Owning a business comes with a host of challenges that would be made much less challenging by simply not having any type of personal life-prolonging needs like eating, sleeping, exercising and maintaining valuable social relationships. Unfortunately, until we find a way to work around those needs by existing as magicians who make it all so easy with the wave of a wand, we’re forced to do as Tim Gunn famously suggests and “MAKE IT WORK”.
Here are a few brilliant time-saving hacks to help you get the maximum ROI for the time you spend focusing on your business without having to continually cast a spell on the audience.
• SCHEDULING IS HARD. GET AN APP
The “owner” in your title of business owner means you’re constantly wearing more than one hat because EVERYTHING, especially starting out, falls under your job description. Our suggestion - cut down on the chaos and take the time to find a scheduling app that works for you. Google Calendar, as part of the popular Google Suite, is great for managing multiple events, appointments and reminders across more than one calendar. It’s easily shareable which is a great bonus for confirming with clients. Another great option which takes things to the next level is Timely. On top of being a scheduling app, Timely adds billing and budgeting features to the mix, freeing up time, and even possible overhead for your business. Do yourself a favor and take the time to find the right scheduling app for you. It can be an excellent productivity booster.
• HEAD DOWN, BLINDERS ON
Ok, we know this is a no-brainer, but these days distractions come in many forms, lots of which you may not even be aware of. For business owners starting out, your workspace may be in your home or in a public place. If you’re working from home, and we mean this is the nicest way possible, best of luck. If you’re a parent working from home AND your kids are home with you, you’re in our thoughts. While working from home is a great time and money saver, things like pets, laundry, the television and the temptation to hop out and run a quick errand are distraction behemoths. If you find that you can’t avoid at-home urges, our best bet is to go find a cozy Starbucks and get to work while keeping your head down. If you do break out and head to the local coffee shop to work, it’s best to go to the same one consistently and limit your people-watching and social media-perusing to strictly scheduled breaks.
• UP AND AT’EM!
We know the early bird gets the worm, but when it comes to maximizing productivity, there’s another very important part of his strategy. Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog - 21 GREAT WAYS TO STOP PROCRASTINATING AND GET MORE DONE IN LESS TIME, says it’s imperative to focus on and tackle your most important tasks of the day before anything else. While the visual of eating a frog might make you want to stay in bed, it’s a pretty universal concept, and one that couldn’t make more sense when applied to managing your work day. Get over your biggest hurdle early right out of the gate and it should be smooth sailing for the rest of the race.
• JUST FACE IT, YOU SUCK AT PASSWORDS
Just like the time your parents had to take away your great-grandmother’s keys to her 1981 Plymouth Reliant, there will come a time for you to accept the fact that you can’t remember every single username and password you have out in the world. And ain’t nobody got time for the round robin that comes after FINALLY giving up and clicking on that smug little Forgot Your Password? link. Take 2 seconds and keep a running list of the username and password combos you use most frequently. You might not like it now, but one day you’ll thank us for it.
• TELL YOURSELF SWEET LITTLE LIES
If you’re like a lot of people (and by a lot of people we mean US), having an EOD deadline on something probably means you’re going to start it closer to the EOD. By giving yourself fake deadlines, you add pressure to work consistently on tasks that you might have saved for later in the day, or for another day altogether.
We know that every day as a business owner is an exercise in magic. It’s a juggling act and as soon as you pull one rabbit out of a hat, Tim Gunn comes in with a scantily-clad assistant for you to saw in half. There are lots of great hacks to help you “MAKE IT WORK” and once you discover what tricks work best for you and your business, the magic really starts to happen.
We have reached a moment in our nation and our industry history where there is a lot of self reflection going on.
Shuttered in to our homes , 80%+ of us are under shelter in place or similar orders.
Tens of thousands of Insurance Agencies have begun their transition to mobile or virtual offices and are being faced with a stark reality right now.
Check out this photo of 24 year old Insurance Agent James McGuire.
It's gotten pretty stressful.
A LOT of the success many Agencies have seen thus far has been due to the ability to manage and run a business where the phones are ringing, employees are present, customers visit, and calls are being made.
That ability to oversee and hold the team accountable has become significantly more difficult.
At this point the way you set your business up is looking either brilliant in hindsight (if you have planned to work virtually and have a digital game) or it is currently scrambling to put a plan in place.
What are your employees doing? Tougher question for some Agent owners reading this… what are YOU doing right now?
We have asked in Insurance Soup, our free group with over 31,000 Agents and Brokers, how many calls, texts, and emails Agents send out on a TYPICAL day when the office WAS open and things were normal…
Answers ranged from 20 calls to 200 calls a day depending on role, size of Agency, set up, etc….
Right now those numbers are DRASTICALLY different.
But let’s not focus on NOW – We all KNOW that now really really sucks in plain English…
But again – lets focus on when things are normal because what we are about to dive into gets amplified in times like now.
The main thing to accomplish on ANY given day is to get through your goal of revenue producing or preserving activities.
It is literally the highest and best use of your time.
The teams goals are always the same, effort wise – you want X quotes a day which statistically turns in to Y dollars in premium a month. Typically happens when each employee makes an average of Z dials.
You know your numbers. You DO know your numbers, right?
But then you get to the office… and everyones in their emails.
Responding to the exact same types of emails they get every single day… typing out very similar responses each and every day… bogging everyone down for their first 40 minutes of the day.
This one has 7 voicemails to return and only 2 look like good conversations.
That one is buried in their social media again… they say they are not.. but you see the reflection of their monitor from your desk and they definitely are.
The other one had to randomly leave early because their daughter caught a tummy ache and wants to come home from school.
You wound up with that old man who loves to tell you about his childhood and smells remotely of pungent French cheeses at your desk AGAIN for an hour because he always comes in to pay in quarters and likes to “deal with the owner”
Before you know it… the day has gotten away
The guy with 7 voicemails does not start reaching out to his leads until 11:18am and has more interruptions coming. He finishes the day with 57 dials.
The one buried in social media is only going to make 21 of the 100 dials you expect
The one who left early made 30 dials but shes out.
And you lost an hour to Lindberger cheese man and just got an email about this new CRM webinar you wanted to check out so you're losing another hour in an hour. You’ll make 41 dials by day end.
400 dial goal as an office… and 149 dials were made – 3/8 to goal – 37.5% worth of revenue driving activities complete.
Now we are all home… and our kids are here… and all the distractions are amplified… our kids want a snack…. They want another snack… The world is scared… your kids want another friggin snack… people are not super available… and your kid wants to know if the Easter Bunny is real..
You see how the already difficult goal of staying on task IN office is now significantly amplified at home.
So it leads to the question – have you and your Agency ever really been BUSY or are you just inefficient?
There are Agencies out there that are crushing it that realize the daily distractions that can derail an Agencys days, weeks, months, and years.
Agencies that have been well prepared for times like this simply because they believed in amplifying their Agencies reach leveraging technology and automation.
Agencies that are sending out north of 1000 calls, ringless voicemails, text messages, and more EVERY SINGLE DAY independent of what their employees are doing.
(When you are sending out 1000 messages a day, a meager 4% response rate rings your office line 40 times a day – or once every 12 minutes for 8 hours.)
Hundreds of Agents in Insurance Soup are using Agency Elephant for such efforts and despite working from home with all the distractions are still finding their phones blowing up mid crisis.
