ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Time Management For Insurance Agents

Being busy is never a chore for insurance agents and producers. Being productively busy is the challenge.

During a consultancy that spans twenty-five years, I have had the privilege of visiting well over a thousand agencies, observing the differences between productive producers and busy producers.

First, a strange fact. The smartest agents get a lot done, make a good living AND still have free time for family and community. Agents who are consumed by their business role tend to be much busier but less productive and less economically rewarded than their smarter counterparts.

The difference between productively busy and just plain ‘busy’ seems to be in the focus and prioritization of the individual.

FOCUS

The most rewarded agent in our acquaintance (annual earnings into the seven digits) admitted to us during a Strategic Planning retreat that he is neither the most insurance-knowledgeable nor the best salesperson he knows. “But,” he said, “I know where my bread is buttered and I only do those things that will end up paying me for my efforts.”

This dedicated focus to his top priority (making money) defines time management for insurance agents.

Our client realized while he was a “one-man band” that clients, carriers and prospects (and throw employees into this pool) were happy to take his time for their priorities. The only problem is that other people’s priorities do not necessarily accomplish yours. And, if you disregard your own priorities long enough, you will end up working for someone else.

Focus means that anything and everything that you do during your business day must be targeted to revenue generation (for you if you are a producer – for the agency if you are the owner). The measurement of success in a day is not whether or not you were busy – not whether or not you are bone tired – not whether you got a lot of tasks accomplished. The measure of success is whether (and how much) income was generated through your efforts during the day.

In training and implementing producers, you should refrain from giving them books of business (which would keep them quite “busy”). After all, the agency already has those books of business and the attention necessary to maintain those accounts could come from talented Account Execs or CSRs. Give every producer the responsibility to SEE a minimum of two (four is their target) people that we don’t insure every day. If they visit two to four prospects a day, they have a good chance of making money (if they know their insurance and if they have the sales ability). That is FOCUS.

More experienced producers must visit at least one existing account to cement relationships (and keep the account with the agency for another renewal) and still see at least one person we do not insure every day in order to earn their compensation level.

While it is lovely to have producers knowledgeable in the computer system, able to negotiate with underwriters and able to complete applications and submissions, those duties are secondary ones to the selling act and can be handed off to talented people who are not able to complete the sales cycle as well as a skilled producer.

By the way, the agent earning over a million dollars a year did not do so by handling everything himself from his kitchen table. He sacrificed a great deal of early income to afford the best support staff money could buy to permit him to FOCUS on that which would make the most money over the long haul – selling.

PRIORITIZATION

We all know that employees, clients, carriers and others demand time and effort of every successful producer and agent. A long term understanding of your priorities will assist you with sorting out what gets done first, what waits to a more convenient time, what gets delegated and what gets relegated to the ‘would be nice to do, but don’t have time’ category.

Priorities change. Lifetime priorities should always have FAMILY and SPIRITUALITY before all else. But, BUSINESS is usually the means to the end of satisfying family goals, so this must also be given sufficient time and priority to assure success.

Too frequently, we have seen civic, hobby and recreational goals of agents consume the time required by business pursuits to assure success. Make certain that you devote 40 to 60 hours each week to business success and a similar number to family success. 50 to 60 hours a week of recuperative rest only leaves a maximum of 35 hours each week for all other activities. Can you commit 25% to 35% of your week to work and a similar percentage to family? If so, you will have both business and personal success. If you spend more than 25% of the hours available in the week on other endeavors, either your family life or your business success will be affected.

If you only spend 40 to 60 hours a week in your business life, how much of that time can be spent of focused earnings? The most successful agents and producers target 50% to 75% of their work life to productive (defined as income generating) activities with the remaining time given to support and administrative roles. They consider revenue generating activities as their “A” priorities. They spend as much non-productive time as necessary on “B” priorities (those activities that cement relationships and will eventually support revenue generation) and as little time as possible on “C” priorities that consume their time on behalf of others with little potential return.

If you follow this formula you may not be the most liked person in the building. People like other people who will make their own life easier (without regard to the productivity of the person whose time is being spent). But you will certainly increase your earning capacity – if that is your top priority. If not, correct your priorities accordingly to FOCUS on the most important issues in your life.