Tuesday, August 17

Aircraft amusements

No sales today, but that was to be expected because the manager who is training me was tied up with other duties.  By next week or the week after I’ll be able to make sales by myself.  For today, I started out with a training session in the office, delivered some policy documents to a customer in western Suffolk, and then drove to the not-quite-East End to do some solicitations.  Midday traffic on the Sunrise Highway was so light as to be almost unnoticeable.  An amusing thing happened as I was driving past an Air Force base just south of the highway.  A propellor-driven transport aircraft took off overhead with a sound that would be enough to wake the dead and cause permanent hearing loss in the not-yet-dead.  It was barely tolerable even though my car windows were shut and the air conditioning was running.  Civilian airplanes have various noise-reduction features, but the Air Force plays by a different set of rules. 

I drove around a small community, one of the very smallest on Long Island, for a couple of hours, calling on “lapsed” policyholders.  Calling in person isn’t a particularly efficient use of time, but using the telephone wasn’t an option because these people were on the “Do not call” (DNC) registry.  Existing policyholders can be called even if they’re on the registry, but most lapsed ones cannot.  People sign up for the registry to stop unsolicited sales calls (a practice which ABC Insurance does not do), probably not realizing that registry enrollment also blocks calls they may want to receive.  Many policy lapses are unintentional, but if a policyholder is DNC’ed he or she may not get timely notification.  After a couple hours of this I headed home, getting a major surprise when a small airplane passed literally no more than 25 or 30 feet overhead.  There is a small airport about five miles from the Air Force base, used by private pilots and a skydiving club (I often see skydivers while driving on the Sunrise Highway),  and the south end of the runway is no more than 100 feet from the main road.  It makes for some very low-flying airplanes on takeoff and landing!  Once home, I spent a couple hours calling non-DNC’ed lapsed policyholders.  While doing this I got many “this number is no longer in service” recordings.  At least 30 or 40 of the former policyholders had worked at a company that had gone out of business a couple of years ago, and because the lapses all were around the same date the company probably had been paying the premiums.  What I suspect happened is that many of the former workers moved elsewhere, hence the disconnected numbers.  I’m not going to bother trying to call on any in person, even people still in the area probably aren’t interested in policies they’d have to pay for themselves.

Too worn out for the gym tonight.

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Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 16

IWATTAI’ed, not once but twice

Like all Mondays, today started out with a branch meeting that went over the past week’s results and discussed upcoming events.  I was one of four agents (out of 18 or 19 total) cited for having done well last week, and as is normal practice I spoke for a few minutes.  One thing I mentioned is that success in one week is no guarantee of success the following week.  It’s not looking as if this week is going to be anything close.  Ups and downs like this are an unavoidable feature of life in the insurance industry and even a few bad weeks in a row doesn’t mean much.  Okay, it means less money in one’s commission check.  I’m still getting a modest training salary and can qualify for bonuses at lower production levels than is the case for experienced agents, and this helps make low-sales weeks not such of a financial loss. 

Oh, what about IWATTAI?  It stands for I Want To Think About It (the first A being added to make it sound better), something that insurance agents positively hate to hear.  I heard it for the first time around 11 when I called a prospect the manager and I had spoken to last week.  She had wanted more time to make a decision, and today I found that she’s still not ready.  Mind you, she’s considering a very economical policy, one that literally costs less than getting one Starbucks latte each week.  I don’t know her income for sure but have some reason to believe that she’s doing quite well for herself.  It’s funny in a way.  Our entire retailing sector is built on impulse buying, if people only bought the things they need most shopping malls would be bankrupt inside a year.  Yet people will agonize for days or weeks over whether to spend twenty or thirty dollars a month on an insurance policy that they can cancel at any time with no further obligations.  Maybe you can figure it out, I sure can’t.  The second IWATTAI’ing occured later in the afternoon, when we met a prospect – for the third time – in the East End.  He’s been thinking about a policy for at least three weeks but still can’t make up his mind.  While the policy in question is more expensive than the one in the first IWATTAI situation, it’s hardly exhorbitant, about seven or eight lattes per month, and he had admitted that he really needs the coverage.  I will add that for a variety of reasons it is not likely that either IWATTAI’er is weighing offers from other companies.  I really, really can’t understand it all.  On a brighter note, the manager and I sold one policy, with me taking a greater role in the sales process.  It’s not a huge policy, but the commission is enough to make today a relatively decent day.  Tomorrow I’ll be trying to visit some lapsed policyholders in one of Long Island’s smaller communities. 

