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Avoid Employee Turnover Costs with Good Initial Hiring Practice

Hiring good people can be difficult, time-consuming and costly.  Understanding the financial and other costs associated with an inefficient hiring practice will lead you to recognize the reasons to spend time and effort on this vital growth subject.

Hiring the wrong person can be a financial disaster.

Costs are typically 150% of yearly salary

  1.  Lost training time
  2.  Training cost of replacement
  3.  Lost weeks of productivity
  4.  Cost of recruitment
  5.  Stress on organization

Management Headaches

  1.  Conflict with management and other team members
  2.  Disproportionate management time required for problem solving
  3.  Wasted training time
  4.  Starting all over AGAIN!

The core of a successful hiring practice is not the actual interview but in the initial phone conversation with a prospective employee.  Most candidates prepare for the sit-down interview.  They study your website and understand your agency’s products and concentration.  They may even have their practiced “script” ready to use to answer the potential, and likely predictable, interview questions.   However, many candidates are not ready for a phone interview and do not recognize the importance of this piece of the screening process.   As it is more casual and less intimidating than a sit-down interview, you are likely to discover something that you would not find in a ‘practiced’ interview and it is an optimal time to test active listening skills which is key to a productive employee.   Remember that most of your clients will be speaking with this prospective employee on the phone so their listening and response skills are paramount to good client relations.

It is important to remember that you are not interviewing to hire at this point.  This time is used to qualify candidates for the next step in your hiring practice without the additional costs and associated wasted time of a bad in-office interview. 

To begin with, make sure that you prepare the segmentation and questions for the phone interview.  Start by introducing yourself, telling them a bit about the agency and your intent for a specific candidate.  Set the tone and more importantly, the specific agenda for the interview.   Let them know upfront how much time you are devoting to this conversation.  How a candidate adheres to the agenda and the pace of a phone interview is very telling and can be much different from a face-to-face conversation where the candidate can adjust responses and approach based on your body language. 

Be sure to give the candidate the opportunity to acknowledge the agenda and any overt deviation on their part may be a clear sign that this candidate is not for you. 

Wrap up the interview with a clear plan of action by either thanking them for their time or giving them the instructions for the next phase in your interview process.  The follow up should always be on the candidate not on the agency.   Placing the responsibility for follow up on the candidate is the next step of the hiring assessment.   The follow up, or lack of follow up, is a clear measurement of the hirable potential of your next ideal employee.   

Written on October 4, 2017 by Peggy Corbett

Better Business through Good Time Management

Let’s face it. Every one of us is a procrastinator at heart.  The problem with not tackling your biggest problem, most upset client, or worst project first thing in the morning is that it looms over you all day and clutters your mind.  Whether you realize it or not, it creates a distraction for creative concentration.

Mark Twain famously said that if you eat a live frog every morning then nothing worse will happen the rest of the day.

First thing in the morning, your mind is the clearest and you have yet to be pulled in multiple directions. By attacking the most daunting task first, you will have a sense of accomplishment and you can go through the rest of the day knowing that you already ate your frog.

The other time management skills that most agency owners don’t implement are the following:

Track your time:  If you can’t measure it then you can’t improve it.  Knowing how much time to it takes you to complete any given task, will allow you to effectively plan your day.

Eliminate time wasters: One of the most intrusive time wasters is the audible alert of incoming emails.  Every time you respond to that ‘ding’, you are disrupting the concentration of the task at hand.   One recent study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back on track after you've been interrupted.   Responding to emails is important but it can be done after the completion of a specific project or at designated times in the work day.

Get organized: Organization can be as simple as an uncluttered desk, an orderly email inbox or implementing a viral filing system such as Drop Box to eliminate wasted time looking for paperwork or documents that do not get scanned in to your agency management system. Developing efficient systems will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Set deadlines and keep them: Setting a hard deadline for yourself makes you accountable for the completion of the project. Be honest with yourself and give enough time to realistically get the job done with a little wiggle room for the possibility that other things will get in the way.  If you respect the hard deadline imposed by yourself, your focus will be sharper and efficiencies with be improved.  Remember that being busy isn’t the same as being effective.

