Recruiting and Launching a Successful Insurance Agency, Matt Harness, Ep. 10

//Recruiting and Launching a Successful Insurance Agency, Matt Harness, Ep. 10
Where the Insurance Pros Meet Podcast


General Agent, Matt Harness, shares how he recruits agents and launches a successful insurance agency. Learn what Matt says holds agents back. View more information at MarkMiletello.com.

Note: “Where The Insurance Pros Meet” is an audio podcast and is meant for the ear. A transcript of the audio is provided for referencing a particular section or for you to follow along. Listen to the episode to get the most out of our show. We use both speech recognition software and human transcribers to create the transcripts so they may contain errors. If you’re going to quote us in print, please be sure to check the corresponding audio.


TRANSCRIPT
Speaker 1:

Where the Insurance Pros Meet, episode 10.

Matt Hartness:

We are our own worst enemy in what gets in the way of future production.

Speaker 1:

Where the Insurance Pros Meet is a podcast that brings the greatest talent in the world together. Managers, coaches, and producers. The very best experts the insurance and financial services industry has to offer. Get ready to change the way you do business to have your most successful year ever. Now, here’s Mark Miletello, a top 1% producer, manager, and your host of Where the Insurance Pros Meet.

Mark Miletello:

Welcome back to the show. We’d like to thank the listeners for tuning in. We have an exciting show as we always do. We have guests on this show that already with under 10 episodes launched, we have industry gurus. We’ve had outside talent, and marketing, and speaking, and coaching. We’ve had new agents. We’ve had leaders in the industry. I’m just crazy excited here to have a person that I have watched grow in this business from a producer to an assistant, associate general agent, and now has become the leading general agent in one of the top insurance companies in America. One of the oldest, and largest, and most dynamic companies in America. Welcome. Today, we’re going to discuss with him recruiting and launching a successful agency. Welcome to the show, Matt Hartness.

Matt Hartness:

Thanks, Mark. I appreciate you having me today. I look forward to the conversation.

Mark Miletello:

Man, we got so much to learn from you. I just can’t wait to extract it. Matt, I guess in the past, maybe I’ve mentored you a little bit. Would you admit to that, or no?

Matt Hartness:

Absolutely, man. I was early in my career, I was calling you or seeing you at various events out and about, picking your brain and asking questions. All along, I would have counted you as one of my mentors through my career, and still, I’d count you as a mentor.

Mark Miletello:

Well, thank you for that. I don’t say that brag or to steal any of your thunder. What I say that too is a great mentor of mine, Garry Kinder, said “Hey, in the first three months, a new person does what you tell them to do. They don’t know how to speak, so they speak like you speak. They walk like you walk. Then after that, you start to let them fly a little bit. Then before long, two to three years later typically, they become mentors of yours.” That’s what I’d like to say about you, Matt, is that you have now arrived at a place where I feel like we mentor each other. You are a mentor of mine, so congratulations on the hard work I know every step of the way, the hard work you’ve put to become based on the standards that they calculate. Now, I know there are rules here and there. You’ve become the leading general agent with one of the greatest companies in America, so congratulations on that. Thank you for mentoring me back now, which you have all along.

Matt Hartness:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, it’s been an excellent ride. As we’re talking mentors, I could not have done it with many of people and even current teammates that I have now to make it happen. It’s been a collaborative of a lot of people to help with the success that I am currently having today. Thank you very much for that.

Mark Miletello:

Well, I know you’re right in the middle of it, and you’re a busy person, so thank you for taking the time because I think your perspective is just what I love about this show, that people all across our industry will be able to hear from someone, and really like myself, there was a producer and worked all the way through those different levels to now you’re in a management and a leadership role. And so, I think it’s going to be very interesting to talk and hear some of the things that you’re doing. I’m anxious to hear and learn from it. But, you mentioned some mentors along the way. Would you like to pause for a minute and maybe give some of your mentors’ credit?

