This is the second in a series of blog posts inspired by a conversation I had via webinar with Brett Rosen, VP of Mergers & Acquisition at Digital Insurance. During our conversation we discussed the “5 Surefire Ways to Catapult Your Benefits Business”.
One of the most self-damning aspects of the insurance industry is that the financial reward for mediocrity has been too high. It has allowed us to succeed, often times in spite of ourselves and without a focus on growth. That’s changed. Growth is no longer a luxury. There have to be growth goals, aggressive goals that come with accountability.
There are certain things that high-growth insurance agencies are doing to drive success, and through a series of blog posts, I will address each of those five ways. I will also share some action items you might use to help catapult your own business.
Previously posted strategies
The next strategy
Surefire way #2 - The best agencies find a way to stay young.
The average age of an agency owner is 57. The industry has a reputation for being old and old fashioned. Why are youth and a young attitude so important?
Know what is attractive to the youngest generation
High growth agencies understand that their sustained growth depends on making themselves attractive to the next generation; a generation who is extremely challenging to attract.
We had the opportunity to take a family-owned agency through strategic planning a couple of years ago. 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 after establishing a few ground rules.
The daughter had literally 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”. So, despite her interest in the planning process, her disinterest in the actual business was apparent from the beginning.
However, as the planning process unfolded and we started to re-define what the business could become, her interest level in the business itself became much more intense. As we talked about a more consultative process, a value proposition that focused on areas well beyond the insurance, and the fact that there were virtually no limits to the ways the agency could help their clients, she was literally sitting on the edge of her seat, hardly able to contain her excitement. It wasn’t long before she was standing at the white-board helping brainstorm the future Vision of the agency.
What was developed at the end of that session was a plan for the rebirth of the agency; an agency that, while still focused on insurance, had virtually no limits to the ways it would help its clients; an agency that, while it had already been in business for 20 years, was going to be an entrepreneurial place to work; an agency that wasn’t simply about selling an insurance products, but about delivering business results.
At the end of that school year, the daughter graduated and joined the family business. With her, she brought a new energy and helped to transform a traditional insurance agency into a consultative business delivering powerful new solutions to clients, solutions that included communication, social media strategy, and even website advising. While these solutions may be bolder than most, they are a clear example that “insurance clients” are more than 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 lady. With the reinvention of the agency, the entire agency became younger and more 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 process of reinventing her practice. She is as energetic, excited, and as “young” as anybody we have seen. She is also having her best new business year she has ever enjoyed.
Youth plus a youthful attitude are hard to beat
The best agencies understand the need to keep their businesses exciting places to work and grow. Just like with physical exercise, going through the same motion over and over becomes boring 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 that when they do, they are tapping into a virtual “fountain of youth”. Not only do they keep their current team “youthful”, they become very attractive to the next generation of workers.
- 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? If you can’t identify SUCCESSFUL change initiatives, determine what is holding you back and address the issues, immediately!
- Evaluate your message – Go 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 are you communicating a tired, over-the-hill “insurance” story of price, product, and service?
- Evaluate your team – Do you have team members who bring energy to work every day, who generate fresh ideas, and most importantly, embrace positive change?
- Plan for your next intentional change initiative – Identify what you need to do to bring an energy, excitement, and youthful attitude back into the agency and plan (Vision, resources, message, talent, etc.) for its execution.
Yes, this is going to be hard work, but it is this kind of hard work that is catapulting others to unprecedented levels of success. You may need help with this process. If you feel that’s exactly what you need, give us a call; we may have a few ideas of how to recapture your youth and make you a feared competitor in your market.
Photo by © Yuryz.