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Tracy Kasper: For some of us, fall is our busiest season – and I have to say that after the strain of the last few years, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the market and not have to worry so much. It even helps as I begin my planning for next year – because instead of being focused on downsizing, I can focus now on a measured approach to expanding. That includes marketing and hiring, of course, but also more creative agent training. I took a leap of faith several months ago and hired a full-time trainer. It’s already beginning to pay off in terms of increased production, and I look forward to honing in on other ways to maximize return on investment.

Jeff Barnett: Brokers and agents realize that superior service is key to business growth. It’s why major corporations, like Disney and Ritz-Carlton, set up specialized schools for their salespeople. So putting your money behind agent training makes particular sense in planning for 2014. What about marketing, if there are a few extra bucks available?

Christine Dwiggins: Marketing needs to have a target. For me, and this is what I pass on to agents, planning begins with self-assessment and the kind of analysis that leads to a working game plan. Look at yourself not just in terms of the numbers you’ve attained, but try to really connect to where your business came from. Ask yourself, what types of business do I do most, what do I enjoy most, and is that the area where I want to specialize – maybe in high-end properties, or first-time buyers, or certain geographical areas. Then you should ask yourself, how can I best spend my marketing dollars to connect with the clients I want?

Greg Zadel: In our market, it’s community involvement that really pays off dividends – so our marketing dollars are primarily spent on supporting local events and organizations. That’s what keeps us top of mind when people want to buy or sell, and it’s where we will continue to spend.

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