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This year, as I traveled to more than 24 different states speaking to insurance professionals at conferences and workshops, I would always make sure to listen to every other speaker and attendee. I go to these conferences because I want to learn from all of these great agents and owners; presenting is but a minor part of attending. After reviewing my notes from these events, I’ve summed up six key factors that I have learned which have helped me become a better agency owner.

The first one would be to make sure that you invest in yourself as an agency owner.  So many people have asked questions about the growth of an agency and really there’s one simple answer- I’ve invested in myself in order to become a better leader and a better businessman.

Number two is to always remember that you are a businessman first and an insurance agency owner second.  Never forget that your staff members have spouses and children who depend on the success of your business.

The third is to make sure that your agency has the right teammates. Remember, the first change you need to make is with yourself. Look yourself in the mirror make sure you have not been a poor leader and allowed your teammates to going wrong direction. Then make the decision whether you can keep your staff or should you make changes within your agency. Never look at change as bad thing. Yes it might be frightful at times but the end result of change is usually good.

Number four is to invest in your staff.  How can you expect your staff/teammates to become better salespeople without investing in them? Hire a good sales consultant and/or sales trainer because that is an investment into your business. Never complain about the job your salespeople are doing if you have failed to invest in making them better. If you don’t think that you have to invest in them, then chances are you have the wrong salespeople because you have a lack of belief in them.

Fifth, having a business plan is critical to your insurance agency. When asking owners if they have a business plan, usually less than 5% of a room will actually raise their hand. That means 90 to 95% of the agency owners are running around without a roadmap of their business’s future. It’s impossible to arrive at your destination without knowing where you’re going. Don’t hesitate or be afraid of hiring a company to help you with a business plan. This is an investment to the future of your insurance agency.

 Finally, number six is having a marketing budget and vision of where your agency is going. Without a marketing budget, your agency is in deep trouble. Marketing is the key to your growth engine. Sit down and analyze your profit and loss and try to find a way to come up with 10% of your gross revenues that you can put towards marketing. I personally feel it can be higher than 10%, but it all depends on if you have the right people to handle the growth that you may be looking for. Your marketing budget is a sign of your growth, so if you lack a marketing budget, your agency obviously isn’t planning on growing any time soon.
These six steps have shown up in almost every one of my conference notes from this past year. Don’t be afraid to review these six steps and make sure that 2014 includes all of them!