This article is part of a series: the Real Estate Marketing Conference series, drawn from talks, workshops, and demonstrations given at the Snappack REMM retreat.
Ask any realtor—and most people in general—to describe their business plan in a few sentences, and you’re likely to get the same answer:
Real estate is a business. Agents are entrepreneurs. It’s naive—but understandably commonplace—for agents to lack a developed business plan.
Shannon Milligan to the rescue.
For more than an hour on REMM Day 1, Shannon challenged and guided us to identify, quantify, and conquer our goals.
Table of Contents
- About Shannon Milligan
- Vision Statement
- Transaction Results & Goals
- Conversions & Lead Metrics
- Lead Gen Systems
- Growth & “Do” Plan
- Progress Chart
- Daily Actions
- Business Expenses
- Personal Expenses
- Download the Biz Plan
- REMM Series
First things first: who is Shannon Milligan?
Shannon is a multi-million dollar, top producing realtor and associate broker at RVA Home Team in Richmond, VA.
After college, Shannon began her career in marketing & event planning, eventually shifting into the Marketing Associate role for 6 Coldwell Banker franchises in Syracuse, NY—the perfect chance to perfect the art and science of real estate marketing.
After relocating to Virginia, Shannon jumped at the chance to start her own company: RVA Home Team, under the eXp Realty umbrella.
- Richmond Association of Realtors Platinum & Gold awards for Outstanding Production, 2013—2016
- Published author at Inman News, Zurple, and countless real estate related blogs
- BOLD graduate from Keller Williams Realty
- Broker’s license, 2015
- Real estate teacher’s license, 2014
- Co-founder of REMM marketing mastermind
- National speaker on Live Video in Real Estate
Shannon and a business partner started Destination RVA, a community-focused media brand.
Destination RVA is where Shannon and her business partners share some common—and not-so-common—things to do in and around Richmond. These videos have been blowing up all over Facebook lately!
Just one example of how much Shannon kicks butt at this job.
Now then, onto Shannon’s guide to business planning for real estate…
1) What do you want your business to be? Write it down.
Start small. We don’t need mission statements or values declarations. It doesn’t have to be formal or “official.” It just has to be now.
Identify 3 business goals and 1 personal goal. Close your eyes if it helps. Think about what you want to achieve:
- 30 transactions?
- $1M in sales
- Hire an admin or another agent?
- Take weekends off for once?
Whatever they are, write them down.
Once they’re written down, share them. Tell your spouse, your broker, your friends—other Snappack members. Say them out loud to the right people. Stating and sharing these goals helps you hold yourself accountable.
Working with an accountabilibuddy—and having them hold you accountable—significantly improves the chances that you’ll remember and work towards those goals.
Bonus goal-setting tip
Here’s one of Shannon’s quick mindset hacks: when talking about your goals, replace the word “but” with “and.”
I want to do 40 transactions this year,
butand I have a long way to go.
The “and” mindset re-frames the goal statement. It changes obstacles into acknowledgements. Problems into plans.
Big difference.Real estate mindset hack: when discussing your goals, replace “but” with “and.” It makes a big difference!Click To Tweet
2) Use 2017 transactions to set 2018 goals
This one’s simple: you can’t know how to get where you’re going until you know exactly where you are. Use this sheet to help identify and delineate your current and future numbers.
It may take a little reflection or research to come up with these numbers, but it’s worth it. It will make your 2018 numbers clear as day, and help you define a plan to achieve them.
List out last year’s transaction numbers by the following sources:
- COI/Past Clients/Repeat
- COI/Past Clients/Referral
- Referrals from Agents
- Business/Professional Network
- Geographical Farming
- Just list/Just sold/Yikes
- Mega Open House
- Your website
- Print ads
- Sign calls
- Non-Owner Occupied
- NODs/Short Sales
- Your Appointment Setter
Then repeat those sources with next year’s goals for each source. Be realistic—but assertive—with how much you increase each source for your goal.
