Planning ahead

It’s been a wonderful Summer! One of the great benefits to being self-employed is being able to have more control over our schedules. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to slow down this Summer and take some much needed time off, find flexibility in your routine and slow down from the daily grind.
Now that Summer is coming to a close and the kids are back in school, what are some ways to re-establish your schedule and get back into the groove again? A new season brings with it an opportunity to refresh our business plans, re-engage with our clients and business, and to implement new ideas and strategies to finish out a successful year.

Here are some of my favorite strategies that we discussed at our Monthly Meet Ups yesterday:

1) Refresh and re-evaluate your schedule. What worked in the summer, won’t work for you now, and what worked last school year (if you have children in school) may not work this school year. Take some time to identify your goals for each day, the areas that you want to spend time on (i.e. – exercise,
prospecting, lunches or coffees with clients, marketing, etc) and identify the best way to fit those into your day.

2) Clear the clutter! This is a great time to refresh your work space, digital files, inboxes, etc. Are there ways to improve the way you organize your files? What works best for you? What is your vision for running a highly efficient and optimized organization? This can be a great area to employ some assistance with a professional organizer, utilize companies for donation pick ups, etc. I recently started using
Green Drop for donation pick ups, which is a big time saver.

3) Take time for learning. Depending on your business, fall can be a great time for learning. Education events, seminars, podcasts, etc. Many national trade organizations have their annual conferences in the fall. Identify at least 1 course or educational opportunity that you want to take advantage of before the holiday season. Are there any new skills that you would like to work on or learn about? This fall you can see my business partner Vicky Noufal speak on a panel at the Virginia Association of Realtors conference at the end of September, and I will be speaking at the Virginia Women’s Business Conference at the end of November on “Time Mastery”.

4) Evaluate your marketing and prospecting processes. If you have been in business and successful for a long time, it can be easy to be rigid about what success looks like for you and how to obtain it. Times change, markets changes, people change, mindsets change. It is important to be aware and
change with it or be left behind. Tom Ferry calls this being a ͞fading winner͟. Can you integrate video into your marketing this fall? How about social media?

5) Check in with your goals. Did you set goals at the beginning of the year? When is the last time you checked in with them? As we prepare to move into the 4th quarter of the year, now is the time to re-evaluate and pivot if necessary.

6) Inject some fun into your business with a contest! Is there an area of your business that needs focus? Whether it is customer service related, prospecting related, or appointment setting related, establish a fun contest for your team/business/employees. Even if you work alone, you can still establish a contest for yourself to ͞gamify͟ things and help to energize your business. Or, have a contest for your clients (ie – pumpkin carving contest).

My Platinum Group team is doing a ͞Back to School, Back to Work͟ contest. The team is split into 2 teams. Each team tracks several metrics (signed listing agreements, ratified contracts, signed buyer/tenant agency agreements, new database additions). The winning team will have dinner cooked for them by the losing team! This is a great way to instill new habits, increase productivity and have fun while doing it!

7) How will you treat your clients this holiday season? Are you having a party? Sending cards, gifts? Now is the time to make plans and arrangements.

8 ) Plan ahead for 2019. Where are the gaps in your business? Based on your successes (or failures) in 2018, what can you be doing now to prepare for next year? New hires, new systems, new marketing strategies. Set your marketing calendar for the following year. Evaluate your vision. Putting together your business or marketing plan for next year doesn’t mean designing each and every marketing piece (thought it could, if that is comfortable for you). Just having a schedule with a rough idea of what you will do and when (mail a postcard on a specific topic this date, send an email this date, party on this date, etc) helps to take the guess work out of your business. If you leave the planning of your marketing to be done on the fly, then when the market heats up in the spring and gets busy, those marketing tasks will get pushed and pushed or not done at all. If you have a plan, it is much easier to implement and takes less time overall.

I implement nearly every one of these strategies each fall, and each year I go into the holiday season feeling relaxed and refreshed. When the new year hits (which is then very quickly followed by spring market) I’m energized and ready to hit the ground running.

What do you like to do in the fall to help prepare your business for the coming seasons?

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