Successful Insurance Agency
Please follow the direction below. You are opening a new State Farm Insurance Agency and you want to be successful. Please create a document Step by step for each 5 fundamentals to be a success agent. This is what you will follow in your office. (5 fundamentals) Please use specific things you will do. You much be thorough and clear (Research insurance). Must be at lease 4 pages.
Many great leaders and coaches operate from the same belief system – “Excellence is best achieved by perfecting the basics”, notable examples include: John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, Mike Krzyzewski, Bear Bryant, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, and many others. As small business owners, agents live in a constant state of distraction with competing priorities. Without perfecting the basics and establishing a solid foundation for success, it is nearly impossible to create long-term growth.
In studying State Farm agents in a variety of market areas, it is clear that consistently successful businesses operate by 5 core fundamentals. These fundamentals are a reflection of Franklin Covey’s work in The 4 Disciplines of Execution, State Farm’s “Excellence in Operations Management” and many other similar business principles.
The 5-Fundamentals do not always look or feel the same in each office. They are unique in design based on leadership style, market demographics, team dynamics, and personal preference. However, these fundamentals are always present and form the foundation of long-term sustainable growth.
Separately, the 5 core fundamentals are not new or original. Some are present in most small businesses. However, sustainable results are created by successfully implementing all five in a consistent way and creating ownership within a team.
- Clear Goals: The agent and their team must have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and most importantly, why. This should not only be defined for today or tomorrow, but 3-5-10-20 years into the future. The ability to clearly define “why” your business exists and establish clear goals will provide direction and help teams see beyond the daily challenges. This enables them to overcome, persevere and succeed.
- Daily Expectations: Daily expectations are the specific, controllable activities (leading indicators) that must be accomplished each day to realize the vision and goals that have been established.
- Systematic Tracking: It may sound cliché but, if you can’t track it, you can’t manage it. Without tracking activity and results it is difficult to make effective and accurate business decisions. To improve performance and create sustainable growth – You must keep score.
- Consistent Coaching: This is a dynamic industry. To remain ahead and meet customers’ needs it is critical to continuously learn, adapt, scrimmage and improve. Coaching must be a consistent daily activity in the business.
- Team Accountability: This may be the most difficult to define and yet the most important. Accountability is being responsible for the activities and results of the business. There are many ways to create a culture of accountability but it rarely exists without the implementation of the first 4 fundamentals.
When implementing the 5-Fundamentals, the principles of Excellence in Operations Management (EOM) can serve as a framework. EOM is centered on running a business using a three dimensional approach.
EOM Three Dimensional Approach
EOM looks at how to get things done and make processes better. It helps hold us accountable through consistent metrics. It challenges us to change the way we think so we can provide consistently remarkable experiences to our customers.
The “EOM 5 Question Model” is a great way to begin conversations and create a culture of improvement.
The 5 Fundamentals
1. Clear Goals
A majority of small business owners participate in planning meetings to identify annual goals and then break those goals into monthly targets. Unfortunately, too often, plans are hastily developed, based on past results, and not revisited until year end.
To create effective and meaningful goals you must first define your “why”. The understanding of why your business exists or why you do what you do is the most important first step in establishing clear goals. Simon Sinek shares in his book Start with Why that “people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
- Success is often limited by a lack of vision – an artificial lid on what is possible is created by past circumstances or what others say is possible (Google “the flea experiment” for additional context).
- A business owner must live out of imagination, not out of history. Stephen Covey defines this as the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes.
- Having clear goals not only provides direction and purpose for the business but also raises the commitment level of the entire team.
- Modern motivational theory: “people want to be a part of something greater than themselves, to make a contribution to an effort that would otherwise not be achieved.” This is why it is critical for the team to be included in the process and have a sense of ownership in the business.
- When you have clear goals it allows the team to see beyond daily challenges and provides the resolve to overcome, persevere and succeed. If you see it in your mind, you are going to hold it in your hand.
Questions to help with the conversation:
- Why does your business exist – Why do you do what you do?
- What do you want the business to provide for you and your family?
- What is your vision for the business (3-5-10-20 years)?
- How will you be viewed in your community?
- What value will you provide to your clients?
- How do you want to grow as an individual?
- How would you like to develop others?
- What will be your legacy?
Once a vision is defined, it should be broken-down into a series of smaller, more manageable, production related goals based on customer need, each taking steps toward the vision. This creates a more intentional planning process and helps the team better understand the importance and purpose of their daily effort.
2. Daily Expectations
The secret of success is often found in our daily habits. In a small business, daily expectations are critical activities that must be accomplished each day to realize the goal or vision.
- The commonality of each expectation is that they must not only be leading indicators but more importantly controllable.
- There are many things outside of our control (rate activity, eligibility, underwriting guidelines, etc.) but daily expectations are activities that we own and can specifically control – Control the controllable.
- These 5 activities should initially be considered. Some agents have more, some less.
- Families Quoted:
- Once a growth goal is set to meet more customer needs, use the auto gain strategy tool to establish the number of household quotes needed each day based on the office metrics.
- The AGS tool allows the agent to make data driven decisions in developing the strategy and tactics that will generate the highest return on investment and meet the most customer needs.
- Income Replacement Conversations:
- Set an expectation on the number of daily income conversations to meet more customer needs and to realize business goals (scorecard/travel/etc.).
- What a “conversation” constitutes should be clearly defined and well-rehearsed through the coaching process.
- Bank Loans Submitted:
- Utilize a bank loan activity calculator to determine the number of bank loan submissions required to achieve the goal and help more customers get to a better financial position.
