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Archive for Business planning

Apr
30

Connections, not Sales

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Are your agents giving a ‘hand up’ to their clients at this time? Making connections?

Connections, Not Sales

The biggest change in your agent’s real estate business plan has to be in their short-term goals. All business plans have a lead generation component. That means we’re actively looking for listing leads and buyer leads. Our dialogues and our marketing materials are designed to bring us those leads.

 What does that mean? That means our communication needs to be

  • Supportive
  • Positive
  • Helpful
  • Meaningful
  • Relationship-based

That means we’re not looking for that big, money-making result. We’re really in a

“pre-lead” phase.

Why Connections?

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It states that we must meet the lowest unmet need before we can be motivated to meet higher needs. What are the majority of people’s needs now?

  • Comfort
  • Shelter
  • Enough food and supplies (toilet paper!)
  • Fear of sickness
  • Fear of losing one’s job—or of making payments

Where are we on Maslow’s Hierarchy? We are close to the bottom—that need to meet very basic needs. Maslow calls those Safety or Security needs. That’s why agents’ messages have to be reassuring. You have to establish trust. You have to provide a safe harbor for your clients and potential clients.

Re-Designing that Business Plan

Instead of thinking ‘how am I going to get leads’? Think ‘how am I going to connect’? Help your agents design messages to their best target markets with connection as their goal. That means, too, that you must identify those markets and make your messages meaningful to those markets.

I just did a complimentary webinar for Real Estate Professionals called “Build Your Business Right Now to Position for Success Later”.

You can  see the video and grab the materials at my websiteI also have a 60-Day Business Plan template for all attendees so they can easily complete their plans. 

Outcomes of a Re-Designed Plan

The irony of this re-design is that your agents are going to create listing and sales opportunities because your client base is looking for that connection now. When they find it, they will walk one step closer to a transaction with you—even when you didn’t ask. The danger in ‘laying out’ (as we say in the music performance business when we’re told not to play) is that you’ll be way behind the curve when the market comes back. Those people agents considered clients found the agents were a ‘secret agent’ when they needed connections and information. They have turned to a new source of connections because you didn’t communicate. Don’t let that happen.

Start Today

From working with hundreds of real estate professionals during this time, I know clients are so grateful for these connections. Each agent has something to offer. Don’t keep it a secret. Help your agents share information, concern, and a positive attitude today. Not only will you reap real estate business in the future, they will feel better for having given value to their clients.     

 

 

We’re in a situation we’ve never faced before. Do you consider this an ‘interruption’ or an opportunity?

Is this an interruption or an opportunity?

We’ve never faced this kind of situation. Yes, we’ve been through and weathered the slumps. We’ve helped our agents change their strategies from sellers’ to buyers’ markets and back again. But, this is somewhat different.

Consider This a Unique Leadership Opportunity

On April 23, at 10 am PDT, I’ll be presenting a webinar for leadership on how to seize this time as an opportunity to lead. 

For many agents (I estimate it’s about 75% or more), this time is seen as an interruption of a great market. These agents have depended on

the market driving their businesses.

Now, in an instant, 

the agents must drive the market themselves.

But, most agents are not going to make that shift alone. You need to lead them to the concept that they now drive the market–and show them how to do that.

The Leadership Actions to Reveal Opportunities to Agents

How can you implement specific actions that work now to get your agents back into the business and connecting with their client base? Here are four methods to do just that. In the webinar, I’ll show you how to

  1. Motivate your team members to communicate value to their client base
  2. Mobilize your team to gain exceptional support
  3. Re-focus each of your agents by helping them implement a 60-Day Pivot Business Plan*
  4. Up’ your communication with specific changes

*You’ll receive my 60-Day Pivot Business Plan as my ‘thank you’ for attending this webinar. I’ll show you how to use this plan to coach your agents.

Special circumstances require special leadership actions. How have you lead your agents from an ‘interruption mindset’ to an ‘opportunity mindset’?

Leadership:

The Right

Actions to

Take

Now to

Assure Profits

Later

Join me for this fast-paced, 45-minute webinar exclusively for leadership April 23 (Thursday), at 10 am PDT. Click here for more information and to register.

If your training is missing the mark, and you’re not getting results, here’s what to do so you get more production and don’t waste your time.

Are you sure you’re offering the right training?

For the next few blogs, I’m offering tips on making your training work better. And, I’ll be offering tips for trainers, too.

