Are you an insurance hypocrite, too?…

It was too late…

The words were already out there…

In front of a room full of agency owners…

I had just called one of them a hypocrite, and I started scrambling to explain myself…

The heated debate had started five minutes earlier, when…

The class asked for help systemizing their account review processes, and I said…

“That’s easy … don’t do them.”  It blew up from there…

Now, I can’t write a book chapter here, so let me summarize…

And see if YOU are a hypocrite, too…

I asked the class, “Why do you do account reviews? What are your goals?”

We listed the usual…

Provide good service
Nurture relationships
Round the account

You can make a list as long as you want, and my point is always the same…

Account reviews are always a poor way to achieve those goals!

And that led to my hypocrisy faux pas…

Ruffled by my point of view, a young lady declared her passion for her clients’ protection…

How important it is to make sure they know about new endorsements and such…

I agreed with the goal, and asked …

“What percent of your clients actually respond and participate in an account review?”

She and the class agreed it’s typically less than 10%.  I continued…

“So you SAY you care about your clients’ protection…

“But you KNOW less than 10% of your clients get your message through account reviews…

“Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite?

“Because if you truly cared about your clients, you’d find a way to reach most of them!”

The good news…

She wasn’t offended.  She got it … and so did everyone else.

No matter what goals you have for your account review process…

There are BETTER ways to actually achieve them!

You want to nurture relationships?…

Then nurture them!  With direct relationship contacts to everyone…

You want to round your accounts?…

Then round them!  With direct marketing and sales efforts…

You want your clients to know about coverage options?

Then contact them directly with that information!…

Do you get it?

Now … should you really not do account reviews at all?

Maybe…

First, I understand large commercial risks require annual reviews, risk management services, etc.

But for everything else…

Resources are limited, right?  So…

Here are my TWO challenges for you …

First, don’t divert any resources to account reviews until you’ve done everything you possibly can to DIRECLTY achieve your goals.

For example, do everything possible to round your accounts with direct marketing efforts…

When you’ve exhausted all possible account rounding avenues…

Then it’s okay to divert resources to account reviews.

Second, no matter what … TRACK YOUR RESULTS!

So you can stop guessing about whether or not your account reviews actually achieve your goals and KNOW.

How?  Check out these articles …

An owner who tracked and knows
The First Step to Profitable, Worry-Free Business Decisions
The Second Step
The Third Step
The Fourth Step

When the subject is “Your were right!” …

How often do you receive an email, << Test First Name >>, that starts …

“You were right!”

(There’s a marriage joke in there somewhere … but I’m letting it go.)

In this case one of my coaching clients had good news…

Here’s what he said …

“Over the period of June, July and August we conducted 4-7 renewal call reviews a week. The calls only took about 10-15 minutes each. The appointment was scheduled by an outside vendor.

“The goal was to provide value, retain customers, cross-sell and up-sell. The verdict …

“We did not see an increase in retention. We did not generate significant cross-sales.

“The customers whose policy premium decreased or stayed about the same remained a customer.

“The customers who had a rate increase and we were unable to find a lower rate, left.

“As a matter of fact, we felt the customers took us for granted.

“You were right. If you want to cross-sell, just do it. There is no need to wait until renewal.

“Also, there is no need to poke the bear lol.”

Are you paying attention?  Because …

Earlier I said my client had GOOD news, but doesn’t that sound like BAD news?

Actually, it’s GREAT news!

Why? …

Because THIS agency owner knows the TRUTH and can now make a well-informed BUSINESS decision!

He planned a program …

He TRACKED key results …

And he pulled the plug on a losing program.

And that’s GREAT news!

PLUS … now he can divert his resources away from that losing program …

To a winning program …

Even GREATER news.

And all because he traded theory and wishful thinking …

For facts, truth and real business information.

I can’t tell you how many agencies I encounter who run all kinds of programs …

And have no idea if they’re actually achieving the desired results.

My best advice for you …

Don’t be one of them!

Review the following articles resurrected from the archives …

The First Step to Profitable, Worry-Free Business Decisions

The Second Step

The Third Step

The Fourth Step

I hope it helps!

Are you creating this hiring problem yourself, too?

When I see a recurring problem with my customers and coaching clients, I figure…

Other owners and managers are probably impacted the same, so…

Let’s talk about it, because it may provide you some pain relief!

In my Freedom Through Systems® program and the Creating Your Perfect Team™ system, I emphasize proper team structure as an essential component of creating your most profitable agency…

In short (really short) …

There’s a ton of agency work that does NOT require a license to do it well…

Therefore … we can intentionally group that work into positions that don’t require a license…

Therefore … we can hire low-cost, entry-level people to fill those positions…

And then … train them to do things “our way.”

Now, the problem I’ve been tripping over recently is this…

I see agencies doing a good job identifying and grouping their non-licensed work. No problem there.

