Three Reasons You Need to Fire Your Producers From Service


What would you do if someone on your team made a mistake 80% of the time? Reprimand them? Possibly. Train them? It better be a lot of training! Release them? Hard to argue.

When you ask agency service team members how many times a producer gets a service request or change 100% accurate and 100% complete, the first time, the answer is usually about 2 out of 10. In other words, producers make mistakes on service duties about 80% of the time.

In this podcast, Brent shares the Three Reasons You Need to Fire Your Producers From Service.


Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly. Thanks so much for joining me on today's episode. Very excited to share an important concept today that my guess is most of you I think will get it and understand and agree, but some of you might think this is a bit, I dunno if to say controversial. Here's what I'm going to talk about today, why you should fire your producers from service. Why is it important? In fact, I'm going to share with you today three reasons why you need to fire your producers from service. And I'll give a lot of context and examples with you today. Some things that you can do, whether you're already doing this to some degree, we can make improvements or maybe this is a newer concept and I'm going to give you some ideas of how to get started.
But most importantly, even before the how is the why, this is going to create such a huge impact on your agency and your agency's success. Now, as always, the purpose of this podcast is to help you, the independent insurance agency leader, regardless of your specific role. I know we have agency principles and sales leaders and producers and service team members. If you have influence and you do, then you're a leader. So the Agent Leader podcast is to help you, the agency leader, gain clarity, which is focus on what's most important to help you build consistency on the key habits and the behaviors that make the biggest impact. And of course, make a commitment to be accountable, be accountable to become your best version possible. A few things that I want to share off the start, and I reference this on most of the podcast, but I always want to show a visual for those of you get my words out that are watching on YouTube or I'm doing LinkedIn Live, we're streaming on numbers of platforms live here now, but the best version possible book, certainly you go to to get yourself a copy.
You also can go to Amazon or Audible, but if you go through our site, we've got some extra stuff for you as well. So go check that out. We continue to get great feedback on the book. I want that to get that in your hands and as many agency leaders as possible. Also, big, big, big, big announcement. I've teased this a few different times on what we're going to be doing moving forward, but there is a big announcement and now we have an announcement date, right? So there is a true announcement date of a big event that's going to be happening on September 7 at 11:00 AM Eastern, 8:00 AM Pacific. So sometime in the morning for all of us, regardless of your time zone, I'm going to be delivering a live presentation, which will be a live conversation to you, the agency leader on the multimillion dollar mistake that most independent insurance agencies are making.
You don't want to miss this. It is going to be hosted live through LinkedIn, so you need to go to LinkedIn, to register. There's no cost other than an hour of your time, and I'm committed to giving you the best hour I could possibly give independent insurance agencies to help you not only not make this multimillion-dollar mistake and we'll talk about what specifically that is, but to give you three impact and action items that you can begin to do right away and think about and to implement in your agency to avoid that mistake. So again, in September 7 at 11:00 AM Eastern, 8:00 AM Pacific, big announcement, go check that out. We'll make sure we have this in the show notes as well as we move forward.
Alright, so let's get into today's topic, today's conversation on the Agent Leader podcast, which is three reasons you need to fire your producers from service. Three reasons you need to fire producers from service. Now I have the notes on the event page for this podcast, A bit of a tease or a description. Here's what I put on the description. What if you had someone on your team that made a mistake 80% of the time? So you've got someone on your agency team that eight out of 10 times they do something wrong. It's incomplete, it's an accurate, it's a mistake, what would you do? In fact, we asked this question specifically on all of our programs and right now in the Sitkins Group and our network and our programs, we are about halfway through. In fact, we are halfway through our programs and we're getting some great feedback and we've got hundreds of producers and account managers and sales leaders going through the programs right now.
