Dec 14, 2019
EP - 37 Ideas to consider as you plan for next year and information for whenever you feel you need to make some changes.
While most people do the goal setting at the end or beginning of the year, it can be done at any time.
Don’t just look at your sales goals, look at your productivity goals, your team goals and hopefully your marketing goals. Don’t forget about those personal goals too!.
Regardless of your position in the insurance industry, you should have some sort of plan to follow for the new year. If your boss doesn’t give you one, create one yourself.
Ideas to consider as you plan for 2020.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
When I first started in sales, my boss would hand us a one page sales plan. We usually had about a week to complete it. If I remember correctly, it started with how much production we wanted for the next year and broke it down into what we needed to do to get there. (we backed into it) In order to really do accurate predictions, we’d need to look at what we had done in the past. Some of that was in our heads, some of that was made up, but very little was really tracked. As I’ve evolved in the consulting world, I realize that the data is essential for creating a plan that will be productive. My boss knew he needed our numbers to do his own numbers…..but he didn’t provide a lot of guidance on completing our plan so that it was accurate and attainable. For a sales plan, you need to know what you did last year, what worked, what didn’t, where the business came from, how profitable the different accounts are. If you aren't using a CRM that tracks where business comes from, integrates marketing efforts and expenses, it’s hard to get an accurate recap. Often times senior management has these figures, but it isn’t to often that this information is available to those pounding the pavement!
As a professional, you want to know these numbers. Honestly, I’m not a numbers person, accounting is not my thing, but I do know my numbers. I think this is one of the differences between success and marginal success…...numbers can motivate, numbers can show what’s working, what’s not working, what you need to stop doing and what you need to do more of.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of businesses fail because they didn’t know their numbers. Maybe they looked at them once or twice a year. I have some clients who look at them daily...I think that’s a little overkill, but at a minimum, you should be looking at them monthly!
As you are doing your planning for next year, where are you getting your numbers? Are you guessing like we did years ago or do you have actual numbers that you can evaluate? If you don’t have actual numbers to use this year, make sure you have a plan to track everything next year so you can better project and plan.
In my business roundtables, when I ask about challenges, the number one area people want help with is time management. I wish I had a magic ball for this but I don’t. If you struggle with time management, you aren’t alone.
I believe that technology is a great thing but it has also created a lot more work for many people. Managing multiple email accounts, multiple social media accounts, in addition to having multiple browsers open every time you are working.
Tips to consider to help with your productivity. Maybe you can incorporate a few of the ideas into your planning for next year to help you reach your goals.
I know not all of you will agree with that, but you have to respect your time if you want to work on time management.
Now, if you are listening to this and you are at the bottom of the food chain, don’t worry, there might be things you can do to have an impact in this area too. Why do people struggle with delegation? Personally, I think it is mostly a control issue. You can’t let go. No one can do it as good as you can. The amount of time it takes you to train someone or to check their work you could have it done by yourself. There might be some truth to that but the problem is that you can only do so much before you get bogged down, have to work longer hours then the rest of your productivity or lifestyle is impacted.
Here’s an idea to try. For a week...and I know that can seem like a long time, but it’s only one week. Make a list of everything you do. Make a log every 10 minutes. You only need to do this for a week. Set your timer to remind you every 10 minutes.
I’ve talked about this concept for a long time and when people do the tasks their eyes open quickly. One of my clients did it for two days then realized she was spending 2 hours on opening the mail. It took her less than a week to hire someone. I have another client that has about 10 employees and he had everyone in the company do this task. He said every 10 minutes he could hear the timers going off. For him, it was an analysis of what everyone was doing to see what systems and processes were working and what they needed to change.
At the end of the week, do an analysis of your tasks. Add two columns. One is ROI the other is Do you have to do the task or can someone else. When it comes to ROI, it will be subjective, but is the task something that could be done by someone at a lesser pay scale or by someone in another department? Is the task helping you to grow your business or make more money?
For the last column, is your client expecting the task to be completed by you or could it be completed by someone else? Again, based on your job description, the ROI and who needs to do the task might be different, but you get the idea of what to look for.
One of the podcasts I listen to is Build a Better Agency. Its hosted by Drew Mclellan and it’s for marketing agency owners. In this particular episode, his guest, Jess Tysons runs a virtual assistant business. She’s also the author of: Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business
She talked about how to use a VA and the different projects that you can have them do. In all honesty, what she is referring to is having an admin person. An admin person that is focused on your tasks. An admin person that you trust and can get the job done. A VA is someone you hire for a few hours a week or a month depending on the contract and your needs. They are usually set up as a business or work for another VA firm, so you are hiring an independent contractor. Whether you hire a VA or an admin person, the sooner you do, the sooner you will free up some time and be able to work on the projects that are more important or are the real revenue generators.
One of the topics they discussed was having your VA manage your email account. So many people cringe about this...for so many reasons. But think about it, how much time are you spending on email management? If you did the exercise I just described and tracked what you were doing for a week, you’ll know how much time you spend on email. My guess is you are spending up to an hour a day….if not more.
The real issue is what else could you be doing and what would be more productive with your time? I”ve been harping to business owners for years to delegate their email management. I get a lot of resistance and I understand their concerns, but if they want to be more productive, they need to delegate.
Think about this...in the old days, almost every business owner had an admin person. They might have been called a secretary then, but I’m trying to be politically correct so I’m calling them an admin. The admin person would open the mail, he/she could respond to a certain percentage on their own because of their experience and the rest was given to the boss to address. Smart bosses would have the admin person in their office as they go through the mail and indicate what they wanted done with each piece of correspondence. Why can’t you do the same or something similar with email? You’ll train your staff person or VA on what you must see, what they can address and what needs to be deleted. Your admin or VA is there to help you be more successful. Answering email might be getting in the way!
From a planning perspective, give some thought to delegating. What can you intentionally take off of your plate to free up some time…..and make you more productive.
For those of you at the bottom of the food chain? If you are overwhelmed and feeling overworked, tracking what you are doing, how long it takes and creating systems to be more efficient might be helpful. With tracking everything, you’ll eventually have enough data to get your boss to spread out the workload or hire someone to assist you!
Another area that you might want to consider as you plan for next year is setting some personal goals for self development. Maybe this is professional, maybe it’s personal. The reality is what are you doing to work on yourself? We are our biggest commodity. There’s always room for improvement.
If you are in sales, work on your sales skills; if you are in management, take some leadership classes; if you are in marketing, takes some courses. My recommendation is to do these in person if you can. It provides you the opportunity to get out of your office into another location and if you can get outside of your comfort zone, meet some people - talk to the person sitting to your left and right. Who knows where they have been and what you can learn!
If you are a licensed agent, you have to do mandatory CE’s to keep your license. These can be boring and mundane. Trust me, after doing 25 years of CIC updates, I’m tired of hearing what a named insured is. But we have to do it! Take additional classes. As part of your planning for next year, look for a class or a conference you want to attend that will expand your horizons. Even if you have to do it on your own time, you will be a better person because of it!
The personal goals don’t just have to be about education. Perhaps you set some time to do some things that you have always wanted to do but haven’t.
So we’ve talked about knowing your numbers, Time Management, Delegating and Self Improvement. These aren’t typical goals that are on the goal planning worksheet that your boss might give you, but I said in the beginning, I want to get you thinking differently.
I’m not talking about new years resolutions, but a plan to implement throughout the year.
Don’t make too many changes at one time because you will overwhelm yourself. Maybe you work on time management in the first quarter and add volunteering in the second quarter.
Your plan isn’t just numbers, but it’s a holistic approach to increased performance!
Until next time, keep creating opportunities.