- Ex: 1 per day = 20 per/month x 45% approval x 45% booked ratio = 4 booked loans / month.
- Bank should not be viewed as a pivot but rather a service provided with every auto conversation based on the customer need. (customer approval for credit check must be received before submitting any bank loan)
- Recommendations Received:
- An effective client-onboarding process is critical to long-term success.
- The team must be held accountable to daily expectations on recommendations received from both new and existing clients (recommendation = referral).
- Appointments Set:
- It is impossible to change client shopping behavior, improve retention and provide the solutions customers need without a consistent process for Simple conversations.
- Have an expectation on the number of client appointments that must be set each day.
Based on goals, team dynamics and office structure, there are other daily expectations that can be coached. However, it should be kept to a manageable number of key actions aligned with achieving the stated vision.
3. Systematic Tracking
The importance of systematic tracking cannot be overstated. It is critical for an office to measure performance (leading and lagging indicators) so that gaps, trends, opportunities, and challenges are quickly identified and intentional coaching can be provided. To improve performance and create sustainable growth – You must keep score. (No customer data should ever be outside the State Farm system)
- Many offices have a method to track results (lagging indicators) but few effectively track impact activities (leading indicators).
- Utilizing data allows more focus on the needs of the business and improves overall effectiveness.
- The system used is not important as long as it is consistent, visible and simple.
- The most effective current strategies include, but are not limited to:
- Old-school whiteboard – Perhaps the most simple and visible way to track both activity and results to plan.
- Digital White Board – Allows customizable real-time production and activity tracking integrated with the Agent Team Member Incentive tool. Continued enhancements will be made to increase data automation and integration with additional State Farm systems.
- Vendor Solutions – There are currently a few vendor products available for use that provide tracking and team member compensation capabilities.
- Excel – Homegrown excel worksheets are available to track both activity and results. However, this should be used in combination with a more visible method (whiteboard).
4. Consistent Coaching
Every agent wants to provide coaching and development for their team. Over time many simply lose sight of the “how” and “what” to coach. However, with clear goals, daily expectations, and a system for tracking activities and results, both become clear. It enables an agent to be intentional and focused on the specific needs of the business or individual.
- The “how” to coach requires consistency and modeling.
- Daily Huddles are the recommended process in each office.
- The value of the huddles is the ability to pull the team out of the “whirlwind” and refocus on what’s important (Google: Franklin-Covey Whirlwind Video).
- The minimum expectation should be the morning pre-game huddle. The most successful businesses implement all three huddles.
Suggested Daily Huddles
- Pre-Game: Every morning the team should huddle and three things must happen: celebrate yesterday’s success, discuss today’s expectations, and coach/scrimmage something of value.
- Halftime: 2-minute timeout between 11:30 – 1:00 to pull the team out of the “whirlwind,” check the score and refocus on what must be accomplished.
- 4th quarter: 2-minute timeout around 3:30 to again pull the team out of the “whirlwind,” check the score and make a final push before the end of the day.
“What” to coach is unique to each office based on need; however, with clear goals, daily expectations, and a system for tracking activities and results, “what” to coach becomes clear.
Standard processes to implement include:
- New Client Onboarding Procedure / Active Recommendation Strategy
- Opportunity Management Expectations and Accountability
- Income Replacement Conversation
- 3 Rules of Bank Loans and Scripts
- Credit Protection Strategy (Disability)
- Path to Simple Conversation
- The Simple Conversation
- Quarterly AGS Tool Reviews
- ECRM Analytics Studio & Dashboards
- Knowing the Value of the Solutions Provided.
A process should be implemented for every action or result expected. Specifically, systems should be developed for running the business and processes implemented for offering products/services to customers with predictable results – professionals use scripts, amateurs’ wing-it!
5. Team Accountability
Accountability is the most important of the 5-Fundamentals; without it the other 4 are an effort in futility. The agent and their team must define what accountability means and outline how it will be part of their culture.
- Most offices that implement the 5-Fundamentals find accountability becomes a subsequent result of everyone on the team understanding the goals, knowing what is expected of them daily, systematically tracking progress, and receiving consistent coaching.
- Daily huddles create a culture of accountability in a business. When you begin each day celebrating/reviewing the previous day’s results, discussing the expectations of today, and coaching/scrimmaging to get better, it provides focus and a positive environment from the very beginning. Combined with additional quick timeouts, it becomes difficult to fail. By incorporating daily huddles, accountability becomes a function of the process in the office.
- Accountability can mean personnel changes. Too often agents feel handcuffed by their team and are unwilling to make changes. However, when implementing the 5-fundamentals, the whole team must be in alignment and those not contributing to the success of the team become easier to identify and coach up or out.
There are many ways to develop accountability – it must align with the leadership style and team dynamics. Team involvement and creativity are encouraged when implementing fun ideas and creating a culture of accountability in the business.
The 5-Fundamentals are simple in design. They are not intended to “wow” or present anything new but rather refocus on the basics (blocking & tackling). There are many competing priorities, and if not careful it is possible to mistake “busy” with “effective”, spending too much time on the urgent and not enough on the important. This has a compounding effect on morale and results.
These fundamentals are based on the belief that excellence is best achieved by perfecting the basics and to provide focus on what’s important. It is impossible to build a great business without a solid foundation. However, once a foundation is established, through consistent communication, coaching, modeling and perseverance, it can withstand the challenges of a dynamic industry and provide the structure to maximize every opportunity.