"Eddie Says" Blog
So do you miss that hour? You know, that extra hour we lost back on March 10th when we all moved our clocks up an hour for Daylight Saving Time. (Well, in the interest of exactness, by “we all” I meant everyone in the U.S. except Hawaii, most of Arizona, and a small region of Alaska, which didn’t budge).
I love my little clock holiday, not only because of all the attention given to my little time buddies, but because it makes everyone acutely aware of the value found in just one little hour. Amazing what a difference sixty minutes can make. That’s the beauty of Daylight Savings Time. You feel it. And it takes about four days to feel back in focus. For days, all everyone talks about it how they just want that hour back.
So what about an hour? Did you know, according to USA Today, that flying Air Force One costs $179,750 per hour? I could buy a nice little bungalow for that. Dr. Adam Hummers advertises online that he can perform a “One Hour Facelift.” Took nine months to create it; I think an hour to fix it seems a little rushed, thank you. There’s one-hour photo developing, one-hour dry cleaning, one-hour dental implants (really, I’m not kidding; look it up).
My point is that you can do a whole lot with an hour, and an hour can prove incredibly valuable. So if you’re still considering whether or not to use Real Time, or if you’ve already done so, don’t underestimate what you can do with those saved hours—emphasis on the “s”… as in more than one hour.
My recommendation? Be very deliberate with that found time. Reward your decision to use Real Time by consciously adding a new business tactic to your day; or just add some new business. Don’t let your new-found efficiency simply slide into nothingness, gobbled up by busy work. Instead, add something meaningful that can improve your personal performance or add to the company’s bottom line.
How about online training? Commit to a one-hour webinar each week on topics of value to your position. Does your business effectively manage social media? Did you know that HubSpot research shows that companies with a blog have 55% more website visitors than those without or that businesses that use Twitter average 2 times more leads per month than those that don’t?
Actually, if you follow me on Facebook (and it you don’t, please like me now!), you saw yesterday that there may be one exception to that “be very deliberate” admonition: On National Chocolate Chip Day, you can eat a cookie or two during the hour you save that day. I wonder if there’s a National Bonbon Day.
Seriously, though, whatever you do, be deliberate with your new-found Real Time saved hours. Make those minutes into valuable you time today!
Do you know of any industry that’s fonder of initials than our own? I don’t. But, then again, I’ve never been in any other business, so I’m not really an expert on what others do. If I had to guess, just from reading the paper and watching TV, I might say the government tops insurance. Government has one of my favorites: JAG—the abbreviation for the United States Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corp. I guess I like it because it’s the name of a pretty cool car, too.
Anyway, there’s a new set of initials in the insurance business. It’s ESJWG. I’ve tried to pronounce it as es-jwag, es-ja-wig, es-jig (with a silent “w.”) It just doesn’t work. So I just say each of the letters, one at a time, and I throw in an ampersand. And you should, too. What’s really cool about this group (by the way, it stands for Excess & Surplus Joint Working Group) is it’s doing some great things to bring the benefits of Real Time to a segment of the P&C (there’s another set of initials) marketplace that can really use some streamlining.
ESJWG is made up of volunteers from four groups that have a combined 19 initials in their names: AAMGA (American Association of Managing General Agents), ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research & Development), ACT (Agents Council for Technology) and NAPSLO (National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices.) It’s a joint initiative to improve the efficiencies for Retail Agents (RAs) interacting with managing General Agents (GAs) and wholesale brokers in the Excess & Surplus (E&S) market, and to promote the electronic exchange of data between the partners.
The group even has its own website: ESJWG.org. That’s a great place to find out more about what they’re doing and how you might get involved. The group has a webinar going on this week that can get you up to speed really fast (my favorite speed.) It takes place tomorrow, April 30, and it’s titled, “Best Practice Workflows in the E&S Industry & the Critical Role that Standards Play.”
I was talking to my pal, ESJWG member Lisa Parry Becker of William B. Parry Agency in Langhorne, Pa. and she told me the webinar will feature best practice workflows that retail agents want to see from their general agents and wholesalers in the next couple of years. She also said it will explain how retail and general agents and E&S and specialty carriers can get involved to promote and implement these efficiency enhancing measures (EEMs?) more broadly.
The webinar is an hour long, and runs from 2:00 pm-3:00 pm eastern time (and as they say on TV, 11:00 am Pacific Time; Noon Mountain Time; and 1:00 Central Time.)
To check it out, just register online beforehand and then click through to the webinar at the appointed time. I think you’ll get a lot of RGIAWGO (really good info about what’s going on.)
See you there!
I have to say after the whirlwind that was Real Time Day 2013, I felt a bit like a grandfather clock.