Gym: once again, I did 30 minutes on the stationary cycle, this time at a rate of 19.6 mph.

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 2:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 14/Sunday, August 15

Not one of my better weekends.  My gym motivation continues at a low level, on Saturday I did 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19 mph but on Sunday (for various and sundry reasons) I didn’t go at all.  I’m hoping that in the coming week I’ll be more accustomed to my work schedule and will be able to go on a more regular basis.  Speaking of work, on Saturday I made another and final attempt to get some appointments out of the remaining lead cards, no luck.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 13

Hard to judge today in the luck category

It’s Friday the Thirteenth, but I really can’t say whether today was lucky or unlucky.  Counting sales would be an easy way of accomplishing that task but I didn’t try making a ny as I spent the day on training and administrative functions.  During the afternoon I tried without success to call some lead cards to set up appointments for next week.  While this may superficially sound like bad luck, I knew going into it that actually getting anything out of these lead cards would be highly unlikely.  Most of the cards were for people whose policies expired anywhere from five to ten years ago, which is scarcely a promising market.  Quite a few “number not in service” messages.  Monday I’ll try to get some fresher cards and should have better results.

Gym: now here Friday the  Thirteenth’s bad luck may be a more reasonable concept.  Trying to work gym sessions into my new and very long work schedule is not easy.  When I went in the early evening I had no energy or motivation to do any weights and ended up just doing 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.9 mph.  What I’m hoping is that within one or two weeks my schedule will get more manageable and I’ll be able to get more accomplished at the gym.  For now, it may be mostly just placeholder activities like today’s.

Published in: on August 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, August 12

Twelve hours on the nose

I can say without any doubt that I worked exactly a 12-hour day today.  When I arrived at the office in the morning my car clock read 9:00 am on the nose, and because there was a meeting starting at nine I was highly cognizant of the exact time (the clock is about two minutes’ fast, so I wasn’t late).  When I got back into the car at the end of the day, the clock read – you guessed it – 9:00 pm on the nose.   This wasn’t planned, it just worked out that way.  I spent the intervening 12 hours more or less split between the office and the field.  Not as much driving as yesterday, with no trips to the East End.  Both of the sales appointments were in central Suffolk, and both resulted in sales.  One of them looked a bit shaky, the customer had to call back in the evening with bank account information before I could book the sale as completed, but it came through.  Combined with the activity from Tuesday and Wednesday the weekly sales were enough to qualify me for a healthy bonus and a new-agent achievement award.   Not to mention a very nice commission.  In fact, this week will be the most I’ve ever earned for a week in my life, by some considerable margin.  Of course not every week is likely to compare, especially in a couple of weeks when I’ll be strictly on my own without the manager helping me get started.  Even so, if my weekly earnings end up averaging just half of what I made this week, it will be a nice amount and I’ll be very happy.

One thing about the long day is that I didn’t end up going to the gym.  I’m more than a bit concerned that working long and irregular hours will make it difficult to stick with anything approaching a consistent gym schedule.  Even so, with Ultimate Fitness being open weekdays from 4:00 am until 11:00 pm, I’ll be able to find some time to go, even if I end up having to go some mornings.

Published in: on August 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 11

All over the map

Today probably set a record for the most miles covered in a single day on sales calls.  I say “probably” because I wasn’t keeping track of mileage, my best guess is that it was something in excess of 200 miles.  In an unusual step, I went to the gym in the morning, knowing that I wouldn’t be getting home until very late.  Some people enjoy  exercising in the morning, but I am very definitely not among their ranks.  Engaging in any sort of vigorous exercise much before noon is somehow uncivilized and indeed almost barbaric.   Still, when there’s no alternative, morning exercise is unavoidable.  I couldn’t bring myself to do any weights and instead ellipted at a fairly fast pace for 30 minutes.

