This guide to business planning will walk you through setting SMART goals and creating action plans to achieve them. You’ll make 2019 your best year yet.

Some people look at top agents and attribute their success to just plain luck. True, there is an element of luck in this business, but it’s funny that the “luckiest” agents also tend to be the hardest workers. In this business you have to work hard and also work smart.

Success rarely happens by accident. Successful people plan their day and work their plan. They set goals, focus on what is important and track their progress. They track where their leads come from, how many convert to contracts and how many contracts lead to closed sales.

A past client of mine, a restaurant entrepreneur, regularly states that his father always said it’s funny how the harder you work, the “luckier” people think you are when it comes to success. Rarely is it pure luck. 

Setting goals

To be successful, goals need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-constrained (or trackable).

Here’s an example of a bad goal: to lose weight. Here’s a better goal: to lose 10 pounds within the next 90 days.

Even better: I weigh 156 pounds today, Jan. 1, so on March 31, I will weigh 146 pounds. A specific goal will usually answer five questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of the goal?
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

I want you to think about more than just your business goals. In a little bit I’ll ask you to make a list of all the projects you are working on now, and all the vague goals you hope to accomplish in the next year or maybe more than a year — maybe you’ll want to make monthly goals, six-month goals, 12-month goals, three-year goals and five-year goals.

Don’t classify things right now, but you’re going to start by brainstorming.

Think about all the things you want, all the goals you want to hit, in both your personal and business lives.

List them all down on a fresh sheet of paper:

  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Exercise every day
  • Stop smoking
  • Keep an inventory of 20 listings at all times
  • Close three deals a month
  • Earn a new designation

Write them all down — the big ones and the small ones. Brainstorm, and don’t edit them yet.

Once you have the list, highlight the top three that are most important to you. Perhaps they’re the ones you’re close to accomplishing or the ones you really want to achieve. What is most important to you?

Next, write them out in SMART format (get one listing a week for the next 10 weeks, take one new class per quarter).

Studies show that the simple act of writing a goal down gives you clarity and focus. People who write their goals down then put them in a drawer and “forget” about them are shown to have actually accomplished many of their goals later, despite the fact they didn’t reference them.

According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetimes as people who don’t.

  • 80 percent of Americans say they don’t have goals.
  • 16 percent do have goals but don’t write them down.
  • Less than 4 percent write down their goals and fewer than 1% review them on an ongoing basis.

Want to be a top producing agent? Set some goals. Just write it out, and see what happens when you have an end in sight. After making goals, you need to plan to make them happen. But without the goal to begin with, how do you know where you are going?

Note that this exercise is to help you plan your life, not just your real estate business. So don’t limit goal setting to dollars and deals. Also think about things in your life that are important to you.

You might also want to think about things in the following classifications:

  • Education: Are there any designations you’re interested in attaining? Do you want to go back and finish a degree? Get your broker’s license? Learn a new skill not at all related to real estate?
  • Family: Is there anything related to your family life you hope to accomplish?
  • The arts: Do you want to achieve any artistic goals? Write a book? Learn how to paint? Take a photography class?
  • Health: Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve? Do you want to lose weight or stop a bad habit? Start exercising? Pick up a new sport or get better at an old one?
  • Service/community: Do you want to join a service club or start volunteering for a nonprofit group? Join a board of directors?
  • Personal fun: Don’t forget about just plain fun goals! Take a trip to Italy, get a new car or plan on a spa trip with the girls. What gets planned, gets done. Too often we don’t set fun goals.

A few more hints: Write in the first person. “By March 31 I will weigh 146 pounds. I will have 20 listings. I will close three sides a month. I will have $3,000 saved toward a vacation to Italy.”

Your subconscious is an amazing thing. What you think about, you achieve. The simple act of writing goals down helps you focus and concentrate on what you truly want. Write it down and go for it.

You’ll see in six and 12 months where you are, but for now, put pen to paper. Start by planning your overall goals for the year. Where do you want to be, what do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months?

Top goals for 2019

Business:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Personal:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Next, break it down by quarter so it’s more manageable. For example, if your goal is to save $2,000 this year, break that down into $500 in a new savings account by March 31, $1,000 by June 30, $1,500 by Sept. 30 and $2,000 by Dec. 31.

Take each business and personal goal, and break it down into quarters below.

