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Matt Pais

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Pinney embraces change and efficiency in his online-based business.

Ryan J. Pinney likes to joke that he has been conducting business on the internet since before Google was a verb.

Except it’s not a joke. Pinney, an 11-year MDRT member from Roseville, California, has developed a web-based model that has qualified him for Top of the Table 11 consecutive years.

With a staff of 25 to 30 for this part of his business, Pinney generally provides term insurance for families with household incomes between $80,000 and $150,000.

In addition to texts and social media, he sends out millions of emails each month for re-engagement marketing, cross-selling and upselling opportunities. “We look a lot different than the typical MDRT member,” said Pinney, whose team includes full-time programmers, designers and user-experience experts to ensure websites, quoting tools and mobile apps look and operate properly. “We look a lot more like a large corporation or maybe one of the direct marketers.

“As the marketplace has become more crowded with people trying to do the same thing, we’ve had to maintain our edge and advantage by pursuing new technology and new ways of doing business.”

That includes proactive steps to firm up the processes involved. For every major process of the business, there is an annual improvement meeting, dubbed a “sticky-note meeting.” Every step and deviation in a process (as minute as “press this key” or “click mouse”) is written on a sticky note.

It’s how they took action after an agent noticed how much time was being spent clicking between a client event dashboard and their contact record. The sticky-note meeting showed that the client’s phone number was not readily available on the dashboard.

What seems minor in fact impacted the efficiency of team members making as many 700 calls per day. “That small improvement ends up being a huge impact over time because now they’re not wasting steps or time waiting for screens to load or moving between screens,” Pinney said.

This strategy of internal evaluation also prevents the frustration that comes when people notice something that doesn’t seem right but are too busy or feel like they don’t have an outlet to acknowledge the flaw in the system.

Pinney also uses documented, electronic training. If a person trains another person, they can pass along their own bad habits and see their effectiveness lessened while they are taking time to train.

Instead, Pinney creates workflow documents to test the systems and see if anyone, without any additional help, can follow the instructions and execute a task. Employees are forbidden from printing any of the online training modules to ensure those printed documents don’t become outdated if a process changes.

“We as an industry are a little archaic, and any time we as professional advisors can make it a little more modern, it definitely gives you a big advantage against your peers and industry norms,” Pinney said. “It takes a little extra effort or money or time, but the rewards that come from it are significant and well worth it.”

2 tech processes Pinney can’t live without

Rocketchat. Like the popular program Slack, Rocketchat allows employees to communicate on shared internal threads. Unlike Slack, Rocketchat is open-source software that can be built into a CRM and phone system.

By adding it to all existing platforms in his practice, Pinney ensures his team will use the program, which prevents the irritation of reply-all emails. In Rocketchat, countless emails are replaced by chat streams divided into well-organized rooms, with more responses viewable much faster and the ability to see items you are tagged in.

Pinney finds the program so effective that he has put his whole family on it to manage all communication without jumping between text, email and social media. It’s an efficient way to establish a private chat group where, for example, his son in college can also share documents if needed.

Automated client surveys. After the status of an application is changed to a placed policy, the system (using Google Forms) automatically triggers an email to the client that congratulates them on the policy.

The email indicates they soon will receive a survey and asks that they indicate what the advisors did right or what they can change to make the process better next time.

The next day, the survey is sent through another automated email. It contains eight questions in which clients provide ratings from 1 to 5, with the opportunity to add comments.

If a staff member is praised by name, Pinney sends a notification to the staff, acknowledging that employee and providing that person a cash bonus, gift card or movie tickets. Every time the survey is completed, managers get a notification so they can look for comments.

“Very rarely do you get something general like, ‘Sally was great,’” Pinney said. “It’s usually a specific callout: ‘This person helped me or was very professional or I really enjoyed talking to them on the phone.’”

Contact: Ryan Pinney


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