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Is Your Agency Too Comfortable: Part One

growth May 12, 2017

Great growth requires letting go of complacency

It dawned on me recently that too many agencies and their teams are too comfortable (or complacent) to really grow. What they have are “lifestyle agencies,” which is absolutely okay if that’s what they want.

Gary Holgate, my mentor in the business and the first-ever true independent agency consultant, always said that what happens at so many agencies is that the owners start out selling insurance and wind up running a business. So often, they get overwhelmed by the day-to-day minutiae of operating an agency and subsequently fall into the trap of just being busy.

Now the good news/bad news is that you don’t have to implement many— if any—of the Sitkins Strategies to do just fine. As we’ve discussed many times, in this business, owners and producers can make a great living and support a very nice lifestyle without having to do too much, aside from just showing up. It’s hard to find fault...

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Circle of Choice: Part Two

process producer Apr 28, 2017

Outside the circle

Let’s take a look at some of the OTC things we can’t change, no matter what we do.

  • The national/global economy. None of us can make a significant impact here.
  • Insurance carriers’ appetites. You can’t stop them from changing, but it’s important that you understand them.
  • Agency automation system/technology. It’s not going away, so you need to adapt to it and maximize it.
  • The service trap. Allowing yourself to stay “too busy” doing service work OTC means you can’t get ITC.

Inside the circle

Now let’s put a laser focus on the things that are ITC:

  • Personal business model. What are you working toward?
  • Ideal Client Profile. What does your ideal client look like? Not everyone is an ideal client, and in fact some can be quite un-ideal.
  • High-Performance team. What are the roles, responsibilities, and makeup of your high-performance team? Calling them high-performance doesn’t necessarily mean they are....
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Circle of Choice: Part One

process producer Apr 14, 2017

An effective process consistently produces the right results

Although this topic could apply to most employees, this article is really directed at Producers.

One of the biggest problems I see with average producers is their inability—or unwillingness—to focus on the right things. They chase way too many “bright and shiny” objects, allowing endless distractions to take them away from their “real” job. As one of my great clients and friends once said, “You’ve got to define the job of a producer and then not let them fake it.” In other words, know what you’re supposed to do and then do it! Now that’s some pretty good advice!

Success comes down to the choices producers make (or let happen) each and every day. I refer to this as “The Circle of Choice.” Inside this circle are the things that can be controlled. The things that are totally uncontrollable are outside the circle.

Defining where you will spend your...

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The Three 100's: Part Two

3 100's Mar 31, 2017

100% Goal Attainment

Assuming that you actually have goals in all areas of your agency, attaining them is huge. As part of your NO B.S. (Non-Optional Behaviors and Strategies) business plan, you should have one-year and three-year plans for the following Key Performance Indicators.

  • Gross Revenue
  • Net New Revenue
  • Retention Rate
  • Revenue per Relationship by Department
  • Revenue per Producer
  • Revenue per Service Person
  • Operating Profit
  • Percentage of Full-Time Clients
  • Spread per Employee
  • Individual Producer Goals

The big question here: What percentage of your producers met or exceeded their sales goals in 2016? In the average agency, it’s a fairly small percentage. If you’re an agency owner and you can’t tell me that well over 80% of your producers exceeded their goals, that should be a big red flag! Unfortunately, in most agencies it’s half that number—or less.

This tells me one of two things. Either the sales managers are doing a very poor job of...

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Roger Sitkins receives the Dr. Henry C. Martin Award

henry c. martin award Mar 21, 2017

Roger Sitkins and Dr. Henry C. Martin both had the same passion; which is the betterment of the independent insurance agent through knowledge, agency efficiency, and customer relationships. Roger Sitkins is the recipient of the 2017 Dr. Henry C. Martin Award and among only five others to have the honor of receiving this prestigious award.

The Dr. Henry C. Martin Award is named after the founder of The Rough Notes Company.  Dr. Martin became a medical doctor after graduating from the Medical College of New York in 1870 and began his practice in Indianapolis. After becoming a medical examiner for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, he opened his own insurance agency, represented Travelers Insurance Company.  In fact, he wrote the first fire insurance  policy for them in the state of Indiana.  His passion was writing and thus launched Insurance Rough Notes in 1878 which at the time became the champion of better insurance...

