You May Be The Source Of The Bottleneck In Your Agency
In the financial services industry, a common mistake we see is when producers become their own bottleneck. Investopedia defines a bottleneck as “a point of congestion in a production system that stops or severely slows the system.” When a sales producer becomes so focused on providing exceptional service it can easily get in the way of their generating new clients and more sales. It is, after all, a delicate balance. If clients are not taken care of, they will leave. And if they leave, you not only lose their business but also worry about referrals and reputation.
There’s no doubt that providing exceptional service is a key part of building a successful agency. But service can also be overwhelming. It can create bottlenecks and make it hard to produce. In the formative stages of building your business it’s easier because you have fewer clients. It’s easier to answer their questions, make their changes, do the paperwork, and still generate and follow up with leads. As you start to gain more clients it becomes more difficult to maintain that level of service AND continue to produce at high levels.
And that’s how many producers become their own bottleneck even when they have a team that is around them to help. We often hear producers say things such as:
- It’s easier if I just take care of it.
- It doesn’t take that long to just get the simple tasks done.
- I don’t want the clients thinking I’m too good to help them or that I’m too busy for them.
- My team is pretty busy, and I already have the information so it’s just easier.
- I promised the client I would be there to help them.
Most of the time these things can be true. It doesn’t take a lot of time to make a change. Your team is probably busy. You do want a strong relationship with your clients. But, as true as these can be, they are still excuses. And over time they add up and take you away from the major function of your job: producing.
Here are a few insights to help you stop being the bottleneck:
- Realize the value of your relationship. Do clients want changes made or their questions answered right away? Absolutely. But that’s not why they do business with you. If they do business with you, they value your knowledge and expertise. They want to know they are going to be taken care of, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the work. Look for other – and often more impactful – ways to build and maintain your relationship with clients and let your service team focus on the service relationship.
- Balance your time. Producing means prospecting and following up, which takes time. If you allow service to control your time, you’ll struggle to produce. Instead, put limits on when you are available. Dedicate a set amount of time each week to producing, protect that time, and don’t allow service to creep over those boundaries.
- Get comfortable saying, “Not Right Now.” Most service issues are not time sensitive. We make it that way. Clients don’t realize that you have a window of time to make certain changes and not all changes need immediate action. Clients tend to care more about when coverage starts/ends or how it will impact their payment than they care about the timeframe of when you actually do the service work. Be sure to communicate with your clients and set their expectations regarding when they’ll hear from you and what that means to them in terms of coverage and payment. Doing this will often buy you and your team time to handle a request.
- Focus on process and structure. When you’ve trained clients to contact you directly, you’ve automatically created a process with you as the bottleneck. When you’re the bottleneck, it’s difficult for your team to know where to start when it’s time to handle a request or fix a problem. The solution is to redesign the agency creating solid processes and structures that properly funnels the work to others in a way that honors the client, but also protects your time.
Do yourself and your business a favor and design it to allow service to flow without your interference and shift your focus to growing a thriving business that gets results through others.