Hopefully you have already formulated your plan for '08 by now; if you haven't this weekend is a great time to do it. Either way it should be a multi-step process. You should sketch it out, then begin filling in, editing, fleshing out the skeleton -- each time approaching it with fresh eyes and more wisdom. Definitely show it to peers you respect, key business partners and of course mentor/"superiors".
There are some notes I want to pass on that I have been making as I go through this process with my personal plan and mentoring those of my sales force. First, it is awfully tempting to panic during these tough times and dump everything you know and try everything else or to keep doing everything you know and try everything else. You have to take the time to do a thorough analysis of all that you did in '07. See what worked, who worked and whether it will all work in the future. Yes you can blame the market for certain things, but not everything! It can’t be used as an excuse as to why to dump or keep something or someone with out going deep into the situation.
I want to absolve you of guilt! There are too many of us who keep doing something -- a marketing program, working with a particular Realtor, sponsoring an event, or belonging to an organization or worse being a member of a board -- because they fear losing the business coming from it. But they don't even track or measure their results enough to specifically identify whether those relationships pay off. They many times got involved to block some competitor from getting in on the relationship. Any relationship or activity that was born from defense won't work long term. You didn't go into it with passion or vision, but negativity. Your goal was to not let something happen. If there ever was a year to have the excuse to dump that board position, cancel that marketing piece, or fire that Realtor, this is it; everyone will understand, and you need to be free of baggage. For many of you who fully enjoy the board memberships and organizational involvement, like BNI/Chambers, keep doing them. But if it is not working for you professionally then investigate. Maybe you are not doing a good enough job teaching how to refer, demonstrating how you can help them better. Maybe you are not putting the touch on hard enough. If ever there was a time to ask for the business, and overcome any un-comfortableness, this is it! Everyone knows how tough our world is right now -- many of us are one step from holding a sign "will originate for food!” Remember, if you have taken a hard, honest look at yourself, and decided it is not right for you; evolve into something better with no guilt and good lessons learned.
Many good originators are looking at assistants they have or services (like Mortgage Coach or The Turning Point) they delegate to, and cutting them. It is done mostly to save money under the guise that it just wasn't working anymore for them. They figure, "I have the time now, and I am better at it anyway". It is rarely true AND it is a long-term bad decision to use that logic. It is a plan to stay small, to give up on dreams. I am all for pruning as I said above -- making long needed changes after deep analysis. But the rationale should be based on bringing your business back into the shop to retool for the future. Break down the mechanics of your business and re build it for the success you are planning to have. DO NOT go back to a high personal touch system that only you can do and that is kept in your head! You will become a small lonely one man shop working out of your basement, because "NO one can do it like you!"
Redefine your business proposition for this new industry of debt managers and mortgage planners who have a fiduciary responsibility to be sure their clients can afford their homes and are in a better financial position for having met you. Build your systems and target the referral sources who will work when your business is triple what it is today. Do not build your 2008 plan for 2008 volume! Build it for 2010 when you have tripled your current volume and have hired more people to assist -- the right people chosen using a clear well defined process and job description.
Producing manager/owners this is particularly important for you. It is true that many of you have a fraction of the team you had years before. You have come to terms that the real money is in your book of business. It is all true but can you sustain it for the future, is it really what you want to do long term? Many of you were playing the coach role when the captain role is best suited for you (see BP08 presentation for details). Don't give up on managing and building, just change the model to fit your strengths! Build around you as the procuring cause; hire those who support you as the brand with systems leveraging you to the fullest while having a good quality of life.
Please see my Steps to Success Tool on the site for helping the originator take a review of the past years practices and setting defined goals and actions for 2008. If you are truly serious Building Champions has some higher level tools that are especially strong for the managers out there, along with the necessary mentoring to help you get there. Also Steve Marshall's Income Multiplier tool is simple and useful ... email me if you would like our version.
Writing my plan has made me thankful for having survived this past year and made me very excited for the opportunities in 2008. I have seen these markets in 1990-91 and 1994-95 and know there will be success for those who have planned for it. Happy New Year!