business that is ‘owned’ by all those involved, with empowerment assured.

Starting in January: A Leadership By the Month Coaching Series

small 365_leadership_logoHow do you ‘learn’ leadership? Mostly, it’s taught with platitudes and sayings. But, you really learn how to lead by observing actions of leaders and then putting those actions in play yourself. that’s what we’ll do in this 12-part coaching series. Each month, we’ll introduce a new leadership strategy and ask you, in the 365 Leadership Coaching Club, to implement it. These strategies will grow your business and help you adapt new leadership skills. Watch for more coming soon!

Who’s this for: All managers, general managers, owners, and agent team builders.

kids running and jumping goalsFrom working with dozens of real estate owners and managers, and as my position as a CRB (Certified Real Estate Broker) instructor for twelve years, I’ve had an opportunity to see exactly what makes a company profitable–in the long run. So, this month, I’m sharing what I’ve found to be the critical pieces of the puzzle that lead to sustainable profits. I’ll spotlight the 4 foundations you have to have to be exceptionally profitable–no matter your economic model. Actually, I’ve come to these foundations by observing how companies fail to be profitable over a period of time without these four foundations. In each of these blogs, I’ll spotlight one foundation. The fourth is


Go It Alone vs. Teamwork

“I work alone.” “I don’t need to be a member of a ‘team’”. We’re heard that for years in the real estate industry. Yet, the strongest, fastest-growing real estate companies have team building as part of their cultures. Agents who want to expand their businesses create teams. So, TEAM is no longer a four-letter word. The importance and implementation of leadership through teamwork and synergy is back in style in the real estate industry.

Why Building a Strong Team is Important to Agents AND Management

As with all industries, the real estate industry is evolving. We’ve gone through the ‘go it alone’ phase. Because we’ve gotten more sophisticated in business. We realize that no one succeeds alone. We understand now that people working together create something more substantial than the sum of the parts. In addition, with the challenges in the business, we finally get that many minds focused on the same task can accomplish much more than each person working as his own little island. Supporting this trend, strong company cultures have emerged which encourage and reward teamwork instead of solely independent achievement.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about.”

If you’ve ever played on a sports team, you know the chaos that ensues when every player tries to be the star—to go her own way. That’s not a team. That’s a group. You may also know the joy of playing on a team that shares a common focus and commitment to excellence. What a difference! What if you could bring that into your real estate office or your agent team?

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the 4 principles to develop teamwork.

Do you have a team? Or, do you have a group?

Man-Walking-Up-Stairs-to-GlobeWho Helps You Step Up to the Next Level? Who Helps You Create that Team?

As owners and managers, too often we feel like we’re ‘on our own’. Yes, we have the company–if we’re in a franchise–but, who’s really looking out for you? It must be YOU. Yet, few leaders have coaches. At the same time, we urge our agents to get a coach…….if you’re wondering whether coaching is for you, why not investigate our Leadership Mastery Coaching program? It’s true one-on-one coaching–no cookie-cutter or set topic approach, because you’re seasoned, you’re knowledgeable, and you’re unique. Carla Cross is a ‘coach’s coach with a winning background as a turn-around leader. Why not find out more in a Complimentary Consultation? Click here to arrange.

hands of keysFrom working with dozens of real estate owners and managers, and as my position as a CRB (Certified Real Estate Broker) instructor for twelve years, I’ve had an opportunity to see exactly what makes a company profitable–in the long run. So, this month, I’m going to share what I’ve found to be the critical pieces of the puzzle that lead to sustainable profits. I’ll spotlight the 4 foundations you have to have to be exceptionally profitable–no matter your economic model. Actually, I’ve come to these foundations by observing how companies fail to be profitable over a period of time without these four foundations. In each of these blogs, I’ll spotlight one foundation. The first was

Vision: The Missing Component in Most Business Plans (and in most real estate offices!)

The second, which I’m spotlighting today, is standards.

How did I learn about the importance of standards? As a lifelong pianist, I learned from a very early age that I had to play up and beyond a certain standard to get into master groups, to get a great piano teacher, to win competitions, and to be awarded a degree in piano performance. Standards are simply a part of the competitive action-based environment (like real estate sales!).

What are Standards?