And one of the questions that we ask all of them in different programs is if you had someone who made a mistake 80% of the time on your team, what would you do? And we get different answers, obviously. Some people say, well, maybe we should train them up better. Okay, I think that's possible. It's certainly worth a try. It's better than keeping them and doing nothing. Maybe they get reprimanded or most people say, well gosh, eight out of 10 times, if they consistently make the mistake, we should probably let them go. Now we have a bit of a joke, which is sort of a joke, but not a full joke because there's also reality in this is that our joke and or reality is, or we could make them a producer, right? If someone's making a mistake eight out of 10 times, maybe we can make them a producer.
Now, why do we say this? Well, the way that we phrase it, and the way I'm going to phrase it to you, the audience is how many out of 10 times in general, and this is if you're an agency leader, a principal, think about this. If you're a producer service person, of course think about this, but how many times out of 10 if a producer were to take a change or service request right out of 10 times, would that producer the first time have a hundred percent complete, total and accurate information? Meaning that they would get everything that they needed one time all in one shot, it would go directly in this case to the carrier if they took the change and there was no problems, no mistakes ever made. Now when I ask that question, we get a variety of answers, but typically we get maybe one, maybe two, maybe three.
There are some producers I could do four or five times, I'm at least 50%. What's funny is I asked this question several years ago to one of our private client, one of our great members we've been working with, and I was in front of a room of all their service team members and their service team leaders, and I asked this question and the front row, the service team leaders started chuckling. They were laughing and I said, okay, did I say something wrong? And they go, well, no, you said that typically producers make mistakes eight out of 10 times. I would say it's at least 98 out of a hundred times, right? So the bottom line is this, and we're going to talk about specifics of this, is that most producers, and by the way, this isn't usually with malice. They're not doing this because they've got just a lack of intent or credibility or integrity.
We're going to talk about some of the reasons why, but they just don't do a very good job of it. And what happens is when producers get involved with service stuff, they make mistakes. And I'm going to share with you three things, three specific reasons why producers should be fired from service, why they should not be doing service work. Now, I'm going to give one big caveat here at the beginning. This does not mean that producers should do 0% of service. We talk about, and if you've listened this podcast, you've heard this before, there's Green Zone and there's Red Zone, and certainly with Producers Green Zone are for moneymaking activities, sales, relationship management, proactive continuations that we're making, the renewal and non-event and pipeline development, those four things, sales, relationship management, proactive continuations and pipeline development. That is the Green Zone. When producers do that, they are allowing themselves and their agency to make money.
Red Zone is all the other stuff, and we can name a bunch of different stuff, the emails, the change requests, all these kinds of things that we'll talk about. But the things that are typically inbound things are typically activities of Red Zone. The outbound things the producer needs to be proactive are Green Zone things. And you can't make money in the Red Zone, but most producers get caught up way too much in the Red Zone. Now, back to what I initially said, should producers have zero Red Zone? No. Our frame of reference, and we believe this is fair, and it's been very effective with agencies and producers, and the high performance teams is about 20%. So you're going to have 20% of your time, energy, and effort in service stuff or Red Zone stuff because you're going to have it, but 80% needs to be in Green Zone things that we're going to be doing.
So just to understand at the beginning, when I say fire producers from service, it doesn't mean they'll never do any, by the way, sometimes do emergencies happen sometimes? Does the yogurt hit the fan? As someone told me years ago, yes. In those cases, if the producer needs to hop into an emergency, then they can. In fact, the analogy of this is producers is much like an airline pilot is an analogy. Airline pilots, airline pilots take the plane off and they land the plane, write new business, continue the business, but they don't do all the stuff in the middle. I've never had an airline pilot at least that I know of, get my luggage ready. I've never had an airline pilot check me in at the gate. I've never had an airline pilot serve me coffee or give me a snack, right? Whatever it is, haven't had that, right?
