If you ask insurance agency owners what would make them happy, chances are they’ll say something about wishing they could take a month-long vacation without worrying about how things are running in the office during their absence. In fact, the most understated factor in boss burnout for insurance agency owners is that we often need to micromanage many of our producers in order to keep business running efficiently. When we do get a chance to take a break, we often find ourselves writing emails, making calls, even doing FaceTime to keep revenue streaming in without a hitch.
Do you need a vacation for having taken a vacation or can you disappear for two weeks without skipping a beat? Are you shaking your head no? Is there a better way? Yes, there is!
1. Find the Right People
You don’t need to hire people with college degrees in risk management. You don’t have to search for colleges that teach students how to make insurance sales. You do, however, need good people-persons, agents who will make connections and build relationships. If your hires are not this type of person right off the bat, chances are that they never will be. This could be why you don’t feel right leaving town!
There’s a saying that it’s easier to go away for two weeks than it is to go away for two days. This is often true when you have the right people because eventually your staff will start to get things done after slacking off the first day after your initial disappearance. When the reality settles in that you are indeed coming back, they will most likely pull it together. If they don’t, maybe it’s time for some heads to roll.
At the end of the day, the answer to how to have an agency run itself in your absence boils down to the people you hire. Trust is key. You may like some employees over others but you may not necessarily trust your favorite one to lead the pack (if there is a pack). Always (and we can’t stress this enough) put people you trust in charge when you’re out for an extended period of time. This person may not be the one you’d rather have drinks with. He may also not be the one who sells the most but you know this person will set parameters for your wildest producer.
Make sure to treat this person with respect and bestow him/her an air of authority when you’re in the office too, otherwise, there may be mutiny as soon as you’re out the door.
When you have the right people, you don’t have to keep tabs. You don’t have to worry about people doing their jobs and following through. They will just like what they’re doing and will not want to slack on their commissions for the month you’re scuba diving or working on your tan.
2. Transition to a Management Role Ahead of Time
Maybe you’ve been selling strong for two decades and you’re beginning to slow down. Have you hired young agents that are hungry for sales? If so, that’s good. Now, you just have to make sure they stay just as focused and motivated while you’re out of the office.
It’s not unheard of for many agency owners to completely shift their roles when they begin hiring out. Especially today, with the growing need for Internet marketing to stay on the radar, you may want to transition to a content marketing and social media role while letting your hires run the show with sales. With that said, you need to become a good manager if you do this. Not only will you generate more leads to throw at your team as a marketer, but you can also devise an internal marketing competition to get everyone pushing their hardest.
Another great thing about taking yourself out of the game in this way is that it’ll hardly be noticed when you need to take off for weeks (or suddenly, for the whole day). You can even begin to work a few hours from home during the week to get everyone used to your absences before you take your 2 week-long cruise.
If you’re still worried about accountability, you may want to keep a file of the producers’ closing ratios per week. Let’s say on average your producer gives 20 quotes in a week and closes 5, his/her closing ratio would be 25%. Your producer is not going to let his/her closing ratio tank because (s)he feels like being lazy while you’re on vacation, especially if the information is shared with the entire team. And share it, you must! This is the stuff of extra leads, gift cards and expensive prizes, which are great incentives for writing a lot of business. Yes, even when you’re MIA!
Buying insurance leads for your winning producers during the period of time you’re gone is a great idea too. Keep them busy with dollar signs hanging over their heads. Make sure you tell them these leads were not free too. Buying leads regularly is always a great way to boost sales, and it’s an especially great gift that keeps on giving, both to the producer and the agency! Plus, there’s nothing like hitting your agents with a list of leads you expect a high return on.
3. Don’t Take an Extended Vacation When Your Hires Are New
Until your new hires are comfortable in their jobs and are already acting and thinking independently, do not take an extended vacation or else you may have a disaster at home. It’s a good idea to wait a couple of months if you will be out of town for more than a handful of days, especially if the new hire is your only assistant. Otherwise, you may not only have a badly running office, but you may have a few messes on your hands when you return.
If you have a more senior agent on staff, you may be able to take some time off without much worry. Also, you’ll want one point person if there’s an emergency and you need to be reached.
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