Million Dollar Goals on Minimum Wage Discipline
As an agency mentor I talk to hundreds of agents every year. Some are doing very well, some are doing okay, and some are doing poorly.
The one constant that I hear from poorly producing agents is that “Nothing works in my agency and my staff is terrible.” Not one thing--not referrals, not mailing, not emailing, not internet leads, not telemarketing, not online search results--nothing works!
Though I share, mentor, and train them on the exact processes, tools, workflow steps, and conversations that are working for the top producing agents and agencies around the country, they believe (We all know your perception becomes your reality!) that nothing will work in their agency.
I think the thing that really gets to me the most is how far this type of agent will go to maintain the status quo. They will:
· Lie to me even though they pay my company to help them
· Withhold information from their staff that can help the agency because they feel if the staff finds out what the agent is not doing right, it will show how weak of a leader they are, and it will be embarrassing. Better to be a failure than embarrassed, right?
· Make an excuse for every failure that occurs in the agency: they are jinxed, the hiring pool in the area sucks, the carrier's reps don't like them, their customers don't use email, and the agents down the street lie to their prospects to get their business. This type of agent has suit cases packed with nothing but excuses.
· Blame staff for not producing even though they have never given them the training or resources to be successful
While I could go on and on with the list, I want to go in a different direction. I want to identify a few of the symptoms of weak leadership that causes this type of agency environment to begin with, and some corrective actions you can take if you see some of your characteristics on this list:
Problem: Personal issues and distractions outside of the agency.
There are some people who enjoy leading a drama-filled life and they find a way to create drama wherever they go. Often they take on other people’s issues and use that as an excuse for abandoning their own insurance business. Sometimes they have a side business that is failing for the exact same reasons that their insurance business is failing: weak leadership!
Allow someone in the agency (or outside of the agency if you don’t have staff) to be able to make decisions when you are not around to make them. We all know that “pride comes before the fall,” but pride doesn't have to be the reason you fall. I.A.N. Members: This is why it is important that you allow staff to have access to the video and document library. We can only mentor and train them on what to do if you allow them to access our materials.
Problem: Lack of discipline
Let's be honest with ourselves. Lack of discipline is generally the root of most of our personal and professional problems.
1. Allow someone that you trust to hold you accountable. For I.A.N. members: make sure you schedule and attend your monthly mentoring session with one of our team members.
2. Outsource tasks that you don’t have the discipline to do on your own. There are only two kinds of discipline: self-discipline and accountability. Paying someone you don't control to perform a task is one of the best accountability techniques. I.A.N. Members: In the mentoring sessions we will give you the tasks to outsource based on what we know about your personality and agency resources.
Problem: The agent makes excuses for poorly performing staff members
We all know that misery loves company, and often that is exactly what I see in poorly performing agencies: an office filled with miserable people. The staff is miserable because they have a weak leader who doesn’t give them any direction, accountability, or sense of purpose. The agent is miserable because the agency is performing so poorly that the staff is taking home a bigger weekly paycheck than the agent, and the really miserable part is that no one sees an end to this madness.
1. Download a Marketing Plan from the front page of the Inspire a Nation website: www.inspireanation.org. This will give you a good place to start as well as detailed mentoring suggestions.
2. Have a heart to heart discussion with yourself and your current staff. Don’t just tell them what you want; actually listen to what they say they need from you in order for them to be successful in your agency. Make an agreement that the pity party is over and that you are going to bring in outside help. I.A.N. Members: Set up a mentoring session with one of our team members. Non-Members: Look at our membership program as an outside help option: www.inspireanation.org.
3. Set up a process workflow for one agency process. You can view a video mentoring session on how to create a workflow on the membership page of our website; http://inspireanation.org/membershipinformation.
4. An email confirmation process for your endorsements is one of the easiest processes to start in an agency. Changing a staff member’s natural conversation is a real headache and the agency needs something that is simple but also gives them a sense of accomplishment. An endorsement confirmation email can be as simple as:
“Thank you for allowing us to serve your insurance needs. We processed the recent change you requested on your (auto policy). You should receive something in the mail from (Carrier) in the next 5 – 7 business days confirming the change. If you have any questions please email us or call us.
We always want your referrals! We want to protect your family and friends, but we need you to introduce them to our agency. Please give our name to at least one person this week.”
Problem: The agency doesn’t have any money to market or advertise
There is a vicious cycle that occurs in a poorly performing agency: The leadership is weak, which leads to weak agency processes, which leads to weak agency production, which leads to weak commissions, which leads to weak staffing (You hire weak staff because that is what the agency can afford), which leads to weak production, which leads to weak commissions, which leads to a weak budget for marketing and advertising, which leads to weak production, which leads to weak commissions, and the cycle just keeps repeating. How do you get off of this hamster wheel?
Corrective Actions: Utilize free marketing and advertising processes (I.A.N. Members – view process 02b in the Video Library: Free tasks that drive new business sales in an agency! http://inspireanation.org/page-1736875.)
1. Ask your current customers for referrals
2. Hand out your business card to 25 local businesses this week
3. Connect with 10 local business leaders on LinkedIn
4. Call some current customers and some non-customers and wish them happy birthday (Make sure they have a birthday coming up in the next 7 days)
5. Call some local professionals that have sent business to you in the past and start rekindling the relationship.
It is my hope and desire that this blog post makes those of you who need it to take a hard look at yourselves and your agencies, as well as gives you some simple actions that you can put in place right away to help break you out of whatever mental and emotional pathway you are on that keeps your agency performing poorly.
Note: I write these blogs as a form of marketing for Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring. At the end of the day I want to show our value as well as give you a taste of the wisdom and experience we bring to the table. I want those of you that need the type of mentoring we provide to consider becoming a member of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring. Check us out at: www.inspireanation.org.
Billy R. Williams, PhD.
President – Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring