Agency Operations Focus
By Dr. Billy R. Williams
TEN MISTAKES AGENCY OWNERS AND AGENCY LEADERS MAKE ON A REGULAR BASIS
Addressing common mistakes early leads to increased job clarity, greater job satisfaction, and overall improved performance
I was recently teaching a class at a college where I am an adjunct professor, and one of the students who had just passed the property and casualty licensing test asked me to list the top 10 mistakes I see insurance agents make.
After sorting through all of the possible answers, I narrowed it down to these mistakes as some of the biggest or most common ones I see agents and other insurance agency leaders make.
Lack of consistent training is a major problem in many agencies. If employees are not trained in the proper conversations and processes, they will create their own way to get it done.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I could easily have rattled off 25 or even 50 mistakes, but the 10 listed here represent a great starting point:
10. Trying to run an insurance agency without having any mentorship or guidance or without being part of a mastermind group. One of the easiest ways to achieve success is by gaining experience and wisdom from others who already have achieved the success you are searching for.
9. Not thoroughly reading or listening to important instructions and information. This is a concept we’ve been taught since elementary school. Think about how many times you have missed out on an opportunity or you’ve created an unnecessary headache for yourself simply because you didn’t thoroughly read or listen to information or follow specific instructions.
8. Not keeping up with important passwords and log-ins. This may seem small, but given the pervasiveness of passwords, it adds up. How many times have you skipped or delayed implementing a process or put off taking advantage of an opportunity simply because you couldn’t remember or locate a password or login?
7. Weak hiring practices. This starts with locating staff, interviewing them, onboarding them, and then delivering consistent training.
6. Not delegating important tasks and tasks that you are not good at doing to others on your agency staff or to an outside party. How often does information stop and how often do processes or activities die on your desk? How often do you become the bottleneck to your team’s progress?
5. Not scheduling and conducting agency-wide training at least once a week. Lack of consistent training is a major problem in many agencies. If employees are not trained in the proper conversations and processes, they will create their own way to get it done.
4. Not having a specific task schedule for agency staff members. Just as lack of training is a major issue for agencies, not assigning a specific day and time to perform specific tasks and processes is another major issue. Any task that is important should be on a calendar.
3. Not having an up-to-date agency job-aid book. This goes back to training. If the agency has an up-to-date job-aid book or procedures manual that explains in a step-by-step fashion how to complete common agency tasks as well as tasks that are not as common, staff can get more things accomplished. Moreover, the agency owner or other leader doesn’t need to fear holding on to underperforming staff because they are reluctant to bring on and train new staff.
2. Not having a pay structure that has built-in rewards for properly performing agency tasks, and built-in repercussions for not performing tasks to agency standards. There is this saying in professional sports: “Until it impacts their pay, it will not impact their play.” I believe insurance is the same way. At Inspire a Nation we teach the “Enhanced Pay Approach” to compensate staff. This means we increase your regular hourly pay by a certain percentage, but that percentage can be removed per pay period when you do not perform key tasks when and how we need you to.
1. Not scheduling specific days and times to accomplish specific tasks and processes and/or at least spot-check tasks that you have assigned to staff. Every day I hear excuse after excuse for why the agency owner, leader or other professional failed to get something working or completed in the agency. I know in their heart and mind that they want to accomplish things, but they don’t. Why not? Because they never blocked off a specific time in the day to do it. Just as with staff, if it is important, it should be on a calendar. Don’t think that adding another task to your already over-filled to-do list is making something a priority. It’s not!
Dr. Billy R. Williams is president of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring. To learn more, visit www.inspireanation.org or connect with Billy on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/billyrwilliams.