There's specific focuses, remember, same goal, different roles, but sometimes there could be an emergency and if there is the pilot or in this case the agent, the producer needs to step in and do some things. But here's something that really has been critical the last week or two in our programs, and it's really neat to hear, not us say it as coaches, but the agency leaders, the producers, the account managers, the sales leaders, they say it. In fact, I'm going to have a guest on the podcast here shortly talked about this specifically, but he said this one thing we've really learned in our agency is not everything is an emergency. There's this thing in agencies that for whatever reason, we think that just because it was the next thing that came in our inbox, it is the most urgent and important thing. It doesn't mean it might not be either.
It may not be urgent nor important, it's just recent. But I got to work on what's next. And what often happens is we miss out on the important things because we lie to ourselves on what we really think is urgent. So again, there are emergencies in flight, but not everything. Not everything is an emergency. Okay? So let's talk about the three specific reasons why producers need to be fired from service. I already talked about this one a little bit, but let's go deeper. Number one, and I'm going to put my little notes up here. Number one is it's ineffective. It's simply ineffective when producers get involved in service and service related activities. Now at the end of the day, who is it really about? Who is it about? It's about the client. It's about the client. And when producers get involved in service, overstep their bounds, it makes the process often very ineffective.
It makes it very ineffective. A phrase that we talked to account managers in particular is, let's do it one time. The first time, right? Let's do it one time, the first time where possible. Now, I know things happen. I know there might be follow-up information and things like that, but let's do our best to get as much of what we need once that we can do it once. And you think about the client experience. This happens frequently, and we know this because the producers and account managers and sales leaders talk about this with us, is that a producer collects some information for a change or service. And by the way, why does the producer do that? Because the producer oftentimes has a mindset of if you need anything for any reason, at any time you call me because I'm your guy, I'm your guy.
Which then they call them and they go, why are they calling me? Well, you told them to. There's a whole different podcast we could do. But the idea is that they get some type of change or request or service thing and they miss something like, I don't know the serial number, or was it a boat or a car? Or was it 800,000 in sales or a million in sales? I'm just making stuff up here, but they get the wrong information or incorrect information. And then of course, the client thought it was taken care of because they called the producer who said, if you need anything, you call me. And then of course, the producer relays that information oftentimes to the service team to actually do the thing, and the service team gets the information, but it's not complete information. So they have to do two things or three things, but they've got to first of all, make sure it's correct.
Secondly, they got to call the account the client to make sure that, Hey, I don't think this is right, or they got to call the carrier back and forth several times, oh, I need more of this. You didn't get this. This wasn't complete. Could be a number of different things. Bottom line is it's truly ineffective mistakes cause delays, mistakes cause delays. And so when you think about producers getting involved, they butt in things that they're not very good at, which we're going to talk about next that, and they also interrupt, which we're going to talk about after that. So it just is an ineffective process that starts this domino effect of ineffectiveness and a poor client experience. Here's the last thing I'm going to share. If you're taking notes, here's what I would challenge you as a high performance team. If you have producers or people on your team going, well, I've got to be doing this stuff right?
I'm the producer and I know lots of stuff. I would ask you this. Is the client experience and your agency culture about excellence or is it about ego? Which one, excellence or ego? Now, if there are true trust and credibility issues, could do another podcast on that, that's a different discussion. But oftentimes, because we don't communicate very well internally, we have a lack of trust. And I've talked about this many times that sometimes isn't a true lack of trust or that the account manager can't get it done. It's that the producers never allowed them to. And if there's issues, how do you possibly get better if we don't communicate this? Because if the producer's handling all the service, if you need anything and every email and everything comes to me, and then maybe it gets forwarded, maybe it doesn't. Maybe I got it right, maybe it didn't.
The producer will always be trapped in the Red Zone and then they can't grow and the agency doesn't grow, the producer doesn't get a raise, the account manager doesn't get a raise, and the client's frustrated outside of that. It's a fantastic, fantastic process to have producers dive in and do a lot of the service, right? So number one, ineffective. Number two, this is similar but different. Inefficient, inefficient inefficiencies about using resources properly. It's not putting your team in the best position to win. And the big part of this and why the first one is so ineffective is often because of this. One is that producers just aren't very good at this stuff. It's not, as Dan Sullivan talks about of strategic coach, their unique ability. The best producers typically, and again, I know this is a bit of a generalization, but it does hold true in most cases, are really good at relationship building, right?
