#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Agency Cholesterol with Producer Jeff Jones

podcast producers Jun 09, 2022
 

Brent Kelly:

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on another episode. So happy that you're with me. And I've said this before on other guests, but I have to say it again. If you have a pen and paper with you, get ready to write. If you don't, go grab a pen and paper. We have a fantastic guest who I know will provide great insight and background and his experience in the insurance industry.

Brent Kelly:

Also, I'm guessing, in fact, I know he's going to add some humor and fun to the show as well. We have Jeff Jones on the show today, and a fantastic producer. And I'll give Jeff his full introduction in a minute, but again, stay tuned. Fantastic interview with someone who... I'll leave it at this before I get into this, has a larger book of business than many, many, many agencies do.

Brent Kelly:

In fact, 80% if you look at some of the numbers. So, a lot of the insight we're going to be sharing today with Jeff Jones. Before I get into Jeff, always want to talk about the mission, the purpose of the podcast. Why do I do the Agent Leader Podcast? Well, it's to help you, the agency leader, gain clarity, build consistency and make a commitment to become your best version possible. By the way, our book, Best Version Possible, is out and about.

Brent Kelly:

You can go to our website at sitkins.com/bvp. We are now officially on Amazon and Audible as well. So, you can go there to get the Best Version Possible book. I also want to make sure that I give credit to our great podcast sponsor, Rough Notes. So, let me make sure that I get Rough Notes their full due as well deserved. Rough Notes are the publisher that the insurance industry's leading magazine and technical content, they profile successful agencies and have keen insights from respected experts on a host of must-know topics.

Brent Kelly:

So, please go to roughnotes.com to learn more about our friends at Rough Notes. So, with that, Jeff, are you ready to have a fun, engaging conversation that our podcast listeners are going to learn and grow from?

Jeff Jones:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

All right. Well, you heard his voice. There he is. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the podcast, the Agent Leader Podcast, our friend, longtime friend of The Sitkins Group. Jeff has known Roger Sitkins, our CEO, for years and years, and they go way back. I've had the privilege and honor of meeting Jeff as part of our Elite 50 Sales Mastery Group. In fact, if you've got a video, if you're watching on video, you can see Jeff's beautiful Elite 50 Mastermind shirt, but Jeff is just a wealth of information and knowledge, and he likes to have a little bit of fun too.

Brent Kelly:

So, Jeff, welcome to the podcast. Thanks so much for being here. And if you could, outside the welcome, if you could share just your background, your history, if you want to talk about your book of business and what you've been able to accomplish, I think our audience would love to hear from you. So, the floor is yours, Jeff.

Jeff Jones:

Well, thanks, Brent. And just a little bit about my background, I started my insurance career a long time ago after Lloyd's Coffee Shop started writing insurance, but it was still a long time ago, possibly older than many of the podcast listeners, working for the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company as an underwriter trainee. And that was probably one of the best foundational things that ever occurred to me. I can't thank them enough for how much I learned considered a career on the insurance company side and very quickly learned.

Jeff Jones:

I love the entrepreneurial spirit of being a broker, and ended up leaving the program. And after only a year and joining my father's firm, which was a small insurance broker in the San Fernando Valley, and after a period of time knew that size mattered. And so, we merged with the friendly competitor of ours and created a company called TriWest Insurance in 1982.

Jeff Jones:

And I remember we were just under a million-five in revenue back then. And both through personal production and helping others produce, we were able to grow the agency to six and a half million. And in 1994, became the first acquisition of USI. And as I like to say, until I left in 2009, I wasn't the oldest, but I was the longest tenured employee of USI because they didn't exist until they purchased our firm in June 1, 1994. And without going into a lengthy conversation, it was a great experience for me.

Jeff Jones:

There are some things I probably would've done differently, but to go from six and a half million and help the company grow to, I guess, around 670 million at the time I left was quite an experience both through organic revenue growth and obviously through a lot of acquisition. What was great for me is I got to work with really smart people. I always felt like I was a guy at the table who was the slowest or didn't have a big background.

