Agencies: Grow Sales AND Develop Staff

When agencies plateau, the tendency is to sell, sell, sell. Here are three ways to grow revenue while still developing your people.

You've done the hard part building a successful insurance agency. But production has plateaued. So you focus on growth and spend less time in the office. This prevents you from overseeing your staff, and you begin to worry about what's happening back at the office. It's the biggest challenge owners of agencies face. How do I drive growth and lead my organization? Solve it by implementing these three steps:
  1.  Focus on what you do well. You can't do everything, so don't!  Focus on tasks that add the most value. Most people, when they first assume a management role, want to make all the decisions. It's a management style called "command and control." In today's flat organizations, it doesn't work. The business world moves too quickly for employees to wait to be told what to do. Successful organizations hire the right people and divide up roles and responsibilities to maximize each individual employee's contribution. It applies to the agency owner, as well. You need to identify what you do best and focus on that task.
  2. Empower your employees to act. It's your job as the organization's leader to create an atmosphere that fosters initiative over order taking. Make sure your employees understand that you will stand by their decisions. Don't be quick to correct the way they are doing something if the method they use solves the problem. The more you micro-manage, the more you send the message to an employee that you don't expect her to make a decision. Move responsibility down to the lowest level in your organization. Your front-line employees know what's going on. Give them the power to solve the problems facing your organization and get out of the way.
  3. Be patient. It's natural to try to solve a problem or issue you see at the office. Hold back. Wait. Allow your staff to figure out the solution. It's not easy....especially when you watch someone make a mistake. But over time what you will discover is that an employee will own a specific task she feels responsible for.
Well-run companies don't depend on one individual. They institutionalize employee development enabling knowledge transfer among the existing work force. At many organizations, managers are required to develop their replacement and can't get promoted until their designated successor is deemed ready. In other words, part of their job is to make themselves redundant. Analyze what you do daily. Ask yourself what part of your daily tasks you could transfer to someone else in the agency. Then spend the time training your staff to assume your additional tasks. This will free you to focus on the most important business issues affecting the agency. Inspire your people to be great!

Brian Cohen

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Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen is currently an operating partner with Altamont Capital Partners. He was formerly the chief marketing officer of Farmers Insurance Group and the president and CEO of a regional carrier based in Menlo Park, CA.


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