By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me in Minneapolis and then with the team at First Weber, Inc. in Wisconsin and then in Southern California. Last week, I wrote about the importance of preparation and I want to continue with that theme. In an ideal world, we should all prepare for the new year on October 1.
Why should you prepare for the new year on October 1, about 90 days before the actual start of 2020? Because I’ve found over my decades spent in the real estate industry that agents and brokerages often experience a cash flow problem in the months of January and February, and planning can help avoid this common dilemma.
Remember, real estate operates on a 90-day cycle; what we do 90 days before gets paid out 90 days later. This means a lag in business during the autumn months will show up in Q1 of the new year. In other words, to use language from the Four Disciplines of Execution, the lead measures you perform 90 days before turn into lag measures 90 days later.
A late-fall lag is understandable; once all the candy is given out on Halloween, many agents go into hibernation. There’s Thanksgiving, the holidays and New Year’s Eve parties; life gets busy and business takes a back seat.
That’s why it’s important to change your perception of the business year: No longer will January 1 signal a new year. Instead, 2020 starts 90 days before and if you haven’t already, let this blog post be your reminder that you need to plan for what’s ahead. In fact, in a perfect world, your business plan should be completed no later than October 1 to avoid that January and February lull. So, if you didn’t accomplish that already, commit to finishing your business plan no later than November 7, which gives you exactly one week.
When planning, schedule yourself out a year in advance. First, put in those critical business meetings and functions you need to attend. For me, this would include the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices annual Sales Convention and HomeServices of America CEO meetings. Next, before you do anything else, put those things in your schedule that give you balance. This includes your vacation, your days off, your weekends away … the downtime is important because it provides opportunities to recharge. But here’s where you can really exercise solid time management: If you know you have a business meeting somewhere that could also double as a vacation, schedule downtime around the meeting because you’ll already be there. I used to do this all the time when my kids were young. After, for instance, several days spent in Orlando at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, I’d schedule a vacation at Disney World. It was a win-win for everyone. I attended the industry conference and my kids spent quality time at “the happiest place on Earth.”
Back to your year-ahead schedule: You should also schedule all the training you’ll do personally and professionally. As much detail as you can add into your schedule, the better.
As an agent, I even went so far as to book all my haircuts, so they’d be on my schedule for the entire year. I remember the first time I went to my barber and made the appointments. I walked in and said, “Hello, I want to make 17 appointments.”
It was definitely an unusual request, but it was all part of the plan.
The real key to staying on schedule is to tell everyone what your schedule is and never make a commitment of your time without checking your schedule first. Today, programs like Outlook Calendar allow you to easily share your schedule. Google Calendar also makes it easy to create a calendar that multiple people can access and edit. If you use Slack to communicate, you can connect your Outlook Calendar or Google Calendar to Slack. This way, your status will be updated based on your calendar events and you’ll receive reminders about upcoming events. Sharing your schedule creates added transparency and ease of communication for your entire team. Your team members will know where you’ll be during the workday and when they can and can’t reach you. A detailed schedule will also go a long way toward helping you master your time management.
So, what’s the message? Vince Leisey, the great mentor/coach of many real estate agents and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, Nebraska, often proclaims in his mastermind groups that the agents doing the most deals are able to attend every meeting and the sales professionals doing the fewest deals have excuses as to why they can’t make it. They’re showing a property, they’re going on a listing presentation … it boils down to an inability to control your own schedule, which is an inability to control your own destiny. If you can’t budget your time to fit in continuous improvement both professionally and personally, it will be difficult to grow. But if you can plan now for the upcoming year, what you’re really doing is planning to execute on the accomplishment of your goals.