- itCompound that with the effort your team actually gets around to making when not bogged down in service or distrac.. SQUIRREL!
And now youre cooking with gas.
That same automation can be applied to the front end marketing efforts you are out there making on social media.
A well worded post or ad can result in a TON of comments from people looking for more information and time is of the essence to help them while you have their attention.
Many Agents fail to monitor comments effectively and even more do not know how to conduct a conversation on social media with a stranger without being salesly.
A chatbot managing your efforts makes sure you are putting your best foot forward each and every time and conducting those conversations in real time when the prospect is interested – giving you the data you need to quote them and close the deal.
It’s literally why Tacobot was created.
Tacobot conducts full conversations with prospects commenting on posts and ads and does really cool things like reading drivers licenses for auto quotes, fetching public information on home quotes to reduce questions needed for an application, shopping a life insurance policy and allowing for submitted business, and more.
It takes conversations you struggle to manage or in many cases even miss out on having and converts them to actual quotes.
You should check it out – www.buytacobot.com - Its truly revolutionary.
Right now this article may be having you nod your head. It may have you taking a dee breath. It may be frustrating you for your current situation. It may have you celebrating the wise moves you have already made for your Agency. But right now you are feeling something.
Since the outbreak; at Insurance Soup we have been completely slammed with Agents trying to figure out how to become drastically more efficient, hold team members accountable, and Agents asking us to help them create their own lead sources.
Career Agent Concepts had its best month since November and our Black Friday deals.
Agency Elephant brought on a record new number of users.
Tacobot released a new skill that has a whole new crop of Agents leveraging this unique technology.
Back9 has more life agents than ever signing up so they can easily sell life insurance from home.
And CIA… cap off to Taylor Dobbie… despite a real economic and human disaster… and moving offices this month… just brought on more Agents the last 30 days than any other in our company history.
If you are struggling to figure out how to get the amount of work done necessary to not only sustain but continue growth during these trying times, reach out.
The Insurance Soup has a ton of tools that make Agents bigger, better, faster, and more than they were the day before.
The time to look in the mirror and ask the hard question is here.
Are you Truly Busy… or are you Tragically Inefficient?
If you are Tragically Inefficient….
The year was 1995.
Your e-mail list was the goose that laid the golden egg and every time you pressed send you knew that some of those high worth eggs would come tumbling on out.
Open rates were upwards of 70%
Open rates have held steady around 20 percent for a bit – sounds good right? 1 in 5 opening your email!
Wait before we get into the weeds here – if youre not already a member of Insurance Soup – jump in there would you? 30,000 of our peers are sharing the best strategies in our industry for free. We are all getting better together.
Back to why we’re here.
Here are the gritty and not pretty facts behind that 1 in 5 open rate though… Click rates on Insurance Industry emails are only at 2.13% in 2019 – that means that for every 100 emails you sent out… only 2 opened your email AND clicked on your offer.
The good news is that only .25% of all people on insurance based email lists opted out of emails in 2019
All these stats are according to Mailchimp.
All that said – only 1 in 5 open your emails and only 2 out of 100 do anything with it.
How do we increase our e-mail open rates?
Wait, what? – How would ringless voicemail increase a persons chances or opening your email and then taking action on it?
Simple – it is setting the stage that the correspondence was important.
If you send out an email today at 9:18am… about anything at all – you could be sending an email with a picture of a blue duck for all it matters…
Why a blue duck?
Because in 1995 when email was a very strong tool, Billy Madison always wanted to see a Blue Duck…
So you sent the email out that morning…
And then at 2:41pm you send out a ringless voicemail that says something like this
“Hey it’s Mike over here at Career Insurance Agents – I shot you an email I need you to take a look at earlier today. Can you give me some feedback on what I sent you please? Call me back at 555-1212”
That email that you sent that may be sitting in a spam folder.. may be sitting unopened… may have been assumed to be junk….
Is now being opened because of the personalization of the situation with the ringless voicemail.
Now your efforts are going significantly further than ever before – not only are MORE people OPENING your email… but more people are CLICKING on links in your email…
Want to take this up to 11?
With the right system in place you can also receive notifications on who is opening what email and when…
So if you can monitor who is opening e-mails when… you can now also strike while the iron is hot and coincidentially drop in on them within minutes of your being on their mind.
Automation is changing the way we are capable of communicating and the right strategies can throttle our marketing efforts significantly.
Old ideas are relevant again with some new twists. New forms of communicating are on the horizon. Technology has and is evolving to allow for truly creative ways to get and stay in front of our adudiences.
If you are looking to learn automation, it is an ongoing conversation in Insurance Soup, our free group of over 30,000 Agents, Brokers, and Team Members – no corporate, outside vendors, recruiters, spammers, or meaniepants allowed! We have a lot of fun in there while still keeping the conversation on point about becoming better Agents.
If you are already utilizing an Automation Platform and have not thought to try this simple and easy strategy to throttle your efforts your day just got a lot better.
If you need an automation platform, check out www.agencyelephant.com – The all in 1 tool costs less than most offices phone bills and includes inbound/outbound calls, dialer, ringless voicemail, email, text messaging, forms, survey software, landing pages, document signing, calendar booking, call recording, voice bots, and more.
Not only does it boast the largest set of incredibly useful communication tools for Agents in the market, it comes with scripts, templates, a Facebook group for support, videos, a course, and daily ongoing live chat support.
Schedule a demo here >> https://bit.ly/2wNOdPl
Automation is the way to go from small Agency to (on the surface) big Agency without having to invest more in payroll.
It can not replace humans in their entirety but as far as getting conversations started there is nothing more cost efficient, powerful, and targeted.
If you are looking to take your efforts up to 11 and learn all the different ways automation can help you not only with marketing, but cross selling, servicing, winning clients back, managing your x-dates, and earning you referral partners…
Hop into Soup and learn all the ways Agents are currently leveraging technology to win every day... or schedule a demo of Agency Elephant today!
Well, here we are...
The Impeachment is over. The President was acquitted in the Senate. An almost 100% partisan line conflict in both the House and the Senate....
FOREVER IMPEACHED!!! FOREVER ACQUITTED!! FOREVER RIDICULOUS ON BOTH SIDES!
I do not know if you remember what your social media and news and television outlets were like back in 2016.....
But its also....
AN ELECTION YEARRRRRRRRRRR!
So how do you go about handling yourself during this time?
How do you go about navigating conversations that are bound to come up from prospects, colleagues, superiors, and locals who simply HAVE to talk about it?
How do you go about navigating your own need to talk about it, if you are one of those types of people?
Here are a number of suggestions as we head into this already white hot political season.
#1 - Know your Audience
If you are going to be speaking loud and proud on social media just realize that everyone you are connected to COULD see your stances.... chances are only about 10% of them will see it... but you do not know which 10%... and you also do not know who is wandering over to your page to check out what you have been up to that is not letting you know...
#2 - Filter Your Audience
On some social platforms you are able to create custom lists and audiences that exclude whoever you would like to exclude from your connections. Have some thoughts that you want to share but do not want to have people coming for you with torches? Exclude them from seeing it. Just the one post. No need to unfriend.
