Approaching the 2023 plan from the branch’s perspective provides an agent-centric point of view that promotes engagement and investment because the ideas are homegrown, not coming from the corporate office.

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Business planning season is upon us. 

With the real estate landscape constantly shifting, we knew we needed to approach business planning differently for 2023 with our 300 agents across 10 offices in South Carolina.

Typically, our business planning model consists of the following three steps:

  1. Setting the goals of the company.
  2. Individual office leadership sets their office goals which align with the overall company goals.
  3. Once goals are set, broker/managers of each office guide their agents on how their individual business plans can ladder up to their office goals, as well as the company’s goals.

This year, instead of a top-down approach, we decided to go grassroots and took the planning process directly to each office. Working in the role of facilitator, I led each office through a 90-minute working session. The goal was to identify each branch’s 2023 goals and then set the strategy and supporting tactics to achieve those goals. 

Here’s how the session worked at the first office I visited:

Start with strengths

We started by identifying each branch’s strengths and then brainstormed how to capitalize on those strengths.

The first office I worked with is in a prime location on a main thoroughfare, a definite strength. The group very quickly identified several simple tactics to play to that strength — including changing the digital signage and outdoor sandwich board messages daily. 

Another strength of this branch was its seasoned agents. The group identified that agents could facilitate branch growth by hosting roundtable sessions on topics of their choosing to help fellow agents grow their businesses. The branch then set a goal of increased productivity for each agent by five to 10 deals in 2023. 

Then focus on weaknesses

Next, we discussed weaknesses. Agents agreed that the office environment felt very quiet and staid and felt an increase in activity would help support growth. The agents believed growth would come readily when they were working with experienced people that fit the office culture. So, everyone in the room agreed to bring on one new experienced agent by the middle of 2023. It’s only been one month, and they have already added six agents to the branch!

Another weakness the branch addressed was limited visibility in the community. The agents felt strongly that they needed a refreshed and revamped image for the branch website, updated headshots for everyone and an increase in community involvement. 

It’s not always about more leads

Something that really surprised me in this process was that no one said they needed more leads. When I brought that up, they said they would certainly appreciate it, but leads were not top of mind in their business planning. When I offered to provide them with company-generated leads of agents that had left the firm, they decided to set up a series of call nights in the office, complemented by mentoring and role-playing. This initiative supported the goal of growth as well as office activity. 

Set simple and achievable goals

All of these ideas are very simple — and achievable. This agent-up approach is resonating so much more with our agents than the top-down approach because the plan was built by the agents and the agents are now driving it. This creates a sense of investment and empowerment.

From a leader’s perspective, it was critical that I trusted our agents to do the right thing. And because I asked them what they wanted to do versus telling them what I wanted them to do, there was a major shift in accountability. The agents became accountable to themselves and each other. Instead of mandating what was to be done, I positioned myself as someone there to help and work alongside them. 

Agents are valuable resources

As a full-service firm, we pride ourselves on providing agents with all the tools and resources they need to be successful. But we often need to remember an invaluable tool in our toolbox: The agents themselves. 

Approaching the 2023 plan from the branch’s perspective provided an agent-centric point of view that promoted engagement and investment because the ideas were homegrown, not coming from the corporate office. Engaging agents in the planning process can be an effective and often overlooked way to deliver on our full-service promise.

Lucinda Brasington serves as Chief Operating Officer for ERA Wilder Realty. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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