The start of a new year brings with it the hopes and dreams of new opportunities, goals, wishes and aspirations. At least that’s how I look at it. So, for the first office meeting of the new year I always start off talking to the agents in my office about the benefits of a business plan… and every year it falls mostly on deaf ears. It seems like everyone knows that doing a business plan is a smart idea, they just don’t want to share it or be held accountable in any way. I get that. Putting your goals on paper actually means that you have to hit them, and if you don’t then you are a failure. But that’s a myth. Putting it on paper makes it real. Actually I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a productive office so my agents don’t need a lot of hand holding or support BUT everyone in my meeting today had the same common goal… build on the successes of last year and do better this year.
So I decided to take a different approach this year. Sure its the same old meeting about creating a business plan, but who am I to convince anyone? Instead I asked the great oracle ‘Google’ to tell me about business plans. I got roughly 35 million suggestions an why a business plan was a good idea. Some offered 10 reasons, others 6, still others 20. In the end I settled on the most concise….5 reasons a business plan is important. First though a brief Wiki definition;
“A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals”.
Pretty simple really, and as a manager I have pressed, unsuccessfully, to discuss business plans with my agents for longer than I care to remember. In a ten-year span, I can probably count on one hand the number of agents who were willing to sit for a half hour and review theirs. That’s ok. Realtors are independent contractors. They can choose to work as little or as much as they choose, but I can say categorically that I can remember three standout meetings where agents had put together well thought out and defined business plans. One couple had amazing success and went on to build a formidable team in the city, one agent went on to become rookie of the year and the other, with his partner were top agents at my office. So….It works.
So here are 5 reasons to have a plan;
1. Create a map of the future. It’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t have a guide.
2. Figure out where you want to spend your marketing dollars on, mostly based on what you spent in the previous year.
3. Decide on a course of action. This is essentially scheduling exercise.
4. Manage cash flow.
5. Fine tune your exit strategy (unless you plan to work until you die).
I have provided a basic outline of our business plan here but you can choose to use any system you want as long as you include answers to these 10 questions;
What’s your niche?
Who is your competition and what services do they offer?
What service (s) do you offer that are different or better?
What’s your competitive advantage?
Who are your customers?
How big is your market?
Who’s on your team and can you get more business from them?
What are the risks and threats you might face this year and what can you do to alleviate those threats?
How much money do you want to make? Spend?
How do you plan on managing your business as it grows?
Mark McLean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office, the Immediate Past President the Toronto Real Estate Board and a director at the Ontario Real estate Association . The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB, OREA or Bosley RE
No question that frustration levels are high these days. The market is still very hot and competition on offer night is as strong as it has ever been. They used to say that you had to make fifty significant real estate related conversations to get one deal. Today that adage has been tweaked to say that you need to make one hundred connections for the CHANCE to get a deal.
Part of my job as manager is to help agents figure out strategies on winning BEFORE they present. I decided to use this topic as a focus for my Tuesday meeting. Having lots of brains in the room allowed us to work together to come up with ideas on how to improve your chances. Frankly some of them seem very obvious but you would be surprised how often even the simplest idea can lead to victory.
There are the basic winning strategies. Have a well prepared and clean offer, include a large deposit in form of a bank draft, and have your client nearby. These three items should be enough to get you across the finish line. But there are some that may be less obvious. The truth is that it is not always the person with the biggest bag of money who gets the house. On the contrary. A solid offer, with better terms and conditions can beat a higher price more often than you think.
Like a good detective, its important to find out as much as you possibly can about who the seller is, how experienced is their agent, who are you competing with. The answers to this questions may help you in determining your strategy and potential offering price. Also it is important to present well. That means not just looking good, but making sure names are correctly spelled on the offer and that you have multiple copies for each seller even if the eventual offer will be signed digitally. It seems like a silly thing to do but before you head to the offer table ask the listing agent who you will be presenting to. If it is a family of five making decisions for an estate, bring enough copies for everyone in the room.
Ultimately the perfect presentation should include building rapport not just with the listing agent but with the seller. Being understanding yet firm with a sharp mind on the market and comparable sold properties in the neighbourhood will endure you as a professional.
Another helpful hint. After the offer is typed, find yourself a quiet room with no distractions and go over the entire offer line by line. There is nothing worse that wrong clauses, inclusions or names. Many years ago I received an offer on a property from an agent who was obviously in a rush. In an effort to save time, this agent cut and pasted clauses from another offer. When it arrived to me it had the wrong address and seller’s name on one of the schedules, the written deposit amount didn’t match the numeric amount nor did it match the amount on the cheque. Sloppy mistakes like that can cost you a deal very easily and there is nothing worse that having to go back to your buyer and explain why their higher offer was not accepted.
As I said earlier, these tips won’t guarantee you will win but they will increase your odds dramatically. Have any other tips that have worked for you? I would love to hear them. Drop me note.
mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office, the Immediate Past President the Toronto Real Estate Board and a director at the Ontario Real estate Association . The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB, OREA or Bosley RE