But…

They seem to lose their way trying to fill that entry-level position…

They advertise for entry level, but then want a candidate with a multi-year history of flawless experience.

No.

Entry level is entry level.

“No experience required” means just that.

We will train the right person!

One of my greatest hires ever worked at a Walmart when she saw my employment ad…

She was 19 – more than sharp enough for college – but didn’t go…

She had zero experience in our environment – which is fine…

What she did have was everything we needed…

Good moral character…

Good work ethic…

And the desire and ability to learn…

She didn’t need skills — it’s entry level.

She needed the right character — and she had that.

We trained her. She learned the business and eventually got licensed — a career path she couldn’t get at Walmart!

Now, there’s another important facet to this issue (I apologize this is getting long)…

The people most likely to qualify for your entry level positions…

Grew up in a different age…

And many never learned to type or keyboard. That’s a SKILL that can be learned …

(Hard as it may be to believe) some never addressed a postal mail envelope…

Another skill that can be learned.

My point is this…

As much as I avoid the “right person” syndrome because it can be taken to dangerous extremes, it applies in this case…

When hiring entry-level, no-experience-required positions…

The candidate’s skill set is far less important than them being the “right person”…

Good moral character…

Good work ethic…

And the desire and ability to learn.

That’s who we want…

We can teach them the rest.

A Lesson In My Public Humiliation

I was only 14, but remember it to this day…

Because the public humiliation rocked my core…

You see someone failed to show for work, so…

I was pulled from my stock boy position…

To take sandwich orders behind the counter…

… at lunch time – on a Saturday – at the busiest deli in town!

In no time at all, things were a total mess…

You know the feeling when someone who orders after you gets served first…

Now, multiply that by 10 or 20…

And that’s when this guy lit into me…

In front of dozens of other customers.

Now, we could easily argue his cowardice…

For taking it out on a kid instead of finding the owner…

But, ultimately…

The guy was right!

Now …

You might be tempted to say this story illustrates employee issues…

That it’s hard to find good people…

That people can’t be trusted to do the simplest of tasks…

After all, blaming is one of the easiest things to do…

But, I’m here to tell ya…

My story does NOT illustrate a “people problem”…

It reveals a “SYSTEMS problem”!

The BUSINESS failed to deliver the desired customer experience…

And, more accurately, the OWNER failed to design an easily-trainable ordering SYSTEM to ensure its unfailing delivery.

I was conscientious & willing…

I wanted to do a great job…

But, frankly, I was set up to fail…

And though I took it VERY personally at the time…

I now know … it wasn’t my fault!  (Yeah, no more therapy)

YOU can do better!

Develop and implement true business SYSTEMS that allow good, average people to produce extraordinary results…

That’s what good systems do…

If you want the personal freedom and independence that comes from an agency that thrives without your constant involvement…

… start by making the mental shift from people-blamer to systems-designer-and-implementer!

THEN…

If someone fails to execute your well-designed, well-implemented and well-trained systems…

You know you have a true “people problem”…

And can deal with that directly.

“Inside were real solutions to my agency problems, not a bunch of feel good, motivational fluff that I’d seen before.” – David Sanor, Salem, OH

The Freedom Through Systems Program for Insurance Agency Owners

Joe

“HOW TO GET 52% MORE COMMISSION GROWTH”
Without One Extra Lead or Marketing Dollar Spent and Without Having to Hire Another CSR or So-called Producer
FIND OUT HOW RIGHT HERE

Do you know what that (bleep) said today?

Pardon my language …

But I never had a boss that wasn’t an a**hole …

At some level …

And I’m guessing you’re one, too!

Now, don’t be offended …

Hear me out and I think you’ll learn something important.

Before I became a business owner …

I had two great bosses…

Whom I love and respect to this day…

But truth be told …

They were both (bleeps) from time to time!

Why?

Because there was no way for them to avoid it!

They made decisions for their businesses that affected my life…

And sometimes I didn’t like it!

So, guess what I said to my buddies over a beer?

“Do you know what that (bleep) did today?”

Fast forward …

When I became “the boss”, I realized something undeniable …

My team (some more than others) surely feel the same way about me…

And I GUARANTEE you …

YOUR team feels the same way about YOU …

… from time to time!

Short of being a “puppet ruler” there’s no way to avoid it, because …

No matter what you do or say …

You can’t make everyone happy all the time …

And, when they vent to their family and friends …

YOU are referenced with unpleasant adjectives.

Who cares … get over it!!!

But what’s the point?

To put your head on straight when it comes to the TRUTH of the employer-employee relationship …

If you need to be liked, find some friends. (Call me – I’ll pat you on the back.)

Because standing at the helm of your agency is NOT the place to seek approval from those in your charge.

Now, I’m often misunderstood on this topic…

So, let me clarify a little…

I’m NOT saying devalue people & treat them poorly.