# 3 - Just talk about it
You can always throw caution to the wind as well and know that social media can be a revolving door if you so choose. If you are patient and ok with a lot of turnover, you being loud and proud about your political stances will ultimately create an echo chamber of people who think like you and believe in causes you do. That echo chamber is easy to build a know, like, trust factor with but it is a long play that will have you in a lot of online arguments along the way. In small town America where everyone knows and talks about everyone this would not be my recommendation. Larger, more populated areas where no one knows anyone it is a somewhat
#4 - Do not talk about it at all.
This is the most common advice that most professionals will give you around the topic of politics. While I believe it to be the most basic of things to advise people, I do not fully agree with it. People buy from others they know, like, and trust. While I do not recommend banging a drum loud and proud because you do not want to stand out as an activist, I do believe when opportunity to share a common belief arises it is a fantastic way to make a human connection with someone who will inherently feel more connected to you.
#5 - When a prospect or client asks about it
These are always the MOST difficult to navigate particularly if you are not sure where the person you are speaking to stands on the matter. My suggestion here is to tread lightly and not commit too heavily to any opinion and keep it light while trying to change topics. While you may have some common beliefs they may hold beliefs that you do not want to be associated with. Keep it light and move it along.
#6 - My MOST SOUGHT AFTER ADVICE ON THIS TOPIC
Today I want to share a failure of mine that took a while to learn from but has ultimately led to a valuable lesson.
But before I do... if youre not a part of Insurance Soup on Facebook, join now. 30,000 of our colleagues are hanging out and sharing the very best strategies and ideas our industry has to offer.
In early 2017 we hired a YouTube coach. One of the very best in the industry. A dude who has a channel with billions of views, that grew with intent, that has monetized both via views and products and owns a number of multi million dollar companies all built on the platforms back.
A coach who works with other business owners and teaches them how to build channels that have tens of thousands of subscribers and millions of views.
We paid him $2,500 a month for a year…. $30,000…..
And what did we do with it?
We gained a fantastic education and knowledge of the platform. We understand what to do and how to do it from a technical position. We understand the importance of the platform as a company for what we are doing.
But how many videos did we put out? What kind of content did we produce?
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
There were a couple of reasons why…. None of which were our coaches fault.
For starters, I was a novice. I will not pretend otherwise. Not only was I a novice, but in Soup North HQ here in NY, I worked in my office alone.
Soup South HQ in TX is where all the fun happens. Cooler people. More people. Younger people.
But as someone working alone, with no experience around shooting video or the platform we wanted to publish it on, I found myself spinning my wheels a lot.
Having to start and stop video constantly.
Having to try and figure out editing.
Having to figure out music, and lighting, and set, and key, and camera positioning, and more…
And then…. ONLY THEN… could I begin to apply myself in areas I am comfortable – marketing, writing copy, using my creativity, imagination, and understanding data and analytics.
All very overwhelming, right?
You see, while I had an idea that I wanted to launch I had no vision of how to bring it to life. It did not matter how badly I wanted it.
Most people want many things in life that they never wind up getting. Why? Lack of vision.
Lack of vision leads to a lack of direction and without direction we are bound to get lost no matter how badly we want to get to our destination.
So late last year we announced in Insurance Soup that we were launching a promotional item shop.
It’s still coming but we are streamlining some processes before we launch and making sure that it’s a well oiled machine. With 30,000 of you maniacs on Facebook, 8,000 of you on Linkedin, and more on Twitter already using promotional item stores without loyalty, rhyme, or reason, we know that our promotional item shop which will be discounted for all of you, will probably be popular and used heavily.
On the search for an employee to help run it, my sister in law approached me and said shed be interested in helping out.
She has not been in the workforce for some time as she stepped away about 10 years ago to raise her daughter; my Goddaughter.
What did she do before turning to the hardest profession in the world, full time Mom?
Oh nothing that big…. Just the Emmy Award winning set designer of the childrens show Blues Clues that has worked behind the scenes on many television shows, music videos, and movie sets.
You’d never know it… shes very humble. Doesn’t talk about it much and reading this article will probably make her a little uncomfortable.
But here I am with an Emmy award winning set designer with a ton of video shooting and editing experience… looking to work… and I was about to put her in a role taking orders for a promotional item shop.
Why isn’t she looking to get back into television you may be wondering? Emmy award winner would find work with her eyes closed if she wanted it that badly.
Well, we’re about 90 minutes from the city. Prior to having her daughter, she lived in Brooklyn and the commute was easy. She moved out this way to be with us, her mother, and her brother who is a couple towns over to raise her daughter and be closer to the people she cares most about and to provide her daughter with some local cousins. And here in Suffolk County, Long Island there is not a lot of ongoing work for Emmy award winners.
On her second day in my office our conversation switched gears from running the promotional item shop to video production, youtube, podcasts, and my office space.
I shared with her our experience spending $30,000 to learn Youtube that left us by and large simply out $30,000 but with a working understanding of the platform.
I explained to her that I struggled to shoot video by myself. Couldn’t figure out lighting, sets, and editing while trying to run businesses and produce other significantly easier content for the other platforms.
That it all seemed so expensive to have to outsource a lot of the work post shoot.
That it seemed like it would be expensive to make areas of the office look more interesting or cooler than they are. Like we weren’t sitting in a 600 square foot 3 office room.
And that’s where the magic happened.
She stood up and started walking around my office like a crazed Mary Poppins and began sharing her experience in television with me.
Showing me how not only do I have room to shoot video here… but how theres enough room for several small sets… and how easy we could pull it all off… and how inexpensive it all would be… and how much fun it would be… and how shes produced television SHOWS that were wildly popular in spaces SMALLER than my office…. and she lit up like a kid on Christmas morning…
And I stopped dead in my tracks and told her she was officially fired from the promotional items shop and we are going to use her in her zone of genius and get her back to doing things that energize and excite her.
Huge opportunity to get her back into what she loves and help Soup push out into areas we have previously been uncomfortable, unable, or…
LACKING VISION TO COMPLETE.
Fast forward a couple weeks later and I now have 4 spots in my office to shoot video with a 5th spot being set up as we speak. We are having conversations around several different segments we are planning on producing and are beginning to line up not only a Youtube channel but a Podcast as well.
Now I want to make something very clear as I know a lot of readers take the advice I give seriously and I do not want to guide you in the wrong direction.
I am not bullish on Youtube for Insurance Agents. Not in 2020. If video production and their platform get a little friendlier for the typical Agent with little to no marketing experience my opinion will probably evolve over time but the typical Agent does not have the time to conquer Youtube.
Yes, you may be able to create some videos that generate opportunity for you.
Yes, you may even find a guru or two telling you Youtube is amazing.
You wont find them on any incentive trips. You wont find them winning awards. You wont find many testimonials. You wont find many people other than them saying it’s great.
Yes, you may be able to find people looking for insurance.
But you can do that on all social platforms with a little bit of education and all the other social platforms do not require you to be Martin Scorcese AND David Ogilvy.
And the reason that I personally believe that Youtube is not particularly Agent friendly yet are for all the reasons I personally struggled to get off the ground on the platform…
A newer Agent, who is generally the type of Agent who buys education around marketing in our space, is NOT going to have the time to shoot videos and produce videos and turn them into ads and cross their fingers and HOPE it works.
The money coming into Agency isn’t there. The time isn’t there. The manpower isn’t there. The basic foundations of marketing are not there. Hell most of us come into the industry from the most random of places, the RAREST of them being “video producer”
AND they do not have an Emmy award winner in the family coming join the team in a triumphant return to the work force.