Matt Hartness:

Yeah, absolutely. And I definitely want to give credit where credit’s due. Mark, right off the bat early in my career, even actually before I started, I was handed a cassette, a CD cassette of books basically with Jack and Garry Kinder, had the Earl Nightingale information in there. And so, I literally took that information and started to just dissect it, take notes on it. And then years later, I got a chance to sit under Garry Kinder in an academy that lasted over the course of a year. So, got to personally interact with him some. And then just here in the last couple years as I was getting into the management, full-time management scene, I went out, and hired, and it was a long story how it came together, but an old, very old 43 years with one of the largest insurance companies in North America, and he had left that company being ranked the number three manager. And so, we struck a deal, and I just said, “Man, I’m ready to learn.” For over a year, right after I got into management, I just learned from him and his name is Ron Strombon. He’s just been a phenomenal coach. We were even running a meeting today, and he was there right by my side. There are many other people, but I would say that Jack and Garry Kinder, Ron Strombon, and another good friend of mine, who became a good friend is Steve Bramlett. He’d been a mentor of mine for many years. So, a number of people. The list goes on, but those would be three people, along with yourself and Dan Mueller, and a few other guys that just really have … I just take information and run with it. So, thank you.

Mark Miletello:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting. I just want to see what’s been there to mold someone that rises into a position that you. But I’ve got to tell you this, the calls I get from you, maybe one or two others have really called me consistently asking the questions. What I love about spending time and investing with you, that time is that I know when I … you’re like, Carl, one of my agents. I just know when I spend that time with you, by the questions you ask, you’re doing something really special and you take it and you run with it, and you build upon it, and you give that feedback that, “Hey, here’s how I made it work.” Absolutely. As far as your career though, this shows about industry pros, and you are definitely a professional in this industry now. You’ve arrived, I can promise you that. Tell me in your own words maybe a little bit about your rise to success, your struggles. Tell us about your history of working up from scratch in this industry.

Matt Hartness:

Absolutely. Well, I’d have to give my background to pave the way for where I’m at today. I grew up, I was one of six kids, and we didn’t have a lot when I was young. So, work ethic was something that I was taught early. Growing up, the idea of running my own little small businesses whether it was mowing yards or just making a buck somewhere, here, there, was important. And so, I quickly … In high school, sitting down or when I was working, and I’m working with somebody, we’re getting paid an hourly rate, and I know that I’m busting my rear. The guy next to me was sitting on the cooler all day. At the end of the day, we make the same amount of money, but we’ve put in two different levels of effort, I found frustrating. I quickly knew younger in my life that I wanted to be in an industry or in a position that I could get rewarded for my effort. Going to college, one of my dreams, even from a young boy was to live and work on a horse ranch someday. I got to do that. As soon as I got into college during the summer terms, I’d spend time out in Colorado on a horse ranch and would do that in the summers. Then after I ended up graduating from college, I moved out there full-time, was a wrangler. Did that for about a year, realized I couldn’t make any money as a ranch hand, loved it, it was my passion, but I decided to move back to my hometown and get into the business world where I could hopefully come back, make some money and then go buy a ranch out the West someday. That’s really where my background, and I quickly discovered the insurance business. What attracted me to the insurance business was that it didn’t have a cap on my income, it had flexibility. If I wanted to work hard and then play hard, it gave me all that. And so, I started my career and I was an agent for about six years before the company, that I still work with at this time, approached me on becoming an assistant manager. They approached me there just because of some of the success that I was having as an agent. I got a chance to be in the assistant role along with keeping my personal agency. Then as time went on, the company saw that I was doing well there, and then they ended up coming along and asked them if I wanted to step into the full-time management route, of which I ended up taking, and the rest is history. Along that way though, we had a lot of success and hit some various awards, and financially was very rewarded for that as well. It’s just been a great ride and something that I truly am grateful for because I know that there are so many other people in a lot of other industries that don’t get near the satisfaction that I get out of my own job.

