Agencies struggling with growth have asked Agency Consulting Group to define what a producer should do and how much production should be considered “strong” vs. mediocre.

That question becomes more complex than the mere search for a definition because so many variables exist that make the same producer “good” under some circumstances and close to termination in other circumstances.

While some agencies put producers on a probationary period if their producers don’t generate $50,000 of growth (that’s new net of lost) business each year, there are other that are happy as larks for their producers to generate $10,000 to $25,000 of new business a year. Meanwhile there are other agencies that tally growth in terms of customer count with commissions only important to the budget and to compensation arrangements. Still there are agencies that can’t even define how many customers their producers sell or service from one year to the next.

Yet in each case, the agencies define their producers as strong, weak and mediocre based on totally different criteria. Here are some normal criteria differences to look for:

Geography – Do you expect the same level of activity, sales, account size and overall revenue from a strong producer in the rural Midwest as you would from a producer in a major metropolitan area?

Mix of Business – If an agency’s mix of business is personal lines and small commercial lines and has the carriers to support that mix would you expect a producer to be as productive as if the agency’s mix was primarily medium and large commercial accounts?

Producer’s Stage In Life – Would you expect a producer in his sixties with a large book of business to service to be measured against a 30 year old with little existing business, a growing family and debts to support?

The above three examples – geography, the make-up of the agency and the producer’s situation makes the term “good Producer” apply differently in different situations.

But there are certain traits that can be established to label a producer as strong or weak regardless of the agency, territory or other differences in condition:

1. Activity – a good producer is out of the office visiting clients and/or prospects more than he is in the office.

2. Growth – a good producer will grow the agency’s customer base every year. We know that commissions grow and shrink with the insurance economy and rates. But customer count separates the average producer from the good producer. Good producers count their progress by their net customer count.

3. Referrals – a good producer gets referrals. Customers who like and trust the producer will refer their friends naturally. But even if the customers don’t refer customers naturally, the good producer will ask for referrals – and get them. A good producer is not embarrassed to ask for referrals.

So the next time someone asks you if you are a good producer or if you agency has good producers, look at yourself and at your other producers by these three standards.