The every day agency is in a state of chaos almost all the time.
Sales are up and down. Staffing turns over a bit. The marketing and leads are inconsistent. There are so many variables in the every day life of an Agency that things are both tough to manage and unpredictable.
We speak with a LOT of Agents both privately and within the FREE INSURANCE SOUP Facebook group and the perspective we have from having conversations with hundreds of agents a week and thousands a month is relatively unique.
There is a spectrum that Agencies fall on with regards to how they operate.
I like to call it the Latch Key - Turn Key Spectrum
On the left side of the spectrum we have the Latch Key Agency. For those unfamiliar, latch key kids are children who return home from school completely unsupervised because their parents are not home.
Latch Key Agencies are not necessarily unsupervised; but they are managed horribly. There is very little training. Even less guidance. There are no consistent systems, methods, processes, scripting, or procedures. Every single person who comes to work for the agency brings with them their own way of doing things... their own way of selling.. their own way of servicing.. answering the phones...filing their paperwork. Whatever works for them works for the agency.
The Agency gives out a ton of trust. But it is not the type of trust that is earned. It is the type of trust that weak management gives when they do not want to be bothered to work on their business. They take things at face value. They hope everything is as they are told. They believe when things are broken it is because of the excuses they are given and not because of the factual data that tells the real story. There in lies another problem. There IS no data. Literally everyone is doing everything completely different moment to moment, day to day, month to month, and year to year.
No two prospects, clients, former clients, or referral partners are getting the same experience from the business. How do you know how well you are doing when nothing you are doing is being tracked, analyzed, or being done in a manner consistent enough to critique?
This creates chaos, inconsistency, and forces the agency to constantly perform at the exact level of the actual talent employed at that exact moment and the motivation level and morale of those people at that exact moment. We all know each and every one of those factors are complete variables and always in motion.
Agencies that lean more towards the latch key end of the spectrum struggle and even in periods where they flourish it becomes a matter of time before they come back down to Earth. Imagine a baseball player with a different batting stance every time they came up to the plate or a basketball player shooting free throws differently every time they got to the foul line.
On the other side of the spectrum are the Turn Key Agencies. Turn Key Agencies have themselves set up as if they were the prototype for a 5000 unit franchise. Picture a McDonalds within the Insurance Industry.
Everything they do is consistent. Goals are transparent. Processes and systems are easy to understand and any member of the team can be replaced knowing that the next person in the chair will perform the tasks the exact same way and get very similar results.
Turn Key Agencies all file their paperwork in a uniform manner. They all run off of sales scripts that work. They all know how many phone calls a day they need to make. How many quotes are necessary to win. What the exact procedure is for any and every service or claims situation.
There is not a single thing that goes on in a Turn Key Agency that is not by design. The Agent can go on vacation and production will not slow down one bit. No one has questions about anything because they know what needs to be done and IF a question does come up everyone else in the office should be familiar with the answer.
Every prospect, client, and referral partner knows what to expect.
Every person your Agency works with gets the same hamburger and fries as the next. You know exactly the level of service you are putting out to every last client. You are familiar with the quality of the product you serve because it is always the exact same.
You may be reading this and thinking that you do not want to run like a fast food operation. Fast food is cheap and of poor quality. We whole-heartedly agree even though here at Insurance Soup we do love ourselves a good taco.
If you look at the most successful client facing businesses and organizations they are all the same though. Theyre not just the fast food joints.
Fedex... UPS... the US military... Major banks... Subway... the list goes on.
The most successful businesses in history provide systematic and easy to follow processes that produce the exact same experience for each customer they serve each and every time. They are easy to monitor, teach, study, analyze, and ultimately shift if improvement is necessary.
The harder you work to put an Agency together that could be franchised the better. The turn key model works. Your numbers will rise. Your attrition will lower. Your employees will know exactly what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why they are doing it.
Turnover is no longer an issue and training is faster. Average producers will thrive in a good system and you will not need to seek out top talent and overpay them to produce because someone with less experience can do great things with proper guidance.
Agencies that are turn key also trust. But they trust because they have the data. They know exactly what is going on at all times. They know a consistent process is in play and when something is not going as planned they can dig into where the breakdown is occuring and why. Is someone bucking the system and going rogue? Is there a new variable in play that requires a change to the way things are being done currently? It becomes quick and easy to diagnose.
Management by delegation and inspection is what you see in turn key agencies.
All Insurance Agencies fall within this spectrum. They are all somewhere between total chaos and organizational masterpiece.
You can choose to manage by abdication and hope and pray everyone just figures things out and live the roller coaster life always stressed amidst the choas or you can manage by delegation and inspection and know exactly how things are going in your office with a simply analysis of the data because everyone knows their goals and exactly how to be moving towards them at all times.
Where on the spectrum does your agency fall?
Are you latch key? Or are you turn key?
Written by: Michael McCormick
Michael McCormick is a co-founder of Insurance Soup and consistently has one of the two top beards within the organization.
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