Time for a change?

Have you reviewed your business plan, asks Harpal Singh, managing director of Conveyancing Alliance Ltd

The beginning of a new year may be the perfect time to set targets and goals for the 12 months ahead, but it is remiss to do so without first casting a glance in the rear-view mirror. After all, you are unlikely to see any improvement in the performance of your business going forward without identifying what worked and what didn’t in 2011.

As a nation, we are obsessed with end-of-year lists and reviews, from the Beeb’s Sports Personality of the Year Award through to the NME’s Top 100 songs and albums of the year. Given we are so used to selecting our cultural highlights, it doesn’t take too much effort to transfer our ranking skills to our work performance.

Whether you begin your appraisal with looking at your best or worst moments from 2011 probably depends on whether you are a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person, but looking at the highs and lows is equally important. Don’t simply bask in the glory of the largest loan you wrote last year or the establishment of a relationship with a lucrative new client, but ask yourself how these successes came about and how you can repeat them. Similarly, don’t be too hard on yourself about things that didn’t pan out quite as you had hoped. As the adage says – nothing ventured, nothing gained and it can all be considered as useful experience.

No matter how successful you are, it is important not to become complacent and assume that your business plan is bulletproof. The economic climate may have eradicated much of this over-confidence, but you should be constantly mindful that what worked last year may not be an automatic banker this time round. It may also be worth taking some time out to bounce ideas off your counterparts in the industry. Some direct rivals may be reluctant to share business knowledge, but many will be keen to pool ideas and concepts. It needn’t just be those operating within the mortgage arena you liaise with either and you may be able to transfer successful methods and philosophies from other sectors.

One area that is vitally important to review is your client and lender/provider relationships. We all know how hard it is to increase the flow of business coming through the door, but are you making the most of your existing customer base? Providing additional products and services to your mortgage clients is not just a way of earning extra income, but also ensures your customers are likely to be left more satisfied as they don’t have to traipse round to a range of providers.

It is also worth auditing your lender and provider panels too. Don’t just adhere to the maxim that if it isn’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing. Analyse each relationship one-by-one and ascertain if they are among the best in class, if they are offering the most competitive and innovative products for your clients and if they are still aligned with what you want to achieve as a business. Even if your business hasn’t changed, the services and terms on offer from each provider may mean they are no longer a suitable fit for your company.

Having established what worked for you last year, what mistakes to avoid and what you would do differently, why not make a business resolution to go with any personal pledges you made when Big Ben rang in the New Year? It could be something simple from the way you manage your time in the office or communicate with clients through to a sweeping change like attempting to diversify your business into a new sector, but if you don’t try it, you’ll never reap the potential benefits.

Finally, I would like to wish all BestAdvice readers a Happy New Year and offer you all the best for a productive and successful 12 months ahead.