Bigger, Better, Brighter: Part TwoApr 29, 2016
- Great client experience. Being a better agency transcends providing great service. It’s about going above and beyond to create a superior experience for the customer. Remember, the client experience is defined by how the client feels after they’ve met with you. Did you create a “Wow!” as well as a referral?
- 24/7 client service. I hope that everyone reading this has a way for clients to contact them 24 hours a day, every day.
- A better website. Have you ever gone online and looked at your agency’s website as if you were a customer? What did you think? From what I’ve observed, most agency websites leave a lot to be desired. Does your website provide clients access to policy information? Does it educate clients and prospects about your agency and what it can do to help them? Does it positively impress those who visit the site? Or is it just a generic electronic brochure like everyone else’s?
- Beyond risk transfer. You get better when everything you do in your agency goes well beyond the basic risk transfer mechanism. Anyone can transfer risk. What else do you have to offer?
- 100% effective retention. One of the basic litmus tests of your agency’s value is your retention rate. What percentage of your clients renew every single year? Your goal should be 100% effective retention. In other words, of all the clients that you wanted to retain that you could retain, what percent did you retain?
- Ongoing staff training and education. You’ll get better if you are continuously training and educating your staff. When I look at the Best Practices studies, it’s amazing to me that the average Best Practice agencies are spending only .4% of their revenue on training and education. That’s unacceptably low. If you look at the highest- growth, most profitable professional services firms across all spectrums, the best ones spend an average of 2% of their revenue on ongoing training and education. The point here is to out-learn your competition. Are you doing that?
Now that we know how to be bigger and better, let’s open up the blinds and make things brighter! It starts with bringing in new talent.
- Talent. Without a doubt, the number-one concern I hear from agency owners is the need to find new and better talent. The talent gap is the number- one problem at agencies of all sizes. The biggest mistake agencies make is that they try to hire insurance knowledge when they need to hire talent. None of us had insurance knowledge when we were born—we had to learn it. There are a number of state and national associations and organizations that do a great job of teaching the technical aspects of insurance. But you have to start by hiring great people.
- Career paths. If you’re recruiting top talent for your agency without some assurance that they won’t be stuck in the same job for the next 25 years, you’re in trouble. Millennials won’t tolerate a stagnant workplace where they see people shuffle in at the same time every day just to make the donuts! There must be opportunities for agency employees to move to higher levels and on to new challenges. They have to see that yours is a growing agency that offers a path for advancement. They need to be excited about the future. No matter how talented an employee, you’ll never get great productivity from them if there’s nowhere for them to grow.
- True carrier partnerships. A big part of a brighter future lies in having true partnerships with the insurance companies that you represent. All too often, I see that the relationship between agencies and carriers is tenuous at best. If only about one-third of the agencies hit their annual sales goals with their company partners, something’s wrong. That’s why it’s so important to sit down and have a sales plan to which you hold each other accountable. And it’s not your agency that is solely responsible for doing this—your carrier partner has to perform, too!
- Best place to work. Have you ever looked at those “Best Places to Work” lists? Several of our clients have made it part of their agency plan to be recognized as a Best Place To Work. For one thing, it’s excellent public relations. But more important, going through the process is a great reminder that your employees are one of your greatest assets.
- Employee retention. I mentioned before that the talent gap is a big challenge for most agencies. But once you’ve hired great talent, there’s another challenge: You have to keep it. What are you doing to retain your employees? What are you doing to make your agency a place that employees never want to leave?
- Exit barriers. Just as there are exit barriers in place for clients, you should have exit barriers in place for your employees, too. First and foremost, do they love the agency? Are they being fairly compensated?
The bottom line
Moving forward in 2016, you have a choice to make. Will your agency have a bigger, better, brighter future—one that is greater than its past? Or will its past be greater than its future?
As always, it’s your choice!
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