Sydney-based Rick Mapperson is Founder and Managing Director of personal insurance brokerage small business Rick Mapperson & Associates. Rick has been insuring people, particularly small business owners, for 20 years. In this Q&A, Rick explains how he combines his skills as a licensed Financial Planner and his experience as the co-founder of an Australian charity focused on families to better understand the best interests of his clients.
My Business: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started in business?
Rick Mapperson: I wish I had been aware of all of the challenges that are involved in starting up a business. However, I’ve found confronting these challenges to be extremely rewarding, and I think it’s something that everyone who starts up a business has to go through, almost as a rite of passage.
MB: What are your most effective work habits?
RM: I believe setting definitive goals and working towards those goals until they are achieved is an extremely important work habit and I contribute this to the success I’ve experienced in my field. Every week and month I have financial goals and other measurable goals that I work hard to exceed. It keeps me motivated and also helps me keep track of business growth.
MB: Best business decision you’ve ever made?
RM: Employing a PR and marketing agency to offer me some direction and to help take my business to another level. They have more than paid for their services through the resulting increase in sales. My business has also grown a result of me hiring a Personal Assistant, which gives me more time to work ‘on’ my business.
MB: What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in business? How did you fix it?
RM: My biggest mistake was aiming too low when I first started the business. I’ve since learned to aim higher by setting goals and consistently working towards them until they have been achieved, thereby making way for new goals.
MB: How do you delight customers?
RM: Customers have high expectations for us to be proactive in keeping their insurances up to date and also for our products and services to be competitively priced. So, we aim to delight our customers by ensuring we’re always one step ahead when it comes to changes to insurance policies and pricing. I contact them with options and suggestions for better cover and even cheaper prices when available, before they need to contact me.
MB: Share your number one sales technique with us.
RM: It’s important for business owners to be confident in order to close sales. Many fear rejection and lack the ability to actually ask for a sale. Therefore, it is highly important that sales assistants and even business owners are well trained in order to be knowledgeable and confident in selling products and services. I always look at the individual in front of me and if I identify an area where their insurance is insufficient or outdated, I don’t hesitate to ask for the sale because it’s in the customer’s best interests for me to do so.
MB: Favourite piece of business technology? Why?
RM: I wouldn’t be able to cope without my smartphone. It allows me to stay in touch with clients and work colleagues and it also helps me to keep on top of things in and outside the office. Clients have the right to expect quick responses to their queries, and being out of the office can no longer be a reason for delays.
MB: Best tip for managing people?
RM: For a business to be successful, it’s important that management takes the time to properly evaluate its employees and offer feedback. This is the only way that employees learn from their mistakes and get recognised for activities they have performed well.
MB: What’s more important in business: passion or preparation? Why?
RM: Passion. You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you’re just doing something for the sake of doing something then your lack of enthusiasm will eventually be uncovered and you won’t experience the success that you might have in another area where you have more of a vested interest. In addition to my business, I’m also passionate about helping people who would otherwise not have a voice and whose needs often go unmet – this compelled me to found a charity called Breakthrough Houses. Ultimately, passion motivates me to do well, which involves good preparation.
MB: If someone gave you $100,000 and said, “Invest this in your business by the end of the week – or lose it”, what would you do?
RM: I would give a large portion of it to Breakthrough Houses, which is a charity I co-founded and am able to support with my business profits. With the remaining money, I would employ an additional sales person.
Follow @mybusinessau on Twitter for breaking stories throughout the day.