FIVE REASONS WHY YOUR AGENCY DOESN’T NEED A COACH
Even the best can improve
A qualified coach can help you, as
a leader, develop and empower your team. As
a result, you’re more likely to retain top talent
as you maximize agency growth.
By Brent Kelly
Have you ever wondered what a coach does and whether your agency should be working with one? A few years back, I was golfing as part of a foursome, and one of our members was having an especially good day. He had substantially improved from the last time he played, prompting one of the other members to remark, “Well it’s not really fair because he hired a coach.” My thoughts exactly!
I realize that the topic of coaching may seem self-serving, since coaching and consulting is what we do at The Sitkins Group. In that role, we work with independent insurance agencies to develop and improve them in their areas of leadership, sales, operations, and more. Our job is to encourage you and challenge you. However, I am not writing this to promote my business. If you’re an agency leader, my objective is to help you understand how coaching works and what it can do to help your business flourish.
Perhaps your agency has done just fine for years without a coach. It’s not as successful as it could be, but it’s done very well. Does your agency need a coach? Here are five reasons why it doesn’t (even if it does).
- You’re immune to outside forces. Every agency deals with outside forces, which can be good or bad. For example, you have the economy, market conditions, and even the weather. In the wake of Hurricane Ian’s devastating losses, a significant number of insurance carriers went bankrupt or pulled out of Florida entirely. Many of those that remain are raising their rates by double digits. As a result, they’re coasting uphill because they’re keeping clients and getting huge increases. But how long will this last?
Typically, such increases are not sustainable. As Warren Buffet famously said, “When the tide rolls out, we will know who has been swimming naked.”
Coaches can help you deal with the various outside forces that are beyond anyone’s control. Years ago, one of my coaches said something simple but profound that always stuck with me. “Control the controllables.” He explained that you can’t control the market, the economy or certain aspects of your environment, even though they impact you. All you can control is what you can control! These controllables include mindset, behaviors, and strategies. Forget about the things you can’t change.
- You’re waiting to sell out. A lot of agencies are complacent and yet they’re still making lots of money. Furthermore, many agency owners are planning to sell (internally or externally) in the next few years. Why would they need a coach when they can just wait it out and save the time and money?
Many producers feel the same way. Earlier this year, I was talking with a friend of mine who has been in the business for the past 20 years and hopes to retire in seven years. Although she’s dissatisfied with her work environment and doesn’t like her job, she doesn’t want to jeopardize her goal to retire early.
Rather than make positive changes, she figures she’ll just wait it out and suffer through those next seven years. I find that heartbreaking! Yet that’s the mindset at many agencies: Why put time, energy, and money in a coach when it won’t be that much longer until I’m out of the business?
I would challenge agency leaders who think this way with these questions: How much time and money will you lose by waiting? More important, what is your purpose if you stay the course? Ultimately, will you be fulfilled? Don’t you want to be challenged? As Robert Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” You’ll never exceed your best if you’re just floating to the finish line. What’s worse, you probably won’t have much fun getting there.
Aside from the thrill of being challenged, there’s the financial impact to consider. If you’re only in it for the money, how much are you willing to leave on the table? You may not think it amounts to all that much, but in our business, with the multiples of agency value, it can really add up. Now if you’re only talking about a year, the difference might be hard to quantify.
But if you plan to be around for several more years, consider this: Using a 10X multiple (which is actually pretty low at this point), every $100,000 of unrealized profit = $1 million or more in lost agency valuation. Is that what you want to leave on the table? At what cost are you willing to be complacent for the next two years, five years or longer? If money’s not that important to you, then you don’t need a coach.
- Your team isn’t worth the investment. During my initial conversation with client agencies, my approach is very straightforward: If you believe that your team is not worthy of investing your time, energy, effort, and resources, then you don’t need a coach. However, if you believe your team is worth investing in, a coach can be extremely helpful.
I believe that as an agency leader, your number-one job is to develop your people. Nothing is more important than developing your team, regardless of the size or success of your agency. Even if you have the most ambitious, motivated self-starters on your team, they want more development. They want more accountability. They also want more resources, tools and skills that will help them enhance their career. In turn, their success will enhance your agency’s growth and profitability.
Sometimes, the best performers get overlooked. In fact, the more competent and self-motivated they are, the more likely they are to be left alone to work independently. They probably like it that way to a degree. But they may also feel ignored and unappreciated when they need to be acknowledged, developed, and challenged.
The best in any business always want more! They want to learn more, do more, achieve more, be more. They’re never content with the status quo.
Anyone who is worthy of being part of your agency deserves to be challenged and developed at the highest level. Is that the culture you have created? Have you given them a compelling vision and reason to stay? Are you developing them for the long term? That’s where coaching comes in. A qualified coach can help you, as a lead-er, develop and empower your team.
As a result, you’re more likely to retain top talent as you maximize agency growth. Of course, if you prefer average team members and stagnant profits, do not seek the expertise of a coach.
- You are the undisputed number one agency in your marketplace. Are you unequivocally the top agency in your marketplace? Do you fear the competition or does the competition fear you? You know you’re the best of the best if you walk into an account and other agencies know they don’t have a chance. Your clients consider you an indispensable risk partner, making it all but impossible for your competitors to lure them away.
If you’ve reached this lofty level—the top 1%-2% of agencies—you probably don’t need a coach (FYI, those are the agencies that still have a coach). If you’re not sure where your agency stands in the marketplace, here are some things to ponder:
PODs. Does your high-performance team understand the points of differentiation that make your agency unlike your competitors? Do your producers have a unique and compelling selling proposition?
Agency playbook. Does your agency have a set offense, or process, that makes it stand out from all others in the marketplace? Is there an intentional, coordinated way of doing business that elevates you into a category by yourself?
Relentless preparation and practice. Are you reinforcing your team’s skills? Do your producers practice these skills consistently through role-playing, recordings, etc.? Are they so well-rehearsed that their presentations are flawless and seem effortless?
If you can answer “yes” to the above, it’s likely your agency is the point of comparison in your marketplace, and so you don’t need a coach.
- Your results are consistently incredible. If you’re getting industry-leading results, maybe you don’t need a coach. Having said that, I’ve noticed that agencies that get the most extraordinary results continue to look for other ways to improve. They realize there’s always another level to attain and proactively pursue it.
Here’s what we’ve seen among our client agencies that achieve consistently incredible results:
- Revenue per employee of $275,000+
- Overflowing pipelines (more opportunities than time)
- Referral from every client, thanks to their Future Ideal Client marketing system
- 80%+ Conversion rate
- 80%+ Closing rate
- 15%+ Organic growth
- 25%+ Profitability
If that’s where you are, we’re happy for you, and we’d probably question why you would need a coach. However, keep in mind that a coach will help you accomplish what you haven’t accomplished yet. Along the way, they’ll help encourage and inspire you, and possibly point out some weaknesses you haven’t noticed.
The bottom line
As a coach, I’ve observed that the most successful agencies and producers don’t want to grow complacent. They refuse to settle for good enough. The best are always looking to get better. They believe that good enough is the enemy of their Best Version Possible. Maybe you don’t need a coach, but if you want to achieve your BVP sooner than later, coaching is something to consider.
Brent Kelly, president of Sitkins Group, Inc., is a motivating influencer, coach and speaker who has a passion for helping insurance agencies maximize their performance. He spent 15 years in the insurance industry as a successful commercial lines producer and was named one of the top 12 young agents in the country in 2012. To help your agency gain clarity, build confidence, and improve culture, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sitkins.com