They're really good at some of these skills needed to grow their business. But when it comes to details and data and specific, sometimes they forget where the decimal point goes or the zero goes. And by the way, I'm raising my own hand. I know that. And by the way, if you try to fix a bunch of weaknesses, all you're going to have is a bunch of average weaknesses. So part of this is know thyself. Put your team, put yourself in the best position to succeed at the highest level. And what's really cool is when you do stuff that you're already really good at or naturally good at, I get the word out, you can become good to great, excellent to that best version possible because you get energy when you do it and you want to learn how to do it better and you want to dive in deeper. But if we keep crossing channels, we just keep butting heads and we're doing things that we're not very good at, right? It's inefficient. I've already mentioned this, the producers are not in the green when we do this. And by the way, when the producers aren't in the green, what this typically causes, in fact, this is one of the hesitations that producers have. Some will say this and some won't. If I don't tell the client, if you need anything, call me. Where's my value?
If they don't talk to me or at least go through me, even if I'm not even a conduit through the service channel, then they may not see or hear from me, then maybe they don't say that, but you could be thinking that. So now what am I doing? Well, if you're not doing the reactive stuff, the inbound stuff, you best be doing proactive things. I mentioned earlier the four Green Zone activities. Well, sales is one of them, but relationship management is another that you've got a proactive schedule of relationship management, that you're doing proactive things in the continuation. I've done other podcasts on the continuation process, but that we're having conversations to define expectations, document expectations, and at a minimum, at a minimum, a six month stewardship or promise report that we're going through the things that we're agreed to. As a risk advisor slash producer, your job is yes to produce, but you proactively provide risk advice and solutions.
That's where your value comes in. The service team has it. They're really, really good at reactive service and those relationship management things, and of course they can continue to get better at what they do. I just did a program this week with account managers and we talked about this. We should be doing low risk practice as account managers. What objections did you get? What frustrations did you have? How do we get better at our skillset? It's on the phone, in person or on a zoom call. So all of this, if we have producers doing work that isn't theirs, number one, it's ineffective. Number two, they say here, it's extremely inefficient. It's extremely inefficient. Which leads me to number three. This one gets overlooked, but it's really important. And when I work with teams on this, they typically do something like this.
You're right, interrupt. When producers, if we don't fire producers from service, there's a constant interruption. Now, part of this is to avoid interruptions during the week. We have specific conversations to start the week. Something I always say is, you have two choices. You can either prepare or you repair. Repairing is a bunch of interruptions. We never get much done. We're always working on what's on fire because we never got specific and intentional. What's most important as we started the week as a team, and because of that, we interrupt maybe the producer's board, maybe the producer just has a, I don't see, we're going to check. In fact, during our in-person events, we would talk about high performance teams and not interrupting. And I would get a chuckle because this would be like a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. So it's later in the week and they're doing a training down with us. And the first break, 80% of the producers would call in and be like, "Hey, just checking in, just seeing what's going on."
Listen, if you do a good enough job to prepare. Now, again, there might've been a question to you. You might be following up. I'm not trying to pick on producers. I know stuff happens, but a random check-in or a random thought isn't going to help your service team. The thing with interruption service team's job, you probably already know this is not easy. It's a huge challenge. There's also huge opportunities in doing that job better. But there was a study recently that came out that talked about interruptions and what it does with their level of focus. And again, there's been different studies on this, but the one that I read, it was interesting. It said that when you're in a level of deep focus or deep work and you get interrupted, it takes the human brain 23 minutes, 23 minutes to get back at the same level of productivity that it was before the interruption.