What are standards? It’s the least you’ll put up with. You may call them ‘minimums’. Now, some real estate offices have standards/expectations like

1. You must take floor time

2. You must be a Realtor

3. You must wear clean clothes and drive a clean car.

Those are all nice. But, have you ever seen a failing agent take floor time? Be a Realtor? Of course. Too often, we establish standards of behavior for our convenience as managers–not to assure we have productive agents!

The most important standards to put in place are

production standards

I Don’t Need Standards: My Economic Model is Different

You may say, “I don’t have to have production standards. I’m a desk fee company.” Sure, that works fine when the market is good. But, what happens to all those fees when the market turns down? You bet. Your desk fees shrink and your non-collectible fees go up dramatically! Or, you’re a high agent count company with narrow profit margins. Sure, that’s fine too as long as the market carries you. But, if you’re finding it hard to recruit great people, or if your market turns down, you’re in the same boat as the desk fees.

The bottom line: Having productive agents is important to your long-term profitability, no matter your economic model.

Standards Establish What You’re Like as a Company

Describe your agents. What are they like? Would you describe them as productive professionals? Are they doing enough transactions apiece that the public thinks your company is serving the public well? Or, do you have a majority of low-producing part-timers–which, even though we don’t want to admit it, tarnish our company image.

How many sales and listings sold are expected to stay in your office? If you don’t know, neither do they! So how can you expect them to go to work, when work is whatever they’d like to do that day—real estate sales or not! Before you can expect your training or coaching to work, you must establish productivity standards. Armed with those standards, you and they know what’s expected. Now, you have a baseline from which to coach. Your consumer also has a baseline of expectations from your company.

Standards Establish Pride in Belonging

Which organizations are you proud to belong to? Why? Do you think your agents are proud to belong to your company? If so, why? Standards say ‘you’re special’. Standards say that you believe you can develop that agent to his/her fullest potential. If you don’t have established, held-to production standards, you aren’t protecting your long-term profitability.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the third foundation you need to create a profit foundation that won’t waver even when the market tanks–and it will again!

LM CoverDo You Know the Steps to Implementing Standards?

Many times we avoid setting standards because we are either afraid to, or don’t know how to do it in a way that brings all the agents with you. In our one-on-one customized Leadership Mastery Coaching, Carla takes you through the steps and helps you implement standards so you have confidence in the process and the agents are pleased you’re taking leadership. Find out more with a complimentary consultation.

I just did a business planning webinar for a large southern franchise group. Now, I’m going to do a webinar for the management team on how to introduce business planning and use it all year to coach. So, I thought I would share some tips with you on initial scheduling for business planning and on-going coaching to a business plan. I’ll address on-going coaching in my next blog.

First, what doesn’t work:

Hand out the planning pages and say ‘have a nice day’.

Instead, you must have a schedule assure the agent gets that plan written.When I’m teaching this as a course, or doing a webinar, I give the agents questions to interview their managers–questions that reveal what the managers foresee as strengths and challenges and trends in the marketplace and in their offices. See that interview scheduled below.

Here’s the schedule I’m giving to the leadership during the webinar:

PDF how to get each of your agents a great business plan 1


This is just the first schedule. After the initial ‘help’, you must schedule individual appointments for the agent to finish his/her plan:

coaching appointment


Now, you’ve educated the agents about business planning. You’ve teamified and created confidence with your meeting. Finally, you’ve set appointments for individual coaching for the plan. In my next blog, we’ll discuss how to use the business plan for coaching all year, so you’re fully imbued in the success with each of your agents.

Plan_Act_CelebrateWant Some Support to Get Your Agents Business Plans?

Why not contact me to find out how I can educate your agents on business planning and support and coach you as a leader. Give me a call at 425.392-6914 or email me at carla@carlacross.com. I can do a webinar series for you, supply you will all the planning documents, and help your leadership coach your agents–at a very affordable cost with big pay-off for you.





penguins focused on goalsWhat’s your mission? It’s time to begin writing your business plan for 2015. In the next few blogs, I want to give you a few tips on creating various parts of your business plan. One of the important, but often-left-out parts of a business plan is your mission statement. What it is? It’s literally your mission in your business.

Mission statements answer the questions:

Why are you in this business?
What do you want to accomplish?
How are you going to achieve your mission?
What’s important to you?

