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RISMEDIA, Feb. 14, 2007-How did your real estate business do in January? Many agents are wondering if their results for 2007 will look like the ugly side of the Clint Eastwood movie "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." In the midst of market warfare, persistent agents and brokers are speedily gathering January's sales results and placing them on the business plan scales to see how they will weigh in. With that exercise in mind, CreateAPlan online business planning offered the following advice for measuring, evaluating, and improving what took place during the first month of the year.

"Remember that ongoing business planning has many components and stages: The Plan, Business Development, Tracking of Activities, Income and Expenses. The first month of the year is a good time to check-up on all of these. An agent should review these areas of focus to see how their planned reality compared with their actual income generating and spending reality. There are many money-making purposes for doing this: general oversight, checking accuracy, noting changes, developing habits, checking progress, and identifying problems in advance.

An agent should always inspect their business plan for accuracy. There are two critical areas to focus on and observe: actual activities and actual expenses. Did the agent forget to account for anything in their budget? Did they record their business activities they are completing as they move towards their goal? Have they accounted for all the sources of business and business producing activities?

An example of expenses might be a last minute postcard the agent sent out to all past clients, sphere and the farm, listing the "Top Five Sales in 2006." This postcard would have the best five homes they participated in closing for the year. Did the agent account for the printing as well as mailing costs in their marketing budget? Were there any positive income generating results? Should the agent consider doing this again? Another example would be overhead expenses paid at the beginning of the year, but not due during any other time. Remember that changes to the business plan will affect cash flow or work load positively or negatively. If they are not recorded, they are easily forgotten.

If the agent has been in business more than one year, they should start noting changes in their business and looking for differences from the previous year. Are they participating in more or less activities? Is their first month busier or less? What might be causing the changes? What can be done to capitalize on positive trends or curtail negative omens?

One secret to success is establishing success oriented habits. Remember the golden rule of sales management, "If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it." We all hear the cliché, "Are you running your business or is your business running you?" As an agent gets into a success-oriented-habit, they will mine more accurate data about their business. With this information they will be able to examine "what is working" and "what is not working."

Finally, an agent should not be hesitant to check their progress. We have heard endless times the pipeline philosophy and to make sure we keep the pipeline full. A good rule of thumb for examining their production and activity results is as follows:

Record and Check Activities Weekly
Check Expenses Monthly
Examine Revenue Every Other Month

The reason for this is simple. Income generating activities are the lifeblood of any sales oriented business and therefore should be examined more often. Additionally, as time progresses you may forget some activities and appointments that you have completed towards your goals. By recording your activities and appointments each week, you will be more easily able to see where you are on the road to success.

Expenses can often creep-up and get out of control. Examining them on a monthly basis will keep the agent on top of what they are spending so things don't get "unmanageable". Revenue is more unpredictable than other parts of the business and may shift from month to month because of delayed closing due to issues beyond an agent's control. With that being said, examine revenue at least every other month. During the first month examine transaction-producing activities and make sure the agent is on track. If an agent fails to do these activities they are setting themselves up to fail later on in the year. According to real estate superstar agents and brokers, keeping a real estate business moving on the right path is much more convenient with inexpensive online business planning tools such as CreateAPlan.

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