I think most of us in the business world can agree that our number 1 need is more time. It feels like if we just had more time we could do so much more with our businesses. The truth is, we just don’t always get the most out of the time we do have.
Unfortunately, I can’t make more hours in the day or more days in the week (not that we really want/need to work more anyway) but through this blog, I can at least help you find holes in your daily processes that are sucking your time and efficiency away.
In this blog, we are going to cover the time traps within 4 different areas of your agency. Technology, marketing, sales, and operations.
Are your agency operations as efficient as possible?
As a manager, owner or operations officer you should ensure that your agency is running as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, there are a lot of small things that can slip by and waste time within your insurance agency.
Here are a few things to consider:
Are you a service center or sales organization?
Many insurance organizations who are growing find much of their time eventually get consumed with service requests and all other business operations fall by the wayside. So instead of generating new opportunities and driving growth your business is bogged down with adding drivers and printing ID cards.
I understand that “service” is likely your competitive advantage and you want to take care of your customers. But taking on all service requests is not the best use of your time and believe it or not, it may not actually add that much value to your clients.
As a business, you should utilize the service tools available to help give you more time to focus on business growth. You may need to consider using some of your company’s call centers or providing a personal service portal for your clients so that you can focus on growing your business.
Do you know what’s working and what’s not?
How well does your agency manage data and assess itself? Businesses, in general, spend a lot of time doing “business as usual” because they don’t really know the best place to spend their time. What about your agency? Are you spending all your time on things because you’ve always done them this way or are you willing to change what you do to find a more productive way to manage the day to day operations of your agency?
Are you spending time on things that don’t matter?
This final area is a challenging one because it means our job may get a little more difficult or uncomfortable. Our agency (and ourselves) often spend time on things that don’t matter. We do what we know and default to what is comfortable.
One example of this is an agency owner who would take everyone’s lunch order and pick up lunch. I’m sure this made the staff happy and made the owner feel great about themselves but was it really the best way to spend time every day?
We do many things daily that we may want to change. Walking down to pick up the mail from down the road, spending too much time on social media, constantly checking email, and many other tasks that are low value. If we are finding that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what we feel we should, then it’s time for us to re-evaluate what we are spending our time on.
Here’s an example of how one agency owner found time to jump into daily digital marketing practices.
Are your systems speeding you up or slowing you down?
Technology was created to help us save time and be more productive. However, with the increased systems and long learning curves, it seems as though our systems are bogging us down more than they are helping us manage our time.
Here are some things to think about to allow your systems to give you more time back in the day.
Do you have too many tools / Juggling too much technology?
Does this sound familiar? You bought this tool, then another, then another. You went through onboarding (maybe) and now you’re left with a bunch of software that your team bounces back and forth from. But here’s the kicker, half the tools are overpriced and underutilized. Leaving your team at square 1.
The solution may be an all in one marketing automation platform.
A lot of the daily tools we utilize, i.e. CRM, email marketing platforms, social media publishing, website analytics, marketing automation, etc. can all be combined into one program.
For years we used Hubspot to manage all of our marketing and sales efforts, and recently we switched to a program called SharpSpring.
These all in one software tools take the headache out of bouncing around and learning a bunch of different programs.
Are you utilizing automation to give back time?
One thing that technology is supposed to do for us is increase our productivity and efficiency. Do you feel that your technology does that for you or do you feel like it is just one more thing that you must do?
Marketing automation isn’t something we should scoff at in fear that it will eliminate our jobs, but rather should be looked at as something that can give us more time to do our jobs more uniquely.
Automation provides us with more time by eliminating repetitive tasks and condensing our communications. However, many do not use automation to its full potential.
Is your data actionable?
What’s the point of having technology and data if it doesn’t help you make smarter decisions faster? Many of us comb through data and reports weekly but never have true actionable data. Or we do, but we have to comb through a lot of data we don’t care about first to get to the point.
Technology has advanced to the point where we can say XYZ is important to me and have automatic reports generated.