So how many interruptions are producers adding if we don't fire them from service of I did this. Did you do this? Where are we at here? All these kind of things. And by the way, here's the other part of this interrupting is just plain rude. We so often have a lack of respect for each other's time. Got a minute. You ever said that one? I have, right? Got a minute. Now, again, I think our intent is good and we want to help people. So often we go, well, sure, yeah, okay. But the level of productivity and agency with interruptions is incredible. What happens versus defining the work, doing the work and doing it with greatness, right? With excellence. And at the end of the day, the interruption is this. The biggest part of this is it moves your teams from high maintenance. There's always maintenance to high performance, right?
High maintenance to high performance. So those are the three reasons that you need to fire your producers from service. Number one, it's extremely, I got the wrong one. Ineffective. It's extremely ineffective. Remember, it's about the client and whose job, whose role. Same goal, retain and obtain ideal clients with different roles. Let's be really clear on those roles and do those roles with excellence. Remember, excellence or ego. Number two is inefficiencies. It's the unique abilities. It's about doing things that we're naturally good at and we like doing, and we can improve our skill on versus crossing over and trying to improve a bunch of weaknesses. And of course, this also allows us to be more proactive. And the last one I just mentioned was the level of interruption, right? The level of interruptions. So there you go. I would challenge you as an agency. Now, some of you may be doing this really well, good for you.
But I'll tell you when this concept comes out that people kind of laugh and smile. In fact, when we talk about fire the producers from service, I typically would think initially, now I've learned after several years, but I typically would think that producers would be the most excited for this. The producers would go, "oh, this is great. I can be in the Green Zone. I can go sell more. I realize that my service team, I need to depend on them more. They do a great job. I'm interrupting them too much. I can go out in the marketplace and go sell more stuff and make more money, achieve my dreams and goals." That would be what you'd think. And by the way, for the great producers, they do, but many other go, oh, no, if I don't do that, I'm going to have to do that.
Remember, the definition of a producer is one who produces. That's the definition. One who produces. So if we're not producing, what are we doing? What are we doing with 80% of our time, energy, effort, the Green Zone? And so often some producers will hide or bury themselves behind activities because it says, well, I'm just busy. I don't have time to go do that stuff. So you would think that this firing yourself from producers or producers from service would be most liberating for producers. But what's interesting is when I teach this and share this and have conversations with producers and account managers, the one group that gets even more excited is the account managers. In fact, just this week, Roger Sipkins came on and led off our program and shared some stories about his experiences. And even back when he would do a lot of one-on-one consulting, and after he'd go to the agency, he would ask a question to the account managers, "do producers get involved in service?
Do producers get involved in day-to-day service?" And he always loved when he tells a story, if you can't see me on video, but it looks like this, they go, yes, not yes, it's great. They get involved and help me out. Yes, they get involved and they screw things up and they interrupt me, and they basically, in essence say, what you do isn't very good. So I need to do it. All these things we look at. But this is interesting because you think about it, wouldn't the producers love this idea, this high performance team, to go out and sell more? Well, most do, or at least many do. The good ones do. But the account manager, the ones that really get excited, let me educate me, empower me to equip me to do my job with excellence. Stop getting in my way, right? So you need to fire your producers from service.
Listen, last thing on this. I mentioned this on the beginning of the podcast, big event presentation happening September 7, 11:00 AM Eastern, 8:00 AM Pacific. We'll send some more things on how to make sure your agency avoids the multimillion dollar mistake. It's going to be the most powerful presentation and conversation with a huge announcement that we've ever done at kins. Once you be part of that, go check it out and get registered again. It doesn't cost you a dollar other than your commitment of one hour of time to become your best version possible. We'll talk to you soon. Thanks so much for listening to the Agent Leader Podcast. If this is added value, hey, leave a rating, a review. We would totally appreciate it. Wish you all the best and your success. Thanks for listening.




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