Don't Just Make a Business Plan, Create an Action Plan

This time of year, brokers are all gung-ho about creating a business plan for their year. They plan out how much money they are going to make, how many transactions they are going to do, and possibly even the elaborate vacations they would take if everything just worked out as expected. 

The problem with most business plans is that they get you excited about what may come, but they usually lack a specific plan for getting there. Or the plan is so intricate and expensive it has no way of coming to fruition. 

Instead, a business plan should have two facets—the business plan and the action plan. The business plan should indeed include a general outline of your business goals for the year. While most brokers focus on increasing their income, there are actually many more items that should be included. Here are the top eight items that each business plan should include...

How much did you make last year? 
Yes, I am talking about gross commission income.

How much did you net this year? 
If you made $150,000 but only were able to take $50,000 for your salary and retirement, how do we close that gap?

What is a reasonable net goal for next year?
Take a look not just at your gross commission, but at the percentage you were actually able to net. Usually, increasing gross commission means working more. What if you don’t want to work more but instead just want to net more? If so, you probably need to do be doing something different.

What are your three top expenses you need to get control of?
Are you showing homes and doing research for buyers who aren’t pre-approved? Do you spend time digging for documents because you haven’t taken the time to organize your files? Are you wasting time and energy keeping listings on the market that aren’t priced at market? Are you spending way too much time on social media? Get honest!

What are three systems not working for your business?
A good way to approach this is to make a list of the different things in your business that you know need improvement. That might be your website, how you keep track of potential clients, how you deal with files after the transaction is closed, how you handle updating your database, or even how your office is organized. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable about how you conduct business should go on the list.

What are your three top time-wasters?
Are you paying for online leads that are not producing? Are you paying for services you are not using? Are you spending too much on your listings because you don’t have rules for what you will and will not pay for with sellers? 

Do you have a tracking system?
How do you track potential clients and what is your plan for following up with them? Make 2019 the year this gets addressed. You can’t afford to have leaks in your pipeline.

Do you have a follow-up system?
Do you have a system for keeping in touch with past clients and doing something special for them once a year? This hole also needs to get plugged this year.

These eight questions are completely sufficient to begin the next step. Knowing the information is one thing—now you need to make a plan for making improvements. The Action Plan component! 

To create the action plan, let’s group our actions into categories that I like to call one-time tasks and ongoing tasks.


These are non-recurring tasks that once completed, they are done. It is like checking things off a to-do list. Questions 3-8 should yield a number of one-time tasks. For example, let’s look at Question #4: What are three expenses you need to get control of next year? If you indicated that you need to cancel paying for an app or service that you don’t use or are overpaying for your mobile phone plan, then calling up those companies and cancelling are one-time tasks. 

If you identified needing to redo your listing checklist to update it with some of new technology that your company is offering, redoing your checklist also becomes a one-time task. 

Also, if you indicated that you are wasting time with buyers who are not pre-approved, then creating a rule around what your buyer intake process should include is also on the one-time task list. 

Finally, if you don’t have a system for tracking and servicing potential clients or past clients, then developing that system is a one-time task. 


Often there are ongoing elements that need to be implemented after the one-time task is complete. For example, once you have developed your system for tracking and following up with potential clients, how often do you check in? A couple of times per month? Once a month? Whatever frequency you determine feels right now needs to be added to your ongoing schedule. Did you develop a monthly mailing plan for your past clients and your database? Getting that mailer out the door each month is part of your ongoing action plan. What about adding something special once a year for your past clients? And if you have a commitment to getting your tax information to your accountant on a quarterly basis in 2019, then you need to get that reminder on your calendar and get it done!

You won’t believe how great it feels to get your business plan done, turn it into an action plan, and mark tasks as completed. You can make 2019 your best year ever with just a few tweaks to your business! Keep it simple. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just get to work! 

Denise Lones, president of The Lones Group and author of the weekly syndicated Zebra Report, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry with expertise in branding, strategic marketing, business analysis, and broker/managing broker training. You can reach Denise at (360) 527-8904 or at



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