Look at your training calendar. If you don’t have one, simply take a 3-month calendar and write in the training you’re providing.

At the end of this article, I’ll give you my Training Calendar Evaluator—a tool to use to see what your training really looks like. I developed this tool when I was regional director for a very large franchise. I wanted to help managers and trainers improve their training programs and calendars.

What’s the ratio of business-producing vs. business supporting training modules you have now in your training plan and calendar?

When I see some training calendars, I can see why their training is not increasing productivity. Most or all of their modules are concerned with business supporting subjects (technical knowledge): Home inspections, the law of agency, websites, social media, etc. That’s all nice, but what does it directly do with creating productivity? Here’s the path to a sale: 

Excerpted from What They Don’t Teach You in Pre-License School (Carla Cross, Noteworthy Publishing, Inc.)

If you want to increase productivity and profits, your training calendar needs to reflect your training in these business-producing areas.

What are you training to that will make a real difference in your productivity and profits next year? Put that in your business plan.

To get my analytical tool, Training Calendar Analysis Tool, click here. I’ve added some questions, too, in most categories, to help you think through these decisions and come up with a blazingly good training program.

Let me know the changes you’ve made based on your evaluation. I want to help you create training with impact, with less work from you!

Help for your Training and Trainers

Do you provide training for your presenters and trainers? I’d love to help you, and them, learn and practice these types of great, quickly applicable strategies. I do trainings and presentations for Realtor trainers, trainers of real estate companies, and affiliates.

Get in touch with me and we’ll talk about your needs. I customize each presentation, too, for YOUR specific audience needs. My background as a performing musician, coupled with my real estate sales, leadership, and training experience, gives me a unique ‘take’ on training trainers. I’d love to help you!  

Got your business plan done? Why not get dozens of tips to polish (or start) that plan) by looking at the webinar I did a couple of weeks ago?

You’ll get guidelines to organize your whole plan, and you’ll get tips to assure that plan works for 2020!

Click here to see the video and get all the handouts, too. Happy New Year!

You as business planning coach: How do you stack up?

This month, I’m focusing on business planning. I want every professional to have a great plan for next year. Look for checklists, processes, and systems, too, ready to use.

You’ve decided to coach your agents in creating great business plans. but, if you’ve never coached an agent in business planning, it can be quite daunting. So, what do you look for? In this blog, I’ll show you how to use this statistic:

listings taken to listings sold in normal market time.

to coach them to a better year next year. You would think agents know this statistic, but very few do. It is so important, because it

  1. Determines whether the agent makes enough money per listing or not
  2. Determines whether the agent builds a positive reputation or a poor one
  3. Reflects the agent’s value-proposition strategy
  4. Reflects on the office’s productivity and profitability

For example: George Smith, a 10-year seasoned agent, has demonstrated a consistent listing strategy. George’s success ratio is 40%. That is, he sells 40% of his listings in normal market time. What does that say about George’s values proposition strategy? How is George using his listings? Is that the culture you want perpetuated in your office?

A Different Example

Sally Overton has a different value proposition strategy. She has a 90% success ratio in listings taken to listings sold in normal market time. Obviously, she is building her referral system with her raving fans. She is making herself more money in less time. She is drastically reducing the number of complaints (and attacks on her self-esteem, too). She is a role model for best practices in her real estate office. Is that practice more in line with your culture?

Your opportunity: As George’s business planning consultant, you’ll be testing George to see if he wants to change his strategy (some agents love being a ‘bait and switch’ artist too much to change). You’ll have the opportunity to help Sally leverage her awesome conversion rates to obtain even more raving fans. (Nothing succeeds like success).

Do you know your ‘conversion numbers’ in listings taken to listings sold for your company? When you make your own plan, be sure to do a thorough review, and find this number. A high number means you’ll be able to recruit better, get better retention, have better team spirit, and your agents can build on that reputation. A low number means you have a lot to work on!

Click here for a list of common agent business planning mistakes to help you as you coach agents through the planning process.

Excerpted from my agent business planning system, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning.

Watch my Complimentary Business Planning Webinar Recording

It’s on my website now, along with the handouts, at www.carlacross.com/webinars and more (the button).

