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Top tags: 2018  agency  Agency Management  Collaboration  disaster  insurance  insurance agency  Leadership  management  preparedness  safety  strategies 

6 Ways Insurance Agents Can Build Winning Teams

Posted By Bernice Napach, Thursday, February 1, 2018

In addition to developing talent, advisors need to know themselves and their clients, says the former Tennessee Vols coach Phillip Fulmer

from thinkadvisors.com, October 3, 2017

Growing trust in business relationships is not all that different from coaching a college football team, according to Coach Phillip Fulmer, former head coach at the University of Tennessee, now a partner for business development at Finworx, a behavioral finance firm that works with financial advisors.

In his keynote on the first day of FPA’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Fulmer laid out his recommendations for how advisors can build a solid foundation for their team members and clients:

1. Be a mentor but do it well. He described a time when he failed at that task with Dustin Colquitt, a punter for Tennessee who eventually went pro with the Kansas City Chiefs. Colquitt was kicking high and long when he joined the University of Tennessee Volunteers (the Vols), so Fulmer played him in a game where he subsequently kicked out of bounds the first two times, followed by a short kick that rolled back to the snapper. Fulmer had failed to establish a true mentoring relationship. Once he did and cleared the air, Colquitt performed better.

2. Set goals and work to achieve them: “Know where you can realistically go and don’t get paralysis by analysis,” Fulmer said.

3. Surround yourself with the people who lift you up, then ask them what can be done better. Fulmer recalled a time when the Vols were one in three, looking for a way get more wins. “The first thing we did as a team was as coaches we evaluated ourselves. Then we asked the staff what we could do better. Then we shared that with everyone on the team to work together.” 

4. Remember that talent cannot do it by themselves. “As good a leader as Payton Manning was [he played for the Vols for four years], we had to get into the silos of other positions,” said Fulmer, “…to the linebackers, offensive line, support staff, folks in the training and weight rooms.” One way to do that, said Fulmer, is to make an example of the best player; coach them the hardest, then others watching will also want to be coached as hard, and put the best players in a position of authority.

5. “Fix the divot,” said Fulmer referring to the piece of turf that gets gouged out by a golf club. In other words, fix problems as they arise.

6. Find something to motivate the team. He recalled a carved walking stick he received as a gift, which led some players to call him Moses. He took advantage of the nickname, gathering the team in a circle and lending each member the stick for a certain period of time. “They took good care of it; it was the first thing on the bus and on the sidelines,” and they kept it as a secret among themselves, as a team thing, that helped unite them.

In addition to developing a winning team, Fullmer counseled the audience, advisors must know their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their clients. 

He cautioned advisors to be humble; confident, but honest with themselves; and to “count their pennies,” knowing what’s essential in their life in business and family.

He concluded by recommending that advisors in the audience “look for one bit of knowledge" that they can take back from from this week’s conference and use in their business.

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What Football Can Teach the Insurance Industry

Posted By Rosalie L. Donlon, Thursday, February 1, 2018

Disruption, collaboration and leadership: Football players have learned to expect the unexpected, and the insurance industry can as well.

from PropertyCasualty360.com, January 26, 2018

“Disruption is what the game of football is all about,” Terrell Davis, Pro Football Hall of Fame 2017 inductee and former star running back for the Denver Broncos, told the insurance industry professionals gathered at the Property Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum 2018 on Jan. 16.

Davis explained that teams go into the game with a strategy and a play book, but the strategy can be completely disrupted in myriad ways: Plays don’t go as planned, the other team does something unexpected, or a key player can be hurt and out for the remainder of the game, if not the season. Football players have learned to expect the unexpected, and other industries can as well.

In answer to questions posed by Insurance Information Institute President and CEO Sean Kevelighan, he urged the audience to be prepared to deal with disruptions, even if they weren’t ready to embrace them. And he reminded the audience that companies that succeed, like teams that succeed, expect disruption; they’re not defeated by it.

Stay focused on the end goal

During his time with the Denver Broncos, Davis played in two Super Bowl games, and he credited the team’s ability to collaborate and stay focused on the end goal with the team’s winning the championship. He explained that on the football field, collaboration is key. All 11 players have to work together to execute plays effectively. They have to keep the Lombardi Trophy in sight and agree that winning the game, and eventually the championship, is more important than any individual player. “Teams that win, teams that succeed, have guys that collaborate, that think of the team first and themselves second,” he said.

Davis used the example of player bonuses — similar to executive bonuses in the insurance industry — as one way his Broncos teammates pulled together to win games. “Many contracts have bonuses if the individual carries the ball a number of times per game, and a number of times a season,” he explained. But in certain games, handing the ball off to someone else means that the play will be made and the game will be won. Does that mean the player forgoes the bonus? Yes. Does it mean the team may advance to a higher level? Also, yes.

