As you know, most of the fall and winter months are used by the Agency Consulting Group to facilitate strategic and tactical planning for insurance agencies all over the country. We do it the hard way – one agency at a time – because we found that the seminar approach has limited usefulness. Without the agencies key players in attendance and participating in the planning process, it is unlikely that the agency owners goals and objectives will be fully implemented (unless the agency is a dictatorial style agency or dictatorial style business).
Even in those agencies in which we assist in the disciplined planning process, however, the agency sometimes loses focus in implementation of the plan. During the tactical planning process not only are annual objectives developed, but action plans for each objective and benchmark’s are also created to permit the use of the tactical planned document as the working document for the business on an ongoing basis.
If the action plans are not monitored on a monthly basis through the benchmark process the owners often lose sight of what must be done in order to accomplish their objectives. The result is frustration and disappointment. The owners know what their goals are (their annual objectives). They know that the action plans, if carried out fully and properly, will result in the objective being met. On a month by month basis, however, they find the benchmark’s are being missed because of delayed implementation of the action plans, crises that obviate the action plans or lack of attention to the plan itself.
An example of this is a client whose primary goals were the dreams and benchmark’s were pursued on a monthly basis the common sense question of the agency owner would have been “Why don’t we at least continue the retention grid for our existing service representatives and customers?”
The producers in this agency obviously knew the key to successful growth – spend more time contacting and selling new customers. Their reticence and lack of effort should have been noted in the benchmark and action planning and should have resulted in stronger sales management to get them to “walk their talk” .
Most agencies spend a great deal of time, mental effort and money in developing cogent, thoughtful and realistic strategic and tactical plans. In order to justify these types of expenditures and to avoid the frustration of failed goals, agency owners must use their tactical plans, quarterly action plans, and monthly benchmark’s as daily, weekly, and monthly working documents for their agencies operations. If this is done, the agency owner can manage according to plan and either guarantee the success of their objectives or fine tune them according to the changing conditions of the year. The fine tuning of action plans and objectives should not be because agency personnel has simply not carried out the plan.