Quite the contrary…

Treat them well. Pay them well. And hold them to high standards.

Just don’t kid yourself about the TRUE nature of the relationship…

Then do what’s best for your agency’s future …

Even though someone on your team doesn’t like it…

And that makes you the (bleep) —– again.

Joe

Free Productivity Tool ANYBODY Can Use

I’m sharing my SUPER-simple method …

… for being SUPER-productive with …

Marketing projects … (are you having your marketing session with yourself every week?)

Systems projects … (what about your systems session?)

Anything at all that you just can’t get done …

Because you’re swamped putting out fires all day long!

ANYBODY can use this method to be instantly more productive.

Below is a link to a secret back page on my website …

You can download my ridiculously simple tool for free …

And I shot a really short video to show you how to use it.

Take a look … and start getting more done today!

CLICK/TAP HERE

(trouble with link? https://freedomthroughsystems.com/free-productivity)

Does your team love or hate true business systems? (and why it matters …)

It was one of those coaching calls where …

The agency principal had an emergency come up …

Couldn’t make the call …

So his “right-hand person” and I were all alone …

Time for me to see what’s REALLY going!

Our discussion came around to checklists, and she proceeded to tell me unprompted …

That she loves the checklists!

They help keep her and the rest of the team on track …

No important tasks get missed …

And all the steps of a complex process are completed …

Awesome … the checklists are doing their job!

And it reminded me …

So many agency owners – with sales personalities …

Just can’t imagine that most of their team – with service personalities …

Thrive in STRUCTURE more than chaos!

If you’re going to realize your personal freedom through systems, here’s something you must see and truly understand …

Check out these letters written by three of my former agency employees …

All I asked was their opinion of the agency’s business systems, and I was blown away by what they wrote …

First, an unlicensed, entry-level position – click here

Second, a newly licensed CSR position – click here

Third, an experienced CSR focused on writing new prospects – click here

Important points …

Nobody said they liked me … I didn’t manage to be liked.

Nobody said they really enjoyed our great times at the bar across town … I didn’t engage my team as life-sharing friends.

But they ALL said this … true business systems …

  1. Made their jobs easier
  2. Prevented mistakes
  3. Made them more productive
  4. Made our clients very happy

And true business systems gave them satisfaction in their jobs knowing they were doing the right things, the right way and at the right times.

You have no idea how much I wish …

I could just inject that into your brain!

So …

Have you fallen behind on your systemization efforts?  The letters above should truly inspire you!

Have you not started, yet?  Get moving!

Check out these articles to help …

How to get it done one part at a time
The magical power of blocked time and momentum

And if you don’t yet have your copy of the Freedom Through Systems® program, save 25% now AND get 2 hours of free coaching time … right here.

Joe

Use the Crazy to Get Better and Better

We all have crazy stories about ridiculous things employees have done …

Some are horrifying …

Like plotting to take a book of business to another agency …

While less harmful events just confound the laws of common sense …

Like this …

A coaching client of mine just parted ways with a recent hire …

… who didn’t know how to properly address an envelope!

Personally, I have a handful of almost as ridiculous examples in my bag of crazy stories …

And you probably have your share, as well.

The problem is …

It’s easy to laugh as we tell these stories, but …

Why don’t we use the crazy to make our agency business machines better?

Here’s what I mean …

I once employed a sharp young lady as my receptionist …

This was the beginning of her professional career – before that she made sandwiches at the local deli …

Long story short …

I was sitting next to her when the first visitor she encountered entered the office and approached the desk …

Have you ever seen a puppy tilt its head in reaction to a new sound?

THAT was her greeting!

Not a word came out of her mouth …

Just a tilt of the head as if to say, “What the hell do you want?”

Thankfully I was there and jumped right in …

After the client left, did I fire her?

No … as I said she was sharp and stayed with us for many years …

And I have no idea where she learned that her greeting was acceptable – the deli maybe?

The point is …

I learned an incredibly valuable lesson in that moment …

Take NOTHING for granted!

From that crazy incident …

I created and documented my standards for how we greet and manage visitors …

Not just talk, but well-considered documented standards …

And with them I established a consistent, high-level standard of client experience for all visitors to our agency …

And then I used them to train every new receptionist that came after her …

Because …

It’s NOT common sense! …

You only think it should be!

Even though I tell that story repeatedly in agency management seminars …

… and get a lot of laughs from it …

I USED the crazy to make my business machine better …

Now, back to my client whose former employee couldn’t properly address an envelope …

My advice to them?

Use the crazy!

Add addressing an envelope to your prospective employee skills test!

“That’s ridiculous!”, you say?  I say …

You can continue to allow your real-life experiences …

… to simply happen to you again and again …

OR … you can use the crazy to …

NEVER let it happen again!