Plan_Act_Celebrate

Comprehensive Online Business Planning Program for Managers

Do you find it difficult to get your agents to plan? Do you put off doing your office plan? Here’s your solution. This all-new program does several things for you:

2 webinars teach your agents how to plan using Carla’s strategic planning system

14 planning documents are included to guide your agents right through the planning process

3 webinars for you:

1. How to Create a Great Office Plan

Included: 22 office planning documents to make it easy for you to stay on track and create a great plan

2. How to Convince your Agents to Plan

3. How to Integrate your Office and Agents’ Plans

Check out Beyond the Basics of Business Planning: A planning system exclusively for real estate managers.

Do you where your agents spent your money last year? Knowing is critical to their NOT having empty pockets next year. I know you’re going to help your agents create business plans this year, so I want to share these stunning surveys with you.

In my upcoming webinar, I discuss the importance of 3 critical areas you must know–and your agents must know– to succeed next year. One of these areas is the agent’s budget.

Here are the surprising results of a study on how top agents spent their marketing dollars: 

As you can see, agents spent their money NOT on the best sources of business, but on other sources. Why? Maybe because they thought these other sources were more interesting. Maybe they wanted to try something new. Maybe they didnt know where they had spent their money before, and just kept throwing it at these less-than-stellar sources.

Help your agents find out where their money went last year, and how big a bang they got for the buck. Now, you’re ready to plan for 2020.

Join Me for my Complimentary Business Planning Webinar

Whether you’ve been in business 20 years or 20 minutes, you need an awesome blueprint for a great 2020–and so do your agents. Join us for this fast-paced webinar, where Carla Cross, who literally ‘wrote the book’ on real estate business planning, will help you do just that.

In this webinar, you’ll:

Get the blueprint the most successful agents and businesses use to create a plan that works. You don’t need a ‘fill in the blanks’ color by the numbers plan–you need a businessperson’s way to think through your business so you’re ready for anything that comes your way in 2020.

Gain the critical step usually left out in business planning–the step that can literally save your money and efforts from going down those dreaded planning ‘cul-de-sacs of frustration and failure

How to predict and project your 2020 results so you know your plan is going to work for you–not someone else!

Your gold mine right in front of you—and few agents are ‘mining’ it. You’ll save thousands in marketing dollars, lower your stress, and enjoy a much better business if you create the right action plan for 2020.

You’ll get some stunning and surprising statistics that will help you create the right actions for 2020, instead of guessing at what to do next.

Managers: You’ll gain tips on helping your agents plan–and how you can be a true support for their planning efforts. Just imagine what your profits would be like if every one of your agents had a workable plan?

Questions: You’ll have a chance to ask Carla your business planning questions, too. You’ll gain handouts from her business planning programs.

Space is limited, so register now! Let’s work together to create an exceptional 2020.

$$$$$$ 2 lucky people will win Carla’s complete business planning systems, too.

When: Dec. 12 (Thursday)

Time: 10-11 am, Pacific Standard Time (west coast)

What: Business planning webinar (join with your computer)

Register here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

In these posts in November and December, I’ll be featuring business planning strategies. Watch for  checklists, processes, and systems--ready to use, too. I want to help you and your agents create a great business plan for next year!

This post’s ‘gift’ is my after sale survey. See the link in the body of the blog.

Coaching your agents: Before your agents launch right into that business plan for next year, take a look back. Why? Your history will provide clues about how to save time and money for next year.

1. Where’s your money been going? It makes sense that the money you invest in your career  should be giving you pay-offs equal to your investment. Unfortunately, many agents don’t know where they spent the bulk of their money last year. Go back over the past four months.

Add up the moneys you’ve spent to generate business in each of your ‘target markets’–those identifiable groups of people that you build programs around to get business (geographical farm, first-time buyers, etc.) Where are you spending most of your money? Are you getting a good enough ‘return on your investment’? You’ll use this analysis to build your budget for next year, too.

From working with agents in my business planning course, I’ve observed that many agents don’t build a business plan around their best source of business: ‘sold’ customers and clients. Marketing surveys show that it costs six to nine times as much to get a new customer as to keep an old one. So, if you spend more money on your best source, and less on your other sources, you’ll optimize your investment.

2. What are your ‘success’ ratios? Most agents don’t know this one:

What are your ratios of listings taken to listings sold?

How many of your sellers are you making happy?

How many of those sellers are so delighted with your service that they will refer more people to you? In my opinion, a good agent should target  a 80-90%  success ratio in this area.

