On a regular basis my smartphone, desktop, laptop and iPad all check for updates automatically. These system improvements are designed to optimize operational efficiency and performance, and in many cases, enhance security. (Not surprisingly, the app updates never seem to stop—I had 24 pending on my iPhone just this morning!)
What strikes me is that the majority of independent agencies are probably past due for some AUs —Agency Updates. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that most of them are probably on version 1.0 or 2.0, when they should be on version 8.9 or higher!
Now I’m not talking about your agency management system, which I assume you keep up to date (don’t you?!). If that’s the case, then why wouldn’t you keep all of your other agency systems current? Maybe you’re already doing that, but if you’re not, let’s take a look at some areas in your agency that may need updating.
Are you still doing an...
When I got into my vehicle a few weeks ago, a warning light popped up on my dashboard display with the message, "Annual Service 100 Miles Past Due." I ignored it for a few weeks and then received an updated warning: "Annual Service 300 Miles Past Due." That's when I remembered the old saying,
"A problem left unattended becomes a crisis."
Immediately, I booked a service appointment for my vehicle. Crisis averted!
That got me thinking about the warning lights within Independent Insurance Agencies that often get ignored. Let’s take a look at some of the warning lights that agency owners should never ignore.
The most successful entrepreneurs consistently invest in themselves. Yet I continue to see and hear countless ITB ("I’m too busy") excuses from agency owners and managers. They're just not willing to invest the time to get better.
I've often remarked that many people confuse Activity with Results. At the end of the day they'll lament, "I...
What causes agency apathy?
The number-one thing that happens is what one of my friends refers to as “ARS,” the Already Rich Syndrome. There’s really no motivation/need to change because in a great business like ours, you can get rich pretty easily.
Another common reason is that the owners and key people just don’t have that compelling, overriding vision of what they really want to accomplish because they’re doing well enough. They’re not driven to do more. They can simply do nothing and still be successful (or at a minimum, at least semi-successful).
Also, for so many, it’s a lifestyle business. Gary Holgate, my mentor in the consulting business (and the first-ever consultant to independent insurance agencies), noted that one of the big problems in most agencies is that their personal checkbook and corporate checkbook are one and the same. Consequently, they’re not really growing a business, but rather...
During some internal conversations at Sitkins Group, we were discussing what works and what doesn’t work in our business, and why some agencies commit to getting better and others don’t. We also wondered why some owners and producers appear to be so lackadaisical about their business when they have every reason to be excited about it. That’s when one of our team members remarked,
Apathy is defined as “lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.”
We’ve all seen it. Some people are very excited and involved in their business while others are sort of neutral about it. Everything is just “okay.”
But why would an entrepreneurial business owner ever not be interested and enthusiastic about what they’re doing? What would make them apathetic?
I often wonder why only 2% of people can implement long-term meaningful change. It’s something we see across the industry. If there are approximately 35,000...
Think TED Talks, where speakers have no more than 18 minutes to convey their message. Could you give an overall briefing about what, how and why you do what you do in 18 minutes or less?
As I’m sure you are painfully aware, this is a presidential election year, which means the airwaves are flooded with political messages (increasingly malicious ones, at that). During one of the way too many broadcast commercials airing recently, I heard the legally required tagline, “My name is __ and I approved this message.” Recorded in the candidate’s voice, this phrase is meant to show that the candidate agrees with what the ad is saying, thereby discouraging false claims.
That got me thinking about the message independent agency owners and their producers are putting out to their “voting public.” Do owners really know what message is out there about their agency and, if so, would they approve it?
Shortly before sitting down to write this article, I was talking with an agency owner and his son (the heir apparent) about our new producer training program, ProducerFit. I began the conversation by asking them about their approach to the...
I just returned from my 11th mission trip to Nicaragua, working with Bridges to Community, several of my consulting clients and their team members, building homes in the second poorest country in our hemisphere. It’s extremely hard work but it helps us appreciate our “real jobs.”
One of the things we do is mix the mortar. First we have to sift the sand and then we add rocks, cement and water that become the mortar. Keep in mind, there are no mechanical cement mixers; this is all mixed on the ground, using shovels. The upside to this sort of manual labor is that it provides jobs for local masons. We’re just there to assist them.
The masons decide how much of each ingredient will be needed for the day, such as eight wheelbarrows of sand, five wheelbarrows of rock, fifteen buckets of water and four bags of cement. However, if we don’t make enough during a particular phase of the job and we run out of mortar for whatever part of the structure we’re...
One of the best questions I’ve ever heard is from Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach program. He asked, “Is your past greater than your future, or is your future greater than your past?” I certainly hope it’s the latter and that you’re more excited about what’s on the horizon than what’s in the rear view mirror.
Of course, we all know people who live in the past. Their glory days are well behind them and yet they talk about them like it was just yesterday. Maybe it’s the former captain of the high school football team whose conversation will frequently turn to “the big game” from 40-plus years ago.
Similarly, there are producers who wax poetic about “the good old hard market days.”
Let’s face it, as an independent insurance agency owner or producer, your past has been pretty darn good. After all, this is a great business, and that’s exactly why you should expect an even greater future.
I love the idea that when passion and skill come together, the result is a masterpiece. Now just imagine the result if you added practice to the mix. No matter how great you are at doing what you love, you’ll be better prepared to share your masterpiece if you commit to ongoing practice.
Conversely, when was the last time you saw a presentation so atrocious that it was obvious the speaker was completely unprepared? Have you ever been that speaker? If so, there’s a good chance you didn’t practice enough.
You never want to lose a sale to, or compete against someone who is better prepared than you. If you do, and you lose a sale to someone who studied harder and knows the account better than you, shame on you for even being in that game.
If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, The Voice or other weekly TV competitions, you know that the contestants have just a minute or two to...
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