Benchmark Business Group

Do You Find It Hard To Balance Your Priorities?

December 6, 2022

In the financial services industry, it’s not a secret that December can be a “busy” month. In fact, you might be thinking you don’t have time to read this. We understand, but we also know it’s important for you to stop, assess, and not accept this as your normal.

One of the biggest flaws we see in most agencies is that clients tend to be in control of the calendar. It’s very hard for professionals in this industry to tell clients, especially good clients, “no” or even “not right now.”

´╗┐There seems to be the understanding that great customer service means now. And there may be some truth to clients wanting fast service, but it doesn’t mean that fast is their most important concern.

The simple truth is that if your business is not balanced it won’t survive to take care of clients. You need to be able to prioritize work, especially in a month like December where there are many deadlines and activities fighting for your time both with the business and your personal life. Here are some of our favorite tips on how to take control of your time and become better at prioritizing:

  • Work isn’t and shouldn’t be “first in first out.” Although it might be easier to work through tasks as they come in, your time is better spent prioritizing what needs to be done and more importantly when it needs to be done. Think of an emergency room. The person waiting to be seen with a broken bone is having an emergency. They need care. However, when the next person comes in with a heart attack, the person with the broken bone is going to wait. In an agency, there needs to be an understanding of how work is prioritized. What gets done first? And how do you communicate this with clients? We suggest that every agency should:
    • Have documented expectations for how long a task should take. Ex: PC quotes are returned within 2 business days. Commercial quotes are returned within 6 business days. These expectations might change when there’s a deadline, goal or contest the agency is trying to meet.
    • Be assertive in how expectations are communicated to clients. Don’t ask them when they need something back. This puts the client in control of your time. Instead, be assertive in your language, “Great, we can have this back to you by Wednesday at noon. Does that work for you?” Most clients will say sure, but if they do have an objection, it gives you a chance to work with that client.
    • Know what’s important to your clients. Most clients don’t care about how long it takes you to do the paperwork, they care about how it impacts their bill and coverage. When you communicate how long it’s going to take, be sure to highlight how it impacts their bill and when coverage starts. This will often take the pressure off to have it done now.
    • Write tasks down with more information. When you have a list of tasks there’s key information that you need in order to prioritize the work. You need to know how long the task will take and when it’s due. Get in the habit of writing tasks using a format such as: “Quote - Joe Smith (30 minutes) 12/31/22.” This way, at a glance, you know how long you need to spend and the priority level of the task.
  • Consider a central text/email for messages from clients. In today’s world it’s not unusual for clients to want to text or email you instead of calling. That leads to individual emails and text messages from clients coming straight to you. And while it may not seem like a big deal, it can cause a lot of inefficiencies. Often, it’s easier just to do the service work than to delegate it. Or if you do decide to delegate it, you run the risk of forgetting about a text you received on a Saturday night. Instead, you can forward it immediately and let the agency’s systems get it to the right person in the right order.
  • Believe in and communicate a team atmosphere. You can’t be everything for everyone. And that includes clients. As an agency grows it’s impossible for a salesperson to be able to sell and service all aspects of the service. You have to be able to let go. And that can be difficult. Especially when you care about your clients. To make this easier:
    • Introduce all clients to team members or use a brochure or call sheet so clients know who to call about what issues they have.
    • Document systems! This allows you to trust your team and ensure they are doing the work the same way that you would.
    • Hold huddles. Yes, your agency is probably small enough you see or communicate with most team members every week, if not daily, but it doesn’t mean you’re having the right conversations. Instead, create time to have the conversations that allows your entire team to divide work.

By no means is this meant to be a complete guide to prioritizing. And maybe it’s not the time to start implementing these tips till the end of this month, but the most important take-away from this Insight should be… you can and should be in control of your priorities and your calendar!

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