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Beware the Top 7 Agency Myths: Part One

agency myths Apr 28, 2016

If you hear the same things often enough, repetition becomes reality. And through the years in our industry, certain ideas have been repeated so often that they’ve become widely accepted as the truth when, in fact, they’re nothing more than myths. As a result, many people in the agency business have made some very serious mistakes caused by believing in these myths. Here’s my list of the top seven myths to avoid.

Myth #1: Every Account is a Great Account

Most think that every account is a great account, which simply is not true. This is especially true with newer producers, who tend to confuse activity with results. In their minds, anyone who can fog a mirror and pay in U.S. dollars is a great account. These are normally order-taking accounts. Typically, the prospect will call for an insurance quote after seeing an ad or will click to receive a “Free Quote” through the agency’s website.

So the producer follows up and provides a quotation and winds...

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Self Managed Producer: Part Two

Strategies & behaviors

If producers are not ahead of goal and aren’t getting the desired results, then we need to closely examine the strategies and behaviors that are creating the numbers.

Reverse Performance Management.

Even though fewer than 15% of agencies practice true effective sales management, someone still has to hold producers accountable. Traditionally, they report to whoever is wearing the sales manager’s hat that day. But there is a better way.

The method that we find works best is Reverse Performance Management (RPM), which involves reporting up, not down. It’s not management coming to producers to have a discussion with them about their numbers. It’s about the producer reporting to the manager. This requires relentless preparation from the producers.

As I was writing this, I flashed back to the days when I had my Own agency in Michigan. I’ll never forget a comment one of the producers made right after we had instituted sales reports....

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Self Managed Producer: Part One

According to recent studies, fewer than 15% of independent insurance agencies practice effective true sales management. (Perhaps the key word is “effective,” as in “getting results.”) So if sales management is essentially nonexistent in independent agencies, how is it that we have producers with $1 million of commission income on their books of business? (We used to kiddingly say that until you get to $1 million of commission, you’re still a Producer-In-Training!)

For that matter, how can we have producers generating upwards of $150,000, $200,000, $250,000 or more of new revenue per year without sales management? (At this point, please don’t panic and stop reading, thinking that this doesn’t apply to you. The $1 million book and the annual new business amounts may, in your town, be considerably more or less in another market. It’s all relative to where you are and where you want to go.)

In the absence of dedicated sales management,...

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What are Your Options: Sell to a National or Regional Broker

Uncategorized Feb 08, 2016

One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others.

As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.

Option Seven: Sell to a National or Regional Broker

With the influx of capital from venture capital firms, the multiples have never been higher than they are today. So if you’re thinking about selling, now may be the perfect time to do so.

Several of my long-time clients and friends have opted to take this route over the last few years and it’s worked out very well. Some have sold, completed their earn-out period, taken the additional payout and then retired very happy! Others, including one I had lunch with...

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What are Your Options: Internal Perpetuation

choices perpetuation Feb 08, 2016

One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others.

As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.

Option Six: Internal Perpetuation

If you’ve been building the next generation of leaders and they’ve been purposefully putting money away for the transaction, that’s great! You’ve helped perpetuate the entire system!

Again in this scenario, you are likely to be the bank, but do you have the faith that they can make it work and will pay you? If so, then this is a feasible option. As long as you have been developing the next generation of leaders in your agency, they should be established enough to...

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What are Your Options: Sell or Merge with a Local Competitor

merge merger perpetuation sell Feb 08, 2016

One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others. As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.

Option Five: Sell To or Merge With a Local Competitor

In most cases, this is not the optimal choice. Not always, but usually. You might create some economies of scale, but you won’t necessarily create a great agency.

The local competitor who wants to acquire your agency may not have the financial strength to finance or cash out the transaction, making it likely that you’ll become “The Bank.” At the local level, cash buyers are rare, so if you agree to finance the sale, it’s always possible...

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What are Your Options: Prepare to Perpetuate

choices perpetuation Feb 08, 2016

One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others.

As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.

Option Four: Prepare to Perpetuate

Something we absolutely know is that everybody eventually leaves their business. Hey, I just did and it took me a long time to do so! But I chose to perpetuate part of my business, which requires meticulous planning.

Step 1: Get the boat ready to sell! You may recall the story about the time my son, Patrick, and I wanted to sell our 16-foot flats boat and get a slightly larger one. Together, we worked really hard to clean it up so that we could sell it quickly. Once we were finished,...

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What Are Your Options: Commit to Growth

choices growth Feb 08, 2016

One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others.

As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.

Option Two: Commit to Growth

As we’ve talked about before, you must have the Three Cs if you want to grow your business: Commitment, Capacity and Capabilities. You just have to find the right systems and guidance that will create predictable and guaranteed sales and profit improvements. Also, you’ll need to invest at least two percent of your revenues for these growth initiatives. The goal is to create the “Agency’s Way” of growing that all team members buy into.

 Option Three: Shrink...

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What are Your Options: Keep Doing What You're Doing

choices independent Feb 08, 2016

One of the really great things about owning an independent insurance agency is that you are Independent! You can and do make choices every day that affect your agency’s performance and success, both in the short-term and long-term. In other words, you have options and you’re exercising them, some more purposefully than others.

As we look forward to 2015, now’s a great time to examine some of the options you have concerning the future of your agency.

Option One: Keep Doing What You’re Doing

There’s an old saying that I really like and often use: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!” Another favorite of mine, courtesy of Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Actually, I’ve noticed that when agencies repeatedly do the same things, they ultimately wind up getting less. Their book of business slowly but...

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Is Your Agency at Risk: Part Three

Operating Profitability Issues

How does an agency possibly make a 40% Operating Profit? Answer: By spending only 60%! Ta-Da! In the average agency, if the top 5% = 50% of the income, that means the bottom 95% of accounts are the other 50% of the income. Where are the expenses being generated? Can you say “Profit Center Analysis?” When we look at it, the bottom 50% of customers in the average agency = less than 10% of the revenue and the bottom 25% = less than 5% of the revenue. So again, this is a profitability issue.

Contingency/Profit-Sharing Income

How would you like to have a year without any contingency/profit-sharing income? All agency owners are great managers in March and April! That’s because when we look at our P&L, we’re looking at our total profit, not our operating profit. So while it may appear that we are doing phenomenally well, it may not accurately reflect our true profitability.

Financial Model

Do you have a financial model that you...

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