Back in college, I worked for the University of Missouri, and to this day, the coolest job I’ve ever had was working as an event manager for the Hearnes Center. This is where the magic happens when it comes to concerts and sporting events. During that time, I got to work with some amazing people, one of whom happened to be Bob Dylan. And as Bob once said, “For the times they are a-changin.” As benefits professionals, boy, don’t we know it!
I’ve had a lot of great role models in my life and one of my most incredible ones has been my mother. Like me, she was an entrepreneur. She owned a Merle Norman Cosmetics Studio and a travel agency in my hometown of King City, Missouri. My mom had worked for a number of years in the travel industry with American Airlines and Auto-Train (later sold to Amtrak) in Washington D.C., before relocating to Missouri with my father and working for a small travel agency. She later opened her own, and I remember that she saw a major shift taking place in the industry when the airlines decided that they were no longer going to pay travel agents fees on airline tickets. She made the decision to start charging fees and I remember her telling me, “If you don’t value your time, no one else will.”
Fast forward about 15 years to when we saw the dawning of a new market in New York City. Brokers would now be allowed to sell insurance to individuals in our state, but 90 percent of the carriers would not be paying us. With so much confusion surrounding the exchanges and the complications of more choices than ever before in New York, I saw an opportunity to build out the consulting arm of my company—and I haven’t looked back.
It’s time to shift your mindset and to recognize that people are coming to you for your expertise. If you value your time, that will shine through and others will value your time, as well. It’s a game changer, and you’ll start to look at your business in a totally different way. Things begin to become black and white when it comes to taking on new clients.
In my session at the BenefitsPRO Broker Expo, we’ll go through the main obstacles standing in your way. These include:
- Working for free
- Taking the time to find out your worth
- Walking away from someone who doesn’t find you valuable
I’ll break down how to figure out what you are worth—both the long way and the short way! We will also go through examples of consulting jobs you can take on that will enhance your practice and increase your bottom line. These shifts will set you up to be seen as an expert in our industry and will lead others to seek out your knowledge.
I have always been a fan of Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” After years of freely giving my advice and talents away for free, the light bulb went on for me and I made a shift. I truly believe that the consultative broker is the one who becomes a trusted advisor and is considered a true partner. Partnership has a price that you shouldn’t shy away from. I look forward to giving you a peek into my practice, sharing my methods with you, and explaining how you can move into the future free from fear and excited about what you can truly become!
Be sure to attend Susan L. Combs’ Education Track session, “Show Me the Money: How to Charge Fees in a Commissioned-Based Practice” April 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the 2018 BenefitsPRO Broker Expo.