Archive for the ‘Consumer Insurance Information’ Category
What Acclaimed Creator, Producer and Writer, Chuck Lorre Can Teach You About Insurance
I am not a big TV fan but I noticed this past week that there is a theme in my TV watching habits. I LOVE Chuck Lorre productions. Over the years I was a BIG fan of “Will and Grace”, “Dharma & Greg,” “Roseanne”, “Two and a Half Men”, and my current favorite, “Big Bang Theory.” We Tivo “Big Bang Theory” and when I call out to the house..”Hey, anyone want to watch Sheldon?”…EVERYONE comes running.
I remember that “Will and Grace” was my husband and mine’s date night for years…We would scoot the kids to bed with much enthusiasm as we baked our contraband Pillsbury Slice and Bake Cookies and then sink into the family room couch with our tall glass of milk to watch our show. We reveled in the fact that this was our night where we didn’t have to share our chocolate chip cookies or watch “Arthur” on PBS. I started to think about it, and there are so many memories like that around a number of Chuck Lorre’s TV shows including our current favorites. My kids are much older now (and I have to share cookies no matter what time I bake them) but the allure of a Chuck Lorre production still rings true in our household.
When I realized this fact this week, it got me thinking..what can I learn from Chuck Lorre? He has had a long and prosperous career in an industry that is not known for long and prosperous lifetime anything’s. Hollywood is infamous for the love-them-and-leave-them type of careers. So what is it that keeps him relevant in such a fickle industry?
I did some research and one of the awards he won struck me. I was reading IMDB and this is what they said “In January 2009, Lorre kicked off the New Year when he was honored with the NATPE Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award for exhibiting extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision in the process of creating television programming and in evoking the spirit of Brandon Tartikoff’s generosity”. Wow, what an award. Do I have “extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision” in my industry? Do I have the type of drive to even create that type of environment in my business, with my clients and inside my community? I think as Insurance Agents, we have to think about this long and hard. What are we bringing to the table for our community? Are we just selling, filling out applications, and making sure we cover our butts for our E&O? If we are, it’s no wonder the #1 reason insured’s leave an agency is apathy. We give them nothing of ourselves, no reason to stay, no reason to refer us to their friends and family, no reason to trust us with their other policies.
What are you doing in your agency to deliver extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision? What are you doing in your community to exhibit these traits so you can be memorable and worthy of your customer’s business?
Let us know your thoughts on the topic and how you are making a difference in your agency, industry and in your client’s lives.
Time Management Tips
February is National Time Management Month. Let’s review some helpful tips to keep you on time and less stressed!
- Plan & Organize – without a plan, you will experience an 80% failure rate. Time spent organizing is time well spent. It doesn’t matter how you organize, just organize in a way that works for you.
- Set Goals & Prioritize – the first step is to decide what you want to achieve. Keep the goals achievable, with a little bit of stretch. Next, prioritize! Use the 80-20 rule from our old friend Mr. Pareto… 80% of the reward or achievement comes from 20% of the effort. Spend time in the areas that offer the greatest return on effort.
- To Do or Not to Do – that is the question! Combine a list of action items with your calendar. You can see your progress and make adjustments as needed. Knowing where you are is half the battle most days.
- Delegate – No is not a four letter word! Some tasks are just not worth your time, but others on your staff could be a perfect fit for activities that are a drain on your schedule, but still need to be handled.
- Don’t schedule 100% of Your Day – Interruptions are going to happen… so build time into your schedule to accommodate them! Not only will this lessen your stress level when emergencies happen, but it will lessen the number of “fires” you have to deal with on a daily basis.
- Know Your Prime Time – we all have biological a “prime time” when we are running on all cylinders. Knowing if you’re a morning person, afternoon guru or night owl, you can try to schedule your priority tasks for those times.
- Reward Yourself – break your day into small blocks and give yourself a small reward for achieving a goal. Building small successes as you move through the day will give you both emotional and physical boosts. All work and no play makes for a long day!!!!
Disaster Prevention on a Budget
We’ve discussed risk management in previous blogs, and the importance of identifying, quantifying and understanding business risks. But, what are some simple, inexpensive ways a small business can prevent disaster from upending their business? Review some of the tips below and see if they fit your budget and apply to your business!
- Develop multiple revenue sources – Never rely on one customer, industry or client to be your only revenue stream. Diversity will help insulate you if you lose a high value customer. You should plan on losing at least 10% of your customer base annually, not necessarily through your fault, it’s just the natural flow of business.
