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It's Time to Break Out!: Part One

Are you stuck in a rut?

Sometimes when I talk to agency owners or producers who are caught in a rut, the image of an amorphous blob springs to mind. I realize that may sound strange, but when they describe not knowing what to do or how to climb out of their rut, I often envision the weird clumps of matter I frequently see floating in the Gulf of Mexico. I really don’t know what those floating masses are or what their purpose is in the ecosystem; they just seem to bob along with the current.

Obviously people are not blobs—or at least they don’t have to be—yet many agency owners and producers find that it’s much easier to float along with the current than to change direction. Even if they wanted to, most of them wouldn’t know where to start. Furthermore, most of them do quite well for themselves, even if they’ve never had an actual business plan that they follow. Accordingly, there may be no real incentive for them to break out of their rut and chart a more purposeful course.

On the other hand, I truly believe that almost everyone wants to get better. Maybe I’m living in la-la land, but I believe that people who want to get better will get better. If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you’re one of them.

For most people, the improvement process begins by recognizing and removing the things that are holding them back. Common barriers include being unwilling or unable to do the right things or attempting to do too many things and sticking to very few of them. The latter is eloquently expressed in a Russian adage: “If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one of them.” How true!

It’s always easier to achieve a goal when you have a single focus versus endless distractions. Unfortunately, most people either try to do too many things or they focus on the one wrong thing. Frequently they’re looking for a quick fix—that one thing they can do that will make them succeed.    Sorry, but that doesn’t exist! As a result, they get stuck and never break out.

You may recall when I strongly recommended that you avoid “simplexity” (taking that which is simple and making it so complex that no one can implement it or even understand what you’re talking about). The takeaway was to keep things simple. Apparently I’m not the only one who espouses this philosophy, as I recently saw someone wearing a T-shirt that read: “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” I agree! Also, I’m reminded of another favorite quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

What’s BEST for your agency?

If you’re looking to get out of your rut, then it’s time to Break Out using Sitkins Strategies (BOSS). These are straightforward strategies that actually work!

As you’re reading this, please don’t jump to conclusions by thinking, “I know, I know, I know.” If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve heard this many times from your children when you’ve tried to help them and they’ve repeatedly ignored your advice. Similarly, if you’re an agency owner and you say you know what to do but you’re not really doing it, then what good is your knowledge? What you don’t know is the long-term negative impact of not implementing that which you know you should.

Now let’s assume you’ve decided it’s time to break out. How will you do it? What’s your plan? Probably one of the best ways to break out is to stop proving you’re like everyone else (as we discussed last time). This means you’ll need to create the BEST Model for your agency.

BEST is an acronym for Behaviors, Experiences, Strategies, and Tactics. Defining those four elements within your agency will enable you to filter out the poor choices that could keep you from breaking out.

Behaviors. What behaviors do you want to make the norm at your agency? What are the things that you’ll do automatically and that will become a part of your DNA?

Experiences. What is the client experience you want to provide? How will you make the most positive impression on your customers? What will you do to “wow” them?

Strategies. What specific strategies will you follow for new revenue generation, client retention, pipeline building, etc.? What is your strategic plan?

Tactics. Your tactics determine how you’ll execute your strategies. In your day-to-day operations, what will be the agency norm?

Once you’ve identified your Best Model, how will you create a culture of accountability that ensures people will do exactly what they said they were going to do? One of the key components of success I see among agencies that truly break out and get great results is that 99% of them have an accountability model and every producer has an accountability partner. This partner is someone either in the agency or at home who will make sure producers do what they say they are going to do.

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