If you run an employee benefit agency, you’ll find two big takeaways in this post. If you don’t run the place, pass this on to your owner or practice leader.

I was so proud to see my consulting client, Tim Olson of The Olson Group, gracing this magazine’s September cover as the 2015 Employee Benefit Adviser of the Year. According to the article, Olson was selected in part for his “holistic approach to employee benefits,” but it also mentioned Olson’s 55% revenue growth in just 24 months while doubling his staff to 20.

Fifty-five percent growth in just two years — strong, right? Here’s the story behind the story. It holds the secret to cracking the growth code for your agency.

Also see:The forgotten key to agency growth.

In late 2012, Olson read my book, DO OR DIE: Reinventing Your Benefits Agency for Post-Reform Success, after meeting me at the EBA Summit in Scottsdale. He called asking for our help; his revenue had plateaued and the Affordable Care Act loomed. Starting in early 2013, we began working with Olson and his team to select the right ideas and strategies to reinvent his firm in the key agency growth areas of portfolio, marketing, selling and management, as dissected in DO OR DIE.

We settled on the right strategies for him in all four growth areas, informed in part by Olson’s collaboration with other, non-competing agency owners as part of our Agency Growth Mastermind Partnership. At this point, Olson started to crack the growth code.

Taking action

Olson began to take action on the plan we had created. He began to implement the strategies and ideas. This is the secret. This is where most agency owners drop the ball. You come back from a conference with some really good ideas. But you don’t act on them. Life and business get in the way. No shame; it’s a common story.

But Olson took massive action on our plan. He set aside Mondays to work on his business. Meeting with the impact area groups he established to help him manage the changes. Initiating creation of a standard operating procedures manual. Investing heavily in technology, for which he had a go-to-market plan. Hiring a full-time marketing coordinator. Shifting to a fee-based model. Committing his team to consultative selling. Recalibrating his compensation structure. Overhauling hiring practices. And more.

He’ll tell you his efforts were imperfect. And he didn’t get to everything. But what he did do — his commitment to action, to implementation — produced 55% growth in 24 months.

Also see:Why advisers should just say ‘no’ to RFPs.

Tim Olson cracked the growth code: The right strategies + action = growth. Every time. And the real secret, again, is action — doing the hard work to implement the right strategies.

Now for my other exciting takeaway. Discovering the right strategies for your firm and getting a jumpstart on implementation just got much easier. Join Olson and more than 100 other independent benefit agency owners for the inaugural ASCEND — The Agency Growth & Leadership Summit in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 21-24, 2016. ASCEND has been called the “anti-conference,” and we’re proud to have EBA as our media sponsor. Learn more and apply to attend at AttendASCEND.com. If you want to grow, ASCEND is for you.

Combine the right strategies with action and crack the growth code for your firm.

Griswold is an agency growth consultant and author of DO or DIE: Reinventing Your Benefits Agency for Post-Reform Success. His Agency Growth Mastermind Network helps agency leaders reform-proof their firm. Reach him at (615) 656-5974, nelson@InsuranceBottomLine.com, or through 21stCenturyAgency.com.

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