While I personally bring a lot of skills and talent to the Soup businesses I lacked vision in this area.
My sister in law was able to take my ideas and dreams and apply vision to it and now we are in business.
Within the next couple of weeks we will have segments covering sales, marketing, industry news, laughs, a podcast, and we have a full suite of products at our disposal to make some truly wacky and fun creative commercials and ads.
And we did it for about $1,000. I mean we literally created a desk out of a piece of Styrofoam that my printer / scanner came in by wrapping it in a wrap that gives off the look of wood.
Many of you are sitting on ideas that are quietly brilliant that you do not have the vision to execute.
That does not make it a bad idea or one that would fail to take flight.
There is a good chance you are simply lacking the vision to pull it all together and having the right consultant, employee, or friend in your corner could be all you need to turn a dream into a reality.
Do not let your dreams die on the vine. Reach out to people and share your thoughts. Share your roadblocks. Share your objections.
Chances are you have someone in your circle that can help solve the problem and share the vision.
Failed dreams are not necessarily failures. Theyre lessons. Opportunities.
And in some cases…
It’s just a lack of vision.
You can hire vision.
Oh yeah that last photo… of the shelving unit with the protein shakes, cups, and a piece of art for one of my kids?
You may not see it yet…. But theres a podcast studio right there… you just need the VISION.
Join Insurance Soup on Facebook today! It's the best free tool in the industry. Don't sleep on it!
Look at me at my "fancy desk" in my beautiful library with a "book" made from a box a local Chinese food place gave me with a calendar inside of it for Chinese New Year!
8 days ago the world was shocked by the tragic and sudden loss of global basketball superstar Kobe Bryant along with his daughter Gigi, and 7 others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I had been having a conversation with my good friend and partner in Agency Elephant, Brian Blair. He shot me the message as I was pulling into a parking spot at my local grocery store on Sunday afternoon.
I sat there stunned for a good 3 minutes and began to find myself overcome with emotion.
Felt silly to be getting emotional over a basketball player but it was a moment for me that just felt very close to home despite it happening 3,000+ miles away to a people I never knew.
Kobe Bryant was 41 years old when he passed away and I turn 41 in less than 2 weeks from today.
He was married with 4 children and I am married with 3.
He is a legend in his field and we are working hard to be remembered in ours.
What struck me so hard about the entire thing was the humanity of it all.
Kobe Bryant was the last athlete I really looked up to as a kid.
He was a rookie at age 18 when I was a senior at Chaminade High School on Long Island.
I watched him all through college and my junior and senior year he won the title alongside Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant had two goals in his career – winning championships and scoring.
His career in a lot of ways mirrors many of ours
Starting off with a lot of promise and coming out the gates doing extremely well.
When we are young we often believe we are prepared to take on bigger roles and be in the spotlight long before we were actually ready.
We have people in our careers that challenge us that we respect but do not particularly care for.
We have people we had to work with to get things done that we did not like.
We think we deserve way more than the people around us think. He thought he should be option #1 on the Lakers… I thought after having a solid first year in mortgages that I should basically own the company.
We were all wrong. Ignorant, naïve, immature, and entitled.
How the real world actually operates was the wake up call that most of us get in our early 20’s.
As we built our resumes and grew our games we all either adapt and win... or refuse to see the error of our ways and remain where we started.
As we get a little older and wiser in our careers… we settle into roles that we earn in due time… and evolveto be leaders that lead by work ethic and example and mentor newer and younger people and help them achieve great things.
It’s a career who I have quietly felt mirrored mine on a much grander scale for a long time.
What really made the story tough was knowing that a man who had recently found peace in his heart… a man who was transitioning from being a stone cold closer… to being a softer, loving, caring, nurturing teacher, father, husband, son, and coach.. a man who achieved global fame and untold fortune… with a literal lifetime ahead of him to give back to the world..
A family man who had sunk his post-NBA life into raising 4 young women was taken from this world in an instant.
And that my friend… can happen to any of us at any given time.
I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the qualities of Kobe Bryant that we as entrepreneurs and business owners can learn from and admire.
Work ethic – The man showed up before everyone… left after everyone… outworked everyone…
Tenacity – If you ever watched him get after it – there was no stopping until he got what he was after.
Dedication and commitment – Kobe played for one team and one team only his entire career.. all 20 years… despite having many opportunities to go elsewhere and play in bigger roles or for more money.
Practice – Despite being the best basketball player on the planet for a decade, Kobe was constantly improving his game. Every offseason he came back with new moves… more range.. more accuracy
Discipline – To achieve and maintain the status he reached as an athlete requires a tremendous ability to stay on task and not get distracted… and as a global celebrity the opportunities to derail are countless and endless.
Maturity – We watched him grow up in front of our very eyes. We watched him make major mistakes professionally and personally. And we watched him handle them and own them publicly and learn from them and become a better person for it.
Leadership – we watched a man go from an “all eyes on me” approach to the game to a “lets win this together” approach
Humility - A man who had several major mistakes in his career own them, learn about them, learn from them, and rise up as an advocate against his own transgressions. A point that for many, makes him tough to admire.
Was the man perfect?
Far from it.
In 2003 he dealt with a situation he created for himself that will tarnish his legacy in the minds of many forever. Straying from his marriage, he cheated on his wife with a woman who later went on to say the act was not consensual. He will be looked at by many in a very similar light as other famous athletes that found themselves wrapped up in dramatic scandals and all the positive he brought to this world will never be acknowledged.
He was also fined $100,000 by the NBA for referring to a referee as an anti LGBT slur. A move that sent him down a path to learn about a lifestyle he knew little about.
I am not asking you to admire him for his transgressions, mistakes, and disasters. I am asking you to look beyond them as a person who has things they have done that they are not proud of. As a person capable of finding forgiveness. As a person who has been in need of forgiveness at points in your own life.
I am asking you to look at the man who had a tremendous amount of positive qualities shown throughout his career and his ability to find the humility to learn from and apologize for his mistakes – something that many of us today struggle to do as adults.
Many do not realize that since his retirement he has been very focused on his family, his businesses, supporting women’s sports, advocating for LGBT causes, and he has always been highly charitable and involved in advocating and helping those who can not advocate or help themselves.
He had granted over 100 wishes in 20 years for Make a Wish. He hosted basketball camps for the Boys and Girls Club of America. He was the spokesman for After School All Stars, He supported cancer initiatives and in 2012 helped Stand up to Cancer raise more than $80 million for cancer support. He raised 2.5 million from 2012-17 through his own foundation. He was a part of Step up on Second and My Friends Place, trying to help combat homelessness in LA. He led a youth soccer club called Mamba FC. The Kobe Bryant China Fund raised $6 million for education and sports programs for children in China and the US.
He had recently trademarked the name “Mambacita” for his now deceased daughter Gigi, who at age 13 was already being looked at by UConn for college ball and was already being heralded a future superstar of the WNBA. He was going all in on helping his child achieve her dreams.
I say all of the above to say this.
There is a lot to learn from Kobe Bryant as a business owner and entrepreneur.
How to conduct ourselves in business… how to really get after it… how to take our gifts and blessings and share them with others… how to grow… how to recover from major falls… how to deal with fierce and deserved scrutiny.. how to evolve… how to own mistakes… how to win
While so many are focused on the loss of a basketball player..