Top goals for January – March

Business:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Personal:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Top goals for April – June

Business:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Personal:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Top goals for July – September

Business:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Personal:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Top goals for October – December

Business:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Personal:

1._________________________________________________

2._________________________________________________

3._________________________________________________

 

Regarding setting your income goal, you first need to know your history for the past few years, so you can realistically plan for the upcoming year.

Grab your commission disbursement sheets from 2018, at the very least, and fill out the grid below. It’s a lot of work the first time you do this, but if you do it each December, it’ll get easier.

The first year you’re tracking a lot of past sales, but going forward, you should be doing this exercise quarterly, and it’ll be a quicker process.

While you have those sheets in front of you, also write on them where you obtained the client. I’ll be writing a future post that will help guide your marketing plan in 2019, so if you write on each sheet (or next to each closed sale in your notebook) where the client came from (sphere of influence, sign call, open house, referral, etc.), this will get a jump on the next step. 

This will help you see patterns in your business, too.

For example, I had an agent fill out this grid who said she was primarily a listing agent and that’s where her focus was. In filling out the grid, it became clear that of the 23 listings she had taken in 2017, she only sold five of them. She was taking the listings but not successful at selling them.

What happened to the others? They expired, were withdrawn and were unsold. That was a clue that she either needed to shift her focus to buyers or take additional training on handling listings to become better at pricing and seller servicing.

Income goal setting — your history

2015          2016          2017            2018           
# Buyer sales
# Listing sales
Total # sides
$ Volume
Listings taken
Listings sold
Average per side $ ($ Volume / # of Sides)
Average per side $

What’s your income goal? Work backward!

Desired income $                                        
Average sales price $
Average commission $
Your share of the commission %
Average commission x percentage $
Desired income/answer from line above = number of sides you need
Number of sides/12 = monthly goal

 

Click here to download the charts.

 

Hypothetical numbers to help explain

If your desired income is $100,000 and your average sale price is $200,000, if your average commission is $6,000 per side — and you have a 60 percent split with your broker then your numbers are as follows:

$3,600 is your average net income

$100,000 / $3,600 = 28

You need 28 sides to net $100,000 or 2.3 sides closed per month.

If you are a new agent and don’t have a history to work from, that’s OK. Sit down with your broker or sales manager and ask about the firm’s average sale, average commission to the agent, etc. He or she should be able to guide you using company averages.

Creating action plans

Now that you’ve got your goals, you need to create action plans for each one of those goals.

Grab a notebook, and write down one of your goals on a fresh page. Break down the goal into manageable steps that you need to check off in order to accomplish that goal. That’s your action plan.

For example, if your goal is to earn your broker’s license within the next three years, your action plan might look like this (here’s how it would go in Pennsylvania, for example):

  • Download your state’s instructions on what is required to hold a broker’s license. Read and understand the directions.
  • Find local education providers or online courses that offer the classes needed to complete your requirements.
  • Identify one broker’s level class to take within the next 60 days.
  • Register for that first broker’s class.
  • Take one broker class every quarter until education requirements are met.
  • Fill out state’s broker application, and log any transactions completed as might be required by your state.
  • Send completed application to state along with education certifications and log of your transactions completed.
  • Once cleared by state to take broker’s exam, schedule test.

Your action plan is simply breaking down the goal into easily digestible steps.

“Getting my broker’s license” might seem like a huge task, until you break it down into manageable items to check off on a list.

Be very specific in your tasks, and make them time-constrained so you have a deadline. The bigger or more complicated the goal, the more tiny tasks you should break the action plan into. Tiny tasks are much easier to accomplish than huge ones.

Finally, know that your goals should be moving targets. Don’t quit or give up if you don’t hit a goal. Be flexible. Move the deadline if you must, adjust the measurement, and keep moving forward.

Life happens and circumstances change. Never give up. Just keep moving toward the end result. Set your goals, create an action plan, and commit to work hard. Take action every day. Keep the big picture in mind, and you’ll get there.

I created this blueprint originally for the agents in my own office, and I give them printable sheets to guide them in this task. You can go to my personal website to download the grids and planning sheets our office uses in-house (click on “Real Estate Success Tools”).

Here’s to a fabulous 2019 for all of us.

Erica Ramus, MRE, is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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