Strategic Management for Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers: Positive Change for Sustained Excellence

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Growing in a slow economy

Let's talk about what's keeping you up at night.

"Commercial revenues are down because of the economy and the soft market. Revenues are flat and it doesn't look like there is much improvement expected any time soon. How do I grow in commercial lines when business is contracting, not expanding?"

There are no easy answers because so much depends on the strategic decisions
you've made until now. But start by looking at your customers.

There is always tension between specialization - niche marketing - and
differentiation. It's risky to have all your eggs in one market basket. On the
other hand, we know that being an expert in your customer's business adds

So make sure you're an expert. And make sure you're an adviser. Sell your
expertise, not your ability to shop a policy across a large number of carriers.
This not only sets you apart from the competition but also mitigates the price
shopping that is part of every insurance buyer's instinct.

Being an expert also helps you cover all risks for every client. Personal lines
as well as business insurance. Life insurance to protect both their families
and their businesses. Benefits to cover employees. There is a lot of
uncertainty right now, which means there is a lot of opportunity. Look at your
customers' needs creatively and fearlessly.

Begin a review of clients to identify opportunities for additional sales.
Follow through with letters, calls and visits!

Need help growing in a slow economy?
Let's have a conversation. No strings, no charge.
Call 530-295-1083 or send me an email.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Choose Your Customer

Competitive advantage requires that you know who your customer is. And who your customer is not.

Business owners are often afraid that choosing who their customers are and are not will limit their profitability. The fear is that, if you narrow your customer demographic, you’ll miss out on a lot of business. The opposite is true, though. When you don’t target a specific demographic, your staff wastes a lot of time and money going after business that will not be profitable and, probably, won’t stick. In fact, choosing who your customers are and are not will free your staff to respond to your most profitable customers and get more customers like them.

Choosing who your customers are and are not doesn’t confine or lock you into a strategy. Rather, it keeps you steady, focused and able to respond -- rather than react -- in an ever-changing environment.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Competitive Advantage

It’s pretty clear that the economy isn’t going to bounce right back. But this doesn’t mean that 2011 will be a bad year for business. Now is the time to make the most of your strengths in the marketplace to keep your customers and bring in more.
Why should they buy from you?
Everyone needs insurance. But why should they buy from your agency rather than the agency down the street or online? When you can answer that question - and consistently deliver - you have a competitive advantage.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Change is Good - Up to a Point

One of the most often, and often most challenging issues faced by managers is getting change to "stick." A change in process or procedure is agreed to and implemented. Now everyone will do it that way. Right? Well, often, not. Pretty soon, one or more have reverted to the old way of doing it. No apparent reason. No "I don't like the new way so I'm going back to the old way." Folks just slip back to the prior way of doing things. The change doesn't "stick."

Here's a (kind of) scientific explanation for why this is true and why it's so hard to change. Self-Control is Exhaustible

That's why we always encourage follow up as part of implementation. Once the training is done and the change is made, there needs to be provision to regularly - and consistently - check to see if the change is still in place. If there is no expectation of follow-up and follow through, then there is no requirement for self-control - no requirement to stick with the change until it is the new habit.

If you want your changes to stick, you'll have to stick to your changes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ensuring Consistency

Let’s talk about what’s keeping you up at night.

 “I can’t get my staff to follow instructions. There are procedures in writing but they’re ignored. They always have some excuse for doing things differently.”

Start by looking at the five T’s. 
  • Training. Has the necessary Training been done?
  • Time. What is the effect on available time? Will something have to give?
  • Task.  Have you communicated clearly about both “what” and “why?” How does it fit into your big picture.  How is it going to benefit them?
  • Traction. Change is hard. It is as difficult to form a new habit as it is to break an old one.
  • Tracking. Follow up is crucial to implementation. How will you measure the results?
Next, look at your operations. To get the work done, you need to focus on process not personalities. Do they have the tools they need to do what you’re asking? The training? The time? Are there real obstacles to performing a task?

Select a task that doesn’t get done correctly and ask why. Ask those who do the work to tell you how to improve the process.
And then do it!

Need help building consistency into your operation? Let’s have a conversation.  No strings. No charge. Call 530.295.1083 or send me an email.