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Fail to plan and plan to fail — the importance of planning for real estate success

3 October 2022


Author: Jasmine Platt, Founder, Real Estate Leaders


We’ve all heard, “Fail to plan, and plan to fail.” It’s a familiar adage, but it’s true. However, in my work with real estate professionals, when it comes to business success, I regularly hear big dreams, little planning and a whole lot of hope.

Let’s face it, no one enters real estate sales or leadership expecting to fail. Yet, some salespeople get into the profession and quickly leave again like revolving doors — and at the leadership level, businesses change hands regularly. This failure, sadly, is mostly due to inadequate thinking and planning.

As a real estate business coach and mentor, I have watched from afar as well-intentioned people fail — I don’t want that for you. I’ve also heard some real estate professionals question whether they need a business plan.

The thing is, business success should never be hung on hope. It should be grounded in accurate thinking and built on a solid plan. Sure, you might stumble upon a win or three, but your ability to create sustainable results that match your long-term goals will be limited.

The biggest mistake I observe with planning

I am regularly in conversations with salespeople and managers alike who claim to have a plan for achieving their goals. But, upon closer inspection of their goals, it becomes clear that their plan is lacking — often resulting in a lot of activity, but a lack of progress.

I recently worked with a salesperson, who had historically “flown by the seat of her pants”. Instead, we got her clear on her goal (six listings in 12 weeks) and crafted a solid plan. She is about to close her 17th listing. Whilst I also provided support and accountability, her goal setting and planning drove her to her results.

Benefits of business planning

In addition to clarity and direction, a well mapped out plan will give you confidence, a sense of certainty and security, a yardstick to monitor your progress, and an ability to shore up your resources when and where needed.

What to consider

Here are some important elements that are worth spending the time to think about and create your plan around:

  • Cost of living (this will help you set your financial goal)

  • Any other financial costs (e.g., retirement savings, investments, toy purchases, holidays)

  • Financial goals for the year (from the above figures)

  • The key metrics you need to hit to achieve your income target (sales, listings, appraisals, appraisal-to-listing and listing-to-sale conversion rates)

  • The personal brand and reputation you are seeking to grow/maintain and how you’ll do it (i.e., what tactics will you employ and when)

  • Your offer, your competition and what you’ll do to stand out from the rest

  • Your month-by-month marketing plan

  • Resources — and access to resources

  • Budget and planned spending

  • Available time and timetable

  • What help you’ll need to scale your business; and

  • A learning and development plan.

Ten tips for successful planning

Here are my top recommendations for the planning process:

  1. Do it over a series of short sittings
    Scale it down to make it manageable.

  2. Getting it done is better than it being perfect
    The purpose is to get you thinking, not perfecting a perfect, but potentially unactioned plan.

  3. Start by identifying your short and long-term goals
    What are you trying to accomplish? Understand your target, and more importantly, why that number? Being connected to your ‘why’, will support you to create a robust, meaningful plan. When thinking through your goals, I strongly recommend you don’t neglect your retirement goals. How far are you from retirement? How much do you need to live comfortably once you retire? How much do you need to make/save/invest to ensure you’re prepared?

  4. Take time to work out your key metrics
    Expect that calculating your metrics may be confronting. This is all part of the process! If it helps, involve others. Work out your cost of living with your partner, your conversion rates with your manager, your retirement needs with a financial advisor.

  5. Build in work-life balance
    Structure your time. Identify the hours you have available to work and when. Too many real estate professionals don’t do this and fly by the seat of their pants. This is stressful and a poor approach to business. Build your plan in a way that factors in your health, family, and other commitments.

  6. Clarify your existing financial and non-financial resources — and those you might need
    To market yourself (or your team) and grow your business, you need to know what money you have to play with. This includes capital you have and lines of credit you have access to.

    If you don’t have any — have a plan for how you’ll ensure you’re visible and effective against your competitors who are investing in their businesses. Run an inventory of what non-financial resources you have access to, and resources you might need such as a delivery person, or a part-time personal assistant.

  7. Make sure you think about delegating or outsourcing low-dollar-value activity
    Too many salespeople try to do it all. But to be successful, you will need to focus on your highest-dollar value activity. Delegate or outsource the rest. To do this, allocate money to get help.

  8. At the very least write a plan for marketing, client care, finance and delegated support
    How will you build visibility, trust and relationship in your area? How will you demonstrate your care for your vendor and buyers experience? Do the numbers stack up? What can you outsource?

  9. Identify areas you need to improve — and plan learning and development time
    What areas do you need to improve your skills to lift your results or grow your reputation and career? Every business and salesperson — regardless of success level — should have a plan for their development. Where do you need to improve? Do you need to lift your listing or sales conversion rate? Learn to delegate and recruit effectively?

  10. A business plan is only useful if it’s honest, practical and meaningful.
    Only write it if you’re going to do it. Don’t do it because it’s a ‘good idea’. (You won’t work a plan you don’t connect with).

Your planning clarifies what you’re going to do day-to-day and week-to-week to achieve goals that matter to you. Doing the thinking to work out your goals and what actions you need to take — and mapping it out in such a way that you can execute it, will save you from having to rely on hoping for the best. That preparation (plus the relaxed state you’ll get to live in as a result) is priceless.