In the next step, we’ll do some math with these numbers.You can’t know how to get where you’re going until you know where you are. Use your 2017 numbers to set your 2018 goals.Click To Tweet
3) Conversion math
Now that you have your transaction goals defined for the next year, let’s talk about how to hit those numbers.
Real estate has an industry standard conversion rate, according to Shannon, of 2%. Only 1 in 50 leads becomes a sale.
Knowing that, we can reverse-engineer the number of leads necessary to generate the number of sales you want.
- Transaction goal — input the number of transactions you want
- Leads per year needed — Multiply line 1 by 40 (this represents a 2.5% conversion-to-sale ratio)
- Leads per month needed — Divide line 2 by 12 (months)
- Leads per day needed — Divide line 3 by 20 (monthly working days)
So, for example, if you want to close 4 deals a month next year, that’s a total of 48 transactions—an excellent goal for any agent.
- Goal = close 48 sales per year
- 48 sales ÷ 2.5% conversion rate = 1,920 leads per year required to close 48 sales
- 1920 leads per year ÷ 12 months per year = 160 leads per month required to close 48 sales
- 160 leads per month ÷ 20 working days per month = 8 leads per day required to close 48 sales
8 leads every day. Better get those funnels up and running!Want to close 48 sales next year? You need 8 leads EVERY DAY. Better get that lead funnel running!Click To Tweet
4) Top Lead Gen Systems
This one is fairly self-explanatory. It’s meant to paint a clear picture of which lead sources deliver the best results for you. Obviously, it makes business sense to invest most heavily in the lead sources that provide the best return.
This document helps you get there.
One of the common refrains we heard in Shannon’s talk, and many others throughout the retreat, is that lead gen systems, transaction coordinators, virtual assistants, marketing projects—
These things can’t be looked at as costs. They’re investments.
I personally can’t stand superfluous spin. And I think many marketing campaigns avoid the word “cost” at all….investment….because it triggers a certain negative feeling in the audience.
And that may very well be true.
But there are times when things that cost money aren’t expenses. They will pay for themselves over time, by providing a return on investment.
Why am I saying this?
Because the Lead Gen sheet above lists Estimated Cost of System in each row. I think it’s important to acknowledge that most of these lead gen systems aren’t free. But they’re also not expenses, per sé.
They’re investments.Good real estate lead gen systems aren't free, but they're not costs. They're investments. ROI matters.Click To Tweet
5) “Do” Plan
Shannon calls this the Do plan. It’s her method for staying in touch past clients and sphere—something every agent is familiar with.
Here’s how she does it.
Call and partner with other businesses to offer discounts.
Local coffee shop? Get a coupon. Local bakery? Buy a few extra snacks to offer around.
Once you have a discount or special offer to give out, start dialing. Your mission is to tell your past clients that the offer is available.
The discount gives you a reason to call past clients without being too salesy. It means that a random phone call isn’t so random. It looks and feels much more authentic to your clients, and it lets you save some face.
So get on the phone, offer them the unique, not-available-to-just-anybody partnership or discount, and make their day.
And while you have them on the phone, don’t forget to ask them for new business.
How to set up a discount/giveaway program
Shannon runs an MVP Program for her past clients and gives away easy stuff like free coffee, ice cream, muffins, etc.
Every client is included in the program, whether Shannon has a great rapport with them or not. And in fact, she says, some bad-rapport clients may surprise you.
To use Shannon’s tried-and-true methods, follow these steps:
1) Start a private Facebook group for all your past clients.
Since many of today’s business leads are generated on Facebook, it’s a safe bet that most clients will have a profile and can become your friend and join your private group. It will take some work to go back and find older clients, but it’s worth it.
2) Next, get a Starbucks card and load up $100 it.
You can do this via any store, app, or the website. You don’t have to do it every month, since $100/mo can be pricey.
3) Take a picture of the card’s barcode or QR code, and share the picture in your private FB group.