For insurance professionals, Davis said, taking the risk of letting someone else “carry the ball” can mean better results overall, even if it’s not in the best interests of the individual.

Leadership and mentoring

Davis spoke eloquently about the role of mentors in his life and the many ways outstanding leaders in sports helped him succeed in his profession. He told the audience that his father passed away when Davis was only 13, and he got off track for a while, dropping football and failing at school. When he finally decided to turn himself around, there were teachers and coaches who stepped up to help him get back on track. They made sure he had someone to talk to and ask advice from, whether it was about sports, academics or life.

He credited then-Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and the team’s owners with seeing the players as individuals as well as a winning football team. As Davis reminded the audience, “Football players are human too. You see us on Sunday on the field and think we have no problems. But we all have wives, children, families, and everyone has something that’s not going right.”

Davis noted that appreciating employees doesn’t take a lot, that small gestures go a long way. He explained that many football teams require players to share rooms when traveling to away games. It’s a reasonable cost-saving measure, but it can interfere with preparation if the roommates have different ways of getting ready for the game.

Some like to watch game films of opponents over and over, while other prefer to exercise and get plenty of rest. The Broncos made sure that players had single rooms and paid for two in-room movies. “That doesn’t seem like much,” Davis said, “but it went a long way to making us feel valued.”

Athletes as insurance professionals?

Kevelighan asked Davis whether he thought professional athletes would be interested in the insurance industry as a second career. “It could be a great fit,” Davis said. He noted that football players, like most professional athletes, are accustomed to taking risks on and off the field and devising strategy to win games, as well as thinking quickly during a play. All those skills could translate well to insurance as the industry looks to nontraditional sources for talent.

I am an unabashed football fan, who regularly watches college and professional games on weekends. After listening to Davis, I’ve thought more about the teams who do consistently well on the field and about the many organizations, not just insurance companies, that thrive even as the world shifts around them. I found myself agreeing with Davis that disruption and change, whether major or minor, are a fact of life, and that those who succeed will manage the change, not let the change manage them.

If you’re in the insurance industry, what do you think about Terrell Davis’ words of wisdom?

Tags:  Agency Management  Collaboration  Leadership 

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3 Steps to Disaster-Proofing Your Insurance Agency

Posted By Brad Wheeler, Thursday, January 18, 2018

 

from ThinkAdvisor, January 9, 2018

From hurricanes to wildfires and more, 2017 brought calamitous weather and major events that forever changed many communities and industries across the country. Many financial advisors found their offices inaccessible for reasons beyond their control — but their duties to clients hadn’t changed. This reality in times of crisis is forcing advisors to take a hard look at their businesses and seriously consider whether they are adequately prepared to serve their clients at all times.

We spoke with a variety of advisors in areas affected by the extreme weather and disasters that occurred in 2017, and their experiences confirmed that the value of preparation and communication cannot be overstated. Clarifying communication processes, protecting against potential breakdowns in emergency procedures, and regularly testing your firm’s preparedness can make all the difference in ensuring you are still able to assist clients even in adverse circumstances.

1. Formalize a Broad Disaster Plan

It’s vital that everyone in your office understands what to do when business as usual is jeopardized by an unforeseen event. To be prepared, you should develop a simple plan that ensures you can support your clients in the event of a disaster. It should be a plan that your staff can access after hours or refer to at home. At the very least, your plan should provide answers to the following questions:

  • How will staff reach one another to disseminate instructions in the event of an emergency?
  • Will the key vendors you rely on have alternative ways to reach you aside from your main office phone line?
  • Does everyone have contact information for emergency services such as police, fire, and building management?
  • Where can staff plan to meet in order to continue operations and serve clients, such as an affiliated office in another city?

2. Consider All Links in the Chain

Creating a clear, buttoned-up plan is a necessary foundation, but also thinking ahead to possible points of failure in that plan will further strengthen your ability to withstand an emergency. We’ve seen vulnerabilities crop up when even a single staff member is unavailable. During a major weather event, for example, if only one person in your firm knows how to log in remotely or only one person knows how to operate your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), you are vulnerable. Identifying and eliminating points of failure through cross-training or documenting procedures is important. Also, firms with a well-established chain of command may find their entire network of communication weakened if just one high-level member is inaccessible. To prepare for eventualities like these, we encourage advisors to create multiple options for passing on instructions if the primary one fails.

Similar problems arise when clients are inaccessible. Suppose you need to distribute emergency funds to a client, but they are unreachable and cannot give final authorization. You can avoid this kind of roadblock during a crisis by drawing up an agreement with your client that authorizes you to distribute emergency funds in the face of a disastrous event. And as an additional backup, always ensure that you have multiple ways to contact your client on file should you need to get in touch with them urgently for any other reason.

