Okay, producers, I’ll tell you right now, many of you won’t like this message.
Producers tend to think of themselves as very entrepreneurial. However, that self-description may not always be accurate. An entrepreneur is someone who takes a great deal of risk for a great deal of potential reward. While it’s true that most producers only “eat what they kill” because they work purely on commissions, it is most often the agency that takes the real risk that allows for that level of reward.
Roles and responsibilities
It’s the agency that invests in the infrastructure, support staff, computer systems, value-added services, etc. that allows the producer to go out and sell. If a producer doesn’t sell, she/he loses out on the additional revenue they would have received. However, when a producer doesn’t sell, it’s the agency that bears the financial burden of underutilized resources.
Now don’t get me wrong; providing the resources that allow a producer to go out and sell is the agency’s primary responsibility. That is the risk they take to allow for their own reward.
However, the producer has a responsibility as well. That responsibility is to continue to create revenue; to help provide rewards for both themselves and the agency. It isn’t fair (or acceptable) for a producer to decide that she/he is satisfied with their book of business and that they don’t want/need to produce any longer. At the very least, they can’t expect to make that decision with the assumption that there won’t be consequences.
Revenue and expenses
Like all businesses, agencies have to work off of a budget that is designed to produce an acceptable return. Budgets focus largely on two things: revenue and expenses. Regardless of what happens to revenue, expenses continue to rise. If they are rising faster than revenue, then you erode profit – pretty straightforward. Yes, I point out the agency profit because it is the agency that bears the burden of the infrastructure. If the agency can’t do well financially, then it is only a matter of time before the individuals within the agency aren’t able to do well, either. Again, pretty straightforward.
Producers are the engines that drive revenue. Doing so is their primary responsibility. Another part of that responsibility is to help protect revenue that has already been created (retaining clients). However, doing so cannot become a distraction to generating new revenue. Ensuring it doesn’t become a distraction and that there is a strong support team in place is another of the agency’s primary responsibilities.
Talents and skills
The talents and skills producers have are rare. What they do on a daily basis scares the hell out of most people. The thought of knocking on doors and facing rejection is paralyzing to many. That’s why producers are paid so well. However, with those talents and skills comes the responsibility to use them. If producers aren’t using those talents and skills, the agency gets cheated, their family gets cheated, potential clients get cheated — and the producer gets cheated.
There is one more group who gets cheated that I want to focus on separately – the team. The very people producers depend on to help take care of their clients depend on them in return. Chances are that their salaries, bonuses, and most other opportunities depend on the producer and her/his continued production of new revenue. When the producer plateaus, so does the team.
There is only one way that producers can stop writing additional revenue and still meet their responsibility. If it’s not adding to the revenue side, then it has to be helping on the expense side. This means making the current book of business more profitable by increasing the revenue-per-relationship. To do so, it still means writing new business, but it could be writing one large account to replace many smaller ones. For the agency, the same revenue generated by fewer accounts becomes more profitable by requiring fewer resources. For the producer, the upside is that income is maintained, but overall workload is greatly reduced through the reduction of the workload required by too many small accounts.
Upside and reality check
Yes, producers, you have a great responsibility, but along with that responsibility comes an unbelievable upside. You are provided a terrific opportunity to earn a great income, have great work/life balance and have an overall enviable lifestyle. These opportunities aren’t an entitlement; they are the reward for you accepting and meeting your responsibility.
If you choose not to meet your responsibility, or if you convince yourself that by having gotten your book to $X you have already met your responsibility, or if you decide to leave it up to other producers to produce new revenue, don’t be surprised if the agency has to change the rules on you a bit. If you truly are an entrepreneur, you’ll understand that if your revenues don’t grow, your expenses will have to be adjusted.
By continually meeting your responsibility, you can earn unbelievable rewards. You just have to ask yourself, “How badly do I really want it?”
Photo by Mike Love.