Starbucks will honor the barcode and charge the coffee to Shannon’s card, regardless of who shows the code at the counter. It’s a way for Shannon to buy the coffee without impacting anyone’s schedule.
This method works at Starbucks, Baskin Robins, Dunkin Donuts, basically anything with a Pay By App system.
What if the business doesn’t have an app?
Drive down to your local bakery or other business and ask them if you can hand out coupons. Many will offer a discount like a few dollars or % off. But even if not, they can just act like pre-paid cards, good for future purchases.
These coupons may need to be given out by hand, but they work like a charm: “Want a free coffee & bagel on me? Go to Dave’s and give him THIS. He’ll put it on my tab.”
Other offers for the MVP Program
- “Rent for free” sharing program: loan out power tools, carpet cleaner, or other equipment via your private FB group.
- Event promo tickets: Shannon gave out 100 free tickets to a local Home Show. Look for similar events near you.
- Thanksgiving pie reverse giveaway: offer free pies via your group. Ask clients to sign up for a time: during a 1-hour lunchtime express pickup (give them a high-five, handshake or hug), or during a 3-hour evening gathering with wine, cheese & cocktails (catchup, shmooze, mingle!)
There are LOTS of ideas out there for how agents can stay in touch with their sphere and clients. Shannon’s methods work very well for her, and they may work for you too!GENIUS way to stay current with your SOI. Buy them coffee—remotely. All you need is a Starbucks card & QR code.Click To Tweet
6) Progress Chart
Your accountabilibuddy will help you with this—you do have one, right?—but you know what’s even better? Holding yourself accountable.
This progress chart does just that.
It’s like the MyFitnessPal of real estate business planning: it doesn’t make you diet. It just forces you to acknowledge when you aren’t dieting.
This is the perfect document to start every month with. Maybe on the first Sunday night of each month, sit down with your numbers and fill out a new column on this progress chart.
The beauty of so-called big-data is that it reveals patterns that aren’t immediately obvious at first.
That whole “bird’s eye view” thing.
If you’re diligent about filling out this form every month, it will give you a bird’s eye view of your business month-over-month, and reveal patterns you may have missed.
We all know the market goes crazy in the spring—but maybe your buyer leads last into the summer much more than you expected. This doc will show you.Real estate is a 6 or 7-figure business. Treat it that way. Track your time & learn from patterns. Here's how.Click To Tweet
7) Daily Action Checklist
Every agent talks about time-blocking. Some love it. Some hate it.
Personally, I feel like I absolutely need it and it would be a game-changer, but I also know I’d be miserable.
What if you could get all the organization benefits of time-blocking, with none of the restrictive blocking of time?
Shannon’s got you.
It’s not time blocking. It’s task-blocking. Sure, it’s essentially the same as every other to-do list, but this one’s got days on it!
How to fill it out
Shannon didn’t go over this part in detail, but here’s what I would do. I’d essentially roll this out in 2 phases: discovery and deployment (those terms are used a lot in the tech/development industry).
During discovery, you’re using the checklist as a data-entry form: record your daily life to get an accurate picture of the tasks you’re already spending time on.
During deployment, you’d use the checklist as…as a checklist. Work down the list in order (or close to it) to keep yourself organized and on-track.
So here’s how I’d do it:
Keep this list with you all day, every day, for at least a week.
Preferably an entire month. The goal is to catalogue absolutely everything you spend your time on.
We’re not implementing any changes in your routine yet. That will come during deployment, but the only change that must happen now is that you must record your tasks. So keep the sheet with you.
Write down everything you do, with start and end times.
Just a list of tasks is a good start. But to really get value out of this list, you’ll need to see how much time you spend on every task.
How much time you spend on, say, lead follow-up may vary by day of week or another factor. That’s fine. Just be as accurate as possible in recording.
After a week (month?), look for patterns.
Are you spending too much time on social media? Is there such a thing?
Are you spending too little time on lead gen? Wrong time of day on follow-up? Your discovery phase of data collection should tell you.