Jeff Jones:

Ian was the chief marketing officer while the company was public, responsible for a public company, responsible for all sales and marketing, lived in New York, got to meet some great people, see how Wall Street worked in the capital markets. And then, USI was purchased by Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, which was again, just an incredible learning experience, maybe not the best work-life balance experience, but it was a great learning experience and just being around some really, really, really smart people.

Jeff Jones:

And realized after a couple of years that that's not where I wanted to end my insurance career. So, I left in 2009, came to IOA really in a different role in 2011 and. About 2012, 2013 said, "You know what? I would like to spend the rest of my career as an insurance agent and broker helping clients in IOA," which is a wonderful company and happy to do a whole podcast about our culture is very entrepreneurial and allowed me the ability to using my own resources with their help, both acquire a few books of business and invest in my own business so that we could grow the business.

Jeff Jones:

My son and I in 2013, my book of business, which was around $300,000, by the end of 2014, it was over $2.5 million. Now, there was some acquisitions involved in there and some other things, and then mostly organic, a little bit more acquisition today. We're a victim of our own success. We're well in excess of $4 million combined revenue and growing.

Brent Kelly:

I mean, there's some good success there, Jeff, for sure. And as you said, there's some acquisition, but a ton of organic growth. And the first takeaway that I have from what you just said, I think you said it in two of your stops is the fact that you were surrounded by smart people.

Brent Kelly:

And one of the things that we say all the time, and you've obviously heard this a million times in our Mastery Group is that if you're the smartest person in the room, time to go find a new room. And I just want to just... on what you said there, Jeff, get some thoughts, because again, you've got such great experience. And again, knowing you from our programs always have a different way of thinking and viewing things that I appreciate at a very high level.

Brent Kelly:

Talk about being around smart people. What have you seen that mean for you in your career specifically when you've been in environments of people who maybe ahead of you in certain areas, what has that meant for you personally? What has that meant for you professionally, Jeff?

Jeff Jones:

So, later we're going to talk about best version possible and why so many, particularly the people not listening to these podcasts ever are incredibly comfortable and the status quo is acceptable to them. And what motivates me to wake up very early every morning is this concept of moving forward and getting better, and being that best version possible. I'm wearing this beautiful Elite 50 Mastermind Group, not because I want to support you and your family and Roger and his and-

Brent Kelly:

Come on, Jeff.

Jeff Jones:

I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it for me. I love the interaction of going to these Elite 50 meetings. And yes, I may have the biggest book at the time, but I am always learning from just about everyone in the group that they figured something out, or it motivates me to do something differently or do something better. And so, that's why I'm in the group. I mean, I'm in the... one of the reasons I'm doing this podcast is I hope I some like-minded people might want to join the group to continue so that we continue to learn from each other and push each other and get better.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, thank you for that. Listen, as you're saying that, and I had mentioned this podcast many times, very similar with Roger, your long-time friend and obviously CEO of the Sitkins Group, it inspires me when I see anybody, but certainly those that... you don't have to, like you're not going to starve or die if you don't get better, right? I mean, same with Roger, but it's just this quest of, "Yeah, I've done some pretty good things, but what's next? What's better? What's possible? What could I truly become?"

Brent Kelly:

And just that mindset to seeing there and being around, as you said, being around other people who think in that way is so inspiring and motivating. So, thank you for doing that. Obviously, we'll talk about some success, but my guess is maybe you've had a bump or two along the road and some challenges. So, I want to ask you, Jeff, what is either right now or what has been your greatest challenge and what are you doing to overcome it, or what have you done to overcome some of your biggest challenges?

Jeff Jones:

So, as I mentioned, I actually use the term victim of our own growth and continued growth. And I have been a broken record in our meetings and discussions with Roger that I need to work more on our high-performing teams. And I realize that part of it was the overall structure of the company, part of it was me. And so, I like to use the holiday time to... so in that last two weeks of the year, when I wasn't with family and friends, I started a deep dive.

