Is your agency healthy? It’s a new year -- time to get your annual checkup, refresh those goals and get to work.
Each January, many of us set new personal goals, but what does this process look like when it comes to your agency? Are you as intentional about planning for success in that part of your life? Unfortunately, for many, planning for success in their agency can be overlooked. There is a reason we have a common saying encouraging all to work on their business not just in their business. Here are some ways to make sure that your agency is off to a strong and healthy start in the new year.
If your agency has a business plan dust it off and read it again. Review the goals that you set for your agency. Take time to reflect on the goals that you set for last year and how you performed as a team. Identify the areas where you excelled and the areas you missed. Use that reflection to set new goals for the coming year. Make sure the goals that you set are SMART goals (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and have a defined Timeframe). Some of the best goals are the ones that are developed together, so consider involving your team in the process. A goal that has buy in is much more likely to be obtained.
Review Policies & Agreements
Make sure that the written policies match the practice inside your agency. It is easy to make changes as your agency grows and changes – especially over the past two years. Take time to update the policies that are in place to ensure that they align with your current practices. In almost every agency, adjustments were made to accommodate remote work, flexible hours and time off due to illness and quarantine requirement. Do your written policies reflect these changes? Keeping these policies up to date will protect you and your agency. You should also review your operational policies and update them with any changes. This will help with training and consistency in practice inside your agency. Lastly, take a moment to review the agreements that you have in place with your staff. Have you protected your agency by putting non-compete, non-piracy agreements in place? If not, you need to work with a HR professional to get the appropriate agreements in place.
Corporate agreements are those that were developed many years ago, and often, have never been revisited. These documents include By-Laws, Operating Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, and are designed to outline how decisions will be made in the organization. Too often, these agreements are completely out of date, incomplete, or poorly written which can put the agency in a bad position if they are not reviewed and updated as the agency grows and changes.
The average age of agency owners is 56, which means that over half of the agency owners are at or nearing retirement age. It is important to review these agreements as you prepare for the sale of the agency or upcoming transition of ownership. For those agencies that have no agreements in place, consider putting one in place that accurately reflects your wishes. Should an unfortunate life event trigger a transition of ownership, you want to be sure that the agreements are up to date and do not include out-of-date information like an agency price that was set in 1950, or omit key details like how the agency will be valued. A quick review of these documents can save you a great deal of stress and turmoil during an already challenging time.
Get an Agency Checkup
Take time to get the ultimate agency checkup -- a valuation. Your agency may be your largest asset, and if it isn’t, it is certainly among your top five largest assets. In your line of work, knowing the value of assets is imperative to protecting those assets. But for some reason, when it comes to your own agency, we put off knowing the value, or worse, assume the value is a simple multiple of revenue.
Knowing your agency’s value is the best investment in your business as it will uncover far more than a value. It will highlight what is driving your agency’s value, areas that you are excelling and areas of risk that need your attention. It will highlight the key benchmarks that you should consider and opportunities for you to maximize your agency’s value over time.
For anyone planning to grow their agency, transition ownership in the next five years, or both, knowing your agency’s baseline value is essential. Just like your personal health checkup, your agency’s value cannot be determined by one metric -- that would be like only taking your temperature to determine your personal health.
Find out the value of your agency as a multiple of EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization), not a multiple of revenue. You'll see why this wholistic approach is important and how you can leverage this knowledge to plan for your agency, grow and compete in the changing insurance marketplace.