Running an insurance agency isn’t easy. Responsibilities range from managing sales and service to accounting. Plus, everything else owners are tasked with.
When many of us opened our agency, we were optimistic about the future. We knew the only thing preventing us from hitting our goals was ourselves.
We said things like “We don’t have to be the biggest, but we’ll be the best”. We opened doors, hung a shingle, and hopped out of bed every day from the excitement of being self-employed. We hired new people and sold insurance with enthusiasm. We couldn’t wait to become a seven-figure-revenue agency.
Then things started to change.
The people we hired called in sick more often than they showed up. They made the same errors over and over. Carriers that used to celebrate your production started coming by to tell you about the loss ratios that took a turn for the worst.
Instead of doing what you love most about the insurance business, selling, it was the last thing on your mind. In fact, some days selling was a burden because you had so many fires to extinguish.
That initial optimism turned into the realism of your grumpy uncle. The people you hired with so much promise suddenly became your biggest problem. Instead of owning a business, you bought a job you dislike.
Sound familiar? I’ve seen it countless times. So we’ve assembled four ways for you to avoid these pitfalls and fall back in love with your agency.
1. Focus on Sales
Even if you don’t have time to sell, focus on sales. If you are only focused on problems with no light at the end of the tunnel, guess what your team will focus on? That!
Start by measuring simple metrics such as the number of new policies sold and the number of clients. And the premium, of course. Whenever our team has a big sales day, most of our problems feel smaller than when we have a bad day, week or month.
The metrics should be transparent. And everyone in the agency should get a reward when targets are hit. Rewards should be paid monthly. And, you should provide constant updates of the team’s progress. Sales is the engine that makes everything else possible in an agency, go back to basics.
My Advice: If you’re going to have tough times while owning a business, you may as well make money in the process!
2. Communication is Key
This is the number one weakness in most of the agencies I’ve consulted. Out of 600 or so agencies in 10 years, those with toxic cultures have something in common. It typically stems from lack of communication.
Owners or managers are locked in their offices staring at their computer. Meanwhile, producers and CSR’s gossip about the dysfunction. There’s no focus or direction, but nobody will say it to each other.
Communicating with your people is the first step to improving anything. If you don’t communicate, nothing will change. Owners that have consistent meetings and effectively communicate with their teams are the most successful.
My Advice: Communication is the solvent of all problems and is the foundation for personal development.
3. Make Culture a Top Priority
Focusing on the morale of your team is vital to success. It’s impossible to attract top talent or achieve your goals with a broken culture.
I can’t tell you how many times an owner has told me how a legacy employee makes it hard to implement change, so they quit trying.
For some reason we keep making the same mistake when we need to hire. That is hiring people with experience and ignoring whether they fit the culture needed to grow.
How many times have you hired someone and thought they were going to be the one? You’re not alone, I’ve done it more times than I care to admit.
My Advice: Hire people that fit the culture you’re building and train for skill. You can’t teach attitude and charisma, but you can teach insurance.
4. Have The Right Tools
Do you use technology to guide your sales, marketing and service processes?
Are your tools measuring and tracking the activity needed to grow your book of business?
Are you serving the connected consumer with a blend of traditional and digital marketing?
Do you receive quote inquiries and provide immediate quotes? Or do you double- and triple-enter data to get home and auto quotes?
There are so many options for consumers today. While you’re double- and triple-entering their data, they’ve received three prices online and you’re off the menu.
Whether a referral or other source, everyone visits Google before buying insurance. And they don’t want to deal with your 20th century sales process. Speed matters today and if you need evidence, look at your iPhone or Android.
Consumers lack the patience to wait three seconds to find the score of a sporting event or other information nowadays. Do you believe consumers want to wait hours for an insurance quote?
My Advice: Start providing insurance the way consumers want to buy it, not the way you want to sell it.
There are so many ways to carve a successful agency but we’ll always require a few core principles to succeed.
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