Jeff Jones:

And on Monday of the new year, I started a deep dive into high-performing teams. And it actually followed, went into the Sitkins library, went through the modules, actually picked up a few things I missed, even though I've heard both you and Roger talk about it multiple times. It's so funny. And I said, "Okay, let's start at the basics and build up." And it's been fantastic for me. One, IOA has given me their full support, both the culturally and administratively.

Jeff Jones:

So, we're working through the process together. I actually have staff saying thank you to me because I'm caring a lot more, and this is going to be brand new to you and Roger. So, you're hearing it first time on this podcast.

Brent Kelly:

I'm ready.

Jeff Jones:

The biggest challenge was a large number of complex unprofitable C accounts. And I could just cannot tell you that I realized, and we did a lot of analytics on it. It is the cholesterol of any producer or agency. It just keeps on coming. You have to be vigilant. We happen to have a couple of niches where these small accounts are just horrible. So, what we have is great staff who are handling big accounts and small accounts. I got total support of the company.

Jeff Jones:

So, we're actually in a process of moving those into a small business unit and helping them work on that. And in some cases, they need to be out of our agency. And we're actually looking at that and finding a partner, more of a lifestyle agency who would like the volume and that's what they work on, but not us.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, yeah.

Jeff Jones:

And the staff love me for driving it. Oh, I'm not a likable person, but they actually say-

Brent Kelly:

Oh, come on.

Jeff Jones:

They say, "Jeff, we really appreciate what you're trying to do here."

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, it's great to hear that. And a couple notes I wrote down, and you could add to this or not, up to you, but I mean, one thing that I heard years ago and I love this philosophy is that you can either go fast or you can go far.

Brent Kelly:

And not that you can't go fast and far to a degree, but the point of it is what you've talked about, Jeff, what I heard is, you're taking this time on over the holidays and Mondays to say, "Listen, I'm going to get this right, so that I can really go far," versus just, like a lot of people get into the fast routine and then they get tired, so to speak. And by the way, I've never heard this term, and I'm definitely going to use it and steal it, the cholesterol of the agency is unprofitable accounts. Did I get that right?

Jeff Jones:

Yes. Small unprofitable, they are... yes, it clogs up everything. By the way, it's a killer. I just want to point out, people are listening to this all over the country, but for those who haven't noticed, there's a labor shortage of qualified people in the insurance business.

Brent Kelly:

Amen.

Jeff Jones:

There is an overabundance of recruiters offering ridiculous compensation in work-from-home items to your best staff.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Jeff Jones:

And you could do... you can have them as soon as come to their house once a week, you can pay them great. But if they're overworked and stressed, and there's no way they could handle their job, they're going to leave.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah.

Jeff Jones:

There is no amount of money you can pay someone to kill themselves, maybe a few people, but the majority of people will say enough and will leave. And I think that I didn't start in January realizing that, but as I started to listen to people, people I work with and what their concerns are and how stressed out they are, these small accounts. And in some cases, you could have an account, a thousand dollars in revenue or less that might have two or three non-admitted policies. What a nightmare.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. And certainly, Jeff, from my perspective and talking to service leaders and account managers, account executives, I mean, yes, part of this is when they really understand that and when you have a leader or someone in the age and say, "Listen, we want to simplify this and get better, and make your lives simpler and better in this way." And it's not always just the money thing, as you said, typically, it's like, amen and thank you, because you're right.

Brent Kelly:

I mean, as I talk to people across the country, I mean, you're right with the labor shortage and everything else, there are some big time offers being thrown out and it doesn't matter where you live anymore. That's the thing. That's the competitive imbalance to some degree, right? Depending on your region of the country. And so, what is that you're going to do an offer that's different outside of, "Well, I don't have the capital." Well, I don't have the capital necessarily, but I do have a better way of doing things.