I find myself focused on the man.
The man he was on and off the court who had so much for all of us business owners and entrepreneurs to learn from.. both what to do and what not to do… how to conduct ourselves… how to bounce back… how to learn from our transgressions… how to be great… how to make good… how to share the abundance some of us find with the world..
An imperfect person making the absolute most of what he was given and doing something special with it for himself, his family, and the world.
If you cant find a few things to learn from this mans life and legacy you are simply choosing to focus on the wrong things… which may also tell you something about you.
Rest in peace Mamba and Mambacita.
The lessons and impact you made on my and many others lives will live on.
I am of the conviction that MOST insureds are only with you for a time no matter how well you treat them.
Well as Lauren Oliver once said, “Everyone you trust, everyone you think you can count on, will eventually disappoint you.
Now that is not my saying that you, my fair reader, are going to disappoint your insureds. You would never do that. You offer the best customer service and sage wisdom. Your clients LOVE you (I hope) and if they do not… well I will cover how to fix that perhaps in another article down the road.
But the sad truth of the matter is every relationship, no matter personal or business, if it lives long enough… will experience disappointment and in OUR industry… that usually precedes an exodus of your Agency.
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Back to the article.
What is frustrating about it for Agents in particular; is how many outside forces we deal with that can ultimately totally ruin a great relationship.
Relationships that go beyond business at times.
An Underwriter does not like the way something on a photo looks from the house – denied.
A claim not being handled properly or paid in full when the insured distinctly remembers having “Full Coverage”
A rate increase that you have no control over.
A bad interaction with one of your staff.
The list goes on and on of ways that outside forces can ruin relationships you hold near and dear in your Agency.
Which leads me to my topic today….
Knowing that EVERY relationship has a shelf life…
Knowing that SOMEHOW... SOMEWAY... at SOME POINT.... the likelihood is that SOMEONE or SOMETHING is going to sour a household…
Why do MOST Agents fear trying to deepen a relationship with an insured from the on-set?
If you took an honest accounting of your Agency and staff…. What percentage of the interactions you have with your new insureds are tackling the whole enchilada?
Most Agents are scared to go too fast, too hard, too soon with a new insured.
They’re comfortable selling the home and auto together. Some are even ok trying to position a term life or a disability policy in with it… but most are not.
And once that client LEAVES your office that first time… for MANY of them… it WILL be the LAST time.
It will also be the last time you speak to many of them until they have a problem with you.
I am 40 years old and I have been a customer of the same exact insurance company since I have been 18 years old, for my auto insurance.
Do you know how many times they have EVER called me?
ZERO. LITERALLY ZERO. Someone call their local carrier suit and tell them what a bad job they do making their insureds feel special!
I get a birthday card from them every single year though with a printed fake signature AND a Christmas card from them so I know Im on their minds though. Real genuine stuff.
But my experience with my car insurance Agency is NOT unique and MANY insureds also NEVER hear again from their Agent or Agency.
Knowing your insured is never going to call you… and knowing there’s a good chance you are the type of Agent / Agency that rarely or never calls your actual insureds….
Why are you not trying to cross sell the heck out of them WHILE the relationship is STILL GOOD?
Sitting down with the client during their first 6 months with you is CRUCIAL in creating depth in the relationship and really anchoring that household down with you for a bit.
The client is at their happiest. They have not had any interactions with outside forces yet. They haven’t called in yet in a bad mood and been rude to your CSR and got some back from them in return. They probably do not have a claim. They have not experienced a rate increase. No one has rocked the boat with them yet.
On Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album, there is a track called On to the Next One.
The lyrics tell stories of people who are not happy with what they have in life and are moving on to the bigger and better thing.
Id like to implore you to pay attention to a key line of the song though…
“Hey bring it back, now double your money and make a stack”
You need to think like this with your new households.
If you are not cross selling that client to the fullest during that first policy period with them and you just are “On to the next one”
In 3 months from now when they have a fender bender and do not like the claim handling… in 6 months from now when their rate goes up $4.61/mos… in 18 months when their cousin opens an Agency… in 9 months when SOMETHING happens that rubs them the wrong way…
Theyre “On to the Next One” too…
But when you “Bring em back” you “double your money and make a stack”
Let’s say for sake of the conversation you just booked the Jones families 2 cars.
They do not want to bring their homeowners over just yet as they feel it will be a pain and it's set up through escrow.
So you close the deal and move on. $1000 semi annual premium at 12% commission.
You make $240 on that client the first year.
You do not think twice about them because you're in hunter mode and you cant try and convince your existing book to insure further.
Month 11 they get a renewal notice and they're upset. They shopped you – didn’t even tell you – and are out the door.
Now you made $240 on the sale over the year … but had to pay Johnny boy, your producer, 50% commission on round one – so you really made $180… oh yeah and Johnny makes $15 an hour and the deal took 2 hours to chase down and set up… so you’re down to $150… of that $150, 40% is going towards your overhead and costs… youre down to $90… and you have not paid taxes on the money yet.. so you are really down to about $65 profit….
Oh yeah and Mrs Jones called in once to ask questions for 30 minutes… $58 profit…
And she called in with the rate increase to ask why and Johnny spent another 30 minutes with her…. $50 profit
On paper you made $240… in reality you made $50. …
And to replace that household you need to buy 8 internet leads… at $10 each…
And congratulations… you are officially in the red on that household. Don’t like that math at the end of the equation? Throw it in at the beginning. Took 8 leads to acquire the household. Results are the same.
Stay with me.
Now in walk the Smiths.
Same situation. They ONLY want to give the cars. Home is set up through escrow. They have enough life through work.
They leave that day and you ONLY closed the cars… 2 cars… $1000 semi annual at 12% - $240…
But even though you did not close the home or life, you spend your first 90 days following up with them to make sure they're happy and after hearing from you in month 3, they agree to come down to your office and make sure they have what they need protected, protected.
No other Agent has ever done this for them before and it feels special.
They come in and the relationship has become whole. It is no longer transactional or quick commission and the Agent is able to share their human side, laugh together with the prospect more as it’s a comfortable meeting, and truly deliver some candid value and advice the insured needed to hear but wouldn’t listen to when they were being “sold”
Now the Smiths bring their home over for the auto home discount - $1800 annual premium at 12% - $216 in commission…
During the conversation you were able to truly overcome why life insurance at work doesn’t cut the mustard and even though its not the whole life you felt the PH SHOULD have, they did take a term life policy out to cover their mortgage and provide each other 5 years income should one of them pass…
First term was $30/mos and the second was $22/mos - $924 year one premium. Lets call it 40% commission because that’s what captives seem to accept as the norm.
That’s an additional $370 in commission…. AND a third product they now have with you… that they purchased based on your advice and expertise… that you did not get a chance to display while just closing the auto.
And then on month 11… when the Smiths get that rate increase… they remember that you saved them money by bringing their auto policy over… they remember that you saved them MORE money when they brought their home over… they remember that they saved even MORE money on BOTH by bundling… and they remember that YOU are the FIRST person who spoke to them about the situation theyd be in if they didn’t have the right life insurance set up. And MOST powerful? They remember YOU and the RELATIONSHIP.
Now all those things that are out of your control do not seem nearly as big a deal to the insured. Moving to a new insurer is a pain in the ass. They have so much with you. They trust you even though they are not happy with the rate increase.
