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Business Planning: How To Get Started

by Marilyn Urso, PMN

Lead GenerationAs the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is true for everything you do in life. Or as Getting Things Done author David Allen once said, there are only two problems in life: 1. You know what you want, but you don't know how to get it. 2. You don't know what you want.

So let's cover some of the basics of business planning to get you started toward your best year ever in real estate.

The first question to ask yourself is: What do I want to accomplish financially this year in real estate?

You must be specific. Do you want to earn $50,000 to $100,000? $250,000? $1 million? It's up to you to set that specific number and then work backward to determine how many transactions you will need to close to meet the goal. Include in this analysis any special rewards you will give yourself when you reach your goal, such as a great vacation with family or friends, a new home, a new car – whatever your heart desires.

Question number two: Where do most of my buyers and sellers come from? 

Maybe you have great advertising or marketing that draws in buyers and sellers. Maybe you generate most of your leads from the internet, including your personal website, REALTOR.com, Zillow, Trulia, Facebook or other social media. Or it could be your sphere of influence (SOI).
Most agents would probably agree that there is a combination of sources involved, but the best leads come from people you know – your SOI including family, friends and neighbors; former customers and clients; community organizations and networks; and national REALTOR® networks such as Women's Council. 

Question number three: How do I better reach my SOI?

The answers here haven't changed much over the years, though additional methods of delivery have come in to play, such as the different social media platforms. 

To improve your reach, your first step has to be to improve your CRM system and techniques. The basic plan for each of your SOIs is the same: Keep your name and face in front of them so that when they think of real estate they think of you. Here are some specific tips for each of your spheres:

Family, friends and neighbors: Include them in your mailings and emails and "friend" them on social media platforms so they know what you are doing and how successful you are in real estate. Always include your complete contact info in correspondence. Don't forget to call, text or stop by and personally touch base with these folks face to face. Always put you first in their mind.

Past clients and customers: Stay in touch! Too many agents collect their check at closing, maybe visit once or twice in the first six months and then get "too busy" to continue the follow up. In a REALTOR® survey, it was found that 80 percent of home buyers said after closing that they would definitely use their REALTOR® again. It turns out that only about 15 to 17 percent actually do it. Why? Because the agent didn't stay in touch, and they lost his or her information! Shame on you if you let this happen.

Business networks and people with whom you do business: There are so many ways to touch these people. Any business you work with regularly, from the corner deli to the dry cleaner, hair salon or landscaper, should be willing to give out your business cards. They know you as a dependable professional, and you are supporting their business, too. So don't be afraid to ask them to reciprocate.

Check with local organizations to which you belong to see if they use guest speakers. Always volunteer to give a presentation on the local real estate market. Provide a brief handout with your business cards and a give-away item. Pens are a really good item that most people will keep and use and pass on to others.

Industry organizations: For national REALTOR® groups, stay in touch by attending state, regional and national meetings when possible. Volunteer on a local level and get involved. For the almost 20 years that I have been a Women's Council member, I have given and received many successful referrals – always from people I know and trust to do the same quality of job for my client that I would.

It's never too late to create a business plan. Start today. Remember, business plans are living documents. They change and develop often based on business changes, technology changes and your life changes. Don't keep doing the same thing and expect different results. "Stuck" is a state of mind, and it is curable. So what are you waiting for? Start planning and enjoy your success.

urso_articleMarilyn Urso, CRB, GREEN, GRI, PMN, SRES, has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1993 and a member of the Women's Council for most of her career. She is a broker/owner, along with her husband Frank, of Long Island Village Realty, Inc., in Syosset, NY. Marilyn is also a licensed instructor in New York and certified to teach several NAR designation courses. She can be reached at MUrso@LIVillageRealty.com.

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