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The Three 100's: Part One

Uncategorized Mar 17, 2017

Set the bar high with these key goals

Having worked with thousands of agency  owners through the years, I have noticed an overriding theme: Average independent agencies and their producers are average for a reason. They simply don’t set high enough standards for themselves—they don’t aim high enough. This doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in this business, because they can and they do.

In The Better Way Agency system, our standards are pretty darned high, as they should be. That’s why, as we strive for ultimate success, we adhere to the Three 100s:

  • 100% Full-Time Clients
  • 100% Effective Retention
  • 100% Goals Achieved

That may sound tough, but as legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

100% Full-Time Clients

Come on, this should be a no-brainer, non-optional, absolute working strategy! And yes, I know we’ve talked about it at least 753 times...

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It's Time to Stop Drifting

agency growth Mar 03, 2017

How to chart a new course and stay focused on it

After all these years of coaching independent agency leadership teams and producers, I’m not surprised by very much. For example, it doesn’t surprise me that the vast majority of agencies are simply drifting along. However, it frustrates me that this is a recurring theme at most agencies. They’re doing fine, but they’re just drifting.

I know this because whenever I ask prospective consulting clients specific questions about their business—their annual business plans, budgets, sales goals, financial models, training, etc.—most of them have nothing to say, because they don’t have any of the aforementioned items. (Maybe that’s why they’re calling me!) The reality is that you can be semi-successful in this great business without any of those things.

As you may recall, “semi-successful” means you’re doing really well financially (making more money than you’d make...

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It's Time to Break Out!: Part Two

You owe you

So why even consider breaking out? Unless you know the answer, there’s no point, because your end in mind is always the biggest issue. Without a big enough “why,” nothing happens.

Whom do you “owe?” You owe you!  And because you’re the only one who is ultimately responsible for your success or failure, you owe it to yourself to be the best.

Author and minister Eric Thomas, known as the hip-hop preacher, travels the globe spreading that message and motivating people to live up to their fullest potential. He definitely knows a thing or two about breaking out and holding oneself accountable.

Thomas grew up poor in Detroit, dropped out of high school, and lived on the streets for two years. Ultimately he decided to turn his life around, earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. In addition to being a motivational speaker and YouTube sensation, he founded a company that offers education...

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It's Time to Break Out!: Part One

Are you stuck in a rut?

Sometimes when I talk to agency owners or producers who are caught in a rut, the image of an amorphous blob springs to mind. I realize that may sound strange, but when they describe not knowing what to do or how to climb out of their rut, I often envision the weird clumps of matter I frequently see floating in the Gulf of Mexico. I really don’t know what those floating masses are or what their purpose is in the ecosystem; they just seem to bob along with the current.

Obviously people are not blobs—or at least they don’t have to be—yet many agency owners and producers find that it’s much easier to float along with the current than to change direction. Even if they wanted to, most of them wouldn’t know where to start. Furthermore, most of them do quite well for themselves, even if they’ve never had an actual business plan that they follow. Accordingly, there may be no real incentive for them to break out of their rut...

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Stop Trying to Prove You're Like Everyone Else!

Uncategorized Jan 10, 2017

During a recent private ProducerFit program, I experienced one of my world-famous BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious). It hit me as I spoke to a group of mainly young producers that they probably hear the following repeatedly:

“You guys are all the same.”

My BFO: What must you do to stop trying to prove to the world that you’re not?

If that’s something you hear on a regular basis, you’ve got a problem!

Most agencies know they should differentiate. However, most don’t. They’re strictly playing a commodity game. Furthermore, most are simply like everyone else—average. That means they’re the best of the worst and the worst of the best, as close to the top as they are to the bottom.

When producers and agency owners are asked why someone should buy insurance from them, they typically have the same responses: “We have the best service, the best people, we represent all of the major carriers, we’ve been in business for...

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