Carey Wallace, Agency Focus
It’s a new year. Time to get your annual checkup, refresh those goals and get to work.
You know what I’m talking about. While it looks a bit different for everyone it follows a common theme for most of us. This annual ritual may include dusting off that gym membership, delivery of that new Peloton bike, compiling an ambitious reading list using the countless recommendations of others, finalizing travel plans or being intentional about time spent with family. You may choose to give up all alcohol consumption and adopt a diet or a new way of eating. There is no evidence of any holiday sweets, and the fridge is filled with salads, lean meats and fresh fruits.
What does this process look like when it comes to your agency? Are you as intentional about planning for success in that part of your life? Unfortunately, for many planning for success in their agency can be overlooked. There is a reason we have a common saying encouraging all to work on their business not just in their business. Here are some ways to make sure that your agency is off to a strong and healthy start in the new year.
If your agency has a business plan – dust it off and read it again. Review the goals that you set for your agency. Take time to reflect on the goals that you set for last year and how you performed as a team. Identify the areas where you excelled and the areas you missed. Use that reflection to set new goals for the coming year. Make sure the goals that you set are SMART goals. (Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and have a defined Timeframe. Some of the best goals are the ones that are developed together so consider involving your team in the process. A goal that has buy-in is much more likely to be obtained.
Review Policies & Agreements
Make sure that the written policies match the practice inside your agency. It is easy to make changes as your agency grows and changes – especially over the past two years. Take time to update the policies that are in place to ensure that they align with your current practices. In almost every agency adjustments were made to accommodate remote work, flexible hours, and time off due to illness and quarantine requirements. Do your written policies reflect these changes? Keeping these policies up to date will protect you and your agency. You should also review your operational policies and update them with any changes. This will help with training and consistency in practice inside your agency. Lastly, take a moment to review the agreements that you have in place with your staff. Have you protected your agency by putting non-compete, non-piracy agreements in place? If not, you need to work with a HR professional to get the appropriate agreements in place.
These are the agreements that were developed many, many years ago and often times these agreements have never been revisited again. These documents include by-Laws, Operating Agreements, Shareholder Agreements and are designed to outline how decisions will be made in the organization. Too often these agreements are completely out of date, incomplete, or poorly written which can put the agency in a bad position if they are not reviewed and updated as the agency grows and changes. The average age of agency owners is 56 which means that over half of the agency owners are at or nearing retirement age. It is important to review these documents as you prepare for the sale of the agency or the upcoming transition of ownership. For those agencies that have no agreements in place, consider putting an agreement in place that accurately reflects your wishes. Should an unfortunate life event trigger a transition of ownership, you want to be sure that the agreements are up to date and do not include out-of-date information like an agency price that was set in 1950 or omit key details like how the agency will be valued. A quick review of these documents can save you a great deal of stress and turmoil during an already challenging time.
Get an Agency Checkup
Take the time to get the ultimate agency checkup- a valuation. Your agency may be your largest asset, and if it isn’t – it is certainly among your top 5 largest assets. In your line of work knowing the value of assets is imperative to protecting those assets. But for some reason when it comes to your own agency, we put off knowing the value or worse yet assume the value is a simple multiple of revenue. Knowing your agency’s value is the best investment in your business as it will uncover far more than a value. It will highlight what is driving your agency’s value, areas that you are excelling and areas of risk that need your attention. It will highlight the key benchmarks that you should consider and opportunities for you to maximize your agency’s value over time. For anyone planning to grow their agency, transition ownership in the next 5 years – or both – knowing your agency’s baseline value is essential. Just like your personal health checkup, your agency’s value cannot be determined by one metric – that would be like only taking your temperature to determine your personal health.
For more information about planning for your agency visit www.agency-focus.com or schedule a time to talk at https://agency-focus.com/services/ola/services/introductory-conversation