• Make a list of where your business in the past two years came from. Tally up each category, and focus on the area with the most wins.
  • Track your spending and allocate by necessity.
  • Create a marketing plan for three months out, and then add to it each month.

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Many business plan templates are available for real estate agents. And with the new year comes calendar mania, so you’re likely to see a flood of options at the current moment. As a producing real estate agent, I have sifted through countless numbers of business plans in search of one that would truly help me prepare for the year ahead.

What I have found is that most free plans are actually marketing calendars designed to help you schedule a product offered by the company that sponsored the plan itself. And the firm-generated plans often promote your firm’s brand and perhaps you — the agent — along with it if you’re lucky.

Business planning should be a study of your strengths and how to play to your own personal advantages. It should not be a marketing schedule. But how do you go about assessing your individual strengths? This is what I hope to cover below.

1. Find your strengths

To discover your strengths in the real estate business (this is a business and you should run yours as such), an agent should go back and look at where his or her business originated from initially.

Ask yourself, “Where did I get my business from?” The best way to answer this question is to go back and pull the past 24 months of all of your listings and closed transactions.

This will generate a compilation of all of your listings, sold or not, along with your buyer agency sales. Print this out. Next to each one, write down where the relationship originated.

Did the buyer or seller come to you from an open house, an expired listing, a geo farm mailing and so forth? These are your sources of business. Now, you need to count up your sources of business and mark a tally of the transactions or listings that stemmed from each source of business.

The sources of business that garner the largest tallies — those are your strengths.

If it’s not perfectly clear to you at this point, here’s a hint: do more of what garnered the most tallies. That is what you do best. In 2016, focus on strategies that were successful for you in the past. It’s pretty simple.

2. Allocate resources

The second step is to go back over the past 24 months and review where you spent your money on marketing. I track my spending on Mint.com, and if you are going to run your business like a business, you should really keep track of your spending. You will also need to track your spending come tax time.

Once you have pulled your spending out, look at where your marketing dollars were distributed. In theory, your largest allocation should be to where you garnered the most business.

In reality, this is rarely the case. And that’s when planning comes into play. As a real estate professional running a business, you should spend money on those things that generate income and less on those things that don’t.

The focus for any year should be to reallocate your marketing dollars toward the strengths you found above in this article. Spend more on what works and less on what doesn’t. It is just that simple.

If you were successful at open houses, do more of them. Market them better and more aggressively. Do the same for your other avenues of business. Look for articles here on Inman on how to improve on your strengths.

STILLFX / Shutterstock.com

STILLFX / Shutterstock.com

3. Schedule out your plan

The last thing you need to do for your 2016 business plan is to schedule your marketing plan for the next three months. When you start a new month, update your calendar so that you’re always planning three months out.

This will help you analyze what’s working and what’s not. On this calendar, map out your successful avenues of business and how you’ll cater to specific strengths.

It should contain your strengths, such as open house availability, your geo farm mailing schedule, your email campaign schedule, etc.

Schedule these areas of the strength, or successful avenues of business, so that you are consistently marketing what you do best while being careful to minimize any duplication of your efforts.

If you take the time to do the steps above, you will have a plan for the future. It’s up to you to deploy it.

In learning how to execute my own business plan, I find articles here on Inman that are relative to my strengths and look for ways to improve what I already do well.

In real estate, nobody needs to reinvent the wheel, we only need to do what we do well — only more frequently — and better. Good luck in 2016.

Bill Tierney is Realtor in Cohasset, Massachusetts, with William Raveis Real Estate, the seventh-largest family-owned real estate company in the country. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.​

Email Bill Tierney.