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Doing the Right Things Right

Pump up the profits and productivity in your practice with these four tips.

By Marc A. Silverman, CLU, ChFC, CFP

If you are like most agents, you want to make more money. But, like most agents, you may not be well versed in managing your practice for productivity and profit. We, as salespeople, generally are very successful in expressing our ideas to people. Unfortunately, this is only half of the business. The other half involves managing your practice so you are operating more efficiently and effectively. John Savage once said, “Efficient people do the right things, but effective people do the right things right.” Are you efficient or are you effective in your practice? Here are some tips to help:

1. Don’t leave a paper trail. One concept for managing your practice effectively is to get all the extraneous paperwork off your desk. Many agents have paperwork everywhere and waste time looking for something they should have dealt with the first time they handled it. Only handle a piece of paper once. Every piece of paper has its home, and its home should not be on your desk.

2. Create a desktop business bible. Keep a binder on your desk, which is separated by individual tabs. The first tab should include a list of all the current cases you are working on, broken down by name, premium, commission, date, company, status and whether an attending physician statement is required or not. This will give you a snapshot of how much revenue is flowing into your business at any given point in time.

A second tab should include a list called “Strategic Relations,” a concept Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach developed. This list contains the Top 20 Club and the Farm Club. The Top 20 Club has the names of the 20 people you are working with, who you expect to collect revenue from in the next 90 days. The Farm Club has the names of the people you hope to be working with and to collect revenue from at some point in the future.

Every piece of paper has its home, and its home should not be on your desk.

A third tab has a list of all money under management. Other tabs could include pertinent information you need at your fingertips. The lists can be created on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and updated daily, so each morning you know where your business is at a glance.

3. Get help. Many agents struggle with the idea of hiring an assistant. I don’t believe it is a question of if you should hire an assistant, but when. A good assistant will enhance your practice fivefold. If you are at a point in your career where you are thinking about hiring another person, I believe you’ve already reached the critical stage where you need to do it. You are better off being overstaffed than understaffed.

I hired my first assistant within a year and a half of being in the business. Once you hire someone, you need to clearly identify what you expect of him and what his duties and responsibilities will be. This will free you up to see more people and do more business.

4. Work the numbers. I believe in keeping numbers for everything you do in the business. For example: cancellation ratio of appointments, how many appointments you have in a given week, how many phone calls it takes to get a given appointment and what your closing ratio is. By keeping these numbers, you stand a much better chance of understanding what drives your business.

The casinos have this formula figured out. They didn’t build lavish hotels in Las Vegas because they were losing money. They figured out exactly what their profit margin was for each person who walks through the door. Do you know what your profit margin is in your business? Do you know what your overhead is? These are questions you need to answer to more effectively run your practice. If you knew that every time you picked up the phone you made $335, how many times would you pick up the phone to call for a new appointment? These are things you can monitor as you tweak your practice.

Marc A. Silverman, CLU, ChFC, CFP, is principal of Silverman Financial, which he founded in 1989. He is a member of Miami-Dade AIFA and past chair of MDRT’s Top of the Table. He can be reached at 305-670-7088 or through his website at

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