Brent Kelly:

And I think, Jeff, what you said is so great is that, no one's going to go work to go kill themselves. And if they start that way, at some point they'll quit, they'll burn out. So, thank you for sharing that. And again, I'm trying to envision now, if you can imagine my mind, Jeff, of how to put cholesterol and an infograph or something like that, right, that we can highlight the fact that it really is the cholesterol of agencies. It clogs things up. So, great way of looking at it.

Brent Kelly:

I want to flip to the positive side. I mean, obviously, some challenges there that you're working on and trying to overcome, what do you believe? I know you've had, again, a number of different going through your background, different successes and experiences, but what do you believe has been in your experience, Jeff, the greatest success you've had, and what are you doing to replicate it?

Jeff Jones:

So, actually, I had to... I was stubborn and was trying to ignore it. And my clients kept on telling me what my secret sauce was. And I call it a SPAE, S-P-A, the E is silent. And what that stands for is speed, professionalism, accuracy with empathy. And professionalism means comprehensive, concise, and critical thinking. And so, my why is always to get my clients to get better, to move forward. I mean, it's like a driving thing for me in business, not for insurance.

Jeff Jones:

I want to help them get better and I want to help them economically protect their assets, which includes their people.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah.

Jeff Jones:

And so, by being professional, I found that I just got to the top 20% of all insurance sales people and accounting executives. And that's been a huge differentiator. And it's why I get my referrals. And it's just great. So, the whole, what we call SPA, which I have a couple of younger producers working with me, that whole SPA type mentality is something we keep pushing. And it's difficult. It's difficult to do because being professional, to be honest with you, is time consuming. A lot of people don't want to do it.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Jeff Jones:

And it's a lot harder to write Mark Twain. It's a lot harder to write a one-page letter than a five-page letter. And it takes time and thinking. And so, I would say that has been our greatest success, along with, when I was thinking about this question, good things happen in the Green Zone. If you were to ask Elite 50 members, when they think of Jeff Jones, besides a lot of personal issues, they would say, "Oh, he's the Green Zone guy."

Brent Kelly:

Okay. Well, just a couple follow ups on both. I'll start with the Green Zone cause that's where you ended. And what I love about Jeff too, and I think it certainly, I'm sure it's made you a successful and improve in different areas is that you'll take something that a lot of people will hear. But I don't know that they really get it, and they don't go deep, but it's, "Oh, Green Zone. Yeah. I got to be doing this." Well, Jeff, one of the things, if you want to talk about this, please do so.

Brent Kelly:

But when you understood Green Zone and what it really meant, right, is just being in the game, getting yourself in the position to win, being on the court, on the field, whatever it is, right? You took it and you took your calendar, and actually color coded it, right? Like to where it became extremely visible to you every single week. Is that something I assume you're still doing that today?

Jeff Jones:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And now I do a lot of proactive Green Zone calls, and I've gotten lazy. I have to keep them on the list. I don't actually put them on my calendar, but everything in my calendar is green, red or yellow. Green being a proactive appointment on my part with the prospect or a client. A yellow, unfortunately today having great market relations and knowledge is probably more so, I have yellow everything I'm doing with my carrier partners and other intermediaries. And Red Zone is everything else.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, yeah. It's just knowing what's important. And when you figure that out and what's important to you to be successful, and then put it in a way that makes it not... it doesn't mean it's always easy, but that you can see it and you can do it. And one of the things Roger says, I'm sure you've heard this so many times that, the best what they do is when they officially write something down that's important. Here's the key, they actually do it.

Brent Kelly:

It's not just, "Oh, there is some things." It's, "No, this is really important. I'm going to do it." So again, you're a huge leader in that. I do want to add, go back to one of the things that you said, because it's always interesting, not surprising but interesting. Some of the most basic simple things are the most powerful.

