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Goal setting is to January as ketchup is to fries… Utterly inseparable and extremely essential. By this point you’ve probably set some personal goals for 2020. Good job you! But it’s also important to set some strong goals for your agency and a solid plan to accompany them.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” -Pablo Picasso

In short, you need a fail-proof, step-by-step plan for your agency. Listen to Picasso and turn your business into the “starry night” of insurance agencies by following these 14 tips for successful goal achieving. 

1. Reduce Ongoing Expenses

Though it may seem contradictory, using more technology can actually allow you to save money. Try using teleconference services, online payment platforms and open-source software. Switch to landline alternatives, remote desktop applications and online appointment scheduling. Attend more online agent trainings, rather than travelling long distances. Another great strategy for saving money is to reduce debt. One of the best ways you can do this is by carefully tracking all your spending for 2020. Invest in a software that will help you do this and take time to review all costs on a weekly or monthly basis. Xero, QuickBooks, FreshBooks and FreeAgent are all great tools to use for your small business budgeting.

2. Boost Productivity 

New year, new you! Time to do a little self reflection. Which activities are adding to your productivity? Which are detracting? Are you taking one too many trips to the water cooler? Are your thumbs scrolling miles and miles everyday? Productivity is really such a personal thing. Every single person has different motivations and distractions. This is a great quiz to help you find out what motivates YOU. There are also some great productivity apps that we love here at Lift Local. Evernote, Monday, Asana, Trello, Slack and Basecamp are just a few of our favorites. Turn your phone into your greatest strength, rather than your greatest distraction. 

3. Improve Your Customer Service Process

How happy are your customers? Are you afraid to find out? Yes, ignorance can be bliss for many areas in life… but customer satisfaction is definitely not one of them. Not knowing how your customers are feeling can lead to some major consequences. By implementing a customer feedback program, you can solve issues before they even happen! This will significantly boost your retention and increase customer trust. More trust = more referrals = more business. Reaching out to your customers on a consistent basis will help them know you care.

4. Increase Online Traffic 

Your Google My Business (GMB) is one of your best friends when it comes to getting found online. To make the most of your free GMB account, you’ll want to utilize all parts of it including: photos, posts, bio, info, hours, etc. GMB listings are being featured more heavily in local search results – which are critical when it comes to getting found online. Over the past few years, GMB listings have grown in prominence by 32%. When it comes to ranking locally, GMB is one of your most significant ranking factors. When you post new content to your Google My Business Listing, you’ll generate increased visibility on Google search. So make a goal to update your listing with a photo or post weekly.

5. More Social Media

If you’ve been hesitant to use social media, the time has come. And if you’re overwhelmed by all the different platforms out there… keep it simple! Start with Facebook. It is so easy to create a Facebook business page and keep it updated. All you need to do is set a reminder to post weekly and use content that is engaging, basic and helpful. Grow your page’s following by inviting your current customers to follow along. This is a great method to improve your customer engagement. And don’t forget to make it pretty. Avoid blurry photos and make your profile as complete as possible. Make your agency shine. 

6. Take a Look Your Agency’s Financial Health

Just as you may have eaten ten too many slices of pie over the holidays, your agency might have indulged a bit as well over the year. This is natural and fine, but Q1 is a great time to hop on the agency treadmill if you get the meaning. Check that you have a handle on what money is coming in and going out of your agency daily. Do you have an ongoing budget to guide your spending? Use the New Year as a chance to lock down your spending and improve the financial health of your agency.

7. Go Paperless 

Obviously you’ll be helping the environment with this goal. In fact, if the US cuts office paper by just 10% it would prevent the emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases. It’s also cost effective in the long run when you think about how much you are paying for paper, ink, postage and other supplies. But one of the biggest improvements you’ll see is an increase in organization! Going paperless means easy access to documents and files. You can access these from anywhere at any time. Forget about sifting through filing cabinets… Your digital file system provides instant access to any info you might need.

