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.

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.

If you teach: Do you know how you did?

If you rely on people’s comments after the event, good for you. But, what if you knew the good, the bad, and the ugly–so you could keep all the great things and improve on everything else? That’s what a survey can do for you.

At the end of this blog, grab one of my surveys. Click here.

Surveys Should Throw Some of the Accountability to the Student.

I’m a member of National Speakers Association and they are great proponents of surveys. Surveys can do many things for you. Of course, they tell you how you did from the student perspective. But, more than that, a good survey should throw some of the accountability to the student. What was the learning they accomplished? How would they apply it?

We do surveys in our coaching company, both in the middle of the program and at the end of the program. We ask, “What did you learn? What did you apply? Was there any reason why you couldn’t finish the work?” Build some accountability for student learning into your surveys.

You’ll Get Nice Comments for Promoting your Course, Too!

In my speaking survey, I ask attendees if I can use their comments as testimonial. Most of time they very nicely say yes. Testimonials are very, very important to put in your marketing. After all, we believe what others say about us, not what we say about ourselves! Yes, I’m even starting to do video testimonials. (much better than just written ones!)

Here it is: Grab one of my surveys. Click here.

Would you like to be more effective as an instructor?

I can help! Let me assist your association or company. I’ll share innovative training techniques that are easy to apply and instantly energize your audience and help you become more effective–and confident. Contact me and I’ll customize a training to fit your needs:
425-392-6914 or carla@carlacross.com

teacher at boardTrainers: Are you after better performance–or just giving them more knowledge?

Are you standing in front of your students to create better performance, or more knowledge?

I learned this the hard way. After graduating with a degree in piano performance, I applied to and had been awarded a scholarship to UCLA as a graduate assistant in the music department. But, after I was at UCLA a few weeks, I became disillusioned, for I found out that the UCLA music department was all about ‘knowledge’, not performance. Professors earned tenure by publishing papers about sixteenth century Elizabethan madrigals–but they didn’t have to be able to play the madrigals…My interest and experience in music had been performance.

Are You After Better Performance or More Knowledge?

I’ve never forgotten that lesson about the difference in the knowledge about something–and the performance of it. Which is more important in what you are teaching? What do you want your students to be able to do as a result of your presentation/training? Sure, just like musical performance, you must have some technique to perform. But, also like musical performance, lots of knowledge doesn’t make you a good performer.

If You Want Better Performance…

Here are five areas to look at to assure you’re creating performers, not just know-it alls.

1. What percent of your program is instructor focused? That is, the instructor performs. If it’s more than 50%, you have a knowledge-heavy program. Model your program like the piano teacher teaches piano. He talks very little, demonstrates some, and listens to the student play and gives positive reinforcement and re-direction.

The teacher knows he taught because the student can play.

2. Do you choose your instructors based on their knowledge and their ability to deliver the message attractively? Start choosing your instructors, instead, on their ability to facilitate performance. They should be able to demonstrate a role play, set up a role play, and draw conclusions. Like great piano teachers create increasingly difficult programs for their students, your instructors should be able to craft ever-increasing difficult rule plays.

Think of them as creators of ‘virtual reality’.

3. Who is held accountable for the program–the instructors or the students? In most programs, we ‘relieve’ the instructor if he doesn’t get good reviews from the students. The instructor’s the only one accountable. Turn it around. 75% of the accountability should be on the students to demonstrate they have learned the skill. Why? Because, without student accountability, managers get your ‘graduates’ who can’t perform.

4. Is your focus on curriculum? Are you attempting to create value for the program to management or owners by providing more information than the other school? Most training programs could cut 50% of their curriculum and graduate better performers. Instead of focusing on curriculum, create your program as ‘virtual reality’. Have a system that provides a series of “performance building blocks”. Don’t tell them all about playing a concerto. Just tell them enough to let them ‘get their fingers on the keys’.

5. Are the objectives of your program knowledge-based? How do the students graduate from your program? Do they pass a written exam? Managers want a graduate who can perform the activities of a real estate salesperson to reasonably high performance standards. A good training program should identify, teach, observe, and coach performance in several critical performance areas until the student can perform well enough to graduate.

