We’re entering the final stretch of 2019, and I hope you’ve had an incredible year. Regardless of how 2019 has turned out, 2020 and the results you, your business, your associates, and your family will experience are now in your hands. Now is the time to be making serious plans for growing your business in 2020.
I would like to talk for a couple of minutes about two or three strategies that I believe you should be thinking about and planning to put into place so that 2020 won’t be up to chance, but it will be the best year you’ve ever had.
Stop and take a look at the assets that you have and the challenges you’re now facing in your business. What can you capitalize on next year for an even better 2020? Are there things you need to correct? Do you have the right people? Do you have the right insurance companies? Do you have the right marketing programs? Do you have the right internal processes to generate the growth that you envision? If you don’t, now is the time to make definite plans to change those things in the next 60 days, so that you get a running start in 2020.
How do you keep the customers you already have? It is less expensive to keep existing customers rather than getting new ones. So what’s your customer retention program? And how successful have you been at it? State of the art best practices in the insurance industry is 90 plus percent retention. What’s yours? Anything less than 90%, and I would tell you that the most important thing you need to do to prepare for growth in 2020 is to work on keeping the customers you already have.
Closely related to that is, what else can you sell those customers? What are your policies per customer? Is it one and a half on average? Then shoot for growing that to two. If it’s two, can you grow it to two and a half on average? What are the other products you can sell to existing customers? That acquisition of revenue cost is less than a new customer, and the potential profit is enormous.
Once you’ve locked the door on the bus, and you’ve decided how you’re going to keep the customers you already have happy, how will you go about getting new customers? What’s your marketing plan? Remember, if you have an 85% retention rate and you want to grow 10% next year, you’ve got to find a way to sell 25% more policies. Now is the time to look at your marketing and customer acquisition costs. What does it cost you to acquire a customer? Also, what is their lifetime value? In other words, how long do you keep a customer? If your retention rates are 90%, you’ll keep a customer seven years, and I find spending up to one of those years’ worth of revenue in acquiring the customer can be a very profitable exercise in an agency.
This is also the time to be talking to your insurance companies. What rate increases our plan? And how will that impact your book of business? Will it just be an inflationary factor of two or 3%? Or will the hardening property market and the continually hardening auto insurance market propel your sales even higher? Those increases will result in commission increases for you. But remember what rate increases give us rate decreases taketh away, and so you shouldn’t plan for that additional income rate to be yours forever, but focus instead on adding new customers and new policies for the customers you’ve already got.
Finally, very important is to go through the expense side of your profit and loss statement and ask yourself where are the profit leaks? Where can you do better? This is the time to pull out the industry benchmark studies and compare your numbers not only to the average agency of your size, but also the fastest-growing agencies and the most profitable this will stimulate you’re thinking on how you can do a better job at controlling the expense side of your ledger. With this preparation, you’ll be prepared for an amazing 2020. I hope the rest of your year is fabulous and that you’re off to a flying start in the new year.