By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me at home, starting my week with the weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy Presidents meeting followed by my typical Monday WIG calls. I also spent part of Monday in meetings for 2021 budget preparation. On Tuesday, I spend the entire day preparing for the Q3 HomeServices of America CEO Leadership Conference, which took place Wednesday and continued all day today.
As you might have guessed, the theme for this week was preparation and not only preparation as it applied to tasks or conferences but also preparation for the year ahead. There’s no better way to prepare for 2021 than by creating and finalizing a business plan. As Benjamin Franklin one said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Of course, all businesses must have a plan, and it’s even more important as we navigate the challenges presented to us by the COVID-19 crisis. Could you imagine trying to strategize and execute on your business goals while quickly adapting your business to mitigate health risks? A business plan grounds your year in structure and structure provides the foundation upon which you can more easily iterate and adjust.
Some may think it’s odd to complete a business plan in October but there’s a reason for this timing. During my 30+ years in the real estate business-as an agent, a manager and an owner of a company—I’ve found that there’s always a cash flow problem in the months of January and February, which applies as much to agents as it does to brokerage owners.
Why? Because real estate operates on a 90-day cycle. What you do 90 days before gets paid out 90 days later. This means a lag in business during the fall months will show up in Q1 of the new year. Of course, the post-Halloween lag is understandable: Once the pumpkins are put away the roasted turkey and twinkling lights come out; the chaos of the holiday season for some translates into putting business on the back burner. But if you jump 90 days ahead, you get to January and February, when the Thanksgiving and holiday lag actually shows up in your business. Unless you have a solid business plan in place.
Starting now, I want us to no longer think of Jan. 1 as the beginning of the new year. Let’s assume our new “New Year” is Oct. 1 and let’s take the rest of this month to complete our business plan by that date, so we’re fully prepared to combat the usual holiday slowdown. And remember, business planning isn’t all about business; one important aspect of a business plan is your schedule, which you should complete for the entire next year. The first thing to schedule is your vacation and days off – anything that will give you balance. This will ensure that you take the time off you need to recharge and you won’t schedule meetings or Zoom calls during the time you’re supposed to be relaxing.
To get you started, access our Business Planning Essentials by clicking HERE.
Another related tip is to take this week and next to organize your holiday cards. Even if COVID safety means your holiday photoshoot is completed with a home-made tripod and your smartphone, block out time in the next week or so to print cards and handwrite messages (if possible) for prospective and current clients. Another tip I’ve learned over the years: It’s important to have your photo on the cards because recipients are less likely to throw the card away. You’ll also want your holiday card in the mail on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so when Friday comes around and everyone is at home completing their holiday shopping, your card is the first one they get in the mail.
So, what’s the message? Over the years, I’ve seen so many agents, teams and companies struggle in January and February. Because real estate operates, as I said, on a 90-day cycle, what you do in October is critical because it pays off in January and February. I’ve always believed October 1 is truly the new year in real estate. Planning this way ensures you’re engaged and focused on working through the holidays and head into the new year with momentum.