One of the best questions I ever heard came from Andy Stanley, the founder and pastor of North Point Ministries in Atlanta: “What will your story be when it’s time for your story to be told?”
Whenever I’ve asked this question at our senior leadership programs or producer programs, it tends to spur considerable thought. I can see that people are asking themselves, “When the time comes, what is my story going to be?” I think this question applies to you regardless of your role in the agency, whether you’re a leader, a producer, or any other team member.
Although we may not be aware of it, we all are creating stories that someday will be told. Perhaps a better word is “legacy.” What legacy are you going to leave? As I’ve said before, eventually everybody leaves their business.
Granted, most of my readers will be in this business for another 10, 15, or 20 years, if not longer. Why? Because it’s a great business that’s creating opportunities and freedoms that most can only dream of. To seize these opportunities and freedoms, however, you must act! As I’m sure you’ve heard me say in the past, “If you’re going to put the time in anyway, you might as well be great at it.”
So here’s another question: If your agency could talk, what would it say? What would it say today, and what would you like it to say five years from now?
Before you answer that, let me share with you the story of a Best Version Possible (BVP) Agency as it unfolds in my perfect world. It starts with asking “What’s it all about in your agency today?”
The 3 Cs
This is how the BVP Agency responds:
Here at the BVP Agency, we embrace several key themes, the first of which is The 3 Cs: Clarity, Consistency, and Commitment.
Clarity means having a clear view of our vision. It’s what we want and why we want it, based on our understanding of the vision’s purpose and value. In terms of Key Performance Indicators, our agency and all of our team know exactly where we are today, where we want to go over the next three years, and exactly how we are going to get there.
We know the resources and tools we need. We know the personal development plans for each team member. And we know our agreed-upon behaviors and strategies.
We’re all on the same page concerning our business plan. In case you’re wondering how it’s possible for everyone to be on the same page, it’s because our business plan is on one page. Unlike most agencies, we have a single-page summary of our Strategic Business Plan that everyone can rally around.
Further, we believe that direction and destination must match up. Because we have absolute clarity on our desired destination, we have to keep checking to make sure our current direction matches that desired destination. Just like an airplane or a ship at sea, if we get off track just a little bit and “stay the course” without recalibrating, we’ll miss our target by a lot.
Consistency is all about our team members never deviating from our “agency’s way of doing business,” which is quite specific. We have documented processes and procedures that explain with absolute clarity (there’s that word again!) how things are done in our agency. We know our new business processes in all departments. We know our continuation processes in all departments. (As you know, we don’t renew accounts, we continue relationships.) We know how claims will be handled. We know how all day-to-day transactions will be handled. We know how our technology and automation systems apply to our jobs and how to maximize them.
In all areas, we have identified best practices, which are mutually agreed upon and followed. There is absolute buy-in from all team members. We accomplish this by asking team members for their input before making any improvements (which is an ongoing process). We know that if they’re part of the design, they’ll buy in more quickly and enthusiastically.
Commitment holds it all together and starts at the top with our leaders, who are committed to our plans. They’re also committed to continual and never-ending improvement because in our agency, good is never good enough. Our leaders are committed to “over-communication,” which, by the way, can never happen. Most agencies under-communicate, but have you ever seen an agency that communicates too much? (You haven’t, because it doesn’t exist!) Our leaders and our team are committed to our Clients, Colleagues, Carriers, and Communities.
The 4 Cs
We want our Clients to have the absolute best experience that creates raving fans who buy all of their insurance and risk management needs from our agency. These clients would never think of leaving us, and they love sending us referrals and introductions.
Next, our leaders are committed to all of our Colleagues, our team members. They want to attract and retain the very best. They provide personal development opportunities for everyone. They truly do provide a “Best Places to Work” atmosphere. It feels like family, because it is!
Further, we’re committed to seeking out the best assortment of Carriers to represent. We want deep partnerships, which is why we don’t represent every carrier out there. We know the 80/20 Rule applies to our carriers, and we believe that less is more. We also are committed to crevice marketing, so we represent carriers that let us specialize, thereby enabling us to go “narrow and deep” in our marketing.
Our final commitment is to our Communities. They are critically important to us! We live here and work here. We realize how blessed we are, and we want to give back. Although we don’t assist/contribute to 100% of the projects out there, we have a Community Service Committee that helps us identify and select opportunities to support and the ways that we can give back. We’re proud to say that more than 75% of our team members have contributed, whether through time or money, to the community projects we’ve chosen.
Our agency’s overall theme is truly to be our Best Version Possible. It’s a constant work in progress. We’ve simply never allowed “good” to be good enough. And while we’re respectful of our competitors, we believe we’ve become the “category of one” in our marketplace, emerging as the agency that has transcended commoditization and that defies comparison.
We simply don’t want commodity-based clients. If price is the only reason someone comes to us, it will also be the reason they leave us. We’ve raised the bar on everything we do. We’re risk advisors who provide solutions well beyond the simple placement and purchase of insurance products.
We are the feared competition, the point of comparison against which all other agencies are measured.
If your agency could talk, how would it compare to the BVP agency described above, and how do you want it to compare five years from now?
Your BVP is out there waiting for you to arrive. Are you ready for the journey?
Roger Sitkins, chief executive officer of Sitkins Group, Inc., is the nation’s number-one “Agency Results Coach.” He established The Sitkins Network™, a territory-exclusive network of high-performing agencies, and The Better Way Agency, a web-based training program that shows agency owners ways to make significant improvements in all areas of the agency. To learn more, please visit www.sitkins.com.