- Document It! – The first rule of business is ‘get it in writing”. What may have been understood in a verbal conversation can easily lead to major misunderstandings at a later date….that’s why the court house is full of lawyers. A well defined and thorough written document can save hurt feelings, money and clients!
- Rainy Day Money – You never know when your revenue stream will be interrupted or for how long. Fire, flood, natural disasters or even economic uncertainty can bring business to a sudden stop. Having a reserve fund to see you through slow months or more trying situations can save your business until your cash flow returns to normal.
- Back Up, Back Up, Back Up…. In case you are one of those folks who has never experienced their computer hard drive crashing….YOU WILL BE, it’s just a matter of time. There are so many easy, automatic ways to back up your business data, especially from PC’s and laptops available today. I suggest you consider an online backup system that is cloud based. They are numerous and inexpensive, and are accessible 24/7, allowing you to recover vital data to keep your business moving if those geek gremlins attack.
- Have a Plan – sounds easy, and it really is. Take a few minutes and think about some of the vital activities you, your staff and your business perform routinely. Write them down, make copies, distribute and familiarize key employees with those processes. Then, when someone is out for a day or week or month, a co-worker will know how to turn on the copier, write an invoice or turn on the coffee maker!
Keys to Delivering GREAT Customer Service
Every company say the “Focus on Customer Excellence”, “Our Customers Are #1”…….. but how effective are they in delivering GREAT customer service? Review the list below for some insights and ideas on how to create a GREAT customer experience:
Know your Customers – Who are your chosen customers? What are their needs and expectations? How well are you meeting those needs
Empower Your Front-line Staff – train your staff to handle customer issues themselves. Allow them to act independently and with flexibility. Nothing kills customer service quicker than “I have to check with my manager”.
Organization/Importance – Customer service must be a priority for Senior Management! Develop an organizational mentality that facilitates a smooth flow to resolve customer issues and places a priority on a positive, successful resolution to customer issues.
Turn Problems into Opportunities – if handled quickly, fairly and effectively, you can turn a customer with a complaint into an advocate for your brand!
Learn from Your Mistakes AND Your Successes – View mistakes by your staff as learning opportunities! Be willing to change procedures or practices based on customer and staff feedback. Review your successes and incorporate those practices and principles into areas that may need improvement.
Anticipate the Future – Technology changes constantly! Don’t fall into the trap of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”. The business landscape is piled high with the corpses of businesses that failed to recognize and embrace change. Webchat, email, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter are just a few of the high tech avenues to communicate with customers. Don’t let your customers disappear into the technology dimension without you!
Contact AgencyIQ today for a FREE 15 Day Trial and let us help you provide a GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE for your prospective and existing clients!
CALLING IT QUITS
Mike Modano, the star forward for the Dallas Stars hockey team, has probably played his last professional hockey game. I was one of the fortunate few to be in the stands for his last Home game appearance. What a night to remember: Modano had an assist on a goal, scored the game tying goal late in the 3rd period and scored a goal in the overtime shoot out to win the game against his nemisis the Anaheim Ducks! Talk about a story book ending to a career….. And a perfect end to a career spent with one organization for his entire career, playing key roles as leading scorer, team captain and mentor and elder statesman in the locker room as his career ended. A truly humble player and man, Mike gave back to hockey and the community; generous with his time, money and talents, the city of Dallas is better for his involvement over the last 16 years. The Dallas Stars have some mighty big skates to fill with Mo’s departure.
In our careers, we’ve all know a few Mike Modano’s. People that embody the spirit of our company, contributing at the highest level, team players, always encouraging those around them and bringing out the best performance of others through their example in action. You just can’t imagine how you’d survive without that person! Unfortunately, most organizations don’t plan ahead in anticipation of key personnel eventually leaving. Do you as a business owner have key personnel that you depend on to carry the load? We all do, but do you have a plan on how to move forward if/when they leave? Succession planning is usually way down the list of strategic planning activities, but it is vital to the sustained growth of an organization that you have a plan for replacing key employees. To keep your company vibrant, forward thinking and prepared, having a potential talent pool of internal or external resources is not only smart, it will save you and your organization a lot of heart ache when the day comes for a key employee to be replaced. As a owner/manager, it’s important to recognize the Modano’s in your organization and look ahead on how to deal with the void after their last “game”.
