It’s the currency of the world —the most valuable asset you own.
An asset you can never get back.
In order to do the things you need to do to grow your agency, whether they be online, or offline activities, you need time. Without it, you’ll never move forward.
As agents, we need to eliminate anything and everything that nibbles at those precious minutes and hours through the day.
Minutes and hours that can be the difference in you living the life and running the business you got into this industry for in the first place.
The problem that I’ve seen from other agency owners, and (personally experienced myself) is that it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day busy work. Work that fools you into believing that you’re being productive, when you’re actually just spinning your wheels.
In the first official episode of our new podcast, The Digital Advisor, I talk to former agent, and current Trusted Choice marketing lead, and managing editor of Agency Nation, Ryan Hanley about how the time excuse is killing independent agencies.
You can watch Episode 1 below, and also listen to the audio-only version over on the podcast page, or in your favorite podcast app.
Common reasons why you might be bad at time management
By no means am I a time management guru myself, but through the years I’ve been able to mind-hack my way around common time killers.
These are some major things that I’ve personally had to deal with and have seen other business owners struggle with as well:
You’re not proficient with technology
When I entered the independent agency space, I was mentored by a gentleman who had already put his time in, and was on his way out of the business. At the ripe old age of 68, my mentor, God bless him, was probably the most inefficient person I’ve seen when it came to managing time.
A big reason for this was that he just didn’t understand anything related to technology. He literally struggled some days to open his email because he couldn’t find the desktop shortcut icon.
When he did get his email open, he would often print out attachments, and scan them back to himself (which took him at least 20 minutes), just to email them to someone else. I would often say, “Joe, you know you don’t have to do that. You can just download that attachment and re-attach it to the email you want to send. Or better yet, just forward the email (attachment included) to the person you want to send it to”.
He would write a million notes in a notepad, only to spend 20 minutes later looking through his chicken scratch to find what he just wrote.
He didn’t understand, and didn’t want to understand computers, printers, or anything else with buttons that plugged into an outlet.
Being bad with computers and technology is just bad for business.
If you’re someone who struggles with basic day-to-day tasks, it might be time to brush up on your skills.
The inability to work quickly and efficiently with email, fax, and various carrier websites and interfaces can be a serious time suck throughout your day.
You’re easily distracted
Let’s face it, the internet, email and social media can be extremely distracting. It’s changed the way people communicate with each other and do business to the point where it can become a major deterrent to getting things done.
This is something that I’m guilty of as well sometimes.
What I’ve done to try and curb this is to only check social media twice during the day. I typically will check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the morning before I leave my house for the start of my day.
Then, usually around lunch time, when I’m on a break or have some down time I’ll check them again. If you’re an agency owner with multiple employees, it might be helpful to have some kind of written guidelines in place for social media usage/activity.
We live in a digital world now, and for as much as this may help your business, it can also be a major distraction.
You bog yourself down with busy work
This is probably the number one time suck for any business. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re being productive by taking out the trash, scanning documents, and replying to emails.
These types of tasks, while necessary, can create a sense of accomplishment, when in reality, they aren’t really contributing to your growth.
Sometimes however, there’s no way around it, especially if you’re a small agency. I get that. There simply isn’t anyone else to help you with these things sometimes, and if that’s the case for you, you have to be even better at managing your time.
You have to have a framework in place that allows you to get into a routine, so you can spend time on things that actually help you grow.
Click here to download and print your bonus Time Management Cheat Sheet
10 time management tips you can implement in your agency today
1.) Delegate whenever possible. If you don’t have a dedicated CSR, use carrier service centers for your customer policy changes. I wasn’t a believer at first. “Wait, you want me to pay money to lose touch with my clients? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of them using an independent agent?”
Trust me folks, it’s worth it. The money you spend you make back 10 fold because it frees you up to do more productive things. Do it.
2.) Schedule and complete “busy” work in bulk. Don’t let non-revenue generating tasks disrupt your workflow. Don’t be afraid to let these types of things pile up so you can bang them all out at once. Phone calls, email replies, scanning, faxing, etc.. If it’s not urgent, make sure you prioritize your tasks accordingly.
3.) Bookmark commonly visited sites and use a password tool like Roboform. Being able to quickly access your most commonly visited sites throughout the day might not save you hours and hours of time, but it will definitely help you speed up your overall workflow.
4.) Use multiple monitors. Being able to see everything in front of you is huge. Once you get used to using 2 or 3 monitors, you’ll wonder how you ever operated without them. It just makes you more efficient.
5.) Get up earlier. I realize some people aren’t morning people, and this is sometimes easier said than done, but it’s true that the early bird gets the worm first. Early morning is personally my most productive time of the day. Fewer distractions. And coffee!
6.) Schedule everything. It’s a lot easier to manage your day when you schedule things, and stick to that schedule. My coworker laughed at me once for scheduling phone calls on my calendar, but scheduling even little things like this can help you get into a more productive routine.
7.) Funnel people to your website. Setup a page on your website that has a list of carrier phone numbers for billing and claims, and direct customers there if they have a question
8.) Keep your email in check. Email is a necessary evil in our industry, but like social media, it can be a major time suck. Unsubscribe from (or block) any kind of advertisement lists that you might be on, and immediately delete anything that is not related to sales or service.
It can also be helpful to add an auto-responder to your emails that says something like, “Thank you for your inquiry, we will reply to your question or concern within 24 hours. If this is urgent, please call our office”
9.) Use sales and email automation. Are you using a program like Active Campaign to automate client touches and customer service? You should be. Active Campaign plans start at $9/mo and it’s as powerful as InfusionSoft with the ease of use of Constant Contact or Mailchimp.
10.) Be more efficient with appointments. Do you really need to see that client in person? I’ve wasted countless hours meeting people in my office, when I could have solved their problem with a 5 minute phone call.
Did a carrier rep, or client ask you to lunch? Setup a Skype chat or Google Hangout instead.
There’s no way you can grow your business without working on it.
If you’re stuck in a rut of just working in it, re-read the this article and try to apply some of these principles to your daily workflow. Download the cheatsheet and print it out and hang it by your computer.
Just saving one extra hour per day could make a substantial difference in your ability to do more of the things that actually help you grow.
Did we miss a good strategy? Leave a comment or suggestion below in comments!