Identify & implement changes
Then, of course, you have to implement—nay, deploy—the changes you came up with after finding patterns.Real estate is a 6 or 7-figure business. Treat it that way. Track your time & learn from patterns. Here's how.Click To Tweet
8) Business Expenses
Dues, entertainment, coaching, communication, education, equipment, accounting, etc— all necessary investments for any business.
As with the lead sources above, the act of writing down these expenses is an important exercise in itself.
Real Estate Agent ROI Calculation
It can’t be as simple as [(income – expenses) / expenses = ????], can it?
Well, sort of.
The I in ROI—the money you have to invest—varies widely, based on what you’re paying for. But there are tons of real estate agent ROI calculators out there.
Placester has a good writeup and graphic on lead-to-close ROI:
That $56k number sounds great until you start to factor in CPI—cost per acquisition. That’s kinda the whole point of this calculation!
How much will it cost me to earn that $56k?
Zillow has a calculator tool on their website to help answer that. It’s pretty good, but keep in mind that it’s supposed to be a sales tool to convince you to become a Premier Agent.
In the screenshot above, we can see a few values used to calculate an ROI for this real estate agent—hypothetically, of course.
|Convert to close||1%|
|Avg sale price||$250,000|
|Then math happens.|
|Yearly profit||$54,000 (before split & other expenses, of course)|
And how much are those “other expenses,” you ask? Well, that’s what this page of the Real Estate Business Plan document are for!
Track. Your. Numbers.
Bonus: Conversion rate matters
After your split and expenses come out, that $54k profit might turn into more like $36k profit. Now you’re at a 1:1 ratio with ROI. Or, in simple terms:
You’re barely breaking even.
Not good enough to stay in business. Why even spend the money if you’re not going to earn anything back on it? You’re better off staying home.
But this is business and the bills still have to get paid. You can’t stay home and you can’t just break even even. So how can you fix that?
Do more with the leads you already have.
Let’s run those numbers again, this time converting 2 leads a month, instead of only 1.
Convert just ONE additional close in a month, and your GCI doubles to more than $180,000 per year. After split and expenses, even if that number comes down to $100k, it’s still almost a 3x ROI.
That’s the power of conversion rate!Conversion rate matters in real estate. Closing 1% of your leads? Make that 2% and you'll double your GCI with the same leads.Click To Tweet
9) Personal Expenses
These ones are never fun to write down, are they? Some of them can be written off your taxes in April, but they still have get paid for now.
I won’t harp on the expense topic all over again—you get the idea—but these expenses matter just as much as business ones do:
They impact your bottom line.
And if you’re anything like me, simply writing down how much money I spend (or calories I eat!) makes me do less of it!For real estate agents, every expense affects the bottom line—even personal expenses. Here's how to track your expenses.Click To Tweet
Real Estate Business Plan Download
Take it with you! Email it to your office. Print it out and complete it by hand—whatever works best for you. Get your FREE real estate business plan here!
Where should we send your files?
Real Estate Marketing Mastermind Series
This article is part of a series: the Real Estate Marketing Conference series, drawn from talks, workshops, and demonstrations given at the Snappack REMM retreat.
REMM, the Real Estate Marketing Mastermind retreat in Park City, UT, is a yearly meetup/mini-conference of real estate industry professionals.
The event is hosted by the founders of The Snappack, a group of social media-dominating real estate professionals, as featured on Inman.com. The Snappack is based on Facebook, in a private group of several thousand participants.
Want to see the staggering amount of insanely useful info REMM brings to the table? Are you sure you have time?
It’s a lot of info.
You’re sure? Ok, then check this out ⤵
Now It’s Your Turn
So that’s what Shannon and the #REMM crew are focusing on for Real Estate Business Planning in 2018.
Now I want to turn it over to you: Which of the steps from today’s guide are you going to implement first?
Are you going to calculate your Lead Gen ROI? Or work on making your bookkeeping more transparent?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.