What’s the very first question a business coach asks you? Yes, that’s right – ‘Have you written a business plan?’ It’s a question they ask or a very good reason –
No business plan = no direction = no focus = (ultimately) no business
Business plans matter to all businesses. But – in a sector that’s as competitive as estate agency, they don’t just matter. They’re critical. To give your business the greatest chance of success, you need a well-defined business plan to –
laser-focus your strategy
define your success
detail your growth plan.
Before we look at the key steps towards creating a successful estate agent’s business plan, let’s examine 4 common business plan mistakes. In other words, here’s what NOT to do –
Setting up an Estate Agency is exciting. You may have the qualities of passion, energy, skill and know-how. But keeping calm and realistic are equally important. Don’t set unrealistic targets that create pressure, stress and hassle.
Finance is arguably the most important element of any business plan. Don’t be vague. Work out your predictions carefully and be prepared to produce evidence for them. Don’t say, ‘we’ll need to borrow about £X,000 and our first quarter income will be about £Y,000, with overheads of maybe £Z,000. Inevitably, some of your predictions will be wrong. That’s OK – but lenders need to know you’ve made the effort to calculate your figures with care.
Marketing will be a key element of any Estate Agent’s business plan. Be clear about your target audience. Never begin with the word ‘Anyone …’. If you target ‘anyone’, there’s every chance you’ll finish up with ‘no one’!
Scribbling a plan on a sheet of A4 and leaving it in a desk drawer to gather dust will do you no good at all. For an Estate Agent’s business plan to work, it needs to be well-structured and make sense to your accountant, your bank manager … and to you!
This is your ultimate goal – not for the end of your first year or even five years. Decide what for you is your Holy Grail. Include a time frame and make the vision measurable. You could express this vision in terms of selling the business, a turnover target, or even in terms of ‘X-shire’s best-loved Estate Agent’ (to be measured in terms of positive reviews).
Be clear in your mind about who will be responsible for which activity and who will be answerable to whom.
Be absolutely clear about the customers and the properties you’ll be targeting. Build these into your business plan. The more you focus on your target market, the greater success you’ll achieve. Get to know the area well. Be sure you know which postcode areas are on the up and which to avoid.
Knowing who’s doing what and how well they’re doing it will help you with point 3.
Follow your competitors on social media. Who are they marketing to? You’ve already identified your specific market. So, carry out a targeted search for homes in that range.
This is linked to points 3 and 4. Are you planning to deliver every service for every market? Will you include lettings? Perhaps you’ll focus on apartments? Or maybe properties above a certain market value? You might decide to target first-time buyers. Which sector(s) you go for doesn’t matter. What counts is that you are 100% clear about where your focus will lie.
SWOT—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Analyse and include this in your business plan. You may feel that this is ‘old hat’. But SWOT analyses always get mentioned because they matter and they work. You need to be completely clear in your own mind about where your Estate Agency sits in the marketplace.
It’s vital to identify and state your goals – turnover, nett profit and, just as important, personal. You need to come up with clear and measurable goals for each of these elements – goals that you can come back to and refer to at any specific point in your business journey.
You might need support from your account with this part of your Estate Agent’s business plan. Be clear about your operating expenses, including all your employment, marketing and lead generation costs.
Without this final step, you might as well not bother with creating a business plan for your Estate Agent business. Check back at least every quarter and see how your efforts are measuring up. Don’t be afraid to amend your plan accordingly. Treat it like an organic, living document, not something set in stone.
Setting up a Business Plan is a vital first step for anyone setting up an Estate Agent business. But it is only the first step. Next comes your strategy – a detailed outline of the steps you’ll be taking to satisfy the business plan.