Why? We all know we need to promote ourselves. The most successful, believable promotions are based on our success records–what we’ve done, not promises. If you have a sign on your desk that says “If you don’t list, you don’t last”–tear it up. Instead, put up a sign that reads, “If your listings don’t sell, you don’t last. Small adjustments, big dividends. (Plus you’ll save lots of marketing dollars.)

3. How ‘delighted’ are your customers? Most so-called ‘business plans’ in real estate merely are goal-setting grids. Focusing only on the ends suggests that the ends justify the means. However, the consumer sure doesn’t think so! These goal setting grids alone lead agents to miss the point of the decade: Top-flight customer service begets more business. That is, not just what you do, but how you do it.

What level of customer service are you providing? Is it just good enough to get through the transaction? Or, is it so great that your customers and clients are thoroughly delighted? (Delighted consumers refer business to you–less cost and more effort equals big pay-offs, right?)  What can you build into your business plan to assure that you’re regularly delighting those you work with?

One of the agents in featured in many of my books, Rick Franz, now provides surveys weekly during the time he works with buyers and sellers. He wants clients to know he cares how they feel about the service, and that he’s dedicated to providing the best service they’ve ever had. Pretty competitive, yes?

Click here to get my after sale survey, one of the dozens of strategies ready to use in my business planning system.

Although there are dozens of areas to scope in your plan, just taking one hour out of your day now to assess these three areas–and plan adjustments–will assure you make more money this year–and create a better, more pleasant long-term career.

Be Strategic In Your Planning this Year!

Why not create a great plan, with the flexibility to change with the times? It’s all online now, and you can plan as you go. There’s a planning system for leadership, and, when you buy the leadership plan, you also get entry to the agents’ planning system. Take a look at Beyond the Basics of Business Planning.

It’s time to do your business plan! So, my next blogs will focus on helping you create that business plan–and getting your agents to plan. I’ll include some of the planning templates, too, from my business planning program (see below).

Do your agents have mission statements as part of their business plans?

Why is having a mission important? How should it guide agents? You’ve heard the talks about finding your passion. But, you see your agents being over-whelmed in their careers. It’s just too much to think big when they’re just trying to find that house or convince a buyer to work with them!

The Importance of Your Mission

This time of year, we’re encouraging everyone to create their business plans.

Why? Because, otherwise, you don’t know whether or not the actions you decide to take will fulfill your mission. This is also true of your agents.

Tackling and Bringing Down your Time Management Challenges

If agents have been in the sales business a little while, they’ve already discovered that their biggest challenge is time management. How can they get done in a business day everything that needs getting done? That’s where your mission comes in. Creating your mission helps you prioritize all the things you’re supposed to do. It helps you decide what not to do. Most important, it helps you figure out

how to put YOU into your management and sales business successfully

I have a gift for you right now, to help you assist your agents in defining their missions (it works for leadership, too). Click here to get this planning tool, which is excerpted from my online resource Beyond the Basics of Business Planning. 

Grab My Online Business Planning Program and Make Planning Easy!

Thought you’d get it done but it’s still on your ‘to do’ list? I want to help!

Managers: Frustrated because you can’t get your agents to plan? Problems solved! I’ve put my exclusive planning pages online–plus webinars to help you get through that plan fast. Don’t wait another year for business success. See more here.

Managers: I’ll teach your agents how to plan, too! Included in your Manager’s Package!

Ready to order? Click below:

Beyond the Basics of Business planning for Managers  (includes agents’ planning system) 

Beyond the Basics of Business Planning for Agents  

Throughout November and December, I’m focusing my blogs on business planning, so you have plenty of information to create a great plan. Look for checklists, processes, and systems--ready to use, too.

Agents, managers, and trainers: If you’ve been in the business any length of time, you know how much more challenging this business is than it used to be! Yet, most of the information we are still getting is about day-to-day selling and managing.

However, we’ve learned that we can’t just keep completing tasks and get ahead. We know that, after we’ve conquered sales and management basic skills, we still have a whole group of other skills to master. Those are called ‘business skills’, and they require as much dedication to master as do those sales and managing skills. One business skill is we need is analyzing your business.

Why Business Analysis?

If we don’t know where we’ve been, how can we decide on best strategies for the next year?

