Transformation Advisors, Inc.
B.I.G. Strategies for Business Excellence

STRATEGY: PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS.

When are insurance agencies like football teams? There is no question that sport has become big business and, by and large, it’s a business not at all like that of an independent insurance agency. But sometimes sports analogies can provide some insight into best business practices.
A football team is built to win games. It requires a defined number of players on the field and each position has a specific purpose. All the positions are required for every game. But things happen, as they say. Players sometimes play hurt. Vacant positions are filled by trainees or substitutes crossing over to play in positions where they are not strong.

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Pamela A. Millard, CPCU

Pamela A. Millard, CPCU 530.295.1083

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When this happens, the veterans are expected to take up the slack. Winning is the common goal and everyone on the team is focused on the win.

Players are selected for their skills and abilities. Each team member has a specialty – a specific strength that he brings to the team. Each player spends his energies on developing that strength.

Bench strength is important to the team and a good deal of attention is spent on developing a strong bench. Injuries or “bad days” notwithstanding, there have to be 11 men on the field for every play.

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“Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.”
        ~ Herbert Hoover

That means that each position has one or more back ups who are ready to play every game. And these back-up players are also specialists – working on developing their specialized strengths to be able to play as starters.

The team is organized to maximize the strengths of the individual players as well as the strengths that the team has as a unit. There are passing teams that spotlight a strong passing quarterback. There are running teams that spotlight their strong front line and fast backs. Sometimes team strengths develop because of the talent of one or more individuals. Chicago was a running team until they acquired Jay Cutler.

The team plays to its strength. A team with a strong passing quarterback fills it’s playbook with passing plays and organizes the team to maximize the talents of the passer. That means making sure there are also strong receivers. A team with talented defensive backs makes them part of a game plan designed to score points even when they don’t have the ball. Years ago the Denver Broncos Orange Crush defense was so strong that few even remember the quarterback. More recently, that same team has changed their entire offensive system to accommodate the unique talents of Tim Tebow. But John Elway sat on the bench for several seasons until the team figured out how to maximize his special strength.

What about weaknesses? Each player is accountable to make sure that his weaknesses don’t hold the team back. At the same time, the coaches are accountable to ensure that known weaknesses are covered until they can be eliminated. The game isn’t postponed until injured players are well.

There are always variables in each play in the game. (Another way to say “stuff happens.”) The quarterback may need to call an audible. A fortuitous fumble may result in an opportunity for a team member to pay outside his comfort zone. “Plans are useless but plans are indispensable.” Eisenhower’s quote applies in football as well as in battle or in business. Practice and training and more practice ensure that the team is ready for any eventuality.
The teams that get it right win more games than they lose and they have the opportunity to play more games. In the business of sports, they also get more advertising and broadcast money.

So when is an insurance agency like a football team?

  • When your team gives you a competitive advantage.
  • When team members have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs well.
  • When team members get training and cross-training to ensure that every position is occupied by individuals who are accountable to maintain and build their skills.
  • When the team is organized to maximize individual strengths.
  • When the team plays to its strengths.

When your team gets it right you make more sales than you lose. You retain more clients and you also get the opportunity to get in front of more of the potential clients you want to write.

2012 will be the year of competitive advantage. Those who have a competitive advantage – one they can clearly articulate – have something you can sell. You can expect to do well in spite of the market and the economy. If it isn’t clear to you and your team and your audience, why customers should do business with you, why you are better than the competition, then the things that didn’t go well for you this year won’t go well for you in the next.
Make sure that your New Year includes a competitive edge.

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