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Earlier this month, Jackie Leavenworth hosted the Secrets of Top Selling Agents webinar, “Plan for 2014: Hope is NOT a Strategy,” and shared her 5-step philosophy for creating a business plan and writing goals to support your life in 2014.

Leavenworth also provided recommendations and scripts for agents to use in conversations with their networks.  To support this, she referenced the “The FORD Principal,” which stands for Family (How is your daughter doing in college?), Occupation (What’s new at your job?), Recreation (What are you planning for fun this weekend?), Dreams (Where would you want to live if you could live anywhere?), and each of these topics are good discussion points if you run out of things to say. While it might seem strange for you to ask someone about their dreams from last night, Leavenworth explains it’s more about a person’s goals and aspirations.

She cites an example of asking one of her top-50, “if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?” and when the client said they always thought about retiring to Costa Rica in 2016, it gave her all the information she needed to know.“My antennae are up and I am logging that in. I have that dream now,” she says. “It’s about communication. What you are listening for are changes in their life that you can help them with so they keep you top-of-mind.”


With the five steps of her business plan in place, Leavenworth turns to the next important segment in her philosophy: The Power of Written Goals, proclaiming the importance of not just setting goals for yourself and your business, but writing them down so they are always there reminding you of them.

A study at Harvard showed of all students graduating, 83 percent had no specific goals after graduation; 14 percent had goals but they weren’t written down; and only three percent had written goals.

“Ten years later, those that didn’t have goals had a certain net worth; the 14 percent with goals had three times the net worth; and the three percent with written goals had 10-times more net worth than those that didn’t. It is critical that we write our goals down.”

Step 1: “Plan Your Life.” Asses your current life and plan for your future. Leavenworth uses the familiar phrase of “bucket list” in creating the list and focuses on five areas of purpose and priority in one’s life: personal life, family, spiritual, business and financial.

The latter two are different in that financial is about your retirement and investments, so you know how much you need to live the life you want when you decide to leave the business some day.

“You should write down everything you want to do, be or have in your life,” she says. “Carry this around with you and when you think of something new, add it. When you write it down, it gives you an area of purpose.”

Step 2: “Determine Cost of Life & Business.” This step involves writing and keeping a budget, which Leavenworth knows is one of the toughest things for agents to do. Still, it’s an important part of the success equation, as it will guide you to not spending on items that are not needed or helpful.

Step 3: “Number of Units.” All good agents must look at their budget and determine how many homes need to be sold to cover your plan. Figure out the number of units and once you do, you are on your way to planning what your year ahead should look like in terms of sales.

Step 4: “Identify Sources.” Leavenworth credits her friend, realtor Julie Beall from Ohio State University, with helping her in the importance of this step: Who is Your Customer?

“If you don’t know who your customer is, you can’t do anything well,” Leavenworth says. “Identifying your sources of business and creating a design marketing program for each will shorten your time and cost tremendously. There’s a whole universe of people for us to touch and we should write down who we want and how to get their business.”

As an example, Leavenworth presented a Wheel of Possibility, which shows rings of an agent’s connections. At the center is a heart, representing your favorite 30-50 people who you know well. These people you might call a few times a year and stay active with on social media sites. The next ring is your active connections; people you still stay in touch with pretty regularly. Then there’s your inactive connections, people you know from high school or an old job, who you don’t have a connection with currently. Finally—and maybe most importantly, there’s an agent’s future connections.

“When we just start writing down our sources, the Sphere of Influence is usually the lion’s share of our business,” Leavenworth says. “Start a database if you don’t have one. That’s really Real Estate 101.”

Step 5: “Market to Sources.” For the final step, Leavenworth advises to create a marketing plan for each of the sources and refresh the plan every 30 days. Know what your plan is for each source, whether it be branded emails every week, auto-notifications through the MLS system of new properties so they see your name and face all the time; a postcard every other month (including sold or just listed) and phone calls every three months.

“To get started for next year, one of the most important things to do is go back to last year, look at statistics, know how many homes you sold, how much you made, and figure out how much you made per sale,” she says. “Then, look at the percentage of listing business to buyer business. Is that the way you want you business to be designed? Look at your business, look at your life and plan intentionally so hope is not your strategy.”

For those looking to find out more information or order one of Leavenworth’s books or forms, visit

Also, join as it presents more informative webinars in the new year, beginning with Katie Lance, CEO and owner of Katie Lance Consulting, who will reveal “How to Leverage Photo-Driven Social Platforms for Your Business” at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22