8. Perform a SWOT Analysis

This is a great tool to help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your agency. It can be used on any aspect of your business… from customer service, to product offerings, to marketing. Here’s a great resource on how to conduct a SWOT analysis for your agency. And BTW, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You’ll ask yourself what you’re doing well, how you can improve, what goals should you be setting and what obstacles do you face. 

9. Implement an Employee Incentive Program

Just because you’re fired up about the New Year, doesn’t necessarily mean your employees are. It can be hard to gain momentum after the holidays and your employees may still be suffering from a post-holiday haze. It can be hard to think of ways to keep morale up, especially if your budget is limited. So good news… Here are some budget friendly ideas on how to keep your employees incentivized.

  • Employee Recognition: Choose an employee of the month, give them a prime parking spot and an afternoon off. Make sure to put their photo on the wall.
  • Increased Flexibility: Consider having a monthly “work-from-home” Friday.
  • Food: Is there a better way to motivate people than with food? I think not. Bring in doughnuts. Bring in pizza. Food is a love language.
  • Schedule a Day Out: Plan an inexpensive outing like a matinee movie or mini golf.
  • Break Room Retreat: Put in the effort to make your break room an oasis. Snacks, drinks, comfy chairs, board games.

10. Network, Network, Network

LinkedIn is an easy way to expand your network. But if you’re looking to go that extra mile, consider attending a conference or two this year. Some love putting on that “Hello, my name is” sticker and conversing with strangers, but for most, networking can be an awkward experience. Go into conferences with a plan for success. Set a goal of how many people you would like to connect with. You can even obtain a guest list before the event and highlight those you would like to meet. Spend time practicing a few natural and relevant conversation starters. If you are flying solo, try to ease into the evening by approaching someone who is also alone. Ask them questions about what they do and be genuine in your interaction. Come prepared with business cards and info about your company. And set a strategy for exiting the conversation. 

11. Beautify Your Branding

If your agency is part of a larger company’s brand, you might think there isn’t a need to develop a personal brand. However, developing a personal brand includes making sure all of your agency’s listings and social media profiles are in tip top shape. One of the first things that potential customers notice when looking at your Google listing, social media profiles or website is your photos. There is nothing worse than a photo taken in a dark corner of an office. Choose to take your photos in areas of natural light or try stepping outside for light-filled photos.  As a general rule of thumb, avoid posting a photo that hasn’t been edited, even if it’s just ever so slightly. You can always add a little contrast, sharpness, brightness or warmth to elevate the photo. Chances are, you won’t get that perfect photo on your first try. The more photos you take, improve your chances of finding one that’s right. Get in the habit of snapping a few photos every day so that you have great content to work with for your GMB listing, website and social media profiles.

12. Schedule a Vacation

Your productivity as an agency owner will increase if you set aside time for vacations throughout the year. Research consistently shows the health benefits of taking vacation time, like improved productivity, lower stress and better mental health. So take 30 minutes, set a travel budget and plan a couple of trips throughout the year to help you recharge. Even if it’s just a Friday-Sunday getaway, you’ll get the rejuvenation you need.  

13. Use the SMART Goal Setting Method

Okay so if you’ve made it to this point in the article, that means you have some great ideas on what goals will help your agency this year. A great way to actually achieve these is by using the SMART goal setting method. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. 

14. Ask for Help

There is nothing wrong with asking for a little outside help. You might even consider hiring a service company to give you a little boost. For example, a marketing service can actively boost online presence, optimize a Google listing and drive targeted traffic to a website. A huge perk of a service is that there is a real-life person monitoring your online presence. Think of a service as an extension of your office. Perhaps best of all, a service gives businesses the option to take a totally hands off approach if they want. Not interested in having anything to do with managing digital accounts? No problem, a service can take care of it on their own. Basically, the work of a service is highly customizable. Reach out to us at Lift Local if you’re interested in a little helping hand.