ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

THE SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL MAN

For many years, I’ve boasted about a ‘special’ relationship I have with a car dealership salesperson. This relationship has taken her from being just another car salesperson to having a loyal customer whereas she makes a car replacement deal a routine issue instead of being as painful as a trip to the dentist.

Some information has come to me about the owner of the dealership that showed me why my salesperson is the way she is and why the dealership has thrived when so many others have faded away.

The dealership is Holman Automotive Group and the owner, Joseph Holman is a vibrant 87 years old and still comes to work every day, excited about his business. Joe’s father started a Ford dealership almost 90 years ago (selling Model T’s). Now Holman is 24 dealerships in New Jersey and Florida that does $3 Billion annually including ARI, the fleet management company that manages more than 950,000 vehicles.

A consultant from Ford told Joe’s father the following Rules that Joe and his dad before him have held sacred for 90 years. The Rules seem to have worked quite well for him and are certainly NOT isolated to the auto industry:

1. Get the right people

2. Train your staff

3. Pay on an Incentive Basis

4. Set Realistic Objectives

5. Emphasize Control

GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE: Test, test, test. Interview multiple times with multiple people. Don’t settle for second best. Better to do without than to have a deficient employee who will harm you or will certainly not help you for a long period of time before a solution appears. See the Agency Consulting Group, Inc. Hiring System for ways to guarantee you get the right people.

TRAIN YOUR STAFF: You are not in the insurance business. The carriers are in the insurance business. You are in the business of solving people’s problems through the products and services that you have in your tool-belt. You will certainly train your staff in the tools they use. But you don’t want great mechanics who can’t speak to your customers without harming your relationship. Train every employee in Relationship Management (Click here to see the Agency Consulting Group, Inc.’s Asset Protection Model of Relationship Selling). Train them regularly and monitor them to make sure the training takes.

PAY ON AN INCENTIVE BASIS: Most producers are already paid on an incentive basis for their production. But most don’t do much for their renewal clients, using the pyramiding of commissions to earn a comfortable living. Make sure producers visit their existing clients several times each year to avoid clients leaving for rate alone or because another agent pays more attention than your producer does to your clients.

Pay your non-producer employees based on their productivity to your agency, not because they’ve been with you a long time. See Agency Consulting Group, Inc.’s Incentive Compensation Program for much more information on how and why incentive compensation increases your retention rate and makes everyone more interested in the growth of your business.

4. SET REALISTIC OBJECTIVES – It seems that Holman follows the Agency Consulting Group, Inc. rule of ROAM (Realistic, Objective, Achievable and Measurable) goals. This is a call to action for Strategic and Tactical Planning, something that Holman and every other successful business in America does as a part of their work-life. Call us and we’ll send you material on what is involved in Strategically Planning your agency and how we can help you.

5. EMPHASIZE CONTROL – This was a surprise to us. We thought that the monitoring devices that we employed at the back end of our Planning Process was one of our little ‘secrets’ that differentiated our successful clients from so many others who plan and then drift until the next Planning Session is scheduled. We use the Benchmarks of every Plan as the managing document for our organizations. Not only does that tell us if our Action Plans and Objectives are realistic and achievable, but it also points out our weaknesses and limitations. It is of little use “planning” to win an Olympic race if you are a hundred pounds overweight and can’t break a 15 minute mile. Control tells you exactly who is running the race and the capabilities of every participant.

Joe Holman is a model businessperson for many reasons. But his consistent attention to core values and his dad’s five rules have defined him and made his business ventures so successful. It would benefit every one of us to adopt these Rules and live our business life through them.