Which of the following best describes our industry?
Young, energized, exciting, and innovative OR old, tired, boring, and predictable?
I'm PRETTY sure which you chose. 😏
After all, the average age of an insurance agency owner is 57. Probably like you, many believe the industry has a well-deserved reputation for being not just old, but old fashioned.
For some bizarre reason, the industry even promotes this fact. You often hear an agency proudly proclaiming, "We've been in business for 112 years." And if you listen closely, you can hear the tiredness in the voice.
Why are youth and a young attitude important? Does it matter?
It does if you want to remain relevant and successful. High growth agencies understand that their sustained growth depends on making themselves attractive to the next generation, a generation that is highly challenging to attract.
Know what is attractive to the youngest generation
We had the opportunity to take a family-owned agency through strategic planning. At the last minute, the owner explained that her daughter, a business major and self-described "business geek," was home on spring break and was interested in sitting in on our planning session. We were more than a little reluctant to agree but did so after establishing a few ground rules.
The daughter had grown up working in the agency and had absolutely NO interest in joining the family business after graduation. The LAST thing she wanted to do was "sell insurance." Despite her interest in the strategic planning process, her disinterest in the actual business was apparent from the beginning.
However, as the planning process unfolded and we started redefining what the business could become, her interest level in the agency became much more intense. We talked about a more consultative approach, a value proposition that goes well beyond insurance, and the fact that there were virtually no limits to how the agency could help its clients.
As we had this discussion, this young woman was sitting on the edge of her seat. She could hardly contain her excitement. It wasn't long before she was standing at the whiteboard helping brainstorm the future Vision of the agency.
By the end of the session, we developed a plan for the rebirth of the agency. We designed an agency that, while still focused on insurance, had virtually no limits to how it would help its clients. Despite having already accumulated 20 years in business, an agency would be an entrepreneurial place to work. They committed to becoming an agency that wasn't simply about selling insurance products but about delivering business results.
The daughter graduated and joined the family business at the end of that school year. With her, she brought new energy and helped to transform a traditional insurance agency into a consultative firm delivering impactful new solutions to clients. She helped introduce solutions that included communication plans, social media strategy, and even website advising. While these solutions may be bolder than most, they are clear examples that "insurance clients" are willing to accept new ideas and solutions.
A youthful attitude is just as important
High-growth agencies understand the need for even their most tenured team members to have a youthful attitude.
While our example demonstrates an ability to attract the next generation of the workforce, the impact went beyond that one young woman. With the agency's reinvention, the entire organization became more youthful and energetic in attitude.
We've seen examples in countless other agencies we have helped transform. One particular client, who described herself as "five years from retirement," went through a similar reinvention of her practice. She is as energetic, excited, and youthful as anybody we have seen. She is also seeing the best new business years she has ever enjoyed.
Youth plus a youthful attitude is hard to beat
The best agencies understand the need to keep their businesses exciting places to work and grow. Like with physical exercise, going through the same motion over and over becomes monotonous and will produce diminished results.
The best agencies understand that to maintain the health of their practice, they must keep the workouts interesting, varied, and demanding. They know they are tapping into a virtual fountain of youth when they do. Not only do they keep their current team fresh and energized, but they also start attracting the next generation of workers.
Get started!1. Evaluate your ability to embrace change. Reflect on the last meaningful change you successfully brought to your agency.
- Was it forced on you, or did you see an opportunity and use change to your advantage?
- What did you do exceptionally well that led to your success?
- What would you change that could have allowed the change to have been even more successful?
If you can't identify any successful change initiatives, determine what is holding you back and address the issues immediately!2. Evaluate your message. Look at your website and see what story you are telling the market.
- Are you communicating a youthful story of energy, excitement, and results, or a tired, over-the-hill insurance-only story of price, product, and service?
- If you remove your name and logo, can you tell your story from that of your competitors?
- Are you talking about yourself, or are you mainly talking about those you can help?
If you aren't providing visitors to your website a compelling reason to want to reach out and learn how they might become part of your story, they won't.3. Evaluate your team. Do you have a team that fights against you as you work to put new ideas in place, or are they fighting alongside you to ensure their successful implementation?
- Which team members bring positive energy to work every day? And which are indifferent?
- Who on the team consistently generates fresh ideas? And who is rolling their eyes when they hear them?
- Most importantly, who embraces positive change? Who fights against it?
When you build the type of agency you need to become, you won't be a fit for everyone. Celebrate that and don't tolerate bad fits. You will become even more attractive to the right team members.4. Plan for your next intentional change initiative. Identify what you need to do to bring energy, excitement, and a youthful attitude into the agency and plan for its execution.
- Describe in detail what success looks like.
- Document why it is crucial to become this future version of yourself.
- Plan how you will move from where you are today to where you need to be tomorrow.
- Identify and procure the resources and talent necessary for a successful change initiative.
When your team understands where you are going, why it's important, and how you'll get there, the right team members will become the fuel to propel you forward.
Standing back and taking a hard look at your company culture won't be easy. Neither will be making difficult but necessary changes. However, this kind of transformation is critical to achieving a new outlook and creating an environment that attracts the best talent of all ages.
Photo by coolhand1180