Ever hear the John Mellencamp song “Tumbling Down”? That’s what I thought of when the old Texas Stadium in Irving, TX was demolished recently. Being a native of the area and a huge Cowboys fan as long as I can remember, I could not convince myself to join all those who watched in person or on TV the destruction of a place that held so many memories. Landry, Staubach, Lilly, Aikman, Irvin, Smith, the Ring of Honor, NFC Championship games…. The list goes on and on. And yes, I do believe the hole in the roof was there so God could watch His team play! What was once a state of the art facility featured in numerous movies and mesmerized Sunday football viewers on TV, had, over the years, suffered from age, neglect and a public that demanded new heights of technology to keep their intrest. No lingering, slow demise for this former showcase, Jerry Jones, the eternal promoter, made Texas Stadium’s last hurrah another money making deal. It was even sponsored by Kraft Foods (I don’t get it… but they ponied up the cash, the single largest requirement). Faster than you can say “Kraft macaroni and cheese”, Texas Stadium disappeared in a cloud of dust, soon to be a distant memory of those who will remember her in her glory days!
Yes friends, even those monuments that seem indestructible on their christening day, have their eventual fall from favor and are replaced. So it is with the tools we use to run our business. Technology changes constantly, computers and communication systems require constant review and the software we use to manage our data is always undergoing tweaks and updates. Over the next few weeks and months, you will be receiving notices of important enhancements to the AgencyIQ operating system. Future blogs and newsletters will detail these enhancements that will make your lead management efforts more effective, efficient and increase your book of business. AgencyIQ is committed to delivering to our clients the tools you need to grow your business. Please look for these announcements and let us know what you think!!
Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas
It’s been quite a few years since my last trip to Vegas…. BOY HAS IT CHANGED! At some of the hotels and resorts, I thought I was at Disney World…. They have really marketed to a “family” experience. Bugsy Siegel and the original Vegas mobsters must be spinning in their graves! Upscale shopping, spas, amusement rides, arcades for the kiddos… where were the smoked filled, dimly lighted casinos, with booze flowing and an edge of danger in the air? The only danger I saw was from all the helpful customer service employees falling all over themselves to help you find the nearest Starbucks counter at the hotel!! The “Rat Pack” wouldn’t stand a chance in today’s Las Vegas…
I would like to share a few moments from my trip; this was to celebrate my youngest son’s 21st birthday. My other son (24yrs) and my cousin were along as well. An early flight has us in Vegas at 7:20am… a quick breakfast and out to Hoover Dam. Then, hit the casino’s!! My oldest learned quickly why there are so many “nice” casinos in Vegas, he lost 75% of his “entertainment” funds in about an hour. Round 1 to the casino. The boy’s room was not ready at check in, so after a 4 hour delay, the room was ready and they were “comped” an upgrade to “resort status”….. wait a minute… whose name was on the credit card for the room? Round 2 to the casino. Later that night, Texas Hold’em and up a few hundred bucks. Round 3 to Marcus. The next day, the best $75 I spent the whole trip: Indoor Skydiving!! All I can say is WOW… I’m doing the real thing later this year, awesome. That night, it was guys night out on the town. Ever see the movie “Old Hogs”? What is up with today’s youngsters? Both young guys were in bed by midnight, the “old guys” stayed out til 4:00am, got up at 7:00am, went to Denny’s (is there any place else?) and then got new tattoos ink in (6 hours of needle work.. ouch!) The young guys stayed in bed ‘til noon and then laid around because they were “tired”…. Seriously, this should be renamed the “Tired Generation”. At 24 and 21 years of age, I wouldn’t have slept for 3 days!! Another interesting phenomon takes place on the sidewalks of “The Strip”. Starting at 3:00pm, there are groups of 10-12 men in brightly colored hoodies standing along the sidewalk, slapping business cards in their hands, trying to get your attention and hand the card to you. Distracting and disgusting, they are the marketing force for the “private entertainment” industry, with full color photos of the personal services available. In spots it looked like there had been a ticker tape parade! The old mobsters would be proud of these guys! New tattoos aching, I try to teach my cousin how to play craps…. It’s a love/hate relationship… the dice table, not me and my cousin! While at the craps table, my youngest “figures out” roulette…. a collective few hundred dollars later, he “figures out” the law of averages is a cruel mistress! Round 4 to the casino.
What does this have to do with lead management or insurance? Nothing really… every once in a while, we all need to take a break and refresh/renew ourselves! If you chose to do it in Vegas, I have an addition to their marketing line: “What Happens in Vegas (and your $$$$), Stays in Vegas!
Healthcare Reform 2010
The real question I pose to each of you is this: How does this impact you as an individual, a family, an employee or as a business owner? Hmmmmmm…… Do you bury your head in the sand and “hope” it will all work out, or do you stay engaged in the debate and educate yourself in how to respond to this significant change in our lives?
