When I committed to doing the Agent Diary Series it was basically an exercise in throwing down the gauntlet for myself. I admit I have two major recurring issues with running my business 1-Time Management, and 2-Follow-up. From discussions with other agents in the TRO community I knew I wasn’t alone and I thought making myself accountable in a public forum would be a good way to not only kick myself in the rear to get my act together but let you guys know that you aren’t alone in these struggles and we could brainstorm together.
Then life happened – some good and some not so good; oh heck, no need to sugarcoat it, some really horrible.
After the craziness of the holidays settled down, I took that deep breath we all take at the beginning of every year and decided that this was the year I would get a newsletter out twice a month to my clients, post regularly on Facebook and generally do all those things that we are told by all the marketing gurus we should do.
But wait – first I had to prepare to leave town to go welcome the newest member of my family – my grandson Jakob who was born on Jan 23rd. Not a problem – I’ve written in the past about my paperless office system so I packed up the netbook and monitor to set up in the hotel room, and proceeded to answer emails and quote trips all the way to and from Albuquerque thanks to the wonderful mobile technology. I didn’t quite get that first draft of the newsletter I had intended to do — there was always next week.
Unfortunately that next week I brought home with me from Albuquerque an unwelcome gift from my other grandson in the form of a nasty bug that left me feeling like the poster child for the “Should Not Operate Heavy Machinery” warning label. I plugged along for my clients, because that’s what we do. But, once again, the newsletter and the follow up email I intended to send out to the bridal show attendees – well that would just have to wait until next week.
Then the next week, my world stopped. On Monday my hubby was admitted to the hospital with a life threatening condition – and talk about not being able to think! He is home now and doing well, but I will tell you in that week I could not have worked if I had tried. And the following week, between doctor visits, blood tests and pharmacy runs – it was my week to sort of fall apart. Thank goodness I have some of the most awesome clients who were very understanding; and a double thank goodness I had no final payments due, or clients departing as I surely would have come up short on that!
All of this got me to thinking – isn’t that the troublesome part for those of us who are independent agencies? Had I been in a traditional office there would have been coworkers to step in and take care of things. I have written in the past about preparing your business for someone to step in so you could take a real vacation – what systems to have in place and finding a colleague or two that you can trust with your clients. However this one came without warning. Yes, my trusted colleague could have stepped in if absolutely necessary, but I also realized that I had been lax about keeping everything as up to date as it should be.
While I will endeavor in the coming weeks to get back to my commitment to write a newsletter and get my follow-up done – here is my takeaway and advice to you. Take an hour this week and play the “what if” game. Examine what systems or back-ups you have in place should something unexpected occur rendering you unavailable to your business, to make sure your clients are well cared for.
After all – we are all human – babies are born, people get sick and Life Happens. Now, bring on next week!
Barbara Oliver is a 8 year veteran of the industry operating two independent travel companies All Together Now Travel and Romantic Journeys (both currently being redesigned) in the Los Angeles Area. In addition to her agencies she is theLos Angeles director of NACTA as well as a regular attendee and frequent panelist at many trade shows. She has her CTA from The Travel Institute and her ECC from CLIA.