Dr. Kazuo Inamori is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and the founder of Kyocera Corporation and KDDI Corporation. He’s also the Chairman of Japan Airlines and a bestselling author. His ideologies and management style is revered around the world. One of his key management philosophies is The Twelve Management Principles, that can be applied to any type of business, even commercial lines.
1. Clearly state the purpose and mission of your business.
Is the majority of your premium volume currently in personal lines, commercial lines, or something else? If your brokerage is transitioning to favour commercial lines, this effects the purpose and mission of your business. You’ll need to hire new employees with commercial experience or retrain current employees with personal lines experience to better serve and understand the needs of your new commercial clients.
2. Set specific goals.
You may have a defined business goal like, “I want to grow my commercial book by 25%,” but you may need to tackle other tasks first such as:
- Upgrading hardware and purchasing new software.
- Formulating standardized workflow to help new employees get up-to-speed quickly.
Once objectives are in place share them with the entire team. It’s easier to row the boat when everyone is paddling in the same direction.
3. Keep a passionate desire in your heart.
Dr. Inamori says, “If you take advantage of the power of your subconscious mind, you can grow your business even more.” How driven are you, especially when the road gets rough? And do you have a network in place when you need help the most?
4. Strive harder than anyone else.
Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t worry about what your competitors are doing and saying about you. Worry more about what your brokerage is doing and saying to win new business.
5. Maximize revenues and minimize expenses.
Dr. Inamori says, “don’t chase profit, but let it follow your effort.” Find creative ways to work more efficiently. For example, is there a time-consuming activity in your brokerage that can be automated, like generating 100 certificates of insurance or spending an hour or more creating a proposal?
6. Pricing is management.
Offering fair renewal terms and competitively priced proposals is the lifeblood of our industry. However, market trends can be volatile, especially in an uncertain economy.
If the premium is too high, it won't sell; if the premium is too low, it affects profits. Either way, settling on the wrong price can result in a loss of revenue that needs to be monitored by management.
7. Success is determined by willpower.
Once a goal is set, management must have a strong will to see it through. It’s easy for a goal to morph into something completely different, especially if employees are reluctant to change or aren’t certain what the objective is today because the goal is constantly revised.
8. Possess a fighting spirit.
Competition is a guarantee, especially in commercial lines, but there’s no guarantee you’ll win. There’s a lot of conflict in commercial lines like pricing, rate changes, and the battle to retain top talent. How far are you willing to go to protect your assets?
9. Face every challenge with courage.
According to Dr. Inamori, managers need courage because it’s a huge part of decision making. As a manager, making unpopular decisions for the overall benefit for the brokerage is unavoidable.
As Michael Corleone says in The Godfather, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
10. Always be creative in your work.
If you’re dedicated to grow your book, you need to be creative. The phrase “creative accounting” is something we’re all familiar with. Growth cannot be measured in a day but a 12-month commitment can lead to significant change, especially when implementing new technology or introducing processes to improve efficiency.
11. Be kind and sincere.
We all have at least one rude client we dread dealing with. When you’re in this situation, are you thinking of the other person or merely focused on your own interests? Who knows, maybe they’ve just been in a really bad mood for the last six years and it has nothing to do with you at all.
12. Always be cheerful and positive. Hold great dreams and hopes in the pureness of your heart.
The more challenging the circumstances, the more important it is to stay hopeful and optimistic in order to successfully cope with challenges and achieve positive results.
If you can close with a better principle than that, let me know.