Brent Kelly:

And one of the things that you said, Jeff, in one of our Elite 50 meetings, and you just said it here was just the philosophy and mindset when you work with any of a future client or client, is that your entire motive is, how do I help you move your business forward? You personally and professionally, but how do I help you get forward, move forward? And I remember just that day, when you mentioned that, everyone, we got very successful producers in the room and they're all kind of going, "Yeah, that makes a lot of sense," right? Just that concept.

Brent Kelly:

So, I don't know if there's... if you want to go deeper in that, but it was a very powerful thing that you said, Jeff, and you just said it again is, "My objective is to move your business forward." So, what is your thought for us on that? Is there thought process on that? And is there any particular, it probably depends on client, but is there any particular strategies that you use around that? What does that mean to you?

Jeff Jones:

So, part of this was my background working with private equity companies, hedge funds, really smart people and how do they buy these companies and end up making them better.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Jeff Jones:

And they focus on the basics that will drive everything. And I'm going to hold off. There are big believers in the 20-80 rule. We'll talk about that. That'll be our last item, if that's okay. But so, it just always amazed me how they're able to get results and other people don't. And it's a focus.

Jeff Jones:

So, what I found is I only like to work with clients who want to get better. And actually, there are a lot of producers in our company who are incredibly successful, and they have clients who don't want to get better. And occasionally, I end up making a mistake in writing one of those accounts, and we do not get along. Now, that doesn't mean that I expect you to stop everything you're doing and take your eye off the ball and focus on these three things.

Jeff Jones:

But when I see... and usually, these are the companies that are poor performing. I mean, life is a bell curve. I don't care if you're a beverage distributor or operator of multi-family units. There's a top quartile of operators. There's that middle bulge. And then, there's that bottom quartile. And I can work with any of those groups as long as they want to get better.

Brent Kelly:

Right, right.

Jeff Jones:

But if they don't want to get better, they think shopping is the best philosophy for reducing their insurance premiums, that is not a fit in that and hopefully is the first and last appointment we have.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. That's really powerful stuff there. And whether it's abundance or scarcity thinking or whatever, it's just a great thought. I appreciate you sharing that, Jeff. All right. Maybe this is where we... one of my pre-session questions to you, Jeff, was a bit self-serving but, hey, that's okay. It's just understanding your relationship with Sitkins.

Brent Kelly:

And again, you and Roger go way back and some of the training experiences, but I love to ask this, what has been the biggest thing or most important thing you've taken away from some of the Sitkins training over the years, Jeff?

Jeff Jones:

Well, as I was thinking about this answer, the first thing I have to explain my answer, how I got there. So, the first thing that comes to mind is lamination. I have laminators at the house, every place, it's great for video because I can have my notes or my preparation. I relentlessly prepare for every call.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah.

Jeff Jones:

Even a client call, if it's at the eve, they are friends, but it doesn't matter. I'll have it, make sure I have a written agenda. I mentioned Green Zone appointments. Points of differentiation are just fantastic. I have a little different view on those, the high-performance teams, the whole point of the Green Zone calls is TUMS, the ultimate marketing strategy, which is if you call your A and B accounts proactively, good things are going to happen. It's crazy.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Jeff Jones:

But out of all of those tactical things, there is one thing that drives me. And that is on the first ProFit meeting we did with our company with Roger five years ago. I don't know when it was. He started talking about this concept, the Best Version Possible. And it didn't really... I mean, Roger took it further much later, but it really resonated with me. And I go through my list every day. I laminated it, of course.

Brent Kelly:

Of course.

Jeff Jones:

But we had an Elite 50 meeting, and I had five things that I'm going to say both personally and for my business that I want to do to get better. Some of it involved my health, some of it involved my mental wellbeing, and many of them had to do with business. And yeah, I look at that every day. Sometimes I'm an idiot and I grade myself, which is not a good thing to do and to be too hard on yourself.

Jeff Jones:

But yeah, best version possible, that is being that helps me move forward. So, if you are a status quo person, this is all going to sound like gobbledygook. I mean, it just doesn't... but if you're someone who is slightly competitive, would like to earn a few dollars more for whatever reason, you just want to get better, that this best version possible is a really powerful.