Why Have a Mission Statement?

To keep yourself on track.
To decide what you will and won’t do.
To state who you work with (and to think about who you wouldn’t work with).
For time management
For clarity and focus
To use as a springboard to your marketing

Mission statements should be:

• Well-defined
• Restrictive
• Complementary with your company statement (and the company statement should be reflected in any branch office/associate statements)

Mission statements are:

• Not lightly changed (usually stay the same through your
years’ business plans)
• Written in the present tense
• Do not contain objectives or goals
• Not tied to time

Mission Statements Are Not Objectives or Goals

Mission statements are not quantifiable. Leave out any numbers – they go into your objectives. Following is an example: A person may write, “I am a profitable agent. I will make a profit of $50,000 every year.” The first part of the statement, “I am a profitable agent” has a place in a mission statement. But the last part of the statement is an objective, or quantifiable end result, and should be placed in another section of your plan. The mission statement is broader; it guides you as you make long-term decisions. The above offers some valuable tips on writing mission statements.

Mission Statements Aren’t Changed Lightly

Because mission statements are really statements of you as a businessperson, these statements are not lightly changed – just as you would not lightly change yourself. That does not mean that you might not work over time on how your statement is constructed, but it does mean that you do not change the essence of the statement, the specialties, the ideals – without considerable thought.

Mission Statements – In the Present

Statements should be written in the present tense. These statements convey you at your best – how you see yourself as a real estate professional. Because you may not have actually attained the picture you have in mind, you may be writing about yourself as you see yourself in the future. To cement that thought in your mind, use present tense verbs as you create your statement.

How to Use your Mission Statement

• To reflect back and forth throughout your business plan (Are
your actions congruent with your plan?)
• In your office—framed in your entry
• In your marketing materials
• In your Professional Portfolio
• In your pre-first visiting listing and buyer packages
• In your email signatures
• On your website

Mission statements first clarify for you what’s important, your focus, and your limitations. Then, they help consumers choose you. Use the parameters above to create your mission statement. It’s a basis for a successful business plan.


There are several examples of mission statements in both of my business planning resources: Both the managers’ and the agents’ resource are now online at Beyond the Basics of Business Planning. You can go back as often as you want and choose some–or all of the planning documents. Webinars walk you through the planning process.

Also, both my complimentary webinars on business planning are on my website. Click here to view them.

3 men and women working at tableIt’s time to do that dreaded business plan. Here’s how to make it a love fest, not a drudgery.

During these last two months of the year, I’m going to be giving you tips to make a great plan–and get your agents to plan.

It really can be fun….What if you could actually have fun making a plan—and know that the plan you made would at least double your profits for next year? Wouldn’t that be lovely? Having helped hundreds real estate professionals create plans, I’ve found an easy method to make that plan in no time. Better yet, I promise that plan will be a blueprint that will work hard for you.

We all talk about it. Few of us actually do it. Even less of us actually follow it! But, almost all of us know we should do it: make a business plan. Why do we resist? Why do we make plans (if we do) that gather dust on a shelf? I think it’s because it’s too cumbersome to make the plan. Most plans aren’t practical enough to follow. We’re going to change all that right now.

Why Your Planning Process Didn’t Work for You

Too many real estate professionals try to start planning by writing an action plan. (That should actually be the last step!). Instead, start your plan as I’ve outlined below. The surprising observation I’ve made is that it’s much faster and better to create the plan when you’ve done the preliminary steps. In fact, finding out the information below catapults you to your next year’s action plan—before you have a chance to question yourself. It assures you have a great plan, too. (And, it goes so much faster).

We’ll start with the first two steps. In my next blog, I’ll lead you through the next two steps. So, before you know it, you’ll be ready to polish the fine points of your plan.

Here are those first two steps:

1. Gather and analyze the important numbers. Gather last year’s numbers so you can analyze them quickly. (Best to have your secretary/assistant do this for you). These numbers should include the results that most greatly impact on your profitability: (You may have some other favorites. Feel free to analyze them):

a. Number of recruits/lead generation/appointment numbers
b. Net number of agents (how good were your recruiting/ retention efforts?)
c. Number of listings taken
d. Number of listings sold
e. Ratio of listings taken to listings sold
f. Number of sales
g. Balance/ratio of number of sales to listings sold
h. Expenses (what’s higher than your budget for the year?

