Is Your Agency a ‘Rocky I’ or a ‘Rocky III’?

This spring, and Agency Nation hosted the Elevate Conference in New Orleans. The annual event attracts many agents who are thinking about how to do business in a new way, with speakers who tend to focus mostly on technology, social media and marketing. The result is a great show full of edgy content, a high level of energy and tons of enthusiasm. 

This year, many discussions centered on how to enhance the customer buying experience and increase customer satisfaction. Not long ago, being a high-tech agency basically meant that you used Microsoft Office, an agency management system and some sort of comparative rater. But Elevate reminded me of how far the independent agency channel has come.

There were sessions on using technology for lead generation, automated marketing campaigns, customer conversion, customer onboarding, providing 24/7 customer support, measuring customer satisfaction, employee engagement and more. 

During a conversation over a hurricane on Bourbon Street, someone shared an analogy with me. They said the agencies represented at Elevate are “Rocky I” agencies, while the vast majority of independent agencies are “Rocky III” agencies.

I love both sports and movie analogies, so this really resonated with me. I took it to mean that the agencies represented at Elevate want to grow and have ambitious goals, just like Rocky Balboa in the first film. By contrast, the average agency has reached a level of success where they are content, like Rocky Balboa in “Rocky III.” For the most part, they’ve stopped learning and growing. They live in a big house and drive a fancy car. Life is good, so why train as hard as they did back when they were young and hungry? 

Frankly, I think that’s a valid point—but on one condition. Is every “Rocky III” agency ready to surrender their championship belt? If so, great. You can sell your agency and enjoy a well-deserved retirement. But what if you’re not planning on giving up the belt anytime soon?

If you’re a “Rocky III” agency, you need to know that Clubber Lang is coming, and he is investing in technology and people in order to offer up a far better customer experience than what you currently deliver. If you step into the ring with him, it’s going to be ugly. 

Now, think back to how “Rocky III” ended. After getting destroyed by Clubber Lang in the first fight, how did Rocky respond? He reinvented himself. He got lighter and quicker. Remember the scene where he chased a chicken as part of his training? In short, he evolved as a fighter and was able to compete with Lang. 

If, while reading this, you were thinking about your agency as a “Rocky III,” it’s time evolve—before you set foot in the ring with Lang the first time. No one wants to see you get pulverized. 

Aubie Knight is CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of North Carolina.