Are you faster than a speeding bullet? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? No? Okay then you’re not Superman, and as an entrepreneur running a business, you can’t do it alone.
At Farmers Insurance, we’ve studied this subject extensively. What our research shows is that it’s almost impossible for an agent to be truly successful without hiring staff. As an entrepreneur, you’ll come up against this pretty quick. You’re going to have to recruit, interview, qualify, vet, train, motivate, and maybe discipline staff. So let’s move on to some useful tips to help you succeed in this arena.
Your Org Chart. You’re the top spot on the org chart. But what happens below that? You want staff that contributes to the business, excels at things you don’t do well, and frees you up to do what you do best. Figure out how to align them into effective functions or departments.
Write Job Descriptions. Think through what are the “must have” and “nice to have” skills and characteristics for every job. For a sales position, a “must have” characteristic might be persistence. The job description helps you define what you really need, and it tells candidates how you’ll hold them accountable.
Maintain a Bullpen. The worst time to recruit is when you have an opening. So stay prepared by creating a bullpen of worthy applicants. Engage anyone you meet who impresses you. For example, you meet a Home Depot employee who goes out her way to give great service. Tell her you’re impressed, you think she might fit into your business, and you’d like to keep her name and contact information on file in case you have an opening.
Interview in Stages. Do an initial phone screen. This need not be lengthy or complicated; you’re just trying to get a general sense of the candidate. Invite those who qualify for a face-to-face interview. If you have staff, let a few of your employees do a panel interview. This will help uncover any issues of culture fit.
Use Behavior Based Interviewing. Don’t ask, “What would you do if …” questions. This type of question allows candidates to easily make up a positive story. “I would run into the fire and rescue the baby, the cat, and grandma.” Instead ask, “Tell me about a time when …” That type of question directs the candidate back to a real life situation. They may still embellish a bit, but it’s likely you’ll get a mostly true answer.
Check References and Background. Asked for a reference, many corporations are reluctant to provide detailed information. It’s nevertheless worth a phone call. In some cases what they won’t say is as revealing as what they will share. For positions handling finances, consider ordering a background check.
Be a Farmers Agent. Interested in applying these tips as you run an insurance agency? Farmers Insurance currently has opportunities specifically tailored to transitioning vets. Go to BeAFarmersAgent.com for more information, or contact us at Military.Recruitment@farmersinsurance.com.