Systems Improvement Thinking …

… a cornerstone of the Freedom Through Systems® program …

… compels us to use everything that “goes wrong” …

… to adjust our business systems so it never happens again!

We don’t just solve the problem …

We fix the system to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.

Here’s your take-away …

Don’t just laugh about your crazy stories …

USE them. Make your machine better and better. Don’t let THAT happen to you again.

Do it every month, every week, every day …

And one day soon you’ll look back and be amazed at what you accomplished.

“Inside were real solutions to my agency problems, not a bunch of feel good, motivational fluff that I’d seen before.” – David Sanor, Salem, OH

See the latest deal on the Freedom Through Systems program now!

Italy + Leather = A Valuable Business Lesson

In Italy earlier this summer (a fantastic two weeks!) …

… I happened upon an artisan shop turning out handmade leather goods. (In Montepulciano, I think … not certain.)

Gorgeous, highest-quality workmanship, for sure …

… and well-reviewed in travel guides (i.e. legit) …

… and quite expensive as you can imagine.

However, this craftsman justified his lofty prices with a sense of humor …

The slogan on his sign translates as follows …

“Buy the best … and cry only once!”

Isn’t that awesome!  EVERYBODY can relate to that …

Haven’t we all regretted a “bargain” purchase …

Understanding too late that the more expensive option was the TRUE bargain?

I think it’s a great slogan …

And then I was talking to a coaching client about employee training …

And it came back to me …

“Buy the best … and cry only once”

Now, let me be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR …

I am NOT talking about paying outrageous wages to supposed “rock star” employees …

No. No. No. But …

I AM talking about your approach to employee training itself …

Now follow me here …

Training a new employee requires an investment …

Primarily of your time and personal frustration …

And the tendency is to short-change employee training …

Because you’re so darn busy …

And because you continue to believe that Alice “should just get it, she’ll be OK” …

Unfortunately, that approach is almost invariably followed by …

… weeks, months, even years of crying over those same employees! (I hear it all the time.)

So, I say bite the bullet …

Invest the time and effort necessary to train a new employee the RIGHT way …

AND CRY ONLY ONCE!

No matter how you approach it, training time is a necessary step backwards …

You can’t avoid the investment entirely …

You must train your new employees … and that takes time …

So, commit to paying “the higher price” of doing it right … and cry only once!

Now here’s the good news …

Doing training the right way can … and should … be an efficient process!

Check out this article on my Productivity Training Method

The important point here is this …

Even though my Productivity Training Method makes training fast and easy …

Never short-change your investment in the process!

Remember …

You can make the right investment now and cry only once …

Or short-cut the process and cry for years to come.

“Inside were real solutions to my agency problems, not a bunch of feel good, motivational fluff that I’d seen before.” – David Sanor, Salem, OH

Save 25% now! The Freedom Through Systems Program for Insurance Agency Owners

Joe

Yet another frightening story you shouldn’t ignore …

With heart pounding, he forced out the words …

“Have you been running another business on agency time and equipment?”

(Now that’s a question you don’t ask unless you already know the answer)

Surprisingly, the truth came back without a fight …

“I was.”

“What do you think I should do about that?”, he followed up.

Without a word …

She got up and left …

Both his office and his agency … forever.

Now, I say ‘forever’ like this is an old story …

But it’s meant as a prediction, because …

This just happened less than 3 months ago! …

To one of my coaching clients …

And just so we’re clear, this was …

A LONG-time employee …

Someone with whom the agency was built …

Someone about whom anyone would say …

“She would never do something like that.”

And yet … she did.

Why did he even know to ask?

A tiny uptick in client complaints …

Uncharacteristic and enough to make him wonder …

And MOST IMPORTANTLY …

He investigated his concerns!

Of course … as you can probably imagine …

After she was gone he uncovered the true extent of the damage …

Non-response to client requests …

And even non-renewed accounts!

If you’ve been with me for any amount of time …

You know I share stories such as these from time to time …

Why?

To snap you out of your naïve complacency!

That part of you that insists …

“But MY people would never do that” …

Bull-snot!

You don’t have to become cynical, but …

You can’t be a dupe, either.

Because the sad part is he didn’t catch it sooner …

He could have …

He admittedly ignored some signs along the way, because …

There were just too many other “priorities” …

But he finally dug into his concerns … saw what was happening … and put an end to it.

Better late than never, and after a painful recovery …

His agency will be all the better for it.

And that’s really the moral of the story …

Cutting out what is hurting your agency will be painful, for sure …

But you and your agency will be all the better for it!

I promise.

Take your head out of the sand and …

Deal with what needs your attention …

You can do it!  And you’ll be all the better for it.

“Inside were real solutions to my agency problems, not a bunch of feel good, motivational fluff that I’d seen before.” – David Sanor, Salem, OH

Save 25% now! The Freedom Through Systems Program for Insurance Agency Owners

Joe