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Are You Turning Your Back on Success: Part One

Uncategorized Apr 28, 2016

What exactly is success? Some people define success in terms of their family, health or happiness. However, for the purposes of this article, I am referring to business success/personal financial freedom.

My definition of financial freedom (or personal financial success) is the ability to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, with whom you want to do it and as often as you want to do it. In other words, if you want to do something, you can simply write a check. If you want to do something for your family, you can. You want to support your religious beliefs or local community? You can. If you want to help out others less fortunate than you, you can. The bottom line: You can afford it. It’s what you do with the money that matters.

Maximizing time

Of the many ways that producers turn their backs on success, one of the most significant is how they use their time. Almost all producers sporadically do a great job. They will occasionally get a great result, get a great...

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The Better Way Agency

 

In The News

Finding The Better Way, by Elisabeth Booth, CPCU
Rough Notes Magazine

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Attend a High Organic Growth Workshop

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The #1 Tip for Producers

networking producers Apr 28, 2016

If there were just one pearl of wisdom I could share with producers, it would be this: Your network equals your net worth. That’s not a Sitkins original idea; however, I truly believe it’s the number- one tip I could give any producer.

In today’s totally data driven world, I fear that too many producers believe they can “click their way to success.” They rely far too much on the Internet as a means to reach their business goals.

FYI, I strongly support the use of social media, digital marketing, and web-based, mobile and ondemand platforms—any sort of app designed to boost productivity.

No matter where you look—past, present or future—the best producers all have one thing in common: They were, are and will be great networkers.

If you’re wondering how you can constantly build your network, here are some ways that have worked for me, as well as the thousands of producers we’ve trained in our 100-plus Producer Training Camps....

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Why Agencies Slow Down

growth Apr 28, 2016

Most, if not all, independent insurance agencies say they want to grow. However, the actual organic growth rate for most agencies does not reflect this.

According to a recent report, even the national brokers had an organic growth rate of only about 3% last year. While their 3% translates to a much greater dollar amount than the average agency, it’s still only 3%. Considering these are the agencies that are supposed to have the best producers, the best markets and the best everything, to me that’s a truly lackluster figure.

Any agency that’s growing just enough to stay ahead of the ever-increasing cost of doing business is barely maintaining profitability. Accordingly, there’s little or nothing left to invest in obtaining the best people, automation and outside services. So the need for organic growth is self-evident—or is it?

Key reasons for the slowdown

As I began to ponder why more agencies aren’t growing at a greater rate, it occurred to me...

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What Do You Owe Your Clients: Part Two

client experience Apr 28, 2016

VIP Treatment.

In today’s world, if a client is worth keeping, he or she is worth being treated like a VIP. However, there are different standards of VIP service, depending on whether they are A, B or C clients.

Our studies continue to show that the bottom 25% of clients in the average agency account for less than 5% of revenue. (If you’re questioning this as you read it, don’t guess that I’m wrong without knowing your real numbers.) So should they be treated as VIPs? If you decide to keep them, yes. While every client is entitled to a great experience, your A clients should receive different service than your B clients, just as B clients should get different service than C clients.

Keep in mind that not everyone will want an annual review or a formal risk survey, in which case they can go elsewhere. You want clients who are committed to having a professional relationship with you, not a relationship based on buying and selling a commodity.

Full-Time Service....

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What Do You Owe Your Clients: Part One

Uncategorized Apr 28, 2016

Over the years, I’ve asked thousands of independent agency owners and producers the same questions: What do you owe your clients? What value do you bring to them?

I’m amazed at how many people have never even considered these questions. Apparently they’ve never sat down as an organization to discuss their obligation to clients or given much thought as to whether they provide them any substantial benefits or advantages (e.g., value).

Often owners and producers confuse what they owe clients with the following empty claims they make during presentations:

Great Service.

Of course you provide this! You’d never say, “We give good service.”

All of the Carriers.

OK, so you represent a ton of companies. Doesn’t everyone?

All of the Best People.

This statement drives me crazy: “We have the best people in the business.” As if there were some vortex in the universe that magically opened and all the best people in the industry fell into your...

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Five Ways to Kill Your Agency: Part Two

cost of doing nothing Apr 28, 2016

Your agency has plateaued employees.

Originally I was going to say “plateaued owners and producers,” but the reality is you cannot afford to have any employee who has “retired in place.” We talked about this in our Profit Zones articles in the May and June issues. As I discussed at that time, if you have any RIP employees who aren’t following the system, not doing their job and not embracing change, your agency will plateau because RIP becomes contagious. That’s why every employee must be viewed as a Profit Zone.

Often, it’s the employees with seniority who not only refuse to do certain new and agreed-upon tasks, they get away with it. In other cases, there are employees who just don’t care. Either way, their attitudes and actions have a negative impact on all other employees in the office.

At most agencies, there are two kinds of workers. There are the ones who dread their jobs and only show up to “make the donuts.” As...

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Five Ways to Kill Your Agency: Part One

cost of doing nothing Apr 28, 2016

This month I want to challenge you with a theme we’ve often discussed:

What’s the cost of doing nothing?

This applies to those who consistently do the same old, same old and brings to mind two of my favorite adages: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got,” and “What got you here, will keep you here.” The strategies, tactics and behaviors that you’ve used to get your agency where it is today probably won’t continue to serve you in the future because the world is changing so rapidly. Consequently, the cost of doing nothing new continues to skyrocket. So if you’re unable or unwilling to take the initiative to start doing things differently, there’s a good chance you will eventually kill your agency. While I doubt that anyone really wants to kill his or her agency or deliberately sets out to do so, there are plenty of ways to destroy an agency. Here are the top five agency killers.

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The Sixth Profit Zone

profit zone Apr 28, 2016

Last month’s article was about the Five Profit Zones. Well, after it went to print I had one of my semi-famous BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious): There is a sixth and very important profit zone—your insurance carriers.

I would love to have just 1% of the dollars left on the table each and every year by independent agencies that aren’t managing what should be considered a stand-alone profit center. The figure would astound you!

So how does one earn greater profits in this area? It boils down to analyzing the insurance carriers you represent and your relationships with them.

Understand Your Carrier 80/20

We’ve often talked about the 80/20 Rule and the concept of knowing vs. guessing. It certainly applies here. Do you truly know what your carrier 80/20 analysis looks like? Probably not. I’ve been consulting and coaching agencies for more than 35 years now, and it’s clear to me that in the average independent agency, the top 20% of your insurance...

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The Five Profit Zones: Part Two

profit zones Apr 28, 2016

Profit zone #3: Non-producer employees

View every employee as either a profit center (contributing to your profitability) or a loss center (taking away from your profitability). Here are the major factors affecting non-producer employee profitability:

  1. Low productivity. If they’re in a service position, they’re just not handling enough revenue per employee and/or they’re not completing their work efficiently and quickly.
  2. Lack of ongoing training. If you’re not training your employees on a regular basis, how do you expect them to do what you want them to do? They can’t, especially if you’re not holding them accountable.
  3. Mismatched employees and jobs. Too many agencies don’t have explicit job descriptions or aren’t using outside testing resources to profile prospective employees—which we believe is one of the best ways to ensure that a new hire has the factory-installed equipment to do the job well.

Profit zone #4: Operations

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