Even with potential vulnerabilities with staff and clients accounted for, disaster plans fall short if they don’t consider a business’ most basic resource: power. Make sure you always have alternate power sources and batteries to keep office equipment running in both your main location and any affiliated offices.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

The final line of defense involves ensuring that your disaster preparedness procedures are fresh in the minds of everyone at your firm. At least once a year, set aside time with your team to run through a surprise scenario and note how your plan succeeded — or didn’t. You can achieve much more than you ever expected simply by gathering your key staff around a conference table and talking through an unexpected scenario. Were you able to get in contact with all necessary parties? Which parts of the plan did staff members forget or fail to execute? Use those findings to make updates to your plan, and continue testing it to ensure success even during a situation lasting several days. Many advisors reported marked improvement in their firms’ overall readiness after as little as one hour spent practicing responses to hypothetical crises.

We could not have foreseen the intensity and frequency of disasters that struck the country last year, but we can certainly learn from them. Taking the time to create contingency plans for your business now will give your staff the confidence and the tools to deliver crucial client support right when your clients may need it the most.  

Tags:  disaster  insurance agency  preparedness  safety 

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Tackling 2018: Fresh strategies for your insurance agency

Posted By Barry Seigerman, Thursday, December 28, 2017

by Barry Seigerman, PropertyCasualty360.com, December 21, 2017

Developing and Refining Your Business and Personal Plans are Essential to Growth

By now it's probably too late to make any major impact on 2017. The review of the year's goals and objectives and the must-dos and dealing with unforeseen events are, most likely, over.

Certainly you have already started and possibly even finished your plan for next year in terms of growth, profit, expense budget, and important organization and internal issues. These are critical, and are based primarily on financial projections.

Beyond thinking about the “same old, same old” tasks to do at year's end, why not consider 2018 as a great year for a fresh start? Think through the things that you can do to initiate and implement fresh ideas for growth, profit and fun in the New Year. Why not resolve to bring some excitement and new rewards to your business?

Consider New Objectives

If you have all your financial projections and metrics in place, put them aside for now. This is the time to stimulate your thinking and to inspire your staff to consider some new objectives to add to your business plan for 2018.

  • Revisit and re-state your mission statement. Do you have one? Is it still the same? Should you ask for employee input? How about input from trusted advisors?
  • Pick two of the most important things from last year's plan that you intended to accomplish but did not. Are they still important or even relevant?
  • Decide on the two most important non-financial objectives you want to achieve in 2018 and assemble a team for each one. (These objectives could be anything from working conditions, employee benefits, agency hours and incentive plans that could energize your staff.)
  • Do you hold regular monthly sales and marketing meetings? Do you really want to? Is there someone who fills the role of Sales Manager? Do you manage sales by results and accountability? Do you invite customers and insurance company people as guests?
  • Do you conduct employee performance evaluations, and are they separate from salary reviews?
  • Do you hold at least semi-annual and annual agency meetings, with lunch provided, to review the agency's progress and goals? Are you open to modifying these goals as necessary? Do you welcome and encourage active participation from staff?
  • Does your agency help to support one or more local non-profits, and do you encourage employees to participate with local organizations?
  • Have you scrapped outdated and obsolete marketing activities of networking (usually salespeople with other salespeople), cold calling, direct mail, giveaways (calendars, letter-openers, pens, etc.) and instead are committed to social media for PR and communication with customers and prospects?
  • Have you identified your 25 most valuable customers and at least six of your best Centers of Influence and scheduled meetings with each of them?
  • Have you thought about your own exit strategy yet — in terms of both money and what you’d like to see yourself doing after the insurance business? This is really a great thing to think about — I have thought about every year for the past 53 years I’ve been in the insurance business!

Whether your business is a start-up or established, you might like this additional idea: Even small agencies can achieve great results with good leadership, emphasis on teamwork and maintaining high esprit de corps (morale).

Create teams for three or four sales and marketing campaigns during the year and combine employees from different areas on each team to include one or more CSRs & producers from personal, commercial, life, benefits, administration, etc., to compete on everything from adding additional lines of business (account rounding), to increasing limits of insurance via policy reviews, or cross selling (personal from commercial from benefits and vice versa).

Don't keep score by premium or revenue: Measure the number of total “wins” — it's the team's activity you are trying to generate. At the end of three months, identify the winning team and reward them with a day off and a $50 gift card each.

Be creative. Engage everyone, especially younger staff. And remember what Max Dupree said: “We cannot become what we need to be, remaining what we are.”

Tags:  2018  agency  insurance  management  strategies 

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