But as tired as I was, I was also left feeling giddy with possibility. I was lucky enough to be at the ACORD studio. I’ll tell you, that felt an awful lot like Grand Central Station, what with all the hustle and bustle. I definitely had an up-close seat to all the action.
I watched the sessions streaming live from the studio, and even caught some of the webinars. I was really excited seeing all of the positive energy shared by the carriers, vendors and user groups that made presentations. If you were able to check in during any portion of Real Time Day, I hope you could feel that energy, too. It felt really good. I could tell that more and more people are starting to really engage and understand the power of Real Time like I do.
A couple of days later, I had someone ask me, “Eddie, what was your take away? What did you learn at Real Time Day 2013?”
Where do I start? Of course, there were the insights and the new technology. There was more detail on best implementation practices and recent Real Time advances in specialty and excess lines. That was all great stuff. By the way, if you missed it first time around or want to share it with anyone else, we’ve posted recordings of many of the sessions right on the Real Time Day page!
But what is thing the guy with the funny numbered face and the big blue shoes gonna remember most about Real Time Day? What’s my big takeaway?
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.
Okay, truth be told, that’s a quote from Zig Ziglar, a guy with a really cool name and some pretty cool insight to success—but it fits my thoughts about Real Time: If you’re gonna wait to get started with Real Time or Download until you feel fully ready, with a clear to-do list and an empty calendar, well, you may never get started. And if you never get started, you’ll never know what possibilities you missed.
And part two of my lesson learned at Real Time Day? With both Real Time and Download, it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s perfectly fine to start with just one element of the program. You can always add more as you go.
Think of it this way: whether you ease yourself into a pool or jump in all at once, it doesn’t matter—you still get wet.
So come on, Real Time is waiting!
I love it when things come together. And that’s what’s happening with our Second Annual National Real Time Day. Folks are working feverishly, putting the finishing touches on presentations, comparing notes for panel sessions, and spreading the word about the big event. We even got our hash tag ready. It’s #RTEddie! Use it to follow along on Twitter.
There’s one thing that hasn’t yet happened, though. I’m still waiting to hear from the make-up artist who is supposed to be getting me ready for my on-camera appearances. Yes, you read it right. I will be live in the studio on Real Time Day!!! (And I don’t want to hear any jokes about the crew needing to get a wide-angle lens to video me.)
Anyway, if you recall, our first Real Time Day took place on Leap Day last year. We helped a lot of agents and brokers learn more about some really cool technology, and we raised awareness dramatically about how Real Time and download can help agencies become more e-squared (efficient and effective.) This year will be no different.
Well, sort of.
If you look at the schedule, you’ll see we’re still providing lots of sessions for agents and brokers. Carriers, vendors and users groups are working on those. We’ve even brought in an agent association, a bunch of E&S whiz-kids, and a really nice lady from ACORD to share insight with agents and brokers. Check out the schedule for live streaming events from the ACORD studio, and you’ll see we really beefed that up. You can watch almost from dawn to dusk (well, depending on where you live.)
What’s different this year is an increased line-up for implementers. “Implementers” is code for “carriers and vendors.” We’ll be covering a variety of topics to help insurance companies and automation providers, covering everything from getting started with Real Time and a look at what technology young agents expect to best implementation practices and specialty and excess lines Real Time advances.
Needless to say, I’m really excited about our big day. (And in case you forgot, I’m also pretty jazzed about the survey we have going on. Do me a favor, click on over to the survey and let me know what you think. Your input will help make Real Time and Download even better!)
I could go on and on, but I need to go pick up my gloves from the dry cleaner and then get my sneakers spiffed up.
See you next week!!!
You’ve seen the phrase “objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” right? The first time (okay, the first several times) I saw that, I had to really work to get my head around it. And that’s not just because my head is so big. It’s a very logical instruction, but it didn’t come to me naturally. I guess when they had lessons on convexity in school, I was paying attention to something else—or maybe nothing at all.
I recently learned that the “objects” admonition is a government-mandated warning designed to keep people from getting in accidents with the car they see in their side-view mirror. It keeps people from stupidly switching lanes because they think they have room. I guess I figured it out, since I’ve never had a wreck. To be honest, the real reason I’ve never had an accident is that I’ve never actually driven a car.
Well, I’m not the government, but I have a warning of my own: National Real Time Day—April 9—is closer than you think. By heeding that warning, you’ll be sure to take part in our extra special day and learn how to avoid doing stupid things like waste time, miss growth opportunities, wear out your fingers rekeying data, making mistakes that can get you sued, etc.
