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Running Shorthanded!



Running Shorthanded:How to Lead When there are Not Enough Advisors to Help


Travel agency owners have a superpower. When demand is high and business is booming, they can swoop in and save the day.


No customer shall go unanswered” is etched into their DNA as if it was the first thing they learned about owning a travel business.


Yet, the question the moment calls for is, “Should I be doing this?”


What would happen if that customer went unanswered and instead you stepped back to consider what the real problem is you are facing?


If you can feel your pulse rise at the mere thought of letting a lead drop, keep reading!


When you are running shorthanded, saving the day is not as simple as closing a big lead.


The problem runs much deeper than that.


Unfortunately, it also means you are busy doing a hundred other things: Posting on social media, attending meetings, dealing with the line at your door, invoicing, reconciling commissions, finalizing groups, chasing suppliers for commissions, and getting clients out the door.


As one owner said to me this week, the same thing I have heard so often, “I have a big group leaving and once that gets off my plate I will have more time.”


I gently asked, … “and then what”  


She looked at me and paused, well,then I will start recruiting,only half convinced.


Running shorthanded costs far more than the lead that is going unanswered.


It is the opportunity cost when an owner does not have time to lead and grow their team.


We have the best intentions when we step in and save the day. We think we are helping advisors by taking away any friction that might get in their way.


All of this and yet our teams are still burning out.


 

You are not the solution to your team feeling overwhelmed.


Stepping in to save the day is a short-term fix, that eventually becomes a habit. The more you run that way the more you are expected to run that way and it becomes a vicious cycle.


Here are three systemic solutions to fix the vicious cycle.


  1. Get ruthless on your priorities.

Set a Monday morning meeting with yourself and decide what is your biggest priority. Get projects done quicker, know when good enough is good enough, and remove yourself from anything that is not both urgent and important.  


Time block priorities into your calendar and don’t cancel on yourself!


2. Put Your Team First

Most leaders run their teams with an 80/20 principle. They have a few superstars, including themselves carrying the load.


It’s time to get the entire team engaged by putting them first.


The tale of two owners:


Recently, I had one owner share they could not pass on a lead for a $56,000 Africa booking because their agent “was not ready”.  While another high trust owner had a brand new advisor who closed a $72,000 trip to Norway.


Two owners, two perspectives.  


I recommend the latter.


The most successful leaders have a growth mindset. They believe that everyone can do it, with the right coaching.


“You don’t have to be great to start,

you have to start to be great.”

Zig Zigler


Trust that you can coach someone through a challenging situation, rather than do it for them. Over time the training wheels can come off. When you let new advisors get on the bike and ride, they learn far faster, and get the thrill of accomplishment which is irreplaceable.  


If you have advisors on the team that are not engaged, don’t ignore it. Dig in and find out what is really going on with their goals and their conviction to achieve them. Lack of engagement is rarely what we think it is on the surface.


This is your advisors’ travel business. You are there to help them make it successful, not to do it for them.


3. Recruit, recruit, recruit.

To break the cycle of stepping in when you are shorthanded, recruiting new talent is the best long term solution.


New advisors bring a fresh perspective, a brand new circle of influence, and some much needed bench strength to meet the rising demand in travel.  


There has never been a better time to join the travel industry. According to the US Labor and statistics, travel advisor jobs will grow by 6% annually until 2032, adding 8600 jobs a year. That is over 68.000 new advisors coming on stream. 


It is time to make those numbers work for you!


Enjoy the journey! 

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