As a member of the insurance industry, the Healthcare Reform Bill WILL IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS!It doesn’t matter if you are involved in health insurance specifically. People are going to be required to acquire healthcare insurance at some level and cost. This will create tremendous opportunities for you as an insurance provider. You can now create education and informational marketing, email, website and blog campaigns to assist existing and potential new clients understand how to manage their insurance resources. Families are going to be reviewing how, where and how much they are spending every month on ALL insurance coverages be it home, auto, life or health.
Now is the time to begin developing those strategies and presenting pro-active steps to your existing and potential new clients in addressing these new challenges! Let AgencyIQ assist you in this area by utilizing our state of the art lead management program that features extensive email functionality to stay in contact with new clients as you move from introduction to closing the deal!
I noticed on the Internet yesterday that President Obama’s results from his first health check up as Commander –in-Chief were released. Good news! President Obama was declared in “excellent health” by the examining doctors. The 48 year old Obama reportedly works out 6 mornings a week, plays basketball regularly and appears to be the picture of good health. Read further into the report and you discover he has tendinitis of the knee, borderline high cholesterol (total cholesterol at 209, with the “bad” LDL cholesterol very high) and has yet to stop that persistent, lingering cigarette habit! I wish President Obama well in his efforts to reduce his cholesterol levels and kick the cigarette habit.
But this does bring to mind two thoughts regarding how we determine how “healthy” things are in our lives. The first thought relates to the health of your clients. Not just their physical health, but their insurance coverage health. Do you let them come to you if they feel like they need a coverage review every 5-10 years or are you proactive, providing them an annual review of their coverage’s? Do you bring them current information on policy updates or coverage changes that could impact them negatively if an accident occurs? I would encourage you to build a lasting bond with your clients by providing those services and help them understand you are truly interested in their welfare.
The second thought relates to the relative “health” of your business. When was the last time you gave your business a check up? Do you just figure everything is “good to go” as long as nothing breaks down? Do you schedule a periodic review of your business practices, new trends in the market, changes in the economy or society that could impact the health of your business? Being aware of changes and trends early on will provide an opportunity to address those issues and make any necessary adjustments or changes to ensure the continued good health of your business.
The bottom line is this: we all have small, hidden areas of our “health” that can be addressed. If you ignore those areas, then potentially BAD KARMA will ensue. On the other hand, if you investigate, discover and address those areas for improvement…. Odds are the GOOD KARMA will continue to follow you! AgencyIQ wants to help you with those GOOD KARMA opportunities. Give us a call or look us up on the Internet at www.agencyiq.com and see how our robust, proactive lead management and email marketing programs will bring the GOOD KARMA to your agency!
Announcing New Lead Provider: HBW Leads!
Net-Lead is pleased to announce that we have completed integration of AgencyIQ with HBW Leads. We are excited to offer a seamless integration of their lead information into the AgencyIQ System which will help you to sell more business, faster.
HBW Leads was established in 2005 by insurance agents who brought their professional experience from their own insurance business to create the scripts and leads insurance agents want. The goal was to create exclusive telemarketed leads that are interested in receiving a comparison quote.
After modifying their scripts to achieve the best success for the insurance agent, HBW Leads established procedures and systems to record all calls and grade the caliber and accuracy of the lead to ensure the highest quality.
HBW Leads grew from serving its local area agents to serving agents across the country. Currently, HBW Leads is helping companies like Allstate, Farmers, State Farm, American Family Insurance and others grow their business. In addition, training is offered to customers to maximize the effectiveness of their leads. HBW Leads also offers peer mentorships to help guide active clients in the best way to utilize their leads.
Visit them online at www.hbwleads.com.
If you subscribe to HBWLeads, follow these easy steps to set up the integration in AgencyIQ:
1. First, locate your AgencyIQ ID number by clicking on “my agency” in the upper-right of any AgencyIQ screen. Your Agency ID number will be the five digit number displayed large above your address information:
2. Now, log into your HBW Leads account.
4. Find the link to add a new connection for AgencyIQ near the bottom of the “Export Connections” screen and click it.
5. Enter your AgencyIQ ID number (from step 1, above) in the blank provided, and choose “Auto” if you want all leads automatically sent to AgencyIQ or “Manual” if you want to select individual leads to send to AgencyIQ. Click “Save AgencyIQ Connection” to save your choices.
That’s all there is to it! If you would like additional assistance with setting up your connection, please call our offices at (877) 985-7400.