Brent Kelly:

That's fantastic. Yeah. Obviously, I've shared the story in different ways. I'm not going to goof the whole thing, but Roger had that in his mind. And then, we were at a meeting, I had just started with Sitkins. I mean, I've been there... this'll be my fifth year. I mean, fifth-year anniversary this fall. So, it's coming up. But we were at one of our first CEO meetings and that's when I asked that Roger. I didn't even think about my question. I wasn't that deep.

Brent Kelly:

And I just said, "Hey, what would the best version possible of the best agencies look like?" And he goes on this list. And of course, you knowing Roger and where you're at, how you think. And when I got up that next morning to do our pre-brief and prepare for the day to have breakfast, he's like, "Thanks a lot." And I was like, "Well, what?" He goes, "I was up all night, thinking about my best version possible." So, it's just... the right people that triggers things.

Brent Kelly:

And one other thing, I don't know if you know this, Jeff, but when we started our book writing process, we didn't set out for it to be titled Best Version Possible. We just started telling our story. And it was very interesting. The person who helped us put the book together, Steve Gordon, he did a great job. He goes, "We're looking at what are some working titles."

Brent Kelly:

And they came out and it was like, "This has to be Best Version Possible. That's everything that we continue to talk about." And I will tell you too, Jeff, as one who, when you teach materials, you want to certainly make sure you're doing your best to live up to it. I do the same thing when I look at my morning routine and looking at stuff as, "Hey, what's my best version possible when it comes to family and my faith and my health and financially?"

Brent Kelly:

And it's this ongoing pursuit, which also could be a bit frustrating. Because if you start grading yourself, there's always another level to that. Yeah, I'm going on a tangent here, but I appreciate you saying that. Anything else you want to add to the best version possible story in your life, Jeff?

Jeff Jones:

No, I just... I was a physics minor back when I was in college. And without going into Newtonian physics too much, you can only coast downhill. And I've seen... because an average producer based on where you live in the country and your commission split is making equal to or more than a doctor in your community. Maybe not a specialist, but your internist. And for some of the people who are listening to this podcast, they're making twice as much as their doctor or more.

Jeff Jones:

So, it's a fantastic business. And I think sometimes... and I'm subject to this, your head can get very swollen. I have trouble getting through doors, even it's so big. And you think you're there and there's golf, there's family. And I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to do all those things, but in order to even stay level, you have to be pushing to a little bit to be that best version possible. Some of us are Roger, who is slightly older than myself, not much. I'd love to interview him and just try to figure out what's driving him. What drives me?

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, you got... now this is a... I'll make a side note to this. Maybe this is a caveat to a special Agent Leader Podcast episode where I'll have you Jeff host the show and interview Roger.

Jeff Jones:

Right.

Brent Kelly:

That actually, that would be fascinating. So, I'll make a note of this. Actually, I like this idea. I like to do things a little bit different sometimes, and I think it would be immense value from that. So yeah, it's... and I forgot as you said that, I don't know if I'm going to say this correctly, but I've heard this before. And whether you look at different books or self-development things and all things that are out there, but it talks about like, "Well, gosh, with Warren Buffett, does he really need to keep working to make more money?"

Brent Kelly:

No, he doesn't need to make more money, but it's the fulfillment of who he is as a human being, like what he does, that's what he does at a very high level and why would he not do more of that? It's how he expresses and gets better and learns and grows. And by the way, how much of that can he give back to the world, right, done the right way? So, I love that. I love that concept. All right, Jeff, I have one final question for you. You ready?

Jeff Jones:

Yes.

