The lead article in this morning’s local newspaper expressed concerned with small businesses either having to “re-invent” themselves or go out of business. The picture associated with the article was of a local hobby shop specializing in model trains. The caption showed a 91 year old clerk still using a rotary dial phone with a sentence claiming she said that technology has changed everything – for the worse.

The shop doesn’t expect to survive much longer because people whether young or modernizing are more tuned into gaming on their computers than they are in real-world hobbies like model trains, coin and stamp collecting and many other similar hobbies that have been around for several generations.

Converting this article into a more realistic business sense, we can easily see the reason for the decline in small men’s clothing stores, local hardware stores and even in travel agencies.

My wife’s grandfather owned and ran a clothing store in a small West Virginia town. He thrived on service, sold outstanding quality goods, were experts in tailoring and advising customers about their clothes and even assisted his neighbors with an affordable method of paying for the clothes they purchased. This was a great business because who doesn’t NEED clothes. They had to have them and had to replace them (especially for the children) every so often. — Sound Familiar?

Every insurance agency we have visited over the last four decades claims that they thrive on service, provide high quality insurance products, are experts in the insurance products they sell, and they have convenient payment plans available to sell insurance that everyone knows they need every year!

Yet my wife’s grandfather eventually went out of business when larger box stores selling inferior products with less expertise attracted his clients with prices that could not be sustained by the high quality providers. Those box stores sold image, advertised heavily, provided on-line sales opportunities and generally did things that my wife’s grandfather couldn’t or wouldn’t do. And most of the things that were recommended to him to remedy the loss of business were simply things that he wasn’t willing to do to change the way he did business. He wouldn’t re-invent his business because he was happy in the ‘horse and buggy’ business instead of moving into the ‘transportation business’.

Most insurance agencies are in the ‘Horse & Buggy’ business when they should be in the transportation business. Or, more directly, most agents are in the business of “selling” insurance when they should be in the business of counselling people and businesses to assure that they have the proper protection for all their assets. Like the best of the breed of buggy makers in the late 19th Century, insurance agents provide great products and great service and are damned proud to announce those facts. However, when the handwriting was on the wall that the horse and buggy days were ending, only a few were bold enough to realize that their business was moving people and freight from one place to another, not the manufacturing of buggies. So these entrepreneurs went out of business – like my wife’s grandfather – like the local butcher, hardware store and travel agent – and like many insurance agents who are giving up and selling instead of perpetuating their agencies. All of these businesses failed because the owners wouldn’t view their world through the eyes of their customers and change accordingly.

But those of us in the industry who can see the handwriting on the wall have developed transition systems that will fundamentally change insurance agencies who wish to re-invent themselves to serve the insurance buying public for one, two or multiple generations. This is still a wonderful business in which owners and staff alike can make a good living for their entire careers while helping others protect their assets. The question is, “Are you ready, able or capable of re-inventing your business to keep it thriving through YOUR and your successors’ generations?” If the answer is no, call us. We can help you sell or perpetuate your business to give you the full value of your agency. If the answer is YES, read on —

In the next several months you will see a great deal about our new service INSURANCE AGENCY TRANSFORMATION in which we are teaming with Brandie Hinen and her PowerHouse Learning System to change insurance agencies from within their own walls by updating how they sell insurance and then helping them implement the changes by coaching and counselling the entire staffs using video and tele-conferencing to change attitudes as well as selling and servicing models to meet the challenge of our competitive industry.

I also direct you to a name many agents in the industry know and with whom most younger agents should become acquainted, George Nordhaus, Marketer Extraordinaire and developer of AgenciesOnline and a brand new concept INAConnect will revolutionize agency marketing and client relationship management. I’ll announce how INAConnect will revolutionize your agency in one of the upcoming issues of the PIPELINE. Meanwhile, take a look at the following websites for how the NEW INSURANCE AGENCIES will look and act in the future. Then call me and we’ll discuss your agency one-on-one. If you have the intestinal fortitude, we have the answers that will make your agency thrive and survive.

Stay tuned for the exciting “REVEAL” about INAConnect – coming soon