There are a couple of parts to National Real Time Day. First, we’re hosting a series of live web broadcasts from the ACORD studios, covering a range of important topics. We’ve beefed up that streaming schedule, and will be broadcasting all day. The second part of the day involves webinars… lots and lots of webinars. Carriers, vendors, users groups and others are hosting sessions that drill down and offer practical advice you can use to make your organization more efficient.
So check out my National Real Time Day page, click through to the calendar of events (which is growing by the day,) and mark your calendars to be part of the day. Oh, and while you’re waiting for April 9 to come around, why not weigh in on Real Time and Download by taking my Agency Technology Survey. You can knock it out in about seven minutes, and when you’re done, you can enter to win one of several $50 gift cards I’ll be sending out. Nothing stupid about that, huh?
Have a great weekend my friends. See ya’ soon!
Have you missed me? Despite rumors to the contrary, I have not been hibernating… or basking in the Caribbean, although both sound pretty cool. I did sneak down to Grapevine for the NetVU Conference (sadly, there were not really any grapes or vines that I could see while I was there.)
Other than that, I’ve been doing two things: getting the 2013 Agency Technology Survey ready to go and preparing for National Real Time Day! In putting the survey together, I worked with some really smart people—research designers, they’re called—to make sure we could capture your thoughts and experiences quickly and easily.
I even learned about something called Skip Logic, which moves you to different places in the survey based on your previous answers. I feel pretty smart knowing that, and I’m pleased that it will allow you to complete the survey in less than 10 minutes—in some cases, far less!
To know just how much less, you’ll need to start the survey. I figured out how to make the link really easy for you, using a URL Redirection Service (again, Smart Eddie at your service.) The link to the survey, which launched today, is quite simply bit.ly/RT2013. I’ll bet you can guess what that stands for. Yep, RT2013 means Real Time 2013!
Anyhoo, go ahead and click on that link, share your insights, and help me lay the groundwork for even better Real Time and download functionality. I’ll love you for it, and so will your coworkers and customers (since you’ll be able to serve them more quickly!)
In the next couple of days, I’ll put on my blogging hat again and share the latest info on our upcoming National Real Time Day, which I told you about a couple of months ago. Remember, it’s coming up soon—April 9, to be exact.
Thanks for being my pal, and an extra thanks for taking the survey. Again, it’s at bit.ly/RT2013. Oh, and courtesy of some really nice sponsors, there may be a little sumpin’ sumpin’ in it for you if you take the survey soon. Yeah, I’m going to be handing out a number of $50 gift cards during the time the survey is live—that’s from now until April 10. So get in early.
Remember, ya’ gotta play—well, take the survey—to win.
Thanks, my friends!
P.S. If you haven’t done so yet, please go “Like” me on Facebook. I’d really appreciate it!
If you remember, last winter we held our first-ever National Real Time Day. It was February 29, Leap Day 2012, and we asked you to take a leap forward with Real Time. You did! And I thank you for that. Rather than wait four years until Leap Year occurs again, we came up with a new date—and a brand-spankin’ new (to us) theme—for National Real Time Day.
It’s April 9—the first full month of spring—and we want you to “Spring Forward with Real Time” this year!
We’re building out a great agenda—and a stellar line-up of agents, brokers, users groups, vendors, carriers and others who can help you move your agency toward greater efficiency and profits.
We’ll have more specifics before long, but we wanted to make sure National Real Time Day 2013 was on your radar.
So pull out your calendar and mark April 9 as the monumental day. Here’s a snazzy save-the-date video you might want to check out and share with others. I’m not dancing in it like I was in this one, but it’s still worth a look!
We also want to make sure we have lots and lots of carriers, vendors, users groups and others making presentations about Real Time and Download. If you are part of one of these groups and want to get involved, shoot me an email at Eddie@GetRealTime.org. I’ll have one of my friends (who can type much better than I can) get back to you right away.
Oh, and don’t forget to “Like” my Facebook page. It’s a great way to stay informed!
Thanks. And stay warm.
I’m good at doing a lot of things, but singing is not one of them. So I’ll spare you the agony and not post an audio file of me trying to do a better job than Mariah. That said, I think there’s merit in following Santa’s lead, especially when it comes to Real Time and Download. How so?
First, make a list of the carriers your agency uses, and then check it (twice?) against the list of carriers that offer Real Time. Carriers that let us know they offer Real Time are listed on the website here.
Second, check your agency management system vendor’s website for a list of carriers that offer interface through the system you use. The vendor’s list may even provide information on what real-time functionality carriers offer by line of business and by state.
Third, make a list of all of your employees who handle inquiries, quoting, endorsements and policy service. Let them know what carriers offer Real Time functionality, and get them all using Real Time as much as possible.
