3 Steps to Building an Agency Growth Machine

By | May 20, 2019

How much did your agency grow last year? How about in the past five years?

If your answer is anything less than 10%, then this article is for you. In it, I want to share with you three keys to organic growth that I’ve discovered as I’ve helped agencies grow during the past 25 years.

This is based on real people and situations, like Jon Sharp from Hardenbergh Insurance Agency, who said, “The most tangible result to the agency has been the bottom line. Before, we averaged 3.3% growth year over year. Now, we are realizing extraordinary growth. My definition of extraordinary growth is 60% organically over the past four years. That equates to organic growth of 15% year over year.”

During those four years, Jon did an excellent job implementing the following three steps that I’m about to share with you. If you ask him about it, he’ll tell you that it was hard, but worth it. So although these “steps to growth” may seem simple (they are), it doesn’t mean they’re easy to do.

If they were, then every agency would be growing 15% or more every year. Most are not. That’s because they never really took the first step, which we’ll get into now.

Step 1: Commit to Growth

Is there anything in your life that you’ve truly committed to that you don’t have?

Really, think about it.

For most of us the answer is no. If we wanted something bad enough, we found a way to get it. However, half-hearted commitments almost always fail, especially when you’re trying to accomplish something hard.

Take dieting for example. There are many people who say to themselves, “You know, I should probably try to start eating better. Maybe I’ll try this new diet for a while and see how it goes”.

Then a few weeks later, it gets tough. The desire for sweets and carbs intensifies, and the idea of sticking to the diet feels like too much work. So they cave and revert back to unhealthy eating.

However, if you went to the doctor tomorrow and he said, “Listen, I need to have a serious talk with you. We got your blood work back and if you don’t make some big changes to your diet you’re not going to live much longer. You need to avoid sugar and refined carbs from now on.”

Now, how committed would you be to your diet?

Would you grab some soda and brownies in the break room tomorrow when you got a craving for sweets, or would you resist the temptation and stick to your plan?

If your life depended on it, you’d stick to the plan.

Some people call this the “gun to the head” approach. Others say, “half measures availed us nothing.”

The point is, it’s a universal truth, a law of life that you can harness to accomplish amazing things, like growing your agency 10%,15%, or 20% year over year.

So when people ask, “Why aren’t more agencies growing at a faster pace?”

The only plausible answer is simple. They just never committed.

Step 2: Motivate Your Producers

to Two Times Growth

Once you truly commit to growing your agency, the next step is to make a plan how to do it.

Because we’re talking about how to grow organically versus growing via acquisitions, your plan must include a way to get your producers to sell more.

If you can get them to do a better job at prospecting, selling and retaining business, your agency will grow. The more they grow their books and personal income, the more your agency’s value will increase.

For the past 20-plus years I’ve used a simple, yet highly effective, strategy to do this.

I teach owners how to sit down with each of their producers and help them set some long-term personal income goals. I have them essentially play the role of a financial advisor and ask them what kind of future they want 10, 20 and 30 years from now.

Then, they write down how much money they should be saving each year to hit those goals. Once they see how much they’re underfunding their future, it should light a fire under them.

With this new-found motivation, you can then lay out a plan to help your producers double their book of business in three years or less, with half the accounts they have now. Of course, you’ll need a plan how to do that, which is a subject for another time.

But imagine how much your agency would grow if all of your producers doubled their books in the next three to four years? What if even half of them did this? Would that be more growth than you’re seeing now?

The point is, you need a path and plan to get your producers where they want to be so your agency can experience extraordinary growth.

Step 3: Train Your Producers to Increase Their Confidence

Confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those without it often fail. And those with it succeed.

This is something many agency owners overlook, because most of them have a high degree of confidence already.

If that’s you, think about it. You probably never considered the effect of feeling confident — it wasn’t really a choice. You just did what you did and you did it well, and your proof is in the pudding. You have nice cars, a nice house, great vacations and a high net-worth to prove it.

To some degree, you don’t really understand those who don’t have confidence like you do. And you get frustrated. From your perspective, everything they need is out there. It’s theirs for the taking and they just need to go get it (like you did).

However, the reality is the average producer is not like you.

They do not have your innate capability, drive or level of confidence. Generally, they won’t develop it on their own. If their environment is not designed to intentionally develop them, they will drive in third gear, rather than fifth. They will get by, but never unlock their full potential.

If you don’t train them, you’ll never move the average person to above average. You’ll never help them improve enough to develop a superior level of confidence.

Without confident producers who can set new business appointments with relative ease, know how to engage a new prospect, build rapport, find pain, get commitment and close the agent of record/broker of record (AOR/BOR) … then you’ll never build the sales team of your dreams.

Where does that confidence come from? It comes from training. Where does the training come from? It comes from having a clearly defined process.

It’s up to you, the leader, to install or create processes everyone can follow.

Easier Said Than Done

The steps to growing your agency are simple, but actually doing them is the hard part. Like we talked about earlier, none of this will work unless you take the first step, which is to truly commit!

If growing your agency is not important to you in this season of your life, then do yourself and those around you a massive favor, and just be honest and admit it. You may be content where you’re at.

However, if you’re halfway committed, you’re going to be miserable. Either decide you’re going to do this or let it go and focus your time and energy in other areas of your life. But if you’re serious about growth, do what you need to do to motivate your producers to reach their next level of success. Invest in them so they can become confident people who won’t let any obstacles stand in their way.

About Randy Schwantz

Schwantz is founder of The Wedge Group. Phone: 214-446-3209. Website: www.thewedge.net. Email: randy@thewedge.net More from Randy Schwantz

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Insurance Journal West May 20, 2019
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Agency Technology; Markets: Cyber & Security