Mark Miletello:

And I’ve known you for quite some time, and I’ve watched your career, and I see that one thing that you do is you reinvest along the way. You invested in yourself as a producer, you reinvested, you took yourself to the next level, and even in management. You’ve looked around, and you’ve said, “I don’t …” You’ve humbled yourself in a way and said, “I don’t know enough to be the greatest of my accord,” and you’ve invested heavily in surrounding yourself. That’s the mark of a true leader, is to surround yourself with those that complement you to get you to that level. I’ve seen that in you.

Matt Hartness:

Thank you very much. Yeah, I’ve read and heard various people talk about, “You’ll become very similar or alike the five people that are closest to you in your life. Whether that’s professional, personally, financially, that’s who you become.” So, one of my goals has been, at least in the business arena, to really try and stay in the game and surround myself with people that are doing the types of things that I want to be doing in my career so that I can get there. That’s been one of my models and thankfully it’s paying off.

Mark Miletello:

We’re going to get into some of your professional advice. Thanks for sharing that. But before we do, I want to share with the listeners some of the things that you’ve been able to accomplish in a short amount of time you’ve been in a leadership role. As I had mentioned starting out the show, there’s a lot of awards, there’s a lot of rules and all that, but if you look the across the board statistics, you are ranked across the board as the number one leader with one of the largest and oldest companies in America. You also have a retention that’s pretty much perfect. You have a retention of agents, which I cannot even begin to say that. You’ve been able to retain the agents that you’ve brought aboard, which is unbelievable. Just so the listener knows, you are in the multiple line industry. You do P&C and life. One of the pinnacles of property and casualty sales and life insurance sales as a multiple-line goes, you could be over a 20% as an agency, that’s pretty much leading the industry. You are over 40%, right at 43% of your clients, your agent’s clients have an auto, home, and life insurance. There’s maybe a handful of agents with any multiple line company that can say that, yet your entire team is at close to 43%. You have 100% of your agents that were with you a full year last year. 100% of your agency is club qualifiers. Your life activity is ranking among the highest. One thing that impresses me that I must learn today to take back with my own team is how do you have such fast starts? Your agents are coming out … Some of your agents held the record for a long time for a couple years now. The amount of production your team starts with, your agents start with, we’ve got to get to the bottom of. Let me shut up and get into this. Let’s hear some of your professional advice. This podcast is about recruiting and launching a successful agency. Not just recruiting, not just launching, making sure that you’re having success. Those indicators I just mentioned are the top indicators in the multiple line industry. First, let’s break it down. How do you recruit that talent? Tell me that. Teach me that.

Matt Hartness:

Yeah. Absolutely, Mark. It’s not easy. We go through a lot of actual interviews. Various companies, each company has different metrics that they will test on. Even when we get a lot of recruits or interviews that pass the various company standards, that’s just one indicator for us of whether we should move forward or not with the candidate. What I’ve seen is that various companies … If that candidate passes that test, that’s a green light for that candidate to be hired. If you were to look at the amount, the volume of interviews or the people that have taken those types of tests with my agency, you’d go, “Man, there’s a lot of people that passed that test that wasn’t offered an agency, didn’t have the requirements to hit the agency standards of what we’re looking at when we’re hiring.” I would say that one, just a lot of … We’re weeding through a lot of interviews to really find the kind of talent that we’re going after.

Mark Miletello:

Well, let’s back up from there.

Matt Hartness:

The second-

Mark Miletello:

Where are you getting those … I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’ve got to know. What platform are you using to have that number of interviews?

Matt Hartness:

… Honestly, it goes back to just the good old referrals and agent referrals. I’ve asked my agents and I did, to be fair, I had, as I mentioned earlier, probably I guess it would’ve been eight years before I got into full-time management. I had eight years of networking and growing a local market, building a personal book of business that I could go out and meet people, and-

Mark Miletello:

A lot of people saw that success and so you had a warm market of referrals, that’s for sure.