Fourth, make a list of ideas you can use to support these employees as they work to use Real Time more often in their daily work. Talk to other agents, check out the 21-Day Agency Challenge (by the way, you don’t need to take the challenge; just look around for ideas), look at the Helpful Resources section of the Agency page on this site, or ask folks in your agency management system users group or your trade association.
Fifth, make a list of tools and tactics you’ll use to track employee activity and results. Your agency management system probably has some tools built in. Check with your vendor or users group to learn more. And, of course, you’re a manager, so you know how to lead. As the folks at Nike say, “Just Do It!”
Sixth, look at the list of carriers you made in the first step and see who which don’t offer offer (all of the) Real Time (you’d like.) This would be your “naughty” list! Contact them. Tell them how important streamlined interface is, and point them to resources that can help them get up to speed.
Finally, make a list of what you will do with the time your agency employees save by using Real Time. A good place to come up with ideas is the Real Time Makes Real $$$$$ guide, which shows how your agency can sell more by refocusing service staff a bit. Consider whether sales training might be important, and check with your agency management system users group, your trade association or industry education providers for possible opportunities.
If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to lately, wonder no more.
In addition to the regular work I do–helping agents and brokers find better and smarter ways to work, and helping more carriers make Real Time and Download available for more product lines–I’ve been dabbling in website development. The end product, as you can see, is a fresh, new GetRealTime.org site that makes it easier for folks like you to learn about—and implement—my favorite workflows, Real Time and Download.
Okay, I didn’t do all the coding. But I was involved in figuring out what went where, listening to agents and brokers and others about what they need from a website, and finding ways to put that all together. I’m pretty jazzed about the new site; I think it looks good, and it works even better.
As you can see, the site offers loads of commentary from people like you, who have seen the benefits of enhanced workflows. These folks are happier, and their businesses are making more money as a result.
We’ve made it easier to find just what you’re looking for, by adding sections specifically for you, whether you’re an independent agent or broker, you work for an insurance carrier, or you’re a technology provider. And we didn’t try to hide the links to these sections; they’re nice and big—just like the benefits you get from Real Time.
We’ve revamped the top section of the main page. It now offers a collection of rotating (sliding, the tech folks tell me) photos that showcase different parts of the site. We will change these from time to time to highlight what’s hot. For now, as you’ll note, they direct you to my Facebook page (come “Like” me, please and thank you), my personal bio page (no, believe it or not, it’s not all about me), a great report that spells out what carriers and vendors can do to make Real Time better, and info on how Real Time can help your agency sell more.
As you can see, my blog has been incorporated into the site, so you don’t have to go to different places to find my gems of wisdom. Also, we’re looking to add more interactivity (is that a word?) and functionality to the site, so you’ll want to come visit more often.
So wander around. Check it out. And let me know what you think. The site will be easier than ever to update, so if you have ideas on what we should change or add, I wanna hear ‘em!
P.S. Do me a favor: Share the new site with your friends, employees, bosses, coworkers, peers, associations, users groups, business partners, Facebook buddies—really anyone who you think would benefit from learning more about me–I mean, learning more about Real Time and Download!
Summer’s over. The kids are back in school. Everyone is back from vacation. If you’re like me, you’re getting back into a work groove—figuring out how to make the most of the remaining months of 2012 and getting ready for an even better 2013! There are a lot of things agents and brokers can do to make the rest of this year and next year better. Here are a few ideas, from a lovable and cute guy with a big round face:
1. Look at your own operational efficiencies—and inefficiencies. What are you doing that doesn’t make sense? Let me give you a hint: redundant keying makes nobody happy, except maybe the company that makes replacement computer keys, if there is such a firm. Use Real Time, and you can cut that down dramatically.
2. Look at what you can do to make your customers happy. What about little things like, um, being able to answer questions right away, while the customer is actually on the phone? With Real Time and Download, your employees are in a much better position to be able to do that.
3. Look at what can do bolster your relationship with forward-thinking carriers. Nearly all of the top national companies, and a whole slew of regionals and super-regionals, are offering or expanding their real-time offerings. Use them, so they offer more. And if your carriers need advice on next steps, point them to the “Best Practices” guide. They’ll LOVE YOU FOR IT! And you know how good life can be when insurance companies love you!
4. Finally, look at what your agent associations, agency management system users groups, and other trade groups offer—and vice versa. They each bring a wealth of useful tools and information that can help you improve how you do business. And my guess is, you probably have ideas and resources that can help them, as well. Get involved.
I have no doubt that you are, just like me, lovable and cute—maybe in your own way. And I’m pretty sure you have some great ideas that can help agencies do better. What are they?