And the Smiths stay with you for 8 years….
That auto policy paid you $1,920 over that term… the home paid $1728… and the life paid $370 year one with some trailers over the years, albeit small.
That household that would have left you at the end of the first year with just 2 cars and you earning a meager $50... before having to replace them.
Instead you have a relationship that paid out about $4,000 while you protected them that also sent you in 2 referrals a year on average…. With ½ of them becoming new households themselves.
Do you follow what I am driving at here?
You HAVE to pursue a deeper relationship with your new policyholders.
You can not just be “On To The Next One”
You HAVE to “Bring em Back” so you can “Double Your Money and Make a Stack”
Deepen those relationships my Agent friends.
Its far superior to always looking for the next one.
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There is an epidemic amongst the insurance agent community
An inability to really do well with social media. And it is really so easy if you know how.
Stay with me.
As the hosts of Insurance Soup, we see a TREMENDOUS amount of insurance agent activity on social media. With 30,000 in our free group, 4000 people on both our friends lists being agents, 4600 Agents on my Linkedin contact list, 8000 in our Linkedin group, and a horde of Twitter followers, our social media basically looks like it should be called LinkedInsurance or FaceBookofbusiness.
That said our news feeds are really bombarded with the messages Agents try and leverage to motivate and mobilize their audiences into doing business.
Here are 7 of the larger problems we see on the social platforms on a regular basis.
#1 – Lack of authenticity or fear of acceptance
This is problem numero uno for most Agents. The fear of being disliked online. Agents are so afraid that they are going to do or say the wrong thing that they wind up either staying very vanilla and opinion free OR do not really post at all and simply lurk and watch.
Understandable that you would want to keep your audience happy. But social media is a revolving door and you have the ability to build and craft an audience that falls right in line with all the things you are about.
Afraid that you have drastically different views than most of your audience but have a hobby or interest that you absolutely love? Use your platform to speak on that hobby or interest and join communities of like minded people and begin adding friends.
You are able to create an audience online that mirrors who you are… you do not need to try and mirror what you think your audience is comprised of. If you are trying to mirror your friends list you are doing it wrong. Your friends list should mirror who you are as a person and the audience is easy to build as most people at this point are open to new friend requests particularly if there are things or people in common.
#2 – Lack of original thought and content
This is an issue on multiple levels.
The first one really grinds my gears and I’ve addressed it in Insurance Soup.
Every now and then an Agent will have a tremendously powerful post. Perhaps theyre sharing a story or just driving an idea home in a way that just makes sense.
Its obviously an attempt at marketing to anyone within the industry. To a casual friend or contact it reads as a wake up call or reminder of something they need to take care of. People begin to show interest based on the post....
And then it happens.
A Rogue Agent will hop in the comments and comment “Stealing This!!” as an attempt to compliment the original poster. And the post comes to a screeching halt as future readers now look at the post skeptically and like the Agent was fishing for business and not sharing something thought worthy.
On the flip side, when Agents actually DO steal content or posts only to learn that oh it didn’t work with my audience.
Now normally these posts are the silly, off the wall, random posts and not the insurance related ones. These posts are to build edgerank.
Edgerank, if you are not familiar, is the momentum you have on the Facebook platform based on how much engagement and interaction you have. The more often someone interacts with you the more often they see your posts.
Low hanging fruit edgerank posts are not universal skeleton keys.
Think about it.
I am 40 and live in a liberal, white collar, upper middle class suburb. Do you really think that something my audience finds funny is going to be the same as yours if you are 25 and living in a conservative lower income blue collar rural area?
We are not the same. Travel the country a little. We live in different worlds. Different species of humans practically.
Utilize your noggin and put out your own stuff. Attract like minded people. Let people know who you are and what youre about. It goes far in building the know, like, and trust factor that most consumers are seeking.
#3 – Locking down their profile
Agents who do this make me scratch my head. I get it. You want privacy. You want to keep strangers away.
But you are also a business owner, an entrepreneur, and whether you like it or not, in a social industry that is forged with RELATIONSHIPS.
If you are on social media and trying to uncover opportunity and people come across you and your profile is locked down?
They aint going to work that hard to figure out how to get in touch with you.
We have tremendous capabilities to manage privacy on social platforms. Hell I have custom audiences for posts I do not want my family to see, posts I do not want Agents to see, posts I do not want anyone outside of XYZ circle to see…
Locking down your profile so no one can message you or send you a friend request is the quickest way to detur anyone from ever reaching out.
And yes ladies, I do know that you are bombarded with bullshit. You are solicited for dates, sent dick pics, and asked to do some really odd stuff by the creepers of the internet.
Unfortunately it is just part of what you signed up for if youre in the business and attempting to use social media for business.
Learn to love your block feature. Hell host a block party. Just do not avoid conversations online because some of them may ask for your hand in marriage if you would only move to Nairobi. I know I am writing about it more cavalier than how intrusive and offensive some of these requests and pictures you receive may be... but it is something that you just need to get past and understand that until society evolves a bit more its just a stupid thing you have to deal with that you do not like.
Simply eliminate those you do not like in your social sphere once you know who they are. Do not keep everyone at a distance out of fear of the occasional boogey man that you have the power to make disappear.
#4 Insulting Their Audience
This always perplexes me.
La-a (pronounced Ladasha), in a moment of frustration, throws out a post that is either a well-intended rant or a jab at something they just saw online.
Sure we can joke about it in Insurance Soup all we want. Its an industry water cooler. We all know the struggle and we are all fighting the good fight. A rant or jab at the consumers in a safe haven amongst friends in the trust tree.
But when it is done with your AUDIENCE?
It looks poor.
GO FUND ME IS NOT LIFE INSURANCE!
Think about that for a moment.
Youre just casually going through your newsfeed as a member of the public. And there it is.
GO FUND ME IS NOT LIFE INSURANCE.
Was not really sure what that was about but the insurance guy on my Facebook just yelled for some reasn.
Now imagine it if you are currently dealing with a loss and have a gofundme going.
That asshole just insulted me. Not going to work with him.
Even worse are the Agents who go on a rant about how irresponsible people are.
Will you get business from it? Will I get a comment on this blog post telling me that they yelled at people and got a policy from it?
A broken clock is right two times a day. That doesn’t mean it tells the time.
People like to feel good about the decisions they make and they like to feel smart and intelligent.
Guide and educate. Tell stories. But never insult someone that would buy easier if you were to make them feel good about taking the steps necessary to fix a problem then berating them for having the problem.
#5 – ALWAYS POSTS ABOUT INSURANCE
You know this Agent.
The only thing they talk about on social media is Insurance. How much money they saved someone. How many appointments they have today. Rates just went down. Im at BNI.
No one cares.
Don’t believe me?
Then look at your engagement. Conversation over.
#6 NEVER POSTS ABOUT INSURANCE
The opposite end of the spectrum.
One out of every 5-10 posts SHOULD be career focused.
The audience needs a reminder of what you do and if done correct will prompt many a quote request over the years.
Keep it light and fun. Tell stories about what happened at work or with a Policy Holder.
When you NEVER talk about your career on social media no one knows what you do… and that is just as big a problem as when you talk about it TOO much.