Here are the tools you’ll need in your business planning toolkit, whether a manager or an agent:*

  • Time analysis (watch my next blog for a questionnaire to analyze your time management)
  • Business plan activity review
  • Expense/budget review
  • Profit and loss statement review

1. Your time analysis. Do you have the analysis tools to see where your business is, and where you want to take it? With a time analysis tool, you can see what your priorities are. It’s amazing how many agents and managers have no idea where they spend the bulk of their time. Look at your schedule for the last week. Did you spend time in the areas that are most productive for you? If not, why not?

2. Business plan activity review tool. This allows you to capture the history of your business in a way that clarifies your direction. For example, does the tool you use ask you where you got your business last year? Does it ask you the percent of your listings you sold in normal market time? Managers, does your tool ask you the numbers of agents you interviewed, and your conversion rate? Find the tools that ask you the right questions.

3. The expense and budget review. How many agents have a budget? How many managers and owners? All businesspeople set budgets and review them. After all, it’s about profitability in a business, not productivity! At best, you want to use tools that are similar to the ones used by others at the same business level as you, so you can analyze like problems and solutions.

4. The profit and loss statement review. How many agents do you think have a profit and loss statement—and review it? I believe, less than 5%.  Yet, if you don’t know where your money went, you can’t analyze its effectiveness. Use Quicken or Quickbooks to get a handle on your money.

Analyzing your business in these four areas gives you a great ‘handle’ on your business habits, your strengths, your challenges–and the areas you want to change for a more successful year next year.

*Grab All the Tools You’ll Need 

All these analysis tools all in one place–my online business planning program, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning. Take a look here. There’s a program for agents and a program for leadership. The leaderhship program includes the agents’ program, so you can share that with your whole office.

Think back to last year: Did your agents embrace business planning? here are tips to get more of your agents great plans.

Note: Through November and December, I’m going to help you with your 2020 business plans. You’ll find free documents from my business planning system for owners and an invitation to a complimentary webinar. Why not subscribe and be sure not to miss a thing?

Let’s get real. Your agents aren’t motivated to build that business plan–and we aren’t either. We know we’re supposed to write business plans. Yet, if your agents are like 95% of real estate professionals, doing that seems just like an exercise in futility. Most business plans don’t inspire.

Leaving out the ‘Magic’?

I’ll give you specific guidance for you to put that magic into business plans, so you and your agents are inspired every day to not only to complete the plan, but to use it as a very personalized and specific guide to your success.

Why Are Most Business Plans Useless?

Unfortunately, when most people write business plans, all they do is fill in some blanks with “guess” numbers. The problem here is that numbers in blanks aren’t inspiring. They aren’t motivating. They don’t call out and suggest to you that you should look at those numbers once in awhile!

What Really Motivates Us?

If numbers inspired us, we’d all be gazillionaires selling real estate. After all, we say we want to sell more homes than the average agent. We want to make more money than the average agent. You know the drill, and we’ve heard it from hundreds of agents hundreds of times. Yet, if numbers and money were motivators, our results would be different than they are. The fact is that money, in itself, is not a motivator.

It’s what we want to do with the money.

And that’s as individual as we are. Martin Luther King didn’t say, “I have a business plan.” He said, “II have a dream.” You must include the dream part–the emotional driver–of your future in your business plans to make that plan useful to you. That means, you as a business consultant, need to include the three ‘missing’ parts of business plans that I describe below.

Building the Why Into your Business Plans

That’s the motivator. In other words, we have to have a big why. Most business plans don’t build in the why. So, they fall flat, and leave us cold. That’s why agents don’t want to go through the exercise of creating them. Managers always commiserate that they can’t get their agents to write business plans. You wouldn’t want to write a plan, either, if you know it wouldn’t help you with your business the next year.

The Tools to Find that Why

Most people think of business plans as projections of numbers. But, that’s not all there is to a real strategic plan. There are three parts of a business plan that provide that inspiration, that motivation. Those are the parts of the planning process that are most frequently left out:

  1. Your vision--why you’re in this business; how you see yourself after you retire
  2. Your review–what happened in your business that will make an impact on your business in the future
  3. Your mission–who are you in the business

In the next few blogs, I’ll show you how to create these parts of your business plan and get your agents to plan, so you give yourself the inspiration and motivation you need to create and implement your plan.

Ready to create your plan? Take a look at my online business planning program, with all the guidance and forms you need: Beyond The Basics of Business Planning. You’ll get entry as a leader and entry to the program for your agents, too.