What is THE MOST important thing for an agency?
- Adding Customers
- Retaining Customers
- Providing ALL insurance products for the customers
- Nurturing satisfied and happy employees
- Generating Profits
- Keeping the carriers happy (growing and good loss ratios)
Many have looked at this list and said that more than one or all of these subjects are important to an agency. A few agents probably consider a few of these options LESS important than others.
The greatest mistake made by most agencies is picking ONE from the list above. Most of the time, the priorities of the above list depends on the ‘crisis of the moment’ that causes an agency owner to categorically state the one which is the most important thing that the agency is focused upon.
In reality the most successful agencies focus on each of these subjects as if they were the openings in a revolving door – if one breaks down, the door simply stops and no one gets into or out of the business. So the only answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE!
But the most frustrating thing for agency owners is the dilemma of how to keep ALL of these critical subjects attended to at all times.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is MANAGEMENT 101, something that very few agents are trained to do, but are forced into the role the same way we learn parenting for better or worse. Most parents go through the same learning curve, the same frustrations and make the same mistakes. This is because no one teaches young people HOW to parent before they become parents, themselves. The same thing happens with agency owners, even if they are second or third generation agents. Mom and Dad don’t teach their kids or their next generation owners the lessons they learned the hard way, leaving the new owners to also learn through trial and error.
There ARE a few lucky exceptions. They are trained and enter management a little cocky, but much better prepared to run agencies. Once they shake their ‘youthful exuberance’, you know, the part about knowing everything as soon as they become owners, and gain the maturity to learn from and take advice from their elders they usually become much better managers and owners than their predecessors.
I got a wonderful lesson in this through first-hand experience with one of my children. A much, much better parent than I ever was, my son and daughter-in-law had the benefit of training in psychology and special education for their careers as special education teachers. The side benefit to this training was their understanding of children and, when they had their first baby, they were much more patient and understanding and devoted much more time to the development of my granddaughter than I ever did with them. Similarly when agents mature and train their next generation of owners into the roles that the agents have held and share and teach them how to properly manage those roles, the next generation becomes stronger than the last in the position of agency owner and manager.
But there is little need for management for small agents with only the responsibility of a single insurance agent to his customers. However, once you own an agency that has producers, employees, multiple carrier relationships and a growing book of business, you are no longer just an insurance agent.
An insurance agent is someone that keeps customers satisfied by attending to their insurance needs on a regular basis. Actually, this is the definition of an insurance broker – one who works for the client’s best interest at all times. The successful broker makes sure that ALL OF THE CLIENTS ASSETS ARE PROPERLY PROTECTED, which Agency Consulting Group defines as our Relationship Selling Model, the Asset Protection Model. So if you think you’re a broker or agent by selling a few or a lot of people one policy each, you’re fooling yourself. That is the definition of an Insurance Salesperson whom mostly on the phone at direct writers. They sell customers what the customer asks for regardless of what the customer needs.
Once you establish contracts with insurance companies, you become an agent of the companies, required to perform in the best interest of the carrier while still serving the customers insurance needs. So now you are concerned with providing quality products to your customers, insuring ALL of their asset needs AND generating a growing premium base of low loss ratio business for your carriers.
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