by Bert Holtje

Personal Freedom

The goal of personal freedom looms large in most conversations we have with agents. Many of them either see that they can go no further in the company that employs them, or they see that the company is not doing things the way they feel they should be done.

In the latter case, an agent who has only recently started his firm said, “The company that employed me for many years was acquired by a holding company with ideas that were not in my opinion right, or even effective. They were a completely bottom-line company, one that had no feel whatsoever for customer relations. The rules that they issued would, I knew, sooner or later kill off enough sales so that the company would be in trouble. And I knew that when this happened, it wouldn’t be the rules, but the failure of us in marketing to use them effectively that would be blamed. In short, the handwriting was on the wall. Who wants to be part of something like that? Not me!

“So, here I am, the proud and somewhat scared owner of a new agency. But at least I know that control is mine. If I mess up, I have no one to blame. When I succeed, I can take the credit. But, it’s more than a question of credit. It’s a question of not having to rely on other people. I know this sounds a bit paranoid, but there have been times in my corporate career when my work and ideas have been scotched by others mainly for personal reasons. Now, I don’t have to deal with that.”

Many of the agents we talked with had similar feelings. They all agreed that money was important, but most felt that it wasn’t the most important thing in their life. As one agent put it, “I have always been able to make good money in my life; when I was starting out and during my growth. And even today, if I wanted to, I could probably make more in salary than I’m taking out of the agency. But, I want more than that. I guess you can call it personal growth, or whatever.”

Next month, read about the future of the agency business.