7 Tips for a Successful Agency!
I know what it’s like to build an agency. I’ve done it 3 times in 3 different states, and I remember sitting at my desk thinking, this is mine…now what? In our industry, if you’re not selling, you’re not growing. If you’re not growing, you’re stagnant. So how do you start? Where do you put your focus? I’ve compiled my top 7 tips to successfully grow your agency (of course, Guaranteed Leads always help, too).
1. Have a Solid Business Plan: Ask yourself, is everything in order? I know there’s a lot of pressure to bring in commissions, but you must have a solid, written business plan in place. Your initial trajectory may look like this: rent office space, buy/lease office equipment, phone system, computers, cleaning supplies, and get your marketing program up & running. A solid business plan keeps you from ignoring the small details of your agency, which can often get overlooked, but never disappear.
2. Create Specific and Measurable Goals: Keep a daily, weekly & monthly account of truly attainable goals. After all, selling as much as you can isn’t a concrete goal. A more specific goal might be to set 20 appointments per week, understand that 30% of those 20 appointments may not show up, so you can hope to close 50% of the appointments you’re able to keep. My first goal was to issue 1 policy a day for the first month. I told my family that once I accomplished that goal, I’d reward all of us by having a nice dinner out. Guess what happened? By including my wife and kids, they bugged the heck out of me each day to see if I met the goal so we could all go out to eat! Tip: Let your family in on your goals. They will be your biggest cheerleaders. Remember, your goals should be specific and measurable, so that you can track your agency’s progress and continually improve.
3. Stay focused on what is really important: I know, this sounds easy, but how do you do it? My best piece of advice is to avoid distractions. Limit clutter in your space (and that may need to include putting away your cell phone), close open tabs on your computer screen, and try to avoid emails from co-workers for at least an hour a day. If you can limit distractions, you’ll accomplish more in less time. Then you can reward yourself with mini-breaks, which keeps your mind fresh for your next task. Keep your life balanced, and you’ll never be too tired to tackle what is sure to follow the next day!
4. Develop Standard Operating Procedures: Part of your business plan should be establishing standard operating procedures to direct people in your agency on what to do, so that you leave nothing to chance. You need to know your agency’s internal process, get input from employees and/or colleagues; then, you can test your strategies, post the SOP in the workplace, and train your staff accordingly. There is an old saying on Broadway – “you don’t practice until you get it right, you practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
5. Hire Great Employees: The truth is you can’t afford not to staff your agency. After all, if you sell 2 to 3 policies today, you won’t sell 2 or 3 tomorrow, because you’ll be too busy finishing paperwork from the day before. I recommend hiring someone who compliments your weaknesses. For example, mine is paperwork. Most agents are terrible at paperwork and great at sales, so hire someone who’s great at it, train them as a CSR, and continue to sell, sell, sell.
6. Treat People with Dignity and Respect: particularly with employees, give them regular feedback and a path for growth. Make sure a part of your business plan is to recruit, retain, and reward your hard-working staff.
7. Stick with Your Core Processes: At the end of the day, when you’re overwhelmed because your CSR has the flu, a client’s house is on fire (this happened to me), and the phone is ringing on multiple lines at once, your core processes will save you.
I like to say, a well-run agency is like a great play: everything is scripted. Nothing is left to chance! With that in mind, make sure to balance work and home life. It’s so easy to get lost in work and ignore what you’re really working for.