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Insurance Industry Tips and Insights from Roger Sitkins and Brent Kelly

Repeat after Me: No Remix!

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...

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Bigger, Better, Brighter: Part Two


  • Great client experience. Being a better agency transcends providing great service. It’s about going above and beyond to create a superior experience for the customer. Remember, the client experience is defined by how the client feels after they’ve met with you. Did you create a “Wow!” as well as a referral?
  • 24/7 client service. I hope that everyone reading this has a way for clients to contact them 24 hours a day, every day.
  • A better website. Have you ever gone online and looked at your agency’s website as if you were a customer? What did you think? From what I’ve observed, most agency websites leave a lot to be desired. Does your website provide clients access to policy information? Does it educate clients and prospects about your agency and what it can do to help them? Does it positively impress those who visit the site? Or is it just a generic electronic brochure like everyone else’s?
  • Beyond risk transfer. You get better when...
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Bigger, Better, Brighter: Part One

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.

Years ago...

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Quantum Leaping Your Career: Part Two

results Apr 29, 2016

Practice and rehearse.

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.

You get only one chance to make a good first impression.

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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Quantum Leaping Your Career: Part One

results Apr 29, 2016

In the early days of my Producer Training Camps, we’d have brand new producers— literally just licensed and in the business for only a few months—as well as 30-year-plus veterans who were still committed to improving. I’d always tell the younger producers to pay very close attention to what we were going to talk about in the camp because if they did, what they learned was going to quantum leap their careers by 10 years or more.

Naturally, that would get their attention! And naturally, they wanted to know how. I’d tell them: “Because I’m going to share all the dumb things average producers do to shoot themselves in the foot.”

I’ve been developing these strategies and behaviors for a very long time. So what are some of the best lessons that I have learned and shared with producers that allow them to quantum leap their careers and not be just average?

A problem left unattended becomes a crisis.

We’ve all done it. We see a...

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Stop Losing Millions!

Uncategorized Apr 29, 2016

Eventually, every agency owner will leave their business. Whether or not you want to, whether it’s through internal or external perpetuation, you are going to leave. Knowing that this is going to happen, why leave millions of dollars on the table when you do?

In today’s merger and acquisition environment, every $125,000 of additional operating profit you generate is worth approximately $1 million of value. That’s why now is the time for agency owners to stop doing business and start building their business.

In his original work, “The E Myth,” Michael Gerber popularized the phrase, “Are you working in your business or on your business?” But because that book is now over 25 years old, I fear that it has become a cliché. The idea behind the phrase may sound good and be good, but it appears too many agency owners just aren’t following the advice.

In order to adapt that principle to today’s world, perhaps the real key is to...

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Is Your Agency Broken: Part Two

Uncategorized Apr 29, 2016

Accounts receivable.

If you have an accounts receivable problem, you better fix it.

It's not as prevalent today as it was in the past, because direct bill has resolved problems with collections for so many agencies. However, if you ever have to write off a bad debt, what's the cost?

Let's take a write-off of only $10,000. At an average commission rate of 13% and a profit of 15%, you'd have to write $512,820 of new premiums to replace the lost profit caused by the write-off. Mind-boggling, isn't it? So if you do not have a process for zero accounts receivable over 30 days, you'd better fix it the day before yesterday.

Missed sales goals.

If the majority of your producers are not hitting their annual sales goals, that needs to be fixed. I believe this is rampant in our industry. Goals with no accountability are a joke and your producers know it. There's really no consequence if they don't hit their goal, other than they make less money. But they're not the only ones making less...

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Is Your Agency Broken: Part One

agency management Apr 29, 2016

There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While I won’t argue with that, I think an even better saying might be, “If it is broke, fix it!” In this article, I want to challenge your thinking about what it means for an agency to be “broken” and what it costs you if that agency happens to be yours.

Is your agency broken? If you are not achieving the results you know you should and could achieve, something is broken. Here are just a few things that are usually broken in the average agency and that must be fixed if the agency expects to create better results.

Low organic growth.

If your net new revenues (excluding acquisitions) are less than 15%, that needs to be fixed. With the latest soft market hitting us, plus ever-increasing competition and commoditization of the products you sell, it’s time to become a selling machine.

As I’ve mentioned several times in past columns, the usual response is,...

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Are You Turning Your Back on Success: Part Two

producer success Apr 28, 2016

In order to face success, rather than turn away from it, we must dedicate blocks of time during the week to work on each of these situations. If you do that as you plan your week, you’ll be in really good shape!

You may recall “The 12% Factor”: In any given week, you have 168 hours, of which 40 hours (24%) is work. Now if you can get just 20 hours of faceto- face time with clients, prospects or centers of influence (which most producers never come close to), that’s still only 12% of the week. How much time will you invest (not spend) in each of these areas in the coming week?

While the best producers are always scheduling at least two weeks into the future, most producers start off the week with an empty calendar. I know that most producers don’t even think about their schedules until Monday morning. (If they were following our “Producer’s Perfect Schedule,” they’d have 10 appointments the first week and another 10 appointments...

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Are You Turning Your Back on Success: Part One

Uncategorized Apr 28, 2016

What exactly is success? Some people define success in terms of their family, health or happiness. However, for the purposes of this article, I am referring to business success/personal financial freedom.

My definition of financial freedom (or personal financial success) is the ability to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, with whom you want to do it and as often as you want to do it. In other words, if you want to do something, you can simply write a check. If you want to do something for your family, you can. You want to support your religious beliefs or local community? You can. If you want to help out others less fortunate than you, you can. The bottom line: You can afford it. It’s what you do with the money that matters.

Maximizing time

Of the many ways that producers turn their backs on success, one of the most significant is how they use their time. Almost all producers sporadically do a great job. They will occasionally get a great result, get a great...

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