(This is Part 3 of a three-part series. See Part 1: Unique approach to real estate survival and Part 2: Birth date impacts real estate success.)

Is your business plan complete? If you haven’t written a plan, use today’s article to create a workable plan based upon your season of birth. If you already have a plan, make sure that your plan incorporates each component listed below. To see which approach you should use, look for the section that contains your month of birth.

North (those born in December, January, or February)

Step 1: Planning is your strength. Review your numbers from last year, calculate your closing ratios, analyze where your leads originated, and create your traditional and Web marketing plan as well as your budget for the upcoming year. Schedule time monthly to revisit your plan and make alterations.

Step 2: Does your plan address customer feedback? If not, take a hard look at what you did last year. Were you focused on making money or was money a by-product of being of service? If your focus was exclusively on money, you can improve your outcome by focusing on how your plan is in alignment with your core values and by being of service.

Step 3: Is your plan sustainable? In other words, when you look at what you have written, does it fill you with dread or does it motivate you? If you feel fear or dread about doing what you have written down, change it. Successful businesses are built upon strengths, not weaknesses.

Step 4: Does your plan accurately reflect your experience from the preceding year? Are the actions you outlined realistic based upon what you know about yourself? If not, adjust them accordingly and make the changes to your plan. Now go out and take action!

East (those born in March, April, and May)

Step 1: Begin your business planning process by examining your core values and by asking yourself how you can provide the best possible service to your clients. If your plan focuses exclusively on making money, chances are you will have challenges completing what you have planned. For you, being of service and being in alignment with your core values are the keys to making money in real estate.

Step 2: Of all the things that you do during your real estate day, which activities are motivating to you? Which ones do you hate doing? Build your business on what you love to do, not on what you hate doing. If you’re passionate about golf, make selling golf-course homes one of your niches. Before writing your plan, you must know what motivates you. Otherwise, your plan will only make your life more difficult.

Step 3: Look at what you did during the preceding year. Make a list of what worked as well as what didn’t work. For 2006, expand those activities that you love to do and that are profitable. Eliminate what is not profitable. Again, work the numbers before making your decision.

Step 4: Now you are ready to write your plan. Begin by writing down at least one strategy that will help you be of service to your client base. Next, write down the three activities that provide the best service to your clients, that are most motivating to you, and that had the greatest return in 2005. Now you’re ready to implement you plan — go for it!

South (those born in June, July, or August)

Step 1: Begin your business planning process by identifying the two or three real estate activities that you most enjoy doing. These are your strengths. Because you are an emotion-based person, it’s important that whatever you include in your business plan is something that you enjoy doing. If it doesn’t “feel right,” don’t do it.

Step 2: Review what you did in 2005. What three activities were the most profitable for you last year? These are the activities that should have top priority in your business plan provided they feel like a good match to you. Look at the numbers to determine what didn’t make you money as well. Even though you may feel that you want to continue to do these activities, dump them and put your efforts into what worked.

Step 3: Write your plan starting with the core activities that you like doing and that are profitable based upon last year’s numbers. Even though you may feel like doing activities that are not on your plan, this is one time to follow your head, not your heart. Since planning is not a strong suit for you, focus on completing your three core activities each day. Start with the most difficult item first and move to what is easiest later in the day.

Step 4: Before moving to implementation, it’s important to check your plan against your core values as well as determining whether your plan provides outstanding customer service. If either of these items is off, revise them before moving to implementation.

West (those born in September, October, or November)

Step 1: Begin your business planning process based upon your past experience. Go through your records for 2005 and identify what your three most profitable sources of income were. Because you are an action-based person, what actions were easiest for you to complete that resulted in the most income? These will be the key activities to enter in your plan in Step 2.

Step 2: Write your plan based upon your numbers from 2005. If you would like to make 25 percent more than you did last year, devote 25 percent more time to prospecting or work on selling homes that cost 25 percent more. Again, as you write your plan, base it upon what worked best for you in 2005.

Step 3: Sometimes you are so focused on reaching your goals that you forget how important it is to provide great customer service. What do your customers really want? Reach out and learn what matters to them. Also, are the goals you set in alignment with a purpose over and beyond merely making more money to buy more things? If your goals are money focused, rewrite them so they are based upon service. Surprisingly, you will actually make more money using this approach.

Step 4: Ask yourself, “Is this a plan I’m excited about implementing?” Are these activities sufficiently motivating that I will feel happy following the plan I made? If not, alter your plan to fit what will work for you. Now you’re ready to take action!

A great tool

Regardless of your season of birth, your plan is only good if you follow it and update it. Currently, the best business planning tool for real estate professionals is from www.CreateAPlan.com. The beauty of this online business planning system is that it works for both new and experienced agents. It lets you track transaction costs, overhead, and keeps you on target with regular e-mail reminders about updating and implementing your plan. Because this is a planning tool, remember to use it when your write your plan, not as a starting place.

Having a balanced business plan gives you more business with less work. If you don’t already have a plan, what do you have to lose? If you do have a plan, experiment with this balanced approach and watch your income and your business improve.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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