If Only I Would Have Known

Real Estate Agent with Dockside Realty Company 48011

FLASHBACK – September 2004

Today is my first day as a REALTOR® and I’m so excited. Arrived early at the office and sat down with my Broker to get my first assignment. Introduced me to the staff and fellow agents and he said “Now that you have your license go out and sell sell sell and walked away.

The office manager showed me how to get logged onto the MLS and some very basic searches and I was totally lost. As a ”wet behind the ears agent,” the first thing I did was get on the phone and start calling friends and relatives letting them all know that I had started a new career in real estate and if they or any of their friends or relatives were interested in either selling or purchasing real estate, in the Myrtle Beach area, to please give me a call. Well weeks went by and the phone wasn’t ringing, so I approached my Broker and asked for his help in learning how to be a good agent.

First, he said you need to make a plan, compile a list of friends and relatives, start calling them and keep records. My first question was where will I keep this information and he said in the MLS system or on 3 X 5 cards. I was definitely overwhelmed by all of this and figured I would keep it as simple as possible. So choice was to keep it on 3 X 5 cards.

So, I started working on my business plan and doing floor duty whenever possible.

Preparing a business plan is the most important step an agent must complete. This thought process is your road map to success or failure. My first realty check was when I realized that I was no longer an employee getting an hourly wage, but an independent contractor to a company and if I expected to get paid I had to earn it myself. Therefore, I had to be accountable for all of my actions.

  • During this process, I will have numerous decisions and actions to ensure my success. I must follow these steps every day with confidence so that I can succeed at any level I choose.

Step 1.Determine my income commitment. WOW. This is pretty simple. Now I’m all set to “go out and sell sell sell.”


After nine years in the business I have had a lot of falling down and getting back up days. Every year I prepared a business plan and after 2 or more months I would get so wound up in my business that I would lose sight of where I was going and what I was accomplishing. My business concept was the “spray and pray method.” Spray my name all over and pray that people would ask me to assist them in the buying and selling of real estate.

In the later part of 2012 I made a major decision – I could not serve all people and I would have to be more focused in order to survive.

The business plan I was about to prepare was not going to be something that got put on the shelf and collect dust. It was to be, not only my road map to success, but the way in which I would conduct my business each and every day of the week -- an interactive plan. It will not only be simple in concept, but detailed enough to be followed daily. This plan will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • ·        A review and analysis of my desired take-home revenue,
  • ·        Breakdown of activities I will need to commit to doing in my business
  • ·        Address areas of my business that will need to be examined and planned in order for me to become a successful top-producing real estate agent.

OK, here go …

1.    What is my desired take-home revenue


In the past eight years, without a detailed plan, I have been fortunate to make $21,000 to $32,000 Gross Commission Income (GCI). My goal for 2013 is $60,000 GCI, with an average sale price of $150,000 in my current commission program.


2.    Break down activities needed to commit to doing my business. This is the meat and potatoes of my business and will take some soul searching, analyzing my past performance and business practices – man I sure wish I would have kept better records back then.


3.      Examine areas of business, e.g., lead generation, listing and selling practices, database management, strategies, Open House, farming, etc., to name a few, and rework these areas to become more efficient. The “spray and pray method” will no longer work.


Once again I wish I would have kept better records of what I did and how I got to where I am today. This will be a definite transformation of my work ethics and actions.

My revised business plan is an interactive plan and describes not only my daily tasks but what I will do to prepare myself for the future – Exit Strategy.

My advice to newbies:

1.      Sit down and decide what will be your Gross Commission Income (GCI) or Income Commitment.


2.      Prepare an interactive business plan. If you have never been taught or held accountable to the fundamentals of business planning get help from your Broker, Office Manager or mentor.


3.      Determine the area of business you want to work, e.g., niche, location/geographical area, etc.


4.      And finally, how long do you see yourself wanting to sell real estate. What do you want to do when you are tired of the real estate business or want to retire? This will be your Exit Strategy.

Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Colorado Broker / Referral Services

Jill, great advice for those entering real estate as a career!  But, it is good advice for a lot of old timers out there, too.  So often we get busy with our plans and systems that we tend to not recognize the changes in the marketing tools and the public awareness that impacts the outdated systems.

Apr 30, 2013 01:35 AM
Frank Harper
Idaho Family Real Estate - Boise, ID
Broker/Owner, Realtor, GRI, SFR.