Brent Kelly:

This is my favorite question, and I know you're ready for it, but here's the question again. And I don't know what time period you want to use. That's totally up to you. But one of the things I look at is, if you could go back and have a conversation with your younger version of you, and maybe back when you started your career or at some point in your life, and that younger version of you, imagine yourself with that younger version, looks up or looks across to you, the current you and says, "Hey, listen, current Jeff, can you give me one piece of advice?" If you could do that to your younger self, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Jeff Jones:

So, it's interesting. The answer came right away, and it's a mistake I continued to make as recently as 10 years ago, which is all things Italian, which is my way of focusing on my good friend Pareto and the 80-20 rule. And without going into lengthy dissertation as to what he found, but this ratio of 20-80. And as I look back at the people who were the most successful, the happiest seemed to have the less stress, shockingly weighed less.

Jeff Jones:

They followed that 80-20 rule in their businesses. They focused on what was important. When I take a look at the people that I looked up to as producers more successful than I, they were just very strong believers in the 80-20 rule. And as you know, I've patented... and have not signed a book contract yet-

Brent Kelly:

That's all right.

Jeff Jones:

... of my 20-80 rule. I actually renamed it 20-80 to make sure the 80% is addictive. There is a gravity to do it. It sucks you in. It's like a black hole. You can't avoid it. And so, my whole day, everything I do, I go back to this whole 20-80, whether it's small accounts, how I spend my time, what time of the day I should be doing certain things. Everything has to do about this 80-20 rule. And it's amazing to me. I was listening to the president of EHD, and I enjoy working in the Elite 50 with their different producers. And the fact he raised the minimum commission to $10,000.

Brent Kelly:

Yep.

Jeff Jones:

By the way, even though that would be painful, that when you look at the firms that are growing the most around the country, and I've had a 45-year career in the insurance business, and because I was involved in mergers and acquisitions went into a lot of agencies, the ones that always had the growth had the highest minimum commission levels, the producers made more. Oh, by the way, they were happier because they had fewer accounts.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Listen, matter fact, we were on a training yesterday with the group, and Roger and I were leading it. And we have some pretty large companies and agencies that have been doing this for a while. And it's just, it is interesting as you said that, again, not surprising, but some of the biggest and brightest they're like, "Oh, yeah, 80-20. I've gotten away from that.

Brent Kelly:

I forgot about that." The example you gave with our friends at EHD, I mean, it's just one of those things where it's like, success leaves clues. And many of their producers and they gave it for various reasons, fought the fact, or at least didn't like the fact they were going to raise the minimum account size.

Brent Kelly:

Oh, gosh, that's starting to get higher. And the story behind that is you have people that always try to justify, "Well, I know it's not, but it's here's why it still fits," and all this kind of things. And in that example, those that were right at the bottom, they had a one-third... well, the closing ratio for those that were $25,000, the more the top end of revenue was three times as high as all those that were that $10,000 or dabbling below those, which by the way, are some large accounts for some agencies, right, depending on where you're at.

Brent Kelly:

But it's just always right in front of us. And, Jeff, I love part of what you mentioned too is, yes, it's with clients, but it's also just in lots of things that we look at in life. I sit there, and what are the 20% of the things that I do with my family that give me 80% of the joy? And you start thinking about that. You're like, "Gosh, I do a lot of things that are pointless, quite frankly, but boy, 20% really has an impact. Maybe I should do more of that."

Brent Kelly:

So, it hits in so many different ways and it really is the vital few versus the trivial many. And I think that is such sound advice. Hopefully, everyone listening heard what Jeff said on that. And again, if you're giving advice to younger self is, "Listen, focus on that top 20%. The Pareto principle is real. There is a predictable imbalance in the universe. You just got to find it and follow it and do it. And it will create freedom." Jeff, you want to add to that?

Jeff Jones:

Yeah. Well, I just wanted to add one thing. I don't want to just bash small accounts. If you think about a restaurant, a white table cloth restaurant in your neighborhood that served really good food, something happened, they go out of business, which four out of five do in the first year, I think, but usually because lack of capitalization. But you take a look at that white-tablecloth restaurant and then you take a look at the McDonald's in your neighborhood.