Do not make announcements about how much money you saved a fictional new client. People can not envision that. Tell stories about what the savings is doing for the new family. Tell stories about how you helped someone plan for the future or clean up a mess from the past.
“I just saved a man $116 a month on their car insurance! Whos next!” is not a real strategy.
It also attracts price shoppers. Our favorite clients.
#7 – The Group Spammer
You know this Agent. Hell maybe you ARE this Agent. Hopefully not.
Theyre a part of 217 groups… and once a day your notifications go off and you get all excited that there’s some new stuff to check out… only to find out Cletus is at it again posting the same post in 19 places the last 74 seconds.
Not only does Cletus get kicked out of several groups every single day that are ripe for the picking if he just knew how to navigate… but the ones he is NOT kicked out of are definitely not paying an ounce of attention to anyone that just walks into a group, screams something, and leaves.
Could you imagine doing this anywhere else?
Walk into your BNI next week and just yell that you’ve got some great insurance rates and helped one of their neighbors earlier today and walk out.
Go back to your office.
Report to me at the end of the day how many people did business with you from your announcement at BNI.
You need to get involved in your local community groups and be a resource. Honestly, we advise you go a step further and start your own community group and be THE resource.
What other things do you see Agents doing wrong on social media?
Chime in the comments section and let’s all work together to help one another not make big mistakes while navigating the social media jungle
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On to the show.
With the dawn of a new year and a new decade we are bound to see some pretty big changes in our industry the next 10 years or so.
I decided to whip out my crystal balls and make a few predictions for the decade to come… so here is my list of 7 things to expect in the insurance industry in the 2020's
1 – We are going to see a LOT of large, established companies from outside the industry join the fray.
We already know that Amazon is pushing into the market. Exploring both home and auto insurance, and a new emerging health insurance plan called Haven; it is evident that this is a space Amazon is interested in… but who else is thinking about jumping in the pool?
Well Walmart has jumped into the Health Insurance space partnering with Directhealth.com to bring plans to market.. and while already owning one of the country’s largest pharmacies
CVS and Walgreens already offer small-scale clinics in some retail locations and both have plans to expand those services.
Costco is already selling auto and home through Ameriprise.
With all these mega box and online retailers pushing into the industry and consumers looking for easy experiences and transparency do not be surprised if in the future you will be asked by your cashier at Walmart if you would like to put next month’s insurance premium on your card at the point of sale.
How will all of this impact the local Agent at the Agency level?
2 – The Rise of Data
Data has become a tremendously useful tool in calculating rates throughout the history of our industry but never has it been so abundant. Carriers large and small are all beginning to look at tons of data points that barely or did not even exist just 10 years ago. While your MVR, CLUE, credit report, and zip code may all have played factors in the past…. The future will consist of models that incorporate data received from smartphones, telematics, drone data, video monitoring, and more.
That data will affect underwriting in ways that are currently not easy to predict but many of the newer data points being studied show far more accuracy to pricing a risk than older models.
But the future of data is not simply in underwriting – There are programs in development already that are able to study algorithms on a mass scale to predict the future needs of your clients and when they are most likely to actually want those needs….
Imagine getting a notification that 5 people in your book are probably at the right stage to buy life insurance because they just turned 40, make over $100k a year, have a large mortgage balance, are the primary wage earner, and have a 13-16 year old child who will be starting college within the next 5 years.
3 – Self driving cars
Now I am not sure to what extent this will impact the roads by the end of the decade but my prediction is that the self-driving car will be relevant and on the rise by the end of the 20s. They will be available to the public but probably still very expensive.
It brings about a ton of questions as to how to insure, though. How can you be held responsible for an accident that occurred while you were not driving?
Does the liability fall back on the manufacturer?
Does the cost roll back into the sale of the car? Does it reflect in loan payments?
With new cars all coming equipped with WIFI and the manufacturers already able to run diagnostics on most newer cars virtually, will there be a “big brother” element that is introduced at a higher level than the consumers perceived intrusion of privacy of telematics that allows insurance companies to get a true idea of how everyone is driving whether they like it or not? The data already exists and the manufacturers have access to it.
Could it lead to a significant reduction in consumer auto insurance premium and if so how do Agents make up for this loss of income in their business?
There have been bold predictions claiming that cars of the future may not even be able to go over the speed limits as the car will not accelerate faster than the limit.
Self driving cars have implications far and wide in our world.
4 – Smart Homes
Smart homes are on the rise and the number of things your smart home can “do” to protect your home will only continue to increase. Imagine a pipe busting in your home and your house knowing to shut the water lines off. Imagine a fire breaking out in your home while you sleep and the house notifying the fire department at the same time your fire alarm wakes you up out of a dead sleep. Considering a small fire can double in size every 30 seconds that extra 3 minutes can keep the fire from becoming 4-6x as big a problem to put out... while saving that much more of the structure from peril.
5 – Weird new product types
With the rise of the digital age and there being so many industries that operate digital and virtual there will be a significant need for new products. Interesting and weird stat – 2 out of 3 kids growing up today will find careers in fields that do not even exist yet. One of the more interesting policies I uncovered while researching this article is from a company called Insurninja –
What does Insurninja cover? Virtual video game profiles and characters. With the amount of time, resources, and money many gamers put into building their stats online the losses have true real-world impact on financial stability and have become an all new coverage type that did not exist a short time ago. Ridiculous? You may think so but don’t go telling Chad. He’s got Deathknight all the way up to level 62 and it has taken him 3 years…..
6 – The rise of Insurtech allowing smaller carriers to compete better with the larger carriers.
While I have always believed that the captive model is being eroded every day simply by the amount of information available to Agents on social media these days.. the independent agent is becoming more and more agile and competitive every single day with the advances in technology that they have access to that the captive agent is not allowed to use.
As more Insurtech companies get their footings and deliver impactful services to the “small guy” expect the smaller carriers and independent agents to be able to deliver on many of the things that the large carriers are either doing extremely well right now that small agents are not… or to outperform the giants in niches that render large carriers irrelevant
Open APIs allowing technology and software owned by different vendors to communicate with one another will only expedite the closing of the gap as one of the largest problems facing independent agents and smaller carriers is getting all their systems to sync up and talk to one another. The mere elimination of manual data entry from one software or service to another is enough to provide smaller companies a nice amount of
Many smaller carriers and independent agents do not have the ability to provide some of the easier communication access points that the big boys all have standard but with automation, chatbots, a rising comfort in Virtual Assistants, and a reduction in cost around app creation, and the rise of social media… smaller carriers and independent agents are able to provide the same types and levels of service across the same communication channels as the big boys with ease.
7 - The Decline of the Captive Model
Now I am not going to be so bold as to say it is going extinct. But the reality is as the world continues to get smaller and Agents continue to have access to more and more research, peers, and information the migration will continue to pick up speed.
Many of the captive carriers such as Allstate have expanded their offerings to now let independents sell their policies while others like Nationwide will be out of the captive game by July of this year. Farmers seems to be consolidating in many areas of the country as well with District Managers all making their way to the unemployment lines and Agents that miss their production numbers by the slimmest of margins being told to kick rocks and close up their Agencies.
Compound that with the smarter, savvier consumer who is able to do more research and pursue the type of experience they want out of their insurance and the cookie cutter, one product fits all, one culture fits all captive model will continue to struggle until they evolve.
