Altig Orlovic Agencies with American Income Life

Phil’s Memo 10/11/12


Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you don’t care. Either is a failure of leadership.                

 -General Colin Powell

The annual national “Best Burger” survey was just completed this past week. They evaluated 16 national chains on a variety of categories. And the winner is..Five Guys Burgers and Fries. A very close second was In-N-out with Smashburger right on their heels. Five guys led in Food Quality and Taste, Service, Cleanliness, and Atmosphere. They won every category except Value. In-N-Out won that.

Worst burger and fries in America:  McDonalds. They beat Burger King and Hardees for the race to the bottom. On the one hand, that doesn’t make sense. McDonalds has been around for the longest. They have the most stores; and the most money. Burger King is second largest, and has the second largest budget available. You’d think they could figure out how to win this contest. But they didn’t.

What can we learn from this. Business is business, so the saying goes. The only thing different is the product or service that you are selling. We are in a business that is part product, part service. Most businesses are. In fact, in the burger survey, some categories measure just product (Food Quality) and some exclusively service (Service). Yeah. If service wasn’t what people were buying when they purchased AIL policies, then you might as well just put our policies in an envelope, put them on a shelf, and let people take them to the cash register. So the first thing you must be aware of is that your business is comprised of both product and service. And messing up either can be devastating.

Secondly, the people are looking for the same characteristics, whether they are buying a burger or an insurance policy. They want neat and clean. They care what the physical looks like. You don’t have to be Ms. America. In fact, I wouldn’t consider any of these establishments beautiful.   But they do want them to be neat and clean. In fact, both In-N-Out burgers and Smashburger have a white-themed environment. White exposed dirtiness and allows the consumer to know, “Yep it’s clean.” Are you clean when you go out into the field. Well-groomed. Clothes clean and pressed. Some people conscientious notice things like that.  The rest notice it unconscientiously   They don’t know why they feel confident about you or trust you, they just do.

Thirdly, the best liked joints have the fewest choices and are the simplest. They just do it the best. I sometimes have agents come up to me and say, “Why don’t we offer this kind of (complex) policy or that fringe offering.” But the lesson from the burger war tells us that’s not what most people want. McDonald’s has been experimenting with all kinds of salads, latte’s, smoothies, you name it, in the hopes that they will reach a broader market. It’s not working that well. Last time I walked into In-N-Out, they had like 3 burgers on the menu: Single, Double or Triple. And do you want cheese on that; yes or no. And that’s about as complicated as it got. Even Five guys is the same basic core with ala cart condiments. American Income Life offers basic term and standard whole life as its core. A few condiments here or there but it’s so simple you can learn all of them in a day. I like that. And so do most people.

So why do the newer joints beat the guys that have been around for 50 years? Passion. Innovation. They’re fresh. They strive to be the best. Why do we have RGA-ships that have been around for 3 or 4 years kicking the pants off some guys with 15 years under their belt. Passion.   Innovation. Keeping things fresh. They want to be the best and do what it takes to get there. You’ve got to have money to invest in your business, but money isn’t the differentiating factor.

People want good service. Even if they’re buying a $3 hamburger. How much more do they expect if they’re going to be plopping down $1,200 every year? Yea. If your server out-services you, you should be afraid. When’s the last time you talked to someone who was furious over the product end of a purchase. It happens. But more often than not, it was a service issue. While an innate object can be frustrating, customers expect people to respond. To really care about the customer. To adjust to the situation.

Final take away. The fifth category that they rated was Environment. Why? Because environments make or break the situation. When you’re in the home, make sure you are in a good environment. In your weekly sales meeting, make the environment upbeat and exciting. When meeting one-on-one, set up the environment before you let anybody in.  A coffee or water. Good place to sit. You are the leader. Control the environment and you can better control the outcome.

Didn’t think you could learn that much from a burger joint, huh?

Confident. I went off on a tangent. Last week, I stated that the main factor that the candidates in the presidential debates would try to convey is confidence. What happened? Mitt Romney came out the gate confidently. He confidently rebutted any albatrosses that Barrack Obama tried to hang around his neck. When he saw a weakness, he confidently took full advantage of it. I don’t care whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.    Confidence carried the night and evaluators almost unanimously agree that Romney had it and President Obama didn’t. On NBC News, Bruce Shaffer observed, “I wanted him to be more of a president and sound strong, sound confident, and be more of the leader we need.”

The result? About a 10% swing in the polls. Going into the debate, Obama was carrying about a 6 point lead. A week later, the latest polls show him behind by 4% among voters most likely to vote. Mind you, that is the popular vote and our elections are by state (called the Electoral College).   But Obama is still reeling a bit. Notice not a word was said about content. Or about results. People just want to follow a confident leader.  Associated Press reported that Romney sent out an e-mail request for donations from his supporters. “It was a show of confidence from a man hoping for a reversal in the polls.”

This weekend, I heard the word “confident” or “confidence” at least 8 times while watching the buffet of college and pro football games. Quarterbacks being confident. Offensive lines giving their quarterbacks confidence. Receivers giving their quarterbacks confidence. Teams walking into a perilous situation coming off a win that gave them confidence. Listen for it this weekend. At the vice presidential debates. World affairs.   Sporting events. And you will see how important this characteristic is. Next week I’ll start giving you insight on how to build yours.

Top States. Washington dominated. $28,462 in first year production. They had $95,000 in total production. What should your percentage of new agent production be? Well, if you want to grow exponentially, the rule is also 50%.  So if you had $60,000 in tenured agent production (like Washington did), shoot for $60,000 in new agent production. This lines up trainers with trainees and managers with new guys in the most efficient ratios. They had 45 writing agents, $2,100 per agent. They closed 31% overall. That’s almost one out of three. Redmond turned in a whopping $59,000 of ALP just on their own. Lynnwood added $24,000 to set a solid foundation for the whole state.

Alberta, Tennessee and Nevada all are neck and neck for second. Push over $20,000 this week and I’ll spotlight your agency in next week’s Memo!


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This entry was posted on October 11, 2012 by in Phil Folkertsma.
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