I ate a burrito for lunch on Friday and I spent the whole weekend thinking about it.
This time it wasn’t indigestion.
I was with my wife on a lunch date and since we don’t get away from the kids much I wanted it to be special.
So I treated her to a high-end Mexican place here in Miami.
It’s called Chipotle.
Between conversations about our kids (because that’s what we discuss when we’re away from them) we found ourselves talking about the paper they wrap the burritos with.
The wrapper is covered in little handwritten sentences about the joy of eating burritos made with naturally-raised and grown food.
It’s a message that Chipotle has stood for since 2001 according to Wikipedia:
“In 2001, Chipotle released a mission statement called “Food With Integrity”, which highlighted Chipotle’s efforts to increase their use of naturally raised meat, organic produce, and dairy without added hormones.”
Since 2001, Chipotle has grown around 1,500%.
I know Chipotle isn’t the first business to take a stand for something like this.
Far from it.
But sometimes a situation strikes you at just the right time to have a profound effect on you. Here’s what struck me.
After thinking about Chipotle’s natural food stance, I looked around the restaurant and:
- I saw business professionals, college students, and young families at every single table.
- I saw people happily waiting in a 30 minute line just to buy a $7 burrito in an area surrounded by restaurants.
- I saw smiling employees that were genuinely attentive and pleasant.
It looked like a client base and business operation that every insurance agent I’ve ever known would love to have. And I’ve seen it at Chipotle restaurants throughout the United States!
I’m not naive, I know there’s a lot more to their success than just the natural food thing.
But I just can’t stop thinking about how Chipotle’s “stand” is so much more effective and accessible to customers than what I see most insurance agents “stand” for.
When it comes to taking a stand for something, a lot of agents “get it” but very few are “getting it right”.
So I decided to put together some of the worst and best things an agency can stand for.
Here’s 5 Worthless Things to Stand For:
You could probably pull each of these off if you abandoned everything else and immersed yourself in the idea.
Unfortunately, most agents who to claim to stand for these issues aren’t really doing anything different than the competition.
1) We Stand for Great Customer Service!
I’m not saying you shouldn’t give great service, but it’s a requirement just to be in the business.
And it means nothing to say it.
You’d be better off saying that your agency stands for sending out declaration pages on time. At least that’s something people can wrap their head around.
If you want to be the Nordstrom’s of insurance agencies by all means go for it, but don’t say it unless you build your entire business around going way above and way beyond in EVERY possible way.
2) We Stand For Great Rates!
You don’t make the rates and most of the better clients know this.
And people who are fooled by this are just going to leave you for the next guy anyway, right?
You could actually make this work if you’re willing to go after the worst customers and build your business around the idea of selling cheap cheap insurance to people that don’t see the value in insurance and will probably be somewhere else within a year.
Since most agents I know aren’t going after that market it’s not something I recommend you focus your agency messaging on.
3) We Stand for Caring About Our Customers!
Even if you really did, nobody is going to believe you because you’re selling insurance!
If you care so much about everybody then go to medical school.
And who would be drawn to an agency based on how much they care about their clients? Someone that has abandonment issues?
4) We Stand For Giving Customers Great Coverage!
Okay, whatever. Sounds expensive.
Plus most times I see this there’s no explanation of what it really means that a customer could actually understand.
Good coverage is a feature, not a benefit.
5) We’re Passionate About Insurance!
Did your passion drive you to get an insurance PhD? Do you read books about it on the weekends? Do you write about it in trade magazines or on your blog? Do news organizations reach out to you for quotes in their articles because you’re the Jim Cramer of insurance?
Or do you just say you’re passionate about insurance because it’s your job to sell the damn stuff?
That sounds more believable to me.
6) All of the above. (I had to add this extra one)
Just say this instead:
We stand for using empty business cliches about our agency to fool stupid people into buying from us.
Okay, So What Could My Agency Stand For?
I don’t have the answer for your agency because I really think it needs to come from within, but here are a few ideas to get you thinking.
1) Stand for Family Safety
Be the #1 community advocate for all things related to children’s safety.
Go to public places and hand out pamphlets about child safety. Partner with other local businesses that cater to families. Work with the local government to change street signs and make the community safer.
It’s easy to build a stance around this and it fits perfectly with the idea of insurance.
If you’re the person responsible for getting a traffic light and crosswalk added to a dangerous intersection near your elementary school, how likely are your customers to jump to GEICO to save $10?
2) Stand For The Local Community
Embrace your local community and work hard to help whatever projects are going on that make it a better place.
Your stance will not only shine a light of virtue on your business, it’ll also force you and your staff to get out into the community and meet people.
It’s simple math: the more people you know the more insurance you sell.
3) Stand For Helping Specific Demographics
Can your agency cater to the cultural and communicative needs of a specific demographic?
I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, “well I can’t speak Spanish so…”
You don’t have to.
You can target elderly widows, divorced parents, teenagers buying their first car (although probably not a great demographic)
4) Stand for Supporting a Specific Charity
Target donates 5% of their profits to local schools.
I’m sure that’s plenty of money for them, but what would it cost you to donate 5% of your profit to a charity that was very important to you?
Could that help you make 1 more sale out of 20 to a person who is on the fence about switching to you?
Could you save 1 in 20 customers who want to leave your agency when you explain how 5% of your profit goes to the local fire department?
Most importantly, would it give your staff and you a sense of pride and honor in what you do that could improve your output by more than 5%?
Does it even matter if your charity contribution pays for itself?
5) Stand For Helping a Specific Industry
If you’re in the commercial side of things, have you identified and associated with certain specific markets?
Do you participate in their trade shows, read their websites, learn more about their business all the time?
A lot of agents are hesitant to come right out and say they focus on one industry because they’re afraid of pushing away all the other businesses.
It doesn’t work like that.
If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.
What do you think?
Is your agency positioned to stand for something other than your bottom line?
Would it help to have something your staff, clients, and community can connect with and support?
Give it some thought, and I’ll leave it at that since any initiatives in this area need to come from you.
And if you’re already comfortable with the stance your agency takes, take a moment to explain it in the comments below so other agents can get more ideas.
I hope this helps,