If you have some prospect, customer or marketing data then you are beyond many other agencies. However, your next step is to have a system that allows you to have a full picture view so that you can make better decisions and spend less time looking at reports that still leave you guessing.
Wondering how a Marketing Automation system can help speed up your operations and give you more time back in the day? Then check out this blog article we wrote on marketing automation.
Is sales effective with their time?
It’s not just technology that affects our time. We need our sales team to be effective with what they are doing. A more productive sales team means more leads and customers. But when sales is ineffective they are unable to produce to their fullest potential.
Here are some time changes that can lead to more time (or at least a more productive use of time).
Is your sales team focusing on the people who are not going to buy?
At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for your agency right now. This means that half of the calls, sales meetings and proposals we’ve created are wasted efforts. Just think how much time could be saved in your agency if salespeople knew from the beginning that a prospect was not right and could choose to walk away.
By creating personas, identifying the characteristics of a good prospect, and having the insights to know the difference, your sales team can spend less time with people who won’t buy and more time prospecting and selling to those who will.
Does your sales team lose opportunities because they fail to properly follow up?
This doesn’t necessarily save time but think about how much time ends up being wasted because of lost opportunities that should be closed. Your sales team does the work but either lack of communication, bad timing or simple human error causes them to lose the sale.
Even if you do follow up, many opportunities are lost just because of a slow response rate. Less than 50% of consumers give you more than 24 hours to follow up on their initial inquiry. And nearly 20% give you less than an hour.
Our efforts are wasted if we spend time creating opportunities but lose them because we failed to properly follow through.
To remedy this problem, a strong sales process should be created along with a simple sales system to help automate communications.
Is Marketing a time suck or ROI generator?
In 2019 marketing has become a necessary part of every business. However, many who have invested into marketing have yet to see a return. Marketing shouldn’t be a distraction or a business expense.
Here are a few things to consider to see how marketing may be wasting your time.
Are you spending lots of time posting but not getting results?
Many agencies understand that they need to create content to make their marketing work. But what we are seeing is gobs of content that will never generate sales.
You can write blogs, create videos, and post every 5 minutes but if the content is not strategic it will not work.
Stop spending ridiculous amounts of time posting random content, instead, get strategic with the type of content that goes out. Make sure that the content is aligned with your buyers’ journeys.
Are you spending too much time in marketing and planning meetings
It takes a lot of time and effort to figure out marketing, especially if you are new to digital. There’s nothing wrong with meetings, in fact, we have a weekly marketing meeting to assess where we are and what needs done. However, if you’ve had meeting after meeting on what should be done, at some point you need to stop and execute.
The best way to go about your marketing efforts is to strategize, decide on a plan of attack, execute, then review the data. Don’t let your planning sessions steal your time (and parts of your soul)
(Here’s a video about meetings that is way too honest! Enjoy!)
Are you spending too much time jumping to the next shiny idea
We see many agents jumping from idea to idea. They go from one expert to the next and they switch software products like seasonal decorations.
This leaves you constantly learning a new piece of technology or not investing enough time into one piece of technology/strategy. When you are able to get effective with a strategy or piece of technology then you are able to execute in less time.
This means increased productivity and time.
Are you spending too much time learning
One of the great things about the independent insurance agency culture is the dedication to learning. There are always live events, webinars and other learning opportunities, but this can become a double-edged sword.
At some point, there are diminishing returns on how much marketing “learning” you can do. If you find yourself or your agency attending event after event trying to wrap your head around digital marketing and you are still getting nowhere, then it’s time to sit down and try something or meet one on one with someone who can help.
You will likely find that a short amount of time dedicated to marketing talks around your specific agency can provide a better use of time and even an increased ROI then attending events which do not clearly address your concerns.
What are your Biggest Time Traps?
In our blog, we covered the biggest time traps we experience at our insurance agency and with the agencies we help.
But what about you? Do you have additional time traps your agency falls into? Or does your agency struggle with some of these same time traps?