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The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Steve A. Brown, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Moderator:
Steve A. Brown
,
Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR

Participants:
Jack O’Connor
,
Broker/Owner,
The Denver 100 Realty, Englewood, Colo.

Kevin Levent,
President/CEO, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, Atlanta, Ga.

David Boehmig,
President, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International, Atlanta, Ga.

Steve A. Brown: The multi-talented Ben Franklin, who had something to say about almost everything, says, “You may delay, but time will not. Postponing anything works to another’s advantage.” There’s truth in that, but for some, planning is never easy. How and when do you start your own business planning, and how do you get buy-in from your agents? Jack?

Jack O’Connor: A workable business plan has two parts: the financial plan and the action plan. How many transactions closed this year? How many will need to close next year to increase GCI (gross commission income) by whatever goal we want to set—and how are we going to get that done? I start by creating a calendar for myself, filling in everything I need to do—focused recruiting, maybe, or reining in expenses—and the capital investments I need to make to support my agents in meeting their objectives. It starts with me, but in a sense, their plans become a mirror of mine.

Kevin Levent: Agreed—and I do start early, analyzing sales results, researching market trends, deciding where and how I’ll put my focus. As for agents, they basically wake up every morning unemployed. They need to be self-starters, to punch in, figuratively—to me, to their manager or to themselves. The most successful agents start planning on their own, but I send out reminders early, because the fact is, any business plan will take 90 days to implement.

David Boehmig: The bulk of my business plan is done before Thanksgiving. That includes a thorough analysis of this year’s business, an educated look at where the market and the economy are headed, and the first steps in an action plan based on where I want to be in a year. It’s open to tweaking, and I will tweak it, but the basic plan is in place. It’s pretty much the same for the agents. They need to look at the factors that resulted in this year’s business…ask how normal a year it’s been…what significant factors may have affected their production and whether those factors are apt to change going forward…and then figure out what they can do to obtain the best results.

SAB: And those factors do change year to year. For a while, a common strategy was reaching out to more first-time buyers. That’s less effective now for a variety of reasons, so the strategy may change to targeting move-up buyers, or second-home buyers, or maybe just getting more listings. What’s your strategy, as a broker, for motivating your agents to get thinking and create a plan?

DB: Some of the most successful agents don’t do a business plan at all. They seem to follow some intuitive guideline, and if it works for them, that’s fine. But most agents need a roadmap, and that’s what I try to help them develop.

JO’C: I take responsibility for seeing that the tools are there for agents, to help them stay in the flow. Every 4-6 weeks, for instance, we host an event for our customer base. It may be a symposium with a local economist—or a seminar on improving your home value. Whatever it is, it won’t cost us a fortune, but we can’t begin to put a value on what we get back in customer loyalty.

KL: A broker has to invest—and so must every agent—in the tools and strategies that give them a market edge, whether it’s specialized training, or customer events, or the right marketing exposure. But priority one is setting the goal—and for most of us, it starts with a business plan.

SAB: NAR has a field guide for writing a business plan at REALTOR.org. Visit www.realtor.org/field-guides/ and select “Writing a Business Plan” from the list. It’s a good place to start. And no plan is set in stone. Be sure to ask yourself, “What is going on that may cause us to change our goals?”

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

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