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It’s that time of year again. Fall. Fourth quarter. Business planning. Some teams think the quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the best time to update their business plans, but I think it’s a great time for personal reflection and goal setting for the year ahead (e.g., fitness goals, travel planning). Teams who think strategically are working on their business plans well before the final week of the year.

To be ready for a seamless transition into a new year, a strategic team leader is preparing their troops for business planning with the goal of having it set in stone and underway by the end of October. Why so early? In order to hit the ground running in Q1 with business coming in, we need to be manifesting that business 2-3 (or even four) months beforehand. Hence, now is the time to get things rolling.

On many teams, the team leader or manager creates the business plan for the year and then dictates it to the rest of the group. There may be a small amount of community brainstorming, but it’s the team leader who determines the goals, budget and action plan. In order to be truly cohesive as a group and to get everyone on board, however, working together is the best way to produce the most effective business plans.

Here are five steps to make this happen:

  1. Individual Plans – Each member of the team creates their own written business plan. Provide a template or workbook for each team member that shows, step by step, how to think about their business, from individual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses to training plans. As REALTORS®, our own drive, motivation and planning creates individual success which then impacts our team as a whole. So, each person on the team, whether they are a sales agent, manager or working on the administrative side, needs to create their own individual goals and plan. This cannot be dictated—it has to come from within.
  1. Team Plan – The team leader creates their own plan, but this one is at the macro level—a plan for the overall business with projected revenue for the team as a whole, the budget, net revenue goals, etc., and the team leader’s plan for execution. Again, the same template or workbook is used, but this time at the highest level.
  1. Meet to Review Individual Plans – The team gets together, preferably for a day or two, to dive into the planning. As a team or in small groups, work together to dissect each individual plan from step one and enforce team accountability by sharing individual goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc. This is a time to be honest, be helpful, be strategic and get motivated as individuals for the year ahead.
  1. Bring It All Together – Now, as the team leader, you have your macro goal and budget and your team’s individual plans. Rolling it up, are you all on the same page? Is one person’s weakness another’s strength? Will the individual goals reach the goals you’ve set for the team? If your team goal is 100 transactions for the coming year and the individual goals total 75, where are the other 25 going to come from?
  1. Fill in the Gaps – Look at your numbers: your transaction goal, your sales goal, your budget goal and your gross and net revenue goals. From step four, you know what you need to do. If the individual goals exceed your team goal projection, then perhaps you are reaching too low. If they don’t quite meet your plans, it might be time to look at adding to the team to achieve the growth you are projecting.

Planning as a team creates excitement and buy-in long before the year starts. If the team leader is creating the plan alone, the team members have no say in the goals and plans, and are therefore working in their own silo. This leads to frustration for the team leader as goals aren’t met. (“Why does no one pay attention to our numbers but me?”) Sharing in the planning goes a long way to creating a cohesive team and vision, and will provide a solid foundation for the year ahead.

Sarah Bernard came to real estate from a career in corporate marketing and property management. Licensed in 2014, Bernard sold $6 million in properties with 12 transactions in her first year and was Rookie of the Year. Five years later, she has grown a team that includes three buyer agents and support staff. Expected sales in 2018 are $18-$20 million and 80 transactions. She hopes to double her business in 2019, and is committed to learning and improving her team management every day. For more information, please visit

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