What’s out of balance with your income and profitability? What can you change?)

Analyzing these numbers give you great big hints as to what you should do as an action plan next year. In fact, you’ll find it difficult not to think ahead to your action plan! (That’s a good thing!).

Your recruiting/lead generating plan for next year
Your retention plan for next year
Your training plan for listings next year
Your coaching plan for each agent/for you (balance of listings sold and sales?) (productivity)

Just with that first step, you almost have the action part of your business plan done!

2. Evaluating YOU. Rate yourself in the various skill areas: recruiting, selection, coaching, training, retention, staff management, etc. For agents, that would be lead generation, lead conversion, presentation skills. Technology skills, etc.

What have you mastered? What do you want to improve? This becomes your personal/professional training/coaching program for next year.

Your Goal Deadline for These Two Steps

Holding ourselves accountable for what we want is very difficult! So, to help you, I’m going to ask you to create a target date to finish these two steps: Oct. 31. Why? So you’ll be ready for my next blog and the next two steps. This year: A fun, ‘got the love’ business plan! I promise you’ll stand out from the normal real estate pro who never gets around to getting one.

For a comprehensive business planning systems, with fill-in forms for each part of your plan, see Beyond the Basics of Business Planning, a comprehensive online business planning resource (with managers’ and agents’ planning resources).


group with ballWhich agents are really your team builders? Is it the agent who produces the most–but doesn’t come into the office–ever? Is it the agent who fixes coffee and is agreeable, but sells only 3 homes a year, in a good year? Hiring and firing is not a ‘black or white’ issue. There are many shades of gray. I know. I managed almost two decades. We become friends with our agents. They rely on us. We rely on them. In some cases, we become almost moms and dads to them. It becomes a very dependent environment. No one wants to disrupt it. However, you are running a business–not a social welfare state.

How to Find your real Team Builders

Let’s recognize that not all the value, or, to some of us, even half the value of our agents is in their ability to close sales. In other words, your top producer may not be your most desired agent. There are other valued assets they bring to the table, like: 

Uphold the culture

Provide mentoring

Create stability in the office

Team player

Longevity and consistency

What are yours? Write them down.  (Use 4-6 values).

Now, give each one of these values a possible rating of 0 to 4 (4 being highest). Finally, evaluate each of your agents with each of your important values.  For example, let’s say you are evaluating your top producer. In the production value, that producer would get a “4”. But, let’s say that top producer isn’t much of a team player, and you’ve evaluated her as a “1”. When you’re through evaluating that agent, add all the numbers to get a cumulative number.

Name Production rating Culture rating Mentoring rating Total
Sally Production/4 Culture/3 Mentoring/3 10
Joe Production/0 Culture/1 Mentoring/0 1


Leadership group idea: If you work with a leadership group, ask them to evaluate those in your office you’re unsure of. You may be amazed! 

What’s Your Agent’s Real Value to Your Office? 

Now, you have evaluated each agent on all the values you feel are important to the success of your company. To see how they stack up, make a list of them, starting with the agent who scored the highest cumulative number. This evaluation process will give you a very different picture of who your best producers are—and who your worst office associates are.

Bottom-Line Questions to Ask Yourself  

I know it’s very difficult to terminate people. In fact, one manager asked me to advise him on how to do a ‘graceful termination.’ Really, behind termination anxiety lurks these questions. They need to be answered for you, as leader, to take the actions that your good agents are expecting from you:

Can an agent be a noteworthy negative to your reaching your goals?

Can an agent actually provide substantial energy against your culture?

What’s Joe’s value to you?

Can this value be quantified in a business sense?

What are you getting personally out of keeping Joe?

 What are your next actions?

 Why are you avoiding what you need to do?

Don’t you deserve more than Joe is giving you?

How does Joe feel now? Does Joe deserve an environment where he can win?

Make a Plan of Action*

It could be to get Joe into production within a certain time period, or help him find a better career fit for himself. It could be to help Joe into that new career right now. I’ll bet Joe is just waiting to see what you will do. After all, you’re the leader….

Question: What are you values and how do you weigh them?

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