Good time management enables you to work smarter – not harder – so that you get more done in less time.




Written on September 12, 2017 by Peggy Corbett

Upselling to Increase Customer Satisfaction and Retention

The definition of upselling according to Business is a ‘sales strategy where the seller will provide opportunities to purchase related products or services, often for the sole purpose of making a larger sale’.

This makes upselling sound like a dirty word and not a benefit for the client.  In fact, upselling can increase your customer satisfaction and retention by providing necessary coverage through risk management techniques that will allow you to meet or surpass your customer’s satisfaction.  

How many times as an insurance agent has a client asked you “Why didn’t you tell me about XYZ coverage?” after a loss?

The secret to successful upselling is to provide a potential loss scenario to the client that illustrates the possibility of loss or injury that could affect that individual client or his/her property.  

Upselling should not be a sales strategy but instead a path that walks a client through specific peril filled obstacles with the idea to diminish the client’s exposure through avoidance of risk, mitigation of risk, transfer of risk and acceptance of risk.

Let’s face it, insurance is only necessary after the time of a loss.  When the expected coverage is not there, the client blames the agent.  The average agency loses around 20 percent of its non-retained clients base due to disappointment with coverage at the time of a claim.  The customers that receive the proper coverage at the time of a claim are one-third more loyal than other customers.  

By not upselling, an agent is failing to attend to his customer relationship and let’s not forget that the documentation of upselling is also a tactical approach for errors and omissions protection.


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Written on August 23, 2017 by Peggy Corbett

Mining Your Client List for New Business

One of the most overlooked and profitable client is right under your nose…your existing customers.

Many of these loyal clients represent an untapped source of new business and the good news is that these clients already know you, trust you and you have a proven track record with them.

Cultivating your existing client base not only increases your business but enhances profitability by lowering the cost of customer acquisition and increasing retention. Customer retention is exponentially multiplied by every additional policy that each customer has with the agency. It also fosters loyalty to the agency and deters the customer from shopping with their “other” agent.

While there are no statistics on how many independent agencies are actively cross-selling to their customers, many experts say they’re not doing it as often as they should—in spite of the fact that their survival in today's customer-driven environment may depend on it.

Below you will find keys to prospecting and retaining your existing client base.


Know your customer – What are their needs, assets, concerns?

Identifying the answers to these fundamental questions will help you provide the appropriate coverages and policies for each customer’s individual needs. By knowing your customer and their needs, you can build a customer profile of their personal and economic data. Also, recognizing your customer’s “triggers”, such as when the customer’s child is about to turn 16, allows you the opportunity to provide invaluable information and advice on necessary additional coverages or policies.

Continuously Update

Update customer information continually. Remember that knowing your customer’s needs and concerns of three years ago may not represent their current needs and concerns. Also, keeping an accurate, up-to-date client list containing both a mailing, phone and an e-mail address is an essential building block for any successful marketing initiative. This may sound easy, but it frequently is not. 

Reach Out

Connecting with your customer on a regular basis not only secures that customer to your agency but also provides the best opportunity to cross sell new products or upsell existing coverages. Ask your client’s how they want to be contacted – mail, email, phone or text – and use this method. No one wants to receive a phone call at work when they have specifically told you that their preferred method of contact is email.

Act, React and Repeat

The challenge of any marketing campaign is that they are easy to start but hard to maintain. Therefore, it is essential that after you create and execute a marketing plan, you measure the response and adjust accordingly to sustain a repeatable model for growth. Be sure to be consistent. You can always accelerate your campaigns but you definitely want to avoid an inconsistent start-and-stop cycle. In any event, keep in mind that the more repeated and continuous your communications, the better your results are likely to be.


Written on July 17, 2017 by Peggy Corbett