As we ring in a new year, it seems prudent to review last year and set some goals for the upcoming year. Years in Corporate America left a sour taste in my mouth for “five year business plans”. It is hard enough to plan for next month. Five years in this day and age is a lifetime. Heck, at this time five years ago I’d had my real estate license for four months. Today we own our own brokerage 18 agents and offices in two cities.
A lot can change in five years.
So we’ll focus on the upcoming year, knowing full well that the plan will likely morph and change significantly. (Fair warning, insufferably long post ahead.)
Looking back on 2009
From both a personal and professional perspective, 2009 was a great year. The blog grew, the brokerage grew, the kids grew, and my circle of confidants and friends grew.
Often it blows my mind when I ponder what this blog has evolved into over the last 4+ years. In 2009, there were 633,558 visitors from 192 countries that generated 2,079,034 page views. 2,909 currently subscribe by RSS feed. Over 60,000 people stopped by 50 or more times in 2009.
The home search page was the most visited page, but the series of posts on the home buyer tax credit gave it a run for the money. In early February when news of the tax credit first broke, we had our all-time high daily visitor count of 13,120 and in the 10 day period from Feb 5 ”“ Feb 14, over 85,000 visitors generated almost 200K page views. It was crazy! (Many of those posts get traffic every day, 11 months later.)
If you are curious, visitors from Japan spent more time on the site (by far, at over 23 minutes/visit) than any other country. For countries with over 300 visitors, those from Greece spent the least amount of time on the site. I don’t know what, if anything, this means. . .
We released a major redesign on November 27 (check the home page if you haven’t seen it yet) but it’s not done yet. Next up is restructuring the navigation menu to provide easier access to more content as well as building “sub-blogs” to house some of this content.
I don’t have the vocabulary to properly convey my thanks to all those that stop by to read here, whether it’s one time, or you are a regular. I deeply appreciate those that take the time to stop by. Without you all, there wouldn’t be much point.
When 2009 rolled around, we had eight agents all operating out of the Phoenix area. By the end of the year, we’d opened a branch in Tucson and the total agent count had grown to 18. Thompson’s Realty agents had 91 transaction sides in 2009, missing our goal of 100. That miss is my fault, and has nothing to do with our agents.
In late July, we completely changed ThompsonsRealty.com, converting the site over to one designed and hosted by the great folks at Real Estate Webmasters. A lot of work remains there to fully take advantage of all REW offers.
Late in the year we began to implement an electronic transaction management system. This, combined with electronic document signatures has made us about as “paperless” as one can be in a business that generates paperwork by the truckload.
But all the cool tech tools on the planet won’t provide the most important thing to our clients ”“ premier customer service. I leave that to our world-class agents, who I am so very proud of. They are what makes this brokerage successful.
I honestly can’t count how many very cool new people I met in 2009 that I now call friends. Some I’d “known” online for a long time before we finally met In Real Life. Others I met for the first time. In addition to all the new friends, relationships grew with many other longer-term friends. You folks are all incredible people, and after my family are the most important part of my life. Thank you.
The kids had two milestone birthdays in 2009 with James turning 18 and Lauren turning 16. They have both grown, faster than I would have liked, into amazing young adults. That’s due in no small part to Francy. Every day I look at my wife and wonder how one person manages to be everything one could ask for in a wife, mother and business partner. I’m completely in awe of her.
Looking ahead to 2010
For 2010, my goal for Phoenix Real Estate Guy is to reach 3 million page views, roughly a 33% increase, and we’ll do a little restructuring with home search options to hopefully provide the home searcher with a more complete solution to their home search needs. The types of articles written here probably won’t change much. Yeah, they wander all over the place from hyper-local to national real estate issues and everything in between. I could probably “do better” by focusing more but that’s just not going to happen. At its base level, the blog is what it is. The look and functionality may change, but there will continue to be local news and info, discourse on real estate issues, along with random musings and rants.
2010 numeric goals are simple ”“ close 200 transaction sides and hire 10 more kick-ass agents. At the agent level, I’d like to help each of our agents increase their business by 50% in 2010.
These goals may be easier said than done. They are aggressive, but I think we’ve got a collection of amazing agents with innovative ideas and we can pull it off. We’ll find out in 12 months. . .
Numbers are nice and everything, but the single most important component of the brokerage is the client. Period. Our clients demand superior service and flawless real estate transactions from knowledgeable agents. And that will never be compromised in the pursuit of increasing business. Ever. In fact, we’ll find new and better ways to serve our clients in 2010.
The Real Estate Industry:
In the past, I’ve done my fair share of whining about the “real estate industry”. Specifically some of the bone-headed moves made by local, state and national real estate associations. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been tied to my whipping post for a long time. You may have even read my (woefully neglected) blog “NAR Wisdom” at one point. Today, I’m officially retiring NAR Wisdom. I’ll leave it up, but I don’t plan to post to it any more.
This does NOT mean I’ve just rolled over and admitted defeat. Nor does it mean that I won’t chime in when associations do stupid things.
On the contrary, I’ve decide to get more actively involved in trying to change the way these bureaucracies function. I’m now serving on several association committees:
National Association of Realtors:
Multiple Listing Issues and Policy Committee ”“ Member at-large
Business Technology and Information Systems Forum ”“ Vice Chair
Conference Program Subcommittee ”“ Member
Arizona Association of Realtors:
Communications & Technology Committee
Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service:
While I firmly believe that writing about issues is participating, and helpful, the only real way to affect change in these organizations is to participate in them. It takes a lot of time, and significant personal resources, but it’s important. These groups have a direct effect on real estate agents (hence an indirect effect on the real estate interested public as well) and it is time to do whatever must be done to affect change and help bring these groups into the 21st century.
Local Activism and Involvement:
I live in a rapidly growing town that is facing all sorts of budget woes. I live in one of the largest metro areas in the nation that suffers at times from an identity crisis. Many think we have no “Phoenix Culture”, that nothing (short of 115 degree summer days) that makes us “unique”. I have kids in school that face budget cuts that could impact the rest of their lives.
In 2010, I’d like to expand my efforts to help in all these areas.
Today I joined the Gilbert (AZ) Small Business Alliance. I’ve recently been serving on the Board of Advisors for the Phoenix Innovation Foundation, and will continue to do so. It is my hope that Thompson’s Realty can continue to sponsor events like Ignite Phoenix and The Highland Jazz Festival.
And much to my wife’s chagrin, I’m looking out for openings on the Town of Gilbert’s Boards and Commissions. Been down that road once before on the Human Relations Commission. Now if a seat were to open on the Planning Commission. . .
Last but not least, the most important goal of 2010 and the rest of time ”“ be a better friend, husband, and father.
Hopefully writing and publishing these goals will provide me with a little accountability. If you read this far, congratulations! If you haven’t written down your 2010 goals, get busy. You’ve only got 364 days left to meet them.