The Right Performance Test

As a piano performance major, each term, I had to play a ‘mini-recital’ in the music auditorium for an audience of four–all piano professors. I couldn’t just talk about music theory, or answer a multiple choice exam. I had to play. And, to pass the ‘course’, I had to play to certain set performance standards. The more your training program resembles the ‘virtual reality’ of your specific performance, the more valuable your program to the people who hired your students –and you.

Raise Your Trainers’ Level of Performance

Carla is helping trainers everywhere become even better at what they do. Why not invite her to work with your association or company? Here are some of the areas Carla addresses:

  • How to put more participation into your courses (so you quit boring them to tears)
  • How to give students a much different experience, by using creative, effective training methods
  • How to arrange your course so it has a natural ‘flow’ and students are really competent by the end of the course
  • Invest in your faculty. They will go out and recruit more great faculty members and your training program with grow with purpose!

Contact Carla at carla@carlacross.com or 425-392-6914. She’ll find out your needs and customize a program just for you.

You work hard when you provide training. How do you assure, though, that your attendees actually take home strategies they know are useful to them?

Trainers: How do you assure that your attendees actually capture strategies that they feel will help them in their careers? Or, do you just expect them to be able to make the leap from what you’re teaching to how they’ll use the information and skills?

The strategy I’m explaining below is excerpted from my training programs, which certify instructors in Washington state to teach clock-hour approved courses. See Train the Trainer, my distance-learning version, or Instructor Development Workshop, my live version. Both can be found at Cross Institute.

The situation: The attendees sits all the way through that day-long class. In the after-class evaluation, he says, “I didn’t get anything I could use.” Oh, boy. Here you’ve worked hard to bring each attendee the strategies needed to propel careers forward. Yet, this attendee (and it’s a common problem), said he didn’t get anything useful from the class.

What’s going on? What’s going on is that attendees may not have a method to translate what you’ve shared in class to apply to their own situations. You need to provide them a method to ‘translate’ your strategies to their solutions, and capture those translations to put to use once they’re out of class.

The Action Plan Method

Here’s a great method to do just that. At the end of your warm-up, or, at least in the first 1/2 hour of your presentation, introduce the action plan. In this section, I have given you a couple of examples of action plans. Also in this section, I’ve made a sheet called your action plan. Put this sheet in your handout, or make it a separate sheet.

Take a look at the Action Plan template here.

If I were teaching this class ‘live’, I would ask attendees to take this sheet out of your handbook and keep it beside you, as you go through this course. I encourage you to include an action plan ‘template’ in your outline when you’re teaching,  and ask the students to take it out of their handbook, and keep it beside them as they go through the course so they can capture action items. These action items don’t have to be things that you say. it’s whatever pops into their heads. Many times when I’m teaching, I tell people that the person with the longest action list gets the most out of the course. So if they paid $250 for the course, and they’ve got an action list of four pages, they really got a $2500 course. Whereas the person who paid $250 for the course, and has three items on the action list, probably should have paid only $50 for the course! (Or, at least that’s the value they got, because they couldn’t apply all the principles and skills to become a better instructor).

It’s not the information you get. It’s what you do with it.

Including this step increases your adult learner’s desire and ability to create practical action steps to implementing the concepts and skills you are teaching.

Adult learners many times don’t have the skills to translate the concepts you’re teaching to ‘real life’. Using the Action Plan process teaches them to learn better.

How do you provide ‘reflection time’ so that your attendees have a quiet moment to think through possible action items and commit?

Let me know how this terrific method works for you!

Can I help your association or business be better in front of an audience? I’d love to create a customized training for you. Here’s what you can accomplish with me:
1. Create an effective 3-60 minute persuasive presentation, so you’ll get more business when you’re in front of 2 or 200 (especially great for affiliates–mortgage and title reps, home warranty companies)
2. Learn and apply new teaching methods to keep our audience engaged–so you’ll get great reviews and more trainings
3. Get exciting, easy, and effective creative training strategies to put more ‘zip’ in your presentations–and polish your courses
Contact me at carla@carlacross.com or call me at 425-392-6914 and we’ll explore how I can help!