New Year Resolutions - Turn 3 Keys For Success in 2015!
We just finished a comprehensive strategic planning session at Real Estate Webmasters and I want to share three keys from our plannin1.g process with you that will help you take your business to another level in 2015! I promise you if you take the time and apply these principles to your business you will reap the rewards. It’s not magic, it’s just tried and proven processes that get results and yet the vast majority of real estate professionals will never do them, which is why 20% of the people in real estate make 80% or more, of the revenue. These keys will most definitely help you to be in that to 20%!
Key #1 - Evaluate and Grade Your Business Now
The first step of any strategic planning process is to evaluate where you are today. This has to be more than just taking a look at your business through your own eyes because we all have distorted filters when we look at our businesses or ourselves. When we have weaknesses in our business or ourselves, we created them, which means we obviously don’t see them or we don’t understand how they happen. So we need to leave our ego at the door and do an objective evaluation.
First, you have to identify what you want to evaluate. I just wrote a post on “benchmarks” so I won’t go into great detail on that in this post, but the idea is to make a list of all the things important to your business success, things like:
- Response time to leads
- Conversion success/rate
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee satisfaction
- Agent ratings
See my earlier post for other tips on setting up benchmarks. Once you have benchmarks established, you will have a rating for each of the items that you can measure against as you move forward. The first key though is to do that initial evaluation and get those foundation benchmarks. You can do that by hiring a consultant, doing surveys, conducting interviews, monitoring analytics etc. It just depends on what you are measuring. But, at the end of the process, you should be able to look at your business in detail and see which areas are doing great, which need improvement and which are really messed up.
Important Note: Keep your ego out of it! People that really reach the highest levels of success in life learn to stand outside their egos and do honest evaluations of themselves and their businesses. They understand they are not perfect and they also understand that this is the only way to improve.
Key #2 – Set Specific Goals and Objectives
Notice that I did not say “set goals and objectives”. They need to be specific because once we set clear, specific goals, our subconscious minds kick in and drive us to achieving them. We need to be clear and give our goal directed subconscious very clear targets to hit. So this step involves first identifying the key areas you need to address then prioritizing them. You may not be able to do everything at once so make sure you know which are the most important. We recommend no more than 10 specific goals to start.
Goals and objectives can fall into three categories:
- Improving things that already work pretty well
- Fixing or getting rid of things that are really broken
- Adding new things you aren’t even doing yet
1. Improving Things
As you take a look at your business focus first on what you are doing right. More than likely there are many things that will fall into this category. Feel good about them and then ask good questions, like:
- What are we doing right now that is working perfectly?
- What can we do to make this even better?
- Is there anything we are doing in the process that isn’t contributing to its success?
- What can we add to this to make it even more successful?
It’s amazing, but if you ask the questions the right way you will come up with good answers. Often we just aren’t asking the right questions. Try it!
2. Fix Things or Get Rid of Them
Trying to fix things is our natural tendency, because we are talking about fixing things that we bought, implemented or hired. It goes back to that “blind spot” we all have when we look at ourselves. It is difficult to acknowledge sometimes that something is just broken and needs to be thrown out. Most of us also feel bad when we think about getting rid of someone. It’s natural, but if you want your business to do better you have to be honest about the things that are not contributing to that improvement or even worse, are pulling it backwards.
So, once again, as you look at the parts of your business that aren’t working try to find ways to be objective. If you can’t do it yourself, get someone you trust to bounce things off of. Stand outside your self and your business and pretend you are evaluating someone else’s issues. Again, ask good questions, like:
- If I was investing in this thing, with my own money, would I feel confident it can be improved? Why or why not?
- If I could do it over again, would I hire this person again?
- Do I see specific things I can do that I am confident will make it successful.
- Can this person be helped/trainged to do what is necessary and good for the business?
- Have I been clear with this person or those responsible for this process about what I specifically want or need?
- Are there things I am doing or not doing that is keeping that person or process from being successful?
Important Note: Be careful before you use the axe on a process or person to make sure that the problem is not with you and is really a case of not providing proper direction, management and training.
If you have done your due diligence and you objectively believe you have people or processes that can’t be changed and are not working in the best interest of your business objectives than make the move and take them out of the picture.
3. Adding New Things
This is often the easiest and most fun thing to do during this process. It is where you can get really creative and think out of the box. Throw anything and everything onto the table for discussion. At the end of the day, identify things that you believe have a great chance of helping you to make real improvements in your business.
Suggestion - Use the 3 Circle Process to Brainstorm
The 3 circle process is a great way to get your creative juices flowing, especially if one person in your group always takes a one particular position, such as the critic. Here is how it works. Tell the group there are three imaginary circles you are all going to stand in for the process, one at a time. When you stand in each circle you can only speak from the point of view of that circle. The circles are:
- Optimist/dreamer - why an idea is wonderful and why it will work
- Pessimist/critic - why an idea is terrible and why it will fail
- Rational thinker - how the idea looks considering both of the above
As you move from each circle have each person present their ideas only from that position and have one person be the scribe. Capture all of the positive ideas first, then the critical ideas and then do the same thing from a rational point of view. What you will find is that some people that are always critical or dreamers, when forced to look at something differently, will often come up with the best alternative thoughts.
Key #3 - Create action plans!
Action Plans are probably the most important part of the process and yet they are probably the hardest to get people to do successfully? Why? Because they force us to move outside of our comfort zone and to be objective and to be accountable. Face it, you are the boss, you run things, do you really like something or someone telling you that you aren’t living up to your commitments? That is what action plans can do, not just for you, but for anyone tasked with specific responsibilities
Take your top goals from your prioritization list and build action plans.
Actions plans do the following:
- They identify a specific task that needs to be accomplished, e.g., Improving your response time to online leads
- They identify someone, one specific person, responsible for that task. Other people can help but you need to make one person accountable.
- They list the specific tasks necessary to be completed to do the task successfully.
- They put dates for completion on each specific task.
- The include benchmarks so progress can be measured against the Action Plan.
Sample Plan Below
Important Note: The power in the action plan is only realized if you monitor it and hold people accountable. The plan is just that, a plan, and we all know that sometimes things happen that are unavoidable that impact our ability to hit a date. When that happens just re-evaluate a step and adjust the plan. It is also extremely important that you communicate plan progress on an ongoing basis. Transparency is hugely effective in motivating teams.
The above plan is an example for one specific task. Remember, you will have many things to do to be more successful but you can’t do them all. Prioritize wisely, create plans for your top issues/goals and get moving. If you find you have more bandwidth, work on more goals and plans but it is better to do 2 or 3 things well and completely than 10 things poorly.
If you own and manage a company or team and would like put some of these processes into place, and will commit to a real planning process, contact me. I am working with a select group of clients in 2015 to help them improve their business. There is no charge for these consulting services and the results we obtain will be included in research we are doing to improve lead conversion rates.
If you would like help on setting up a plan for your company or have any questions about the planning process contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 716-839-4628. We want you to be successful with our products and we know how much these processes can help.
Happy planing and best wishes for a fantastic 2015!