ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

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

PRACTICING THE SEVEN HABITS IN INSURANCE AGENCIES - HABIT FOUR

Thinking Win/Win

As most readers know, we are living practioners of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as codified by Stephen R. Covey in 1989 when he was 57 years old. We lost Stephen to a bicycling accident in 2012 but the principals he wrote in the “7 Habits” have been and continue to be life-changing for those who subscribe to a ethics-based life in both personal and business matters.

We believe so firmly in the principals of the 7 Habits that we re-read them and act upon them regularly. We recommend that you pull it down from your shelves (at 25 Million sold, I know that most of us have at least one copy somewhere) and re-read it yourself. If you can’t find your copy invest in a new one. The message never gets old.

But for those who may view the 7 Habits from a generalist’s standpoint we would like to re-iterate the habits specifically for insurance agents. As you will see over the next eight months (we won’t publish a Habit in October, our annual Composite Group issue) every Habit applies to us within our own industry.

Agency Consulting Group, Inc. has incorporated the 7 Habits in all of its consulting and training modules. Many of our clients will find these principals very familiar indeed.

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Thinking Win/Win

While Covey’s first three habits, Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Putting First Things First were private concerns to the individual, his next three habits are public habits, reflective of your character and that of your business.

We have satisfied a great many clients (and lost some, as well) by the application of always working toward Win/Win scenarios. Agents who would never “confuse” rating categories on applications or wouldn’t take short-cuts that would save a customer money but risk both the customer’s and the agency’s credibility and coverage take risks of losing customers who are not as trustworthy as they could be. When integrity becomes more important than revenue, you have won this battle.

You cannot be trusted by others until you can prove yourself trustworthy. Your integrity (the value you place on yourself) is the building block of your character. An abundance mentality is the feeling that there is enough for everyone – that life is not a win/lose proposition. Balancing your own feelings and convictions with courage and consideration of the feelings of others is the key to maturity. And these three characteristics, Integrity, Abundance Mentality and Maturity permits you to consider all relationships in a Win/Win scenario. If anyone loses, the solution is not acceptable. Once your employees, clients, companies, family and friends understand that you can be trusted to seek Win/Win solutions, they will be much more likely to cooperate with you. The key to this principle is to follow the guideline that a Win/Win scenario is the only acceptable one. ‘Win/Win or Don’t Play’ is an acceptable alternative.

This philosophy has made us very selective in the agencies we assist with mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. It has also made us very popular with clients who know that if we’re involved no one will be taken advantage of. We have retired from several transactions in which one of the participants wishes to gain an advantage over the other. When Agency Consulting Group, Inc. leaves a transaction, it is a sure sign that one of the participants will eventually feel bad that they were taken advantage of. There is a great divide between being a sharp business person and not paying more than you have to for a transaction and cheating the other party. Those agents who find it a ‘gray area’ are only fooling themselves.

If you seek a Win/Win solution for clients, carriers, employees and in your personal life, you will be happier and live a fuller life, professionally and personally.