There's great comfort in sticking to your routine, isn't there? That doesn't just apply to what you order at restaurants or how you have your coffee. Most people also stick to their routine at work, doing what they've always done.
That's the fight I, and many other motivational speakers, face when trying to inspire audiences to change the way they do business. So many are from the old school - middle aged-plus owners and managers; reluctant to change; pooh-poohing technology. But it's worth weighing up the cost of that comfort.
While sipping an early-morning coffee at Cigana recently, I saw a fellow tapping away at his iPad. His wonderful iPad case formed a stand that allowed him to type easily (he got it at Yoobee).
I commented on it and we chatted.
Scott Morrison is an insurance broker with Summit Financial Group, and on the younger side of the industry average. After a half-hour conversation, I found Scott a stunning example of how making a few changes, modernising the way one works, can make one successful without working harder. Just smarter. This example can be translated to any self-employed person, manager or team. Let's look at Scott's simple use of technology.
Many people make do with Excel, Word, Outlook as opposed to specialist software created for their industry. Scott chose an industry software package (called RMS InControl) that integrates across the internet to allow advisers (and their assistants) to work in it directly while out of the office. One of many benefits is that information can be taken directly from the client and input in front of them, eliminating a further appointment.
Scott and the client walk through the questioning process online, so all questions are prompted step by step on screen. Relying on pencil and paper, some questions might be skipped. Scott sees significant benefits. It ensures he is comprehensive and more client-focused. It helps clients, who often comment that, as a result of the process, they better understand their need for insurance.
Since using the online process with clients, his income has increased by 25 per cent, from extra insurance sold following from the discussions prompted by the software.
iPad vs laptop
Scott switched to an iPad to eliminate the barrier a laptop may create, and uses wireless. He brings a printout of the questionnaire to each client, in case there's a problem with the connection.
"I've asked every client before we begin if they prefer to go through their insurance plan with me on paper or on the computer," says Scott. "To this day, not one has ever selected paper."
When he steps back into his car, Scott can automatically email them a meeting summary and send a request to his assistant to start gathering quotations.
Next - he doesn't have to return to the office to drop off paperwork - he drives to his next appointment. This saves three to four hours a week travel time, plus petrol.
Money talks, fluff walks
Let's look at the dollars and sense of this.
One appointment less per new client: two hours. Travel time eliminated: three to four hours a week. Report writing and data entry eliminated: Two hours a week. In all, 7 1/2 hours a week x 45 working weeks = equals 337.5 hours a working year, or 8 1/2 weeks.
The industry average commission for a new client is $1400. With 7 1/2 hours a week, Scott could fit in at least four to six extra appointments. Two would hopefully be with new clients. Presuming he has an 80 per cent sale rate: 2 x 45 weeks x 80 per cent x $1400 (plus Scott earns 25 per cent more) = $126,000 additional income generated. There are costs, of course - a 64gig iPad for $1150, annual software costs of $2000 and $2250 (generous) for broadband and mobile computing - but the net result is worth it. Do you think this is too high an opportunity cost for comfort?
Debbie Mayo-Smith is a bestselling author and international speaker.