GREAT ADVICE!!!! So many jump into Real Estate and expect to make a ton of money just because they are now Realtor. It takes work work work and more work to survive! I agree 100% you have to have a plan and goals!!! Best blog that I have read all week!!! Thanks!!!

Apr 30, 2013 01:43 AM
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

Hi, 'South Carolina' - me, here in Orlando. Your post was so real and FUNNY!! Actually had me laughing out loud. It pointed out so many things lots of us have gone through in those first few years and even still today. What other field is as crazy as ours to give you a license and not include the 'How to Do?!?" And to top it off, - hands out fines, suspensions, revocations and jail? And for little pay - $$$$$? hahahaha  And how lucky any of us are if we happen to have a Broker who cares and even better, is a mentor. Thank you for sharing, Jill. Lots of good wishes for success- the 2013 business plan.

Apr 30, 2013 01:53 AM
Jill Klunk
Dockside Realty Company - Conway, SC

Thanks for your great responses. I had a lot of fun thinking about the challenges I went through and how many times I felt like quitting. But I've always been a fighter and am glad I have weathered the stor.

Apr 30, 2013 02:22 AM
Tonia Rahming
RMS Realty, St Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach Counties - Saint Lucie West, FL
Relocation Specialist

Great advice!  A fabulous friend of mine was licensed 2 weeks ago and I have asked her to read this too.

Apr 30, 2013 07:07 AM
Sarah Becker
SJB Real Estate & Management - Browns Valley, CA
Northern CA REO & HUD Home Sales

 I love this challenge. Thank you for the insightful Post and great advice.

Apr 30, 2013 07:45 AM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Well the good news is that the world seems to be getting better. Great to have a plan and follow it. Hope it works for you.

Apr 30, 2013 08:22 AM
Mary Preheim
Realty Executives of Nevada - Las Vegas, NV

Wonderful advice! Taking the time to sit down and write out a business plan is obviously a quarter of the battle! Following it, following up with it and reviewing it is the other pieces of the puzzle! Thank you very much for sharing!

Apr 30, 2013 08:22 AM
Trisha Bush-LeFore
Preferred Properties Land & Homes - Walla Walla, WA
Providing Realtor Services in the Walla Walla Area

You have a great business strategy. I particularly find it impressive that your plan also includes "What comes next?". And exit strategy is just as important as all your other steps.

Apr 30, 2013 08:36 AM
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Jill, you mean I'm not the only real estate agent to just wait for business to fall out of the sky? Great blog!

Apr 30, 2013 08:39 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Jill- very well done.  Are you still using those 3x5 cards???  I hope part of your plan will include writing more posts here!

Apr 30, 2013 11:47 AM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Hi Jill, Congratulations on your featured post. I would ask you what you like most about this industry and how you market that about yourself. If I was mentoring you, the first thing for you to consider would not necessarily be about your income goal, though it is important in the context to a good business plan. You learn this industry and find your passion and give enough excellent service and relationship building, income and success will naturally follow. Back in 2004, Instead asking you what your desired income would be , my question would be about the special and unique " You " and what you can uniquely bring to building relationships and a very successful long term career. Wishing every wonderful success and will look to be reading more and more of your posts.
Apr 30, 2013 04:06 PM
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Jill, I think we've all been there at one time in our career. Writing and maintaining a business plan and using it for accountability is the only way to go. It also helps to have a mentor to hold you accountable. Good Post!

Apr 30, 2013 11:51 PM
Marc McMaster
RE/MAX Centre Realty - State College, PA
Putting my clients before myself

As the old adage goes, if you fail to have a plan you plan to fail!  Ever since I started making a business plan every year and breaking it down to the lowest common denominator I have done better every year.

May 01, 2013 12:39 AM
Digital Digital
Alachua, FL
full service

Hi Jill,

Good job!

Having a business without a plan is similar to going on a road trip without a map or GPS.

May 2013 be your best year in Real Estate!


May 01, 2013 12:42 PM
Jill Klunk
Dockside Realty Company - Conway, SC

You are absolutely correct and if those maps or GPS do not have the latest software or directions you could get caught off track and have to work like crazy to get back on track. Make the plan... work the plan ... and live by the plan.

May 02, 2013 12:16 AM