As I’m sure you are painfully aware, this is a presidential election year, which means the airwaves are flooded with political messages (increasingly malicious ones, at that). During one of the way too many broadcast commercials airing recently, I heard the legally required tagline, “My name is __ and I approved this message.” Recorded in the candidate’s voice, this phrase is meant to show that the candidate agrees with what the ad is saying, thereby discouraging false claims.
That got me thinking about the message independent agency owners and their producers are putting out to their “voting public.” Do owners really know what message is out there about their agency and, if so, would they approve it?
Shortly before sitting down to write this article, I was talking with an agency owner and his son (the heir apparent) about our new producer training program, ProducerFit. I began the conversation by asking them about their approach to the...
I just returned from my 11th mission trip to Nicaragua, working with Bridges to Community, several of my consulting clients and their team members, building homes in the second poorest country in our hemisphere. It’s extremely hard work but it helps us appreciate our “real jobs.”
One of the things we do is mix the mortar. First we have to sift the sand and then we add rocks, cement and water that become the mortar. Keep in mind, there are no mechanical cement mixers; this is all mixed on the ground, using shovels. The upside to this sort of manual labor is that it provides jobs for local masons. We’re just there to assist them.
The masons decide how much of each ingredient will be needed for the day, such as eight wheelbarrows of sand, five wheelbarrows of rock, fifteen buckets of water and four bags of cement. However, if we don’t make enough during a particular phase of the job and we run out of mortar for whatever part of the structure we’re...
One of the best questions I’ve ever heard is from Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach program. He asked, “Is your past greater than your future, or is your future greater than your past?” I certainly hope it’s the latter and that you’re more excited about what’s on the horizon than what’s in the rear view mirror.
Of course, we all know people who live in the past. Their glory days are well behind them and yet they talk about them like it was just yesterday. Maybe it’s the former captain of the high school football team whose conversation will frequently turn to “the big game” from 40-plus years ago.
Similarly, there are producers who wax poetic about “the good old hard market days.”
Let’s face it, as an independent insurance agency owner or producer, your past has been pretty darn good. After all, this is a great business, and that’s exactly why you should expect an even greater future.
I love the idea that when passion and skill come together, the result is a masterpiece. Now just imagine the result if you added practice to the mix. No matter how great you are at doing what you love, you’ll be better prepared to share your masterpiece if you commit to ongoing practice.
Conversely, when was the last time you saw a presentation so atrocious that it was obvious the speaker was completely unprepared? Have you ever been that speaker? If so, there’s a good chance you didn’t practice enough.
You never want to lose a sale to, or compete against someone who is better prepared than you. If you do, and you lose a sale to someone who studied harder and knows the account better than you, shame on you for even being in that game.
If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, The Voice or other weekly TV competitions, you know that the contestants have just a minute or two to...
In the early days of my Producer Training Camps, we’d have brand new producers— literally just licensed and in the business for only a few months—as well as 30-year-plus veterans who were still committed to improving. I’d always tell the younger producers to pay very close attention to what we were going to talk about in the camp because if they did, what they learned was going to quantum leap their careers by 10 years or more.
Naturally, that would get their attention! And naturally, they wanted to know how. I’d tell them: “Because I’m going to share all the dumb things average producers do to shoot themselves in the foot.”
I’ve been developing these strategies and behaviors for a very long time. So what are some of the best lessons that I have learned and shared with producers that allow them to quantum leap their careers and not be just average?
We’ve all done it. We see a...
Eventually, every agency owner will leave their business. Whether or not you want to, whether it’s through internal or external perpetuation, you are going to leave. Knowing that this is going to happen, why leave millions of dollars on the table when you do?
In today’s merger and acquisition environment, every $125,000 of additional operating profit you generate is worth approximately $1 million of value. That’s why now is the time for agency owners to stop doing business and start building their business.
In his original work, “The E Myth,” Michael Gerber popularized the phrase, “Are you working in your business or on your business?” But because that book is now over 25 years old, I fear that it has become a cliché. The idea behind the phrase may sound good and be good, but it appears too many agency owners just aren’t following the advice.
In order to adapt that principle to today’s world, perhaps the real key is to...
If you have an accounts receivable problem, you better fix it.
It's not as prevalent today as it was in the past, because direct bill has resolved problems with collections for so many agencies. However, if you ever have to write off a bad debt, what's the cost?
Let's take a write-off of only $10,000. At an average commission rate of 13% and a profit of 15%, you'd have to write $512,820 of new premiums to replace the lost profit caused by the write-off. Mind-boggling, isn't it? So if you do not have a process for zero accounts receivable over 30 days, you'd better fix it the day before yesterday.
If the majority of your producers are not hitting their annual sales goals, that needs to be fixed. I believe this is rampant in our industry. Goals with no accountability are a joke and your producers know it. There's really no consequence if they don't hit their goal, other than they make less money. But they're not the only ones making less...
There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While I won’t argue with that, I think an even better saying might be, “If it is broke, fix it!” In this article, I want to challenge your thinking about what it means for an agency to be “broken” and what it costs you if that agency happens to be yours.
Is your agency broken? If you are not achieving the results you know you should and could achieve, something is broken. Here are just a few things that are usually broken in the average agency and that must be fixed if the agency expects to create better results.
If your net new revenues (excluding acquisitions) are less than 15%, that needs to be fixed. With the latest soft market hitting us, plus ever-increasing competition and commoditization of the products you sell, it’s time to become a selling machine.
As I’ve mentioned several times in past columns, the usual response is,...
In order to face success, rather than turn away from it, we must dedicate blocks of time during the week to work on each of these situations. If you do that as you plan your week, you’ll be in really good shape!
You may recall “The 12% Factor”: In any given week, you have 168 hours, of which 40 hours (24%) is work. Now if you can get just 20 hours of faceto- face time with clients, prospects or centers of influence (which most producers never come close to), that’s still only 12% of the week. How much time will you invest (not spend) in each of these areas in the coming week?
While the best producers are always scheduling at least two weeks into the future, most producers start off the week with an empty calendar. I know that most producers don’t even think about their schedules until Monday morning. (If they were following our “Producer’s Perfect Schedule,” they’d have 10 appointments the first week and another 10 appointments...
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