Matt Hartness:

… Absolutely, yeah. That was something that has helped, but I know not everybody has a warm market and it still works. Agent referral has been the biggest area for me of where we’re really … And that doesn’t necessarily mean my own agents, and that doesn’t necessarily mean my own companies agents. That could be building relationships with other companies and with other agents outside of my own company, and maybe in a different market than the local market than I’m in here, and just building those relationships. “Hey, I know that you guys are recruiting a lot of people too, but you also might not have an opportunity that’s available for a person. If you see somebody that comes across the grid that you would put your stamp of approval on, then would you potentially consider giving them to me if you saw somebody that you can’t take on where you’re currently at?”

Mark Miletello:

I look back at my own team-

Matt Hartness:

So, that’s…

Mark Miletello:

… I look back at my own team, and 90 plus percent of my agents came from referrals. Yet, I spent many, many years doing. I think having all type of fishing lines in the water in building a team is important, but that’s overwhelming that I would say, and probably the same for you, 90% are referred.

Matt Hartness:

Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. I was actually thinking too that the other night and was like, “Yeah, I’m pretty much … I have had a little bit of luck with getting online leads, but for the most part, we’ve gotten all of ours through some type of a referral system.” And that’s what’s worked the best.

Mark Miletello:

I interrupted you. You were on point one of recruiting, and I think point two, you were going to go into how you filtered through that talent. I’d like to try to get back on track because it’s something I should not have interrupted.

Matt Hartness:

No, not a problem. Not a problem. The other piece, is I believe everything … not everything. A large part of management is casting the right kind of expectations. Where you see a mediocre performance, in my opinion, it’s a reflection of management. Whether it’s paying attention to, as they say, “The checker gets what the checker checks,” or it’s allowing lower performance to happen, or it’s casting just a lower expectation to recruit, is eventually what you get as a manager. We really work very hard in our recruiting to weed out through our large expectations of what we’re looking for, those that aren’t willing to put in the effort that I believe it’s going to take to be successful in our business. That can be various ways, but really, “Here’s what the day-to-day’s going to look like. Here’s what I’m going to require as a manager as far as your onboarding. Here’s capital that it’s going to require.” Right there when you start talking about, “Here’s what our expectations are,” I shouldn’t say requirements, but, “Here’s what our expectations are as me as your coach and mentor. You need to make this many calls, and you need to have this many people that you’ve gotten permission from to give them a free look at their insurance needs. Here is that capital requirement.” That alone, when those expectations are high, really raises the bar for entry level. I really believe with all my heart that’s what has given us such strong, fast starts, and then has also continued to help maintain the production level that we’re getting with each individual agency.

Mark Miletello:

Yeah. Okay. You have a great system of referring and interviewing. I would assume the mentor that you brought on board helps you select the right talent, maybe several in your organization. You have a culture now. Of course, in the beginning, you had expectations, but now you built a culture of high performance, high expectation, right?

Matt Hartness:

Yeah, absolutely. You bring up a good point. The expectations on the front end when you’re recruiting are all going into the type of culture that we’re trying to create and then maintain or even strengthen. One of my fundamental goals as a brand-new manager, when I was getting, started was I literally I called … I had to go back and shatter my old reality. My old reality. Even with the success that I have as an agent, I realized, man, this thing could go to a whole another level of production. We’re just giving agents a roadmap to success. By shattering the old reality, that was going back and really trying to knock out old bad habits that I might’ve had. Then also begin to lay a foundation for new habits that we’re trying to implement. Whether it’s the number of households we’re trying to talk to daily, whether it’s the number of phone calls or the number of policies we’re trying to write. All of that had to be reconstructed and so we had to work hard to get a new model set. Really the first year that I was in the business was going back and really doing away with a lot of the old and then with my hires, it was critical that they were really what I call my foundational pieces to build upon. I did find some, what I call heavy hitter workhorses, and those two agents have become really what we look for and what I attract talent too. Now, I say, “Go talk to these guys. Go look at their operations. Here are their productions.” They have now, because of what they’re doing, that’s just the norm in our agency. I’m still actually waiting for the day that those guys become the norm and we get a heavier hitting workhorse that comes through because the new expectations for people coming in-

Mark Miletello:

Takes it up even another level.

