Agency Succession Plans: Do It Now!

When an owner dies, becomes disabled, disappears or loses the ability to lead effectively, the best insurance can be a succession plan.

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Bill was a 40-something-year-old son in his 70-something-year-old father’s agency. I asked about the agency’s succession plan. He said, “Mike, I’m already running the agency by myself. When Dad dies, nothing changes.” He assumed too much… See also: 3 Ways to Boost Agency Productivity   With a smile and good intentions, I hit him with reality. I asked simply, “What if you die first?” His stunned look told me that he had never considered that possibility. Here’s reality – it might be easy for Bill to succeed his father. It will not be easy for most fathers to succeed a son or daughter. Agents manage risk – it’s what they do. But are you managing your own risks? Really? When an owner dies, becomes disabled, disappears or loses the ability to lead effectively, the best insurance can be a succession plan. A well-thought-out process, planned and reality-checked in advance is mission critical, as these stories show:
  • David was a very close friend whom I hadn’t visited with in years. We spoke by phone for an hour on Wednesday Aug. 3, 1994, and committed to meeting for lunch on Monday of the following week. David was murdered that Friday while hiking in a national forest in Arkansas. What were the odds?
  • The best producer in the agency was assumed to be the most “natural” person to lead in the future. Unfortunately, great producers are often not good leaders or managers, and their best value for the agency is almost always in production and not management.
  • Often a #2 person is great at #2 but not worth a whit on the front lines of #1. But once they “move on up” it may be impossible to move them out.
  • Absent formal succession plans implemented immediately, an owner’s death will invite a swarm of competitors ready, willing and able to consume in months the client base and talent it took you decades to grow!
See also: ‘Agency 2020’: Can You Get There? (Part 1)   Develop and implement, NOW, a succession plan for death and every other major contingency in your organization. I said NOW!


Mike Manes

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Mike Manes

Mike Manes was branded by Jack Burke as a “Cajun Philosopher.” He self-defines as a storyteller – “a guy with some brain tissue and much more scar tissue.” His organizational and life mantra is Carpe Mañana.

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