That is not to say these companies will go away. My prediction is quite the opposite. As more and more enter the independent model system I predict that many of these companies will thrive more than ever before.
As a captive not being able to place turndowns anywhere means letting good business walk. Having a home for them while they fit the larger carriers mold a little better can keep clients unhappy with a carrier in house with an Agent until it is a good time for them to return.
8 – Health Insurance will remain a hot button topic with no clear path solution.
That’s all I am going to say about that to keep the comments section clean.
What kind of predictions do you have for the next 10 years in our great industry?
Weigh in below!
Also, if you haven’t already done so… get in Insurance Soup would you? We need your experience and your insight…. And with 30,000 of us already very active and talking shop… there’s a good chance you may need one of us, too.
Do you remember all the mistakes you made as a new Agency owner and entrepreneur?
The 30,000 Agents in INSURANCE SOUP – the FREE Facebook group for Agents, Brokers, and Team Members remember a lot of theirs.
I sure as hell do. I made a TON of them as I am sure you did or are currently doing now.
When I got my Agency I came from outside the industry.
I was trained to do the job. If I am being totally honest with myself I probably did not take the training as seriously as I should have. Opened my doors with a lot of questions and far fewer answers.
My employees were fresh faced kids out of college in need of training, guidance, mentoring, coaching, and more.
I decided that the inexperienced route was a good one to take as I was starting with a fresh slate and bringing zero bad habits to the Agency.
Well not having ANYONE besides myself capable of doing anything self sufficiently I quickly became overwhelmed. How was I supposed to train and manage 3 people at once while also selling, networking, marketing, and budgeting the business?
Then it dawned on me – I needed someone experienced. One of my employees made a quick move from my shop and left me with a hole to plug… but at the same time helped me avoid not having to fire her as she did not take the role seriously.
Hitting the online classifieds I began pulling resumes of people looking for work that were both experienced in the industry and experienced with my carrier.
And then she appeared. Almost out of thin air. An angel from heaven. Was she there to save me?
A VERY experienced team member with over 12 years experience with the carrier I represented with a whole brag book of production numbers that would make any new business owner a little hot and bothered.
We didn’t click great during the interview but wow was she impressive. Something felt off. Just a gut feeling... but she knew the products, systems, technology – could slide right in and help us start making moves.
I made the decision to not only bring her in but to have her come on right out the gates as the office manager.
Her very first day she closed 4 households herself. I think we only had a couple days where we closed 4 households in a day as an OFFICE to that point
The days turned into a couple of weeks and we were humming along.
Sales were picking up and this woman was as advertised.
And then it happened.
Out of nowhere one of my other original employees called one morning and quit out of the blue.
I started the hiring process again.
My Rockstar began referring people she knew in the district that she knew weren’t happy in their Agencies that were also, according to her, rockstars.
During the month that I was hiring again the chemistry and feel in the office began to change.
My Rockstar was becoming very confident in the office. Almost too confident.
I think she picked up on my ignorance to a lot of the systems and products and knew she had the office by the neck.
She began becoming very authoritative and disrespectful. Began making jokes in front of my other employee about how much she knew compared to me. How SHE should be the Agent.
She started pushing my other employee around. She was outperforming him by quite a bit and knew way more than him too. Somehow he began to migrate from being a sales person to being this womans office lackey.
She would tell him to pick up the phones, get her faxes off the machine, would have him go grab her coffee… she deferred all her service work to him as “the office needed her to keep selling”
A couple of weeks later my other original employee quit. I learned a few days after he left that he couldn’t handle working with this “Rockstar” that was in his way and preventing his growth.
Something I should have picked up on but didn’t because I was turning a blind eye to it all because… well… production.
NOW…. NOW??? It was just ME… and the “Rockstar” that now had my Agency in a vice.
I quickly hired 2 new people. Probably too quickly. But as we trained the two of them it became even more evident.
With each snide comment about her abilities or joke about my lack of experience she was undermining my authority as the Agent and owner.
The two new employees got trained up and hit the floor but neither of them seemed too happy, excited, or driven.
They were not the people I interviewed.
I allowed the Rockstar to continue to perpetuate the poor environment because she was producing.
The new employees? They were not producing much. Did they suck?
All the while my emboldened Rockstar now began acting like she was my confidant and telling me about conversations that were taking place when I was not there or in my office.
I was not a big fan of the woman but she was keeping me in the loop on things I was unaware of and needed to know.
I decided at that point to begin circumventing my Rockstar and communicating directly with my other employees significantly more frequently.
They both told me they felt stifled and like this “Rockstar” was preventing them from really taking off.
She took more of the leads than the other two and I didn’t say boo about it. She was a closer.
But these new staff members needed reps… they needed confidence… they needed to know I had their back.
I redesigned my lead distribution to be equitable and wouldn’t you know it?
My noobs numbers started to rise and they were more upbeat, fun, and confident in the office.
My Rockstar was still in my ear about everything ugly she “heard” in the office and it was really starting to grind on me.
Then one day one of my other employees asked if he could talk privately with me. Of course I said yes and we headed into my office.
I learned that EVERY time I was not within earshot I was being crapped on by my Rockstar.
The same types of stuff she was telling me my staff were saying and doing… or not doing…
They were being told the exact same things about me… and none of it added up to them as they knew me very differently than she sold me.
I was furious – my “Rockstar” had been disrupting the whole office regardless of who I had there and was manipulating people to constantly be at odds or distrustful of one another.
But what the heck was I supposed to do? This woman was closing 40 households a month while my other 2 were each closing 10-15 a month.
I couldn’t afford to lose that kind of production. It would cream me and I was trying to earn a contract…
After some soul searching I decided to take my chances. I called her into my office and let her know I was aware of a lot of things that were being said behind my back and of a lot of things I was told that according to my other employees were never done or said….
She started getting very smart with me in what was originally a very calm conversation.
I fired her on the spot.
I went home that day scared. Very scared. I just lost 50-55% of my production with that move and had a couple of people who couldn’t even cover their seat.
They assured me they would step up and everything would be fine. That the Rockstar was the problem and things were going to get better.
I struggled to believe them but had no choice. I decided to not hire to replace right away as I needed a break from personalities and wanted to give the new kids a chance to shine.
Out of nowhere both my producers went from being 10-15 household producers a month to BOTH close 35-40 households EACH a month about 60 days later.
My Rockstar was completely replaced and my office was now doing the exact same numbers with $3500 a month less in payroll.
The victory was unexpected but tremendous.
Addition by subtraction.
Removing the Rockstar from my office saved me money, gave my noobs the confidence they needed to step up, and totally changed the culture of my office day to day.
From that moment on I decided a toxic employee had no home with me regardless of their talent level and from that day forward I have removed anyone that I have even suspected of being remotely cancerous to my culture and never look back.
Things continued to get better and better from there and my first year wound up being a million dollar premium year despite the first quarter being a pretty big disaster.
If you are holding on to a toxic Rockstar out of fear you need to cut them loose.
The damage theyre doing to your culture and other employees is immense and at best they are dealing with it and at worse they are underperforming due to it.
Cut the toxic staff from your Agency fast.
You know the saying….
Slow to hire… quick to fire.
Theyre wise words for a reason. Follow them and keep that culture positive and upbeat.
Rockstars are replaceable and theres a new one born every day.
Do not let ANYONE hold your Agency hostage because they are a Rockstar.
You win more that way.
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