Matt Hartness:

… Takes it up.

Mark Miletello:

Yeah. You’ve talked to us a little bit. When I looked back at some of your great accomplishments, activity, I think drives all of that, all of that. We’re going to probably specifically in a minute talk about how your team has such a high three-line percentage of auto, home, and life. But, before we do that, talking about having 100% club qualifiers, the tremendous fast starts that your agents have, and the high … This is all driven by high activity. I’m having several challenges. Now, you and I talked about, before this call, we were talking about me launching a new life insurance discussion. As we talked about, I had led the company to life insurance sales. So, what did I need to fix? I told you that I had to throw it all out. I had to throw it all out and revamp it. I think that’s what I hear you saying in the management leadership role that … You were telling me right in the beginning. I remember this as you said that. You were saying some of the expectations you were setting when interviewing your first few interviewees, and I said, “Wow. The bar to come on your team is really high.” I got to tell you, I didn’t doubt you because I know your ability, but part of me says, “Man, that’s a high bar to set.” I was concerned that maybe that bar was too high, but obviously you’ve shown and proved that if you set the expectation, they will rise to that expectation, and I need to consider, and that’s why I have you on this call, and that’s why you’re now my mentor as well. I need to consider raising that expectation and that bar. I definitely agree that sometimes we have to throw away and redo it. To evolve as leaders, just like producers, you must evolve. Part of that evolution is to throw away some of those bad habits. You know what, Matt? It’s hard to do. A lot of people cannot do it. I commend you for the fact that to evolve, you’ve got to recognize that, but you also have to throw away a lot of things that come naturally or you’ve learned along the way to develop that. Getting back to the two points that I want to dive into, which is high activity, which has produced those club qualifiers and those fast starts. You and I have talked. I think we talked an hour a few months ago regarding the activity. How do you have your new reps coming in? How do they have the activity that you’ve been able to expect out of them? That to me is one of the most important things you’re doing right now.

Matt Hartness:

There’s a couple pieces to it. It’s more a concept. What I learned through Ron, who I mentioned earlier, he came in, he said, “First what we’ve got to do when we’re trying to drive, and this can go for various categories, but one in the activity category is we’ve got to establish the what. What are we trying to accomplish here? What kind of production do we want to have? That becomes the static piece to the equation. The what doesn’t change. What does change in the equation is who’s going to help us do it, and how’s it going to get done? The what always remains the same. The who is the team that’s going to make it happen. Then the how is the strategy behind it.” What we’ve done when I’m onboarding recruits and we’re talking about high expectations and driving activity is we said, “Here is the activity that’s got to get done. Here, before I ever start you as an agent, here are the numbers that you’re going to have to reach, the number of households that you’re going to have to have permissions to quote before I’ll ever start you. Whether that’s you going out and knocking doors, making phone calls, going through your own pipeline of people that you know. Whether that’s you by yourself, that could help get to the what, or maybe we need to go to the who, and say, “Is that who going to be you and a couple other people?” Part of the expectation is that they’re bringing on staff before they ever start. It’s a big leap of faith for them because some of these agents or new agents are coming in without experience. But I really believe with all my heart, and as the industry would indicate, that those that have key members have much more success right off the bat versus trying to build your agency as a standalone one person show, and then as you have income investing in that person later. I say invest in the business up front, which goes into why we require the capital. We establish the what upfront, and so we have the what, and then we also say, “Okay. You as the agent, before you become an agent, and then potentially those that you’re going to be hiring on as your team members are going to help. Here’s how it’s going to happen. They’re going to help you get that what, which is the number.” That’s really been one of our sole ways of driving activity right off the bat. Then, it goes back to the old motto, “You give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. You teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” The onboarding piece for us is huge because if my agents before they become agents don’t have enough time in a day to get the amount of … I mean, their days are packed full of trying to squeeze out the number of households they’re required to have before we start them. But what that’s doing is it’s giving them rep after rep, after rep of teaching them how to fish, teaching them how to go out and talk to people, build their confidence, get turned down a bunch. But man, when they’re ready to go live, they’ve got a whole pot of names of people that have given them permission to give them a free look at their insurance.