I left for work at 11 am, first going to western Suffolk near the Nassau County line, then to the East End, then to eastern Suffolk but not the actual East End (in other words, west of the Shinnecock Inlet), and then to the northern part of the county.  This last part involved driving in some areas I’ve never previously seen during my 13 years on Long Island.  Development patterns in these parts were unusual – mostly woods, with some rather large housing developments standing out like clearings in the forest.  Like a patchwork of rural and suburban.  It was almost 10 pm by the time I got home, an 11-hour workday.  As it was a very lucative workday, I’m not about to complain.  Remember what I wrote the other day about all the Range Rovers in the East End?  If I keep earning consistently at this level – granted, a big if – within a few months I might be able to buy a Range Rover, if I wanted.  Which I don’t.

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, August 10

Long, but worth it

Today was definitely a long day in terms of both time and distance.  I got underway around 9:30 and didn’t get home until almost 8.  In the intervening ten and a half hours I made yet another trip to the East End, drove around there for quite a while, and then spent some time in the north-central part of Suffolk County.  I probably covered about 175 miles, though I wasn’t really keeping track of mileage, and a few of my stops were basically a waste of time … for example, a prospect who had been a no-show for last week’s appointment arrived 45 minutes late for today’s rescheduled appointment only to say that he wasn’t in the mood to talk about insurance.  Just wonderful.  Another address turned out to be nonexistent.  I’m not complaining, however, in part because these are to be expected in the insurance industry and most of all because one sale that did go through will yield a very nice commission.  Basically, this commission alone, representing about three hours’ work,  is equivalent to an entire week’s salary at a decent, lower-middle class job (bank teller, supermarket cashier, receptionist, that sort of thing), and that’s not counting my weekly base salary and bonus.   I’ve been in the field for less than two weeks for ABC Insurance and I’ve already made more than in two months at XYZ Insurance.

Some other activities tonight, so no gym.

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 3:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 9

The tradesman’s commuting pattern

I wasn’t planning on driving out to the East End today.  Instead, after a morning meeting at the office, which is located near Exit 60 on the Expressway, I was going to head home and do work over the telephone.  The thing is, what one plans to do and what one actually does aren’t always the same.  For a variety of reasons I ended up driving back to the East End around noon.  For the next five hours I drove around to some “lapsed” customers trying to set appointments.  It wasn’t as bad an experience as I feared, traffic being much lighter than it was on Friday (less Range Rover gridlock), and I got a couple of appointments set for later in the week.  When I drove back on the Sunrise Highway around 5:30, I noticed an interesting pattern in the traffic.  While it would be an exaggeration to say it was heavy, there was a lot more than I would have expected, mostly westbound.  What was even more noticeable was that a significant percentage of the westbound vehicles were trademen’s work trucks.  Apparently, the workers who serve the wealthy people in the Hamptons don’t by and large live in that area themselves. 

Gym: a fairly short session, more work on the heavy bag followed by some neutral grip pull-ups, 4 x 4.

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday, August 8

One thing I’ve seldom done lately is use the heavy bag at the gym.  Not for lack of motivation – most evening there have been kids’ boxing lessons going on in the boxing area, so I haven’t had access to the bag.  The area was empty this afternoon, so I took advantage of that fact and worked the heavy bag for a while.  I wasn’t using the round timer and in fact wasn’t really keeping track of my time at all.  However long my session was, it certainly was long enough to be quite a tough workout, easily equivalent to 30 minutes on the stationary cycle or elliptical and maybe a mile and a half on the treadmill.  Though it also was a lot less boring than any of those alternatives would have been!  I also did more neutral grip pull-ups: 3 x 4, 3 x 3.  In fact I’ve decided to do some pull-ups every time I go to the gym.  They’re the sort of exercise that can be done every day with minimal risk of overtraining.  I also did some fairly light deadlifts, 3 x 8 x 225, what I would like to do is deadlift twice a week, once heavy and once light.

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 2:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, August 7

After missing yesterday at the gym, I made up for it with a very decent upper-body session today.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 2 x 3 x 225, 2 x 235, 1 x 245, 1 x 245, 1 x 245,  2 x 3 x 225, 8 x 185.  Seventeen reps at 225 or above, well off my best but getting back up to it.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 4 x 4, 3 x 3.  Trap bar shrugs: 3 x 10 x 235.

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment