The first of the year is right around the corner. If you haven’t already done so, developing your business plan is vital for the success of your business and the focus of your leadership team and company.
Engaging your leadership team early in the business planning process is crucial. The age-old practice of handing your team their business plan and budget has long occupied a place in the business-planning graveyard.
When I was running Pacific Union, our practice was to motivate and reward our leadership team with a percentage of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). If we are rewarding based on EBITDA, why not have the leaders drive the business planning process and build the EBITDA plan?
Real estate brokerage revenue should be planned by month, office, unit, average sales price and consumer commission rate. The real estate professional count should be planned by new and existing recruits. These elements contribute to revenue and gross margin. Growing revenues and marketshare, even in a down market, makes managing expenses a lot easier.
If you’re also managing ancillary businesses like a mortgage, title/escrow or insurance business, the similar top-line metrics need to be planned by month, office and so on. This planning approach and the engagement of the leaders provides simple metrics to aspire to, track, report and reward; therefore, no surprises to anyone.
For the expense management of the business-planning process, we looked at several key opportunities:
- Headcount. Could we explore opportunities for regions or offices to share human resources versus dedicated resources?
- Real estate. Do we have the opportunity to downsize or consolidate offices where office utilization rates have dramatically declined?
- Marketing. We always felt that 50% of our marketing expenses were inefficient, but it was a challenge to determine which 50%. Dig in here and ask the front-line professionals “which half?”
- Consultants. We followed the notion that consulting projects should have the following three key points: a start date, a finish date, and hire consultants for expertise that is not already on your team. Also, be sure to consistently review all of your consulting projects.
Finally, have your accounting team print out a list of every company you paid over $5,000 to in 2022 expenses. It is a great review to see all the providers listed in one report. You will find duplicate vendors, technology subscriptions no longer active, and more.
Engaging your leaders in this process creates ownership, focus and a sense of pride. Having the business plan, including several metrics to aspire to and measure monthly or quarterly, creates a tightly run enterprise.
There’s nothing better for a manager than to plan his or her fiscal year, visualize the EBITDA-based bonus opportunity and then proceed every day to chase it.
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