Mark Miletello:

That comes through a warm market, that comes through referrals, that comes through cold calls, that comes through networking. So, that comes through everything that they can do, right, to get those permissions to quote if you will?

Matt Hartness:

That’s right. Absolutely. The what, you establish your number. I’ve got my first agent, and I am so proud of him. His name’s Anthony. He was coming from previous experience, and he was my first agent to bring on as a manager. I had some nervous butterflies, and of course, he did too. He was coming. He was making great money with his previous company, but it got real for me. I talked about, man, the multiple line opportunity is so much better because he was counting how many people you’re having to turn down because you can’t write their home and auto insurance, and those are all people that … That’s additional revenue income you can pick up. I ended up telling him, “You’ve got to have …” I said, for him, I said, “You have to have, to accomplish what you need to accomplish, you’re going to need to have 1,000 PTQ’s.” That’s what we call permissions to quote. He goes out. We took on, and there was obviously a lot of time and energy that went into the business planning behind it. But as time’s going on, I see that he’s getting behind in the amount of PTQ’s. He had a three-month window to get it done. You can do the math on how many that is per day, it’s a lot of people. As time’s getting closer, he calls me one night and he says, “Hey, what’s going to happen if I don’t have all my PTQ’s?” I literally, I just said, “Man, let’s not have to answer that question. If you get it done, we don’t have to find out the result.” It was playing hardball, but I didn’t want to set him up for failure, and I knew it’d took for his success. It came down to the night before he was supposed to start his agency. He had put in three months, sacrificed a lot, moved career from one company to another. It was like nine o’clock the night before he was supposed to go live, and I text him. I said, “How many PTQ’s do you have?” He said, “I’m 17 short.” My heart literally sunk to the ground. So, now I’m a guy of my word, and he’s short. I don’t think I’m going to be able to start him tomorrow. He’s a jokester, and I’m just kind of letting the time … I’m sitting there, how do I respond to this text message? About 15 minutes later, he responds, “But I’m headed to the bar.” I kid you not, he heads out. It was around 10 o’clock at night, and I had a hard time sleeping that night because I had no idea what he was going to have next morning. It was a Thursday morning, September 1, 2016. I called him first thing. I said, “Are you going to be able to start today, you and your team?” And he said, “I didn’t get my 17 …” He said, “I didn’t my 1,000th.” I said, “Oh, great.” He said, “I got 1,005.” He said, “I went to the bar. I only found three people last night at the bar that would give me an opportunity to quote,” but he’s like, “Where else could I go late on a Wednesday night that I could find a bunch of people?” He said, “Softball fields, man. Late night softball.” He went out and he worked multiple dugouts and got a total of 1,005 PTQ’s.

Mark Miletello:

Wow. Wow.

Matt Hartness:

That was a moment for me that I realized that when you believe in somebody, and they believe in a concept, and you increase the expectations, that we are our own worst enemy in what gets in the way of future production. Now, I’ve learned that through you, I’ve learned that through Dan Mueller, I’ve learned that through the Kinders. Anthony was a great example. To this day, he is still my highest producer. He just does an excellent job. But that’s the type of expectations that we had on him. That’s what I mean by establishing the what, and then figuring out who’s going to get it done, and how’s it going to get done?