Jeff Jones:

That is a cash cow. And so, using the 80-20 rule, if you are going to specialize and write something, regardless of the size of the premium, if you do enough of it, you can't go into... McDonald's isn't a white-tablecloth restaurant. But if you say, "Gee, I don't want pickles on my Big Mac," maybe they come, maybe they're off.

Jeff Jones:

Who knows? But that's McDonald's. But lines, the franchises are incredibly profitable. My point is, it's okay as long as you use, say, my 20 per... how I'm going to make all my revenue is going to be, on just a very small segment, I'm not going to try to be everything to everyone.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Jeff Jones:

They're still following the 80-20 rule, just in a different way. It's the one-offs that kill us. And I just wanted to mention that because I don't want people to call up and say, "Jeff, all right. I've got a five-million book and it's all direct built and it's all automated." I think that's great.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. No, and thanks for sharing that. I mean, one of the things... and I'll go on that too. Well, so it's all the Sitkins folks, they don't like, they're anti-personal lines and small accounts. And I don't know if you were on Rogers session this week, but no, it's not that we are against small accounts or personal lines, we're against unprofitable accounts. There's a difference. And depending on how you structure it, right, it makes a difference.

Brent Kelly:

So, the bigger point of all of that is, here's what I took out of it. Success leaves clues, right? And just follow those successful clues, because it is interesting when this... this last thing I'll mention on this, Jeff, and any closing thoughts that you want to add, there's so much of it as mindset, we could talk about 80-20, we could talk about different things and those that have an abundance philosophy or a mindset of growth, we'll go. I wonder how we could use that or utilize that in our agency or my business or in my life.

Brent Kelly:

And others will go, "That's for other people. That's not me. I could never do that." And I always find it interesting. And obviously even part of different round table groups or groups you've had. But when I do ProducerFit and I have producers that may have heard it for the first time, I can have someone who is less experienced and maybe potentially less talented that will go much further.

Brent Kelly:

And the one reason why is because of this, right? It's a belief and a confidence versus, "Yeah, I've got talent and experience, but I'm going to do what I want anyway. And I got it all figured out." So, I'll leave it at that, Jeff. First of all, thank you so much for being on this podcast. I know we've technically gone longer than scheduled, so I appreciate you and your time. Any final words you'd want to share with the Agent Leader Podcast audience?

Jeff Jones:

Well, if we could, I'd like to do a commercial for myself-

Brent Kelly:

Sure, absolutely.

Jeff Jones:

... which would benefit me. I would love for some of the growth minded, which is all you really require growth minded agents and brokers who are listening to this podcast. If you really want to commit to get better, I personally would love you to apply to the Elite 50 Group. Because having people in that group, learning from each other, to be honest with you, pushing each other is just fantastic. So, I strongly recommend it. Not for Brent, not for Roger, think of me, Jeff Jones. It would help me.

Brent Kelly:

I love it. Thank you, Jeff, so much. Hey, I was going to say this after the podcast, but I'll say it now because maybe he's listening and he's been interviewed on this podcast, your old friend, Matt Fairbanks is very close to be coming back in June. So, give him a little push and give him a call.

Jeff Jones:

Oh, I will because I miss Matt, because we love to push each other.

Brent Kelly:

Well, when you said that, it just reminded me. I talked to Matt this week and he's like, "Yeah." And I said, "Matt, we're talking about the power of thinking big and we're talking about your next million. Like, what does that really mean to you? And how are you going to get to that?" He's like, "Oh, that's exactly what I need. That's exactly what I need." And I said, "I'm interviewing Jeff next week on the podcast. You want me to mention something?" He goes, "Yeah, yeah. I think if Jeff reaches out, it's going to be really hard for me not to try to be there." And I said, "All right, Matt, we'll see you in June."

Jeff Jones:

All right. I'm calling him.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, reach out to Matt. Please do so. Hey, thank you, Jeff, so much. Thank you to the listeners for being part of this. Again, I hope you took some great notes. As always, wishing you all the best in your success. Thanks for listening.

 

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