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As the year comes to an end it’s all too often seen as a time to let the pressure off, do the rounds of Christmas functions and look forward to the respite of the beach.

For many it’s been a particularly hard year, Revenue is down, cash flow needs careful management, recruitment has been harder, both in quantity and quality and a summer break looks very appealing.

But now is the time to plan and prepare to hit the market at speed early in January.

Its too late to come back January to plan and launch in February. It will be March or later before there’s any impact.

Already I have seen Business Owners and Salespeople looking to ensure their profile and marketing campaigns run right through to Christmas and re-appear in volume much earlier in January than normal.

The lesson of the last year must surely have been: - “If you’ve been waiting for the market to turn to help your business or career that was a tactical blunder.”

Quite clearly this year I have seen two strategies at work. One working, and one not.
One is about building a business and the other is to wait for the market to lift.

There is a huge difference in the strategies required for “survival” and those required for “business growth”

There are businesses and salespeople who have grown their business, increased their profits and market share during the year, whilst others have closed or left the industry.

The key ingredients of those who have profited have been.
1. An acceptance that what worked in the past is not enough anymore.
2. A belief that if they increase their skill and activity they will prosper.
3. A realization that this might be the new market and we’d better look to prosper in it.
4. The focus must be on getting greater productivity from the existing team of people, or for salespeople to adapt to a far more rigourous self-management programme.
5. A recognition that there is no new “secret” or remedy, but an acceptance that there is a need for a lot more personal management, self-discipline and focus

Lets now look at the specific tactics people in the industry could adopt to get 2001 off to a flier.

BUSINESS OWNERS & MANAGERS

Plan:
“Good planning reduces the need to waste time on crises”

If you’ve never done a Business Plan before then now’s the time to do one.

The two key issues facing business owners are Cash flow and Recruitment. Have you strategies for managing both?
Get an outside facilitator in to help you identify the key growth strategies and to construct an Action Plan for each of them.

You need to look very thoroughly at the following areas:

Marking Costs:
As median days to sell have lengthened then the cost of marketing in traditional agencies has escalated to unacceptable % of the reduced Gross Revenue. You need to choose from this menu:
Increase the Auction % your business
Reduce advertising expenditure
Set a budget per listing rather than a budget per salesperson
Enhance skills for collecting marketing contributions from sellers
Improve skills of Sales Team
Hold salespeople accountable for more professional and skilled services of their listings
Get more productivity from the listings you have.

The wasted time and money is found in the % of Controlled Listings listed, Marketed but never sold. I suggest you take some time to assess this “waste” in your business and to plan to remedy it.

There are implications for skills training for your sales people and the way in which you manage your people.

In some markets as many as 60% of new exclusive listings are not selling during the traditional 90-day agency period. You may need to list them for longer but all that will do is increase your marketing costs unless you reduce the frequency of servicing them. Why not adopt a strategy of assisting your people to manage their listings better and set in place a programme to sell a higher percentage of the listings you already have.

Marketing Plan

If you haven’t already planned a first Auction campaign to launch mid January you are running out of time. This year you will need to be early so you have Auction events late January – First week of Feb.
Make sure that when the first Real estate Publications launch in January your team is there in volume.
List the properties NOW for the January launch

Databasing;
There is still time to make use of your company client database and get material out to them before Christmas. Plan now to repeat this in Mid-January and ensure there is a programme to follow that up with a phone call within 21 days of the mail out.

Go on a Sign War
Adopt a competition in the office and set out to get absolute total sign coverage in your area before Christmas. Maintain this at al times and monitor the sign penetration yourself every week.

Training

Don’t wait until March or April. Get your first training events planned for mid/late January. Create momentum and then use your skills % of listings sold to keep it going.

Run Competitions

In Nov/Dec it pays to run a listing competition so the team is focused on getting plenty of new stock. This means you have a good pool of listings to start the New Year and salespeople are less inclined to run their stock levels down and take a longer break.

Manage Your People

Resolve to take the mantle of Leadership and manage your people.
Set up a Personal Coaching Programme with each of your salespeople and resolve to be their personal business mentor. Help them:
Do a business plan.
Set up follow-up programmes
Learn how to coach and conduct useful One-on Ones
Launch Database mail outs mid January
Increase their frequency for 1st 3 months
Monitor their listings management
Ring 5 Vendors a day yourself
Delegate more tasks to your Administration team and get out in the field with your sales people
Spend 30 minutes on recruitment per day
One on One each Sales Consultant to get accountability
Measure each sales persons success rate with their listings. Get their success rate over 66% or they are costing you money.

Recruitment

Now’s the time to target the people you have identified as prospects for your team. Build recruitment database and get mail outs and phone calls going. The best time to convince people to move is whilst there’s a break in their business. Never assume some one won’t move. Treat recruitment as a long-term strategy and cast the net wider than ever before.

Manage Yourself

You are the leader so get YOUR FOCUS RIGHT

There is no time like the present to get into the field and be beside your people. Get the training programme active and be prepared to front up to Vendors with the salespeople who need your help,

In tougher times the mood of the office is crucial. Take time each day to check that your people are at work and not merely visiting. There is a “work mode” and a “visiting mode” and they impact on those people who are trying to be focused and productive. In these tougher markets your people need more leadership and inspiration and that’s your job.
Check your diary and see that your focus is on doing the things that will make a difference NOW.

Set in place a self-management programme that has you focused on the actions that will build the business. Sales people are observant and your example lets them know what is “expected around here.”

Salesperson:

Plan Your first 90 days of 2001 NOW

The Champions already know this and their marketing machine simply roles on.

They promote their personal profiles
Use technology to Track Clients
Frequent and regular Database mail outs and 2 more before Christmas
20 to 30 phone calls per day.
Continual up-skilling. They go to all the high value training and they are happy to pay. Put you hand in your pocket for you!
Great closers and negotiators
They ignore the “office herd”
Many have a Coach or Mentor to hold them accountable.

1. Keep listing. Yes take listings now so you can launch in January.
2. Identify the date of the first major issue in January of your real estate advertiser and resolve to have maximum profile in that issue
3. Increase your personal Database size
4. Get 2 more communications to your database before Christmas
5. Get your January mail out sent out before the 15/1/01
6. Make an appointment to visit each existing Vendor before Christmas and review their marketing and price.
7. Check which listings need to be terminated and get the problems off your back.
8. Distribute into your Farm/BDA again before Christmas
9. And again before 1 January
10. And once more before 31/January
11. Learn new skills to cope with the new market
12. Model a top performer
13. Ask you Manager for their help on presentations and Vendor reviews.
14. Plan your Ideal Week. Check that you are spending time on the tasks that really matter.
15. Get a Coach or Mentor so you can be made accountable for your time.

The key to getting rolling early for next year is to plan now.
Yes you may be tired and looking forward to a break. For many this year has put them behind their targets and so now is the time to ensure you get off to a flier in 2001.

Look at the all the training you have been to and all the neat ideas you have chosen to not implement. Perhaps it is time to realize that an “Independent Contractor” really does need to take responsibility for their focus, self-discipline, skills level and time management. As others grow their business we can no longer blame the market.

If some one is doing better than you it could be one of two factors.

Either they are more skilled or more committed.

If it’s skill, then that’s something you can learn.
If it’s commitment, then that is something you can choose.
Either way the choice is yours.

IAN KEIGHTLEY


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