Mark Miletello:

Yeah, wow. I don’t even want to recap that because you put it simply. But, I think it’s so valuable what you’ve said, it deserves a recap of you set the production, you called it static, it’s set for that period, the “what”, the who… Is it going to be you? Is it going to be staff? Is it going to be producers? But who’s going to help you get to that what, and how are you going to get there? Let’s talk strategy and your permissions to quotes and calls. You tell me that story, and it just reminds me of me, Garry Kinder was on the show. The great Garry Kinder. His mentorship for me as well for you, but we talked about a story where if I held a gun to your head, and you told me you were going to hit MDRT this year, could you do it? Of course, you would say yes, but you couldn’t promise it because you can’t control the outcome. But what you can control is if it requires you to talk to 10 people a day to have this many to filter it down to the Garry funnel, and he and I talked about that, you can. That story is a perfect example, and I love the fact that you paused before you responded, like I probably would’ve. “Hey, man. You did well. Come on.” You paused, and you let him make that decision, and he controlled the activity by, hey, if there’s a deadline, and basically there was a proverbial gun to his head that the next day if he wanted that bad enough, he would make it happen. By golly, he made a way to make it happen. So, you’re right, he controlled that activity. Matt, we’ve all had mistakes, and I know some of yours. We’ve talked, we’ve shared both of ours. Tell me something that maybe if you were to do all over again you would do differently. Is there anything that you could think back on that you would change to help us not make that same mistake?

Matt Hartness:

One of the mistakes I think I would avoid early on if I’m talking to an agent is not believing or believing that I can’t do more and limiting myself. What I mean by that is not investing in my business, such as with the right kind of people or with enough people early on, and trying to be more of a one-person show versus could I do more early on with more people? And learning how to invest in the business wisely without just frivolously throwing money away. That would be one of my areas of mistake is that I did have success by myself, but I absolutely believe that bird in one. If I can be equipped, and trained, and know how to go out and hire somebody, or a couple two or three people right off the bat, train them well, that our efforts collaboratively can catapult an agency early versus waiting to do that down the road. Obviously, there are different measures that go into that. But that would be one of my biggest regrets looking back is that, while I had success, and I knew I was having success, it could’ve been a lot more with just a couple tweaks to what I was doing.

Mark Miletello:

Right, right. Normally, where I go from here is I say, “You get a do-over, you get a mulligan.” Really what you’ve told us in the beginning and throughout this show is about how to have a successful practice in today’s climate if you’ve shared with us anything. So, I’m going to skip that, and I’m going to move right onto the years 2028. It’s 10 years down the road, Matt. What are our agents going to have to do? What are we going to have to do to be relevant in 10 years? Again, I think you’ve kind of answered that question too, in that you must set it up with high expectations, high activity. But, where do you see our industry in 10 years, and how do we fit in?

Matt Hartness:

Yeah. I really believe that our industry’s headed towards there’s going to be a lot fewer agencies, but a lot larger agencies. I think that the number of agents that are out there is going to be less. I believe that the quality of the agencies and the size of the agencies are going to be more. My play is that if I can recruit well, cast clear, high expectations, invest in my team members the way that I believe they need to be invested in, that they can get off to a fast start in their career, have success, catch the vision of the success that they can have. They can build a team early and as competition only increases in the market space that we’ll have, we’ll be able to pull around. I do believe, like I said, that insurance will be around for a long time, but the quality of the agent and the size of the agent is what I’m focusing on. And so a lot of-

Mark Miletello:

We like to throw out the term mega agencies, right? Mega agencies. I think what you’re building, and you’ve already laid the groundwork for in your expectations, and your strategies, and the how, and the who, all those are building this platform to become if you want to call it that, mega-agencies. Larger agencies, more quality agencies that are here to handle whatever challenges our future brains. But, I think you’re positioning yourself to be here 10 years from now, and you will be the competition. You are the competition right now, but I think that’s what you’re trying to say is that you will have these qualities, bigger agents that are highly staffed, high producing, right?

Matt Hartness:

Absolutely. What I mean by a bigger agency, obviously profitable, they’ve got producers. But, I saw a visual of this years ago that another mentor of mine, Gary Luckovich showed me. I didn’t believe it at the time, because once again, back to my regret, I just didn’t believe in what I thought was the impossible. It’s called the agent of the tomorrow, and it’s just the idea that inside of a single agency, you’re going to have a future agent that I’m developing now will have. The agent will run the agency and still be in the day-to-day operations. But then they’re going to have a specialist in all different categories. They’re going to have potential … They’re going to have a call center that’s driving leads. They’re going to have a potential marker that’s also outside driving leads from other areas in the local market. They’re going to have a life insurance specialist. That life specialist could potentially [inaudible 00:41:38] over into a financial service, an investment specialist as well possibly. That might be a two-person department. Second would be a commercial specialist who might have a home, an auto specialist, a health insurance specialist, et cetera. Then obviously there are people to support the servicing side of each of those categories. It’s a very systemic, long-term approach to how to really run a well-organized agency through those different departments.

