Take Flight – My 2011 Business Plan Changed Everything

On this Episode #199 of my Monday Morning Pep Talk, I'll discuss the business plan that proved to me that the relationship-based business model is time tested, will never go out style, ages beautifully and is the most cost-effective approach to building not just a predictable and enjoyable real estate brokerage business, but any kind of business. This business strategy is foundational and at the core of Take Flight. Today, I will tell you the story of how I personally discovered it.

In 2010, I was deep into self-development and the re-build of my business and life. 2010 was challenging. We experienced a market where buyers were still not interested in buying and sellers felt their properties were worth more than they were with many of the properties under water. Foreclosures and short sales were in full swing, unemployment was high. We, as brokers/advisors, felt the effects personally and financially from the body blows of three tough years while also being the least popular people at a cocktail party. Despite this backdrop, I felt twinges of progress in my business. The sprouts from all of my hard work were starting to "spring from the dirt" and my business had already doubled from the depths of 2008, which was my low point. In mid-2010, I came across a book that was recommended to me and written by Bob Burg and John D. Mann - The Go Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea. You most likely have heard about it or read it. If you're a NINJA, you know it well. It's a simple story, written in fable format, that discusses the power of "giving" as a business idea.

In The Go Giver, the concept behind the "5 Laws of Stratospheric Success" spoke to me. Finally, someone was speaking my language. At that point in time when I first read the book, my early experiences with using a database to track my business proved positive enough for me to continue with the relationship model despite it not being an industry norm. As 2010 was coming to an end and I was planning for 2011, I decided to roll the dice and go all in on "relationships" despite everyone around me scrambling to pick up any scraps they could. I don't gamble and rarely go all in on anything until I have fully vetted the idea, so when I rolled the dice to be a "Go Giver" it was powered almost fully by a strong, energetic pull. At that point in my career, despite my progress, I was still feeling helpless, but I decided to focus on being helpful. 

My business plan for 2011 went like this: "I am going to give, give, give, give and give and when I am done giving, I am going to give some more."  There were no signs of GCI, production or any other production metric anywhere near my business plan, just a simple phrase kept in sight every day, all day throughout 2011. I gave. 

The result? My business doubled for the second time in three years, and I became the #3 agent at Jameson Sotheby's International Realty that year. The momentum created in that year propelled me for the next five. I was officially hooked and addicted to the relationship-based model. It became my identity. People noticed my growth, including my CEO, Chris Feurer. He asked me how I was growing my business at such a noticeable rate in a year where agents were fleeing the business. As a result of that conversation, in September of 2011, I taught my first class to my peers to continue this idea of "giving.” Many of the basic concepts I taught in that class, I teach today. Some of you know Mckinze Casey at LIV Sotheby's International Realty in Denver. She was in that first class when she was on our roster at JSIR. She has used the concepts learned in that very first class to build a terrific, top-producing business and beautiful life with her husband Ryan and twin sons. That was almost 12 years ago and here we are today 199 MMPT episodes into the message.

What did that business plan and 2011, a year not to dissimilar to 2023, teach me?

  1. Read The Go Giver by Bob Burg every time you get down in the dumps. It's a 2 hour listen that will produce huge benefits to your MINDSET.
  2. "If you feel helpless, get helpful.” Go all in on GIVING.
  3. "Giving" is not passive. Giving is a highly active, powerful, authentic and "aligned with nature" way to conduct life and business. I work super hard, but I do not connect with "hustle culture.”
  4. Reframe the idea of contacting your clients as "adding value,” not "sales calls.” Giving is not selling. Giving is relationship based. Selling is transactional. Giving does not include your branded material with your name all over it. They want you and your expertise, not your trinkets and gadgets.
  5. Successful businesses are built during the difficult markets, not the easy ones. (Note: We will never see another 2021 again.)
  6. You need a consistent, daily, weekly approach to foster your relationships. If you wait and had to make 100 reach outs in a week, you couldn't do it nor would they be authentic.
  7. 10% "Top of Market Placement" is lost every month that you don't add value to your clients' lives. Top of Market Placement is when a customer or client thinks about a product and service type and immediately connects the thought to a specific product or service provider.
  8. You need to think in terms of "career,” not a year. In a 10-year period, there will be 2 markets that are robust, 2 that are slower and 6 that are "normal" markets. Because of the low inventory forecasts in most primary markets, if you don't have a solid relationship-based business model in place, you will struggle and experience massive peaks and valleys in production. In a transactional business model, you are the only salesperson in your business. In a relationship-based business, your happy, grateful and well take care of clients become your sales team.
  9. A relationship-based model has a profitable and efficient ROI. My marketing dollars were always super low. Most of my marketing dollars were spent on gifting and meals/entertainment.
  10. CRM (database) = business. No CRM (database) = hobby. If you have a CRM (database) and don't have a process for using it, then you have a hobby not a business. Review MMPTs 197 and 198 on the need for a CRM and the proper set up of a CRM.
  11. "Giving" doesn't stop after the transaction.  The relationship starts at the closing table.
  12. Give to those willing to "receive" not "take.” Giving to too many takers will "taint" your view on giving. Choose wisely. Build your business brick by brick with clients that you want to grow with over your career.
  13. Don't give and expect a "return" on your giving. That would be considered "bartering.” Bartering is transactional and comes with a bad vibe.
  14. Giving creates "influence" in our society.  "That person did something really nice and unexpected for me. I want to return the gesture."
  15. Do not calculate your commission in advance of a closing. It causes "commission breath.” Focus on the relationships not the properties.

Bonus tip: Get your dopamine drips from the "leading indicators/planting of seeds" such as successful reach outs, the testimonials, the successes, the "asks" for information.  That means the business model is working.  Most brokers/advisors only get their dopamine drips from the lagging indicators/harvest such as contracts and closings which is understandable but not enough. The higher number of "meaningful moments and meaningful conversations" you create, the more clients you will move into new homes or who will purchase your service or product.

Food for thought:  Could we build a business by focusing on authentic "Meaningful Moments and Meaningful Conversations”? Yes! Meaningful moments and meaningful conversations are the essence of giving. Giving is different than "gifting.” Giving is most effective when you give your time, energy and expertise. I believe in that answer so much that down deep I think these MMPT episodes are part of my addiction to continue to give and create "meaningful moments and meaningful conversations.” Despite the heavy lifting each MMPT takes, if I stop teaching and sharing, I stop giving and that is not an option for me.

The idea of giving is not outdated, in fact, the top brands online and throughout your social media feeds are "giving" you lots of free content before they ask for you to purchase their product. Most likely, you will not purchase something new unless the product fills a definite need and solves a problem that you have. For any business to get repeat client interaction, you need to deliver on your promises. Giving and delivering on promises is the foundation for modern, social selling. If you are transactional, you will not be able to compete consistently for a long period of time.  You'll be in a constant state of being on a lead prospecting treadmill and your "would be" past clients will have moved on to a higher value opportunity.