All of us, at some point, have had a problem with activity. Industry great Ben Feldman once said, “If you have a problem, make it a procedure, and it won’t be a problem anymore.” In our company, Farm Financial Strategies Inc., we have created a process for almost all of our daily activities. We felt that it was important to make our activity process a measurable one. So, we combined two good ideas from others who have been extremely successful—Wayne Cotton and MDRT Past President Carey Hauenstein—to formulate the foundation of our activity process:
First, we color code each day of the week. This comes from Wayne Cotton and the Cotton System. There are four possible colors that you can assign to a day: yellow, blue, red and green.
Yellow stands for Mellow Yellow. Yellow days are for vacation or time away from work. We believe that time away from the business drives our time in our business. Each quarter, we identify family time and vacation activities first, as we believe this is critical to our well-being.
Blue stands for Blue Sky. Blue days are set aside for strategic planning: We try to work on the business rather than in the business. During blue days, we plan each quarter carefully. This is when we identify not only the color of each day for the upcoming quarter, but also our vision and goals. We put an action plan in place for each goal and try to break the action plan down into as many quantitative pieces as we can. This helps ensure that we are working daily toward accomplishing our goals.
Red stands for Red Tape. These are days for paperwork, training and other red-tape issues that all agents face. We have found that we are more efficient doing these types of activities all on the same day rather than a little each day.
Green stands for Green Machine (or money). These are client days and are important, but not more important than any of the other days. On green days, our goal is to have 20 activity points, based on a variation of Hauenstein’s system.
Staying on track
There is nothing magical about the 20 points. It’s a target number to help us stay on task and not end our day until we have achieved 20 points. It gives us a process to raise our activity goal to a conscious level on a daily basis. We get:
- 1 point for a phone dial
- 1 additional point for a phone contact
- 3 points for a rescheduled appointment
- 4 points for a face-to-face appointment
- 5 points for a face-to-face appointment with a signed application or a business development plan, which is our referral system.
In 2006, I had 167 yellow days, 158 green days, 27 red days and four blue days. This system also allows us to keep score so we can track our productivity ratios. Out of those 158 green days, I had 152 (or 96.2 percent) that were 20-point days. Tracking my activity like this gives me a chance to figure out what happened on the six days that I didn’t have 20 activity points. The answer is most likely “diffusion.”
Instead of separating their activities out by days, most agents try to juggle a little of all four possible activities (yellow, blue, green and red) in the same day, which causes lack of focus and diffusion. We refer to these as a brown days. Brown days lower productivity.
I believe that our quality of life is the summation of all the small decisions we make each day. One of the best ways to improve our quality of life is to raise our level of consciousness about these small daily decisions. The quantitative effect over time can be profound. These two systems have helped us raise our daily business decisions to a conscious level.
Steve Bohr, LUTCF, is president of Farm Financial Strategies Inc., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a member of Cedar Rapids AIFA. He was profiled in this month’s “Four Under Forty” cover story. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.