Mark Miletello:

Well, thank you, Matt. Winding down here, just like to always find something new, direction. That’s what I wanted this platform to be as people like yourself from all walks of life, all expertise levels, but also to show us where to go to find the best. If you feel that this person, or this article, or this book, or this technology is something that we should investigate. Do you have anything that you would maybe drive us to that you’re reading or that it would influence us right now?

Matt Hartness:

Couple of my favorites lately. I’ve just finished the John Maxwell’s 21 Indispensable Laws of Leadership. Phenomenal book on just the principles that you can take to develop a leadership. Then also, to try and re-coach those into your agents, and then the agents can try, and work instill those into their team members.
Never Eat Alone, I’m drawing a blank on the author there. But Never Eat Alone is just the concept of continual growth and the ability to network with people, and not just to be a taker, a consumer, but also to invest in the lives of others, to find out what other people are interested in. As you are trying to network and grow, it would also be that you’re trying to help others grow and get to where they want to be. So, there’s a very mutual type of interest there. Never Eat Alone was another phenomenal book that my consultant gave to me, Ron, before I even started in my management position. Both have been great pieces of information for me as I continue to grow in my own learning.

Mark Miletello:

You’re not in front of a computer, I am. Never Eat Alone is Keith Ferrazzi, right? And I’ve read-

Matt Hartness:

That’s correct.

Mark Miletello:

… I’ve read the John Maxwell book, so I will now order that one. Thanks for that recommendation, and Matt, I got to tell you once again, thank you for your time. Hey, you’re giving information to your competition that’s across the country or right next door, because you’re like me. You want to share. That’s how you got there. I know when I invited you to come to the show, I hoped that you would do it because of our relationship, but I also know you were okay doing it because you want to help others succeed. In this industry, we can lift each other up. So, I see you as that person. I feel partly like me, that I want to give and help others so that they don’t have the challenges that I have, and they can have the success that I have because this industry has that great success. I want to tell you, thank you for the time you’ve taken out of your very busy schedule. Thank you for the gold nuggets. I just think this industry, it’s like the field of diamonds. But since I said gold nuggets, let’s stick with that. It’s like there are gold nuggets sitting under our feet, and all we must do is to know how to reach down and pick up that gold nugget. Why does one agent make six big, six figures or seven figures, and one agent’s struggling 10 years down the road? They just don’t know how to pick up the same gold nuggets that’s by their feet. And you as a leader, you’re reaching down and picking up all these gold nuggets that we’re walking right over as leaders. Thank you for sharing with us how you’re picking up these nuggets. Thanks for throwing those gold nuggets our way. Now, we must learn to reach down. We don’t know what we don’t know, so we’re going to try to walk that path, mentor under this, listen to this. Thanks for the time for sharing with this, Matt. I very much appreciate it and honored to have you on the show.

Matt Hartness:

Hey, Mark, truly has been my pleasure, and once again I reiterate it takes a tribe to make it happen, and I’ve had an unbelievable group of mentors, and friends, and colleagues that have helped make that happen. So, it’s not just me, it’s a lot of people that have gone into the success that we’re having. Thanks for having me on your show today.

Mark Miletello:

Absolutely. God, Will and I can’t wait to watch some of the success you’re going to have over the years to come and the decades to come. I’ll see you on the trips. So, see you at the top of the charts. Matt, thank you. And hey, if you like what you hear on this show, go to iTunes, rate, review our show, and we’ll see you next time on Where the Insurance Pros Meet.