Club Insider

In Touch With Tom "Stuie" Henderson

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Tom Tom "Stuie" Henderson

Publisher's Note: Tom Henderson, a good friend and one of my high school classmates at Rome Free Academy (RFA) in Rome, New York, agreed to participate in this interview. We explored several different motivational concepts and manpower development ideas that Tom used for decades to help train and encourage his associates in the competitive insurance and investment business. One of the ideas that we touched on during our discussion was The KASH Formula. This acronym stands for Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits. These are the four building blocks in the development of any successful business, and Tom taught these principles to his many associates at the Equitable Life Assurance Society during his highly successful career. I believe some of Tom's thoughts and suggestions might be transferable to you as you strive to make your club business stronger, more productive and more profitable. Read on and learn with me as I get in touch with my good friend from high school, Tom Henderson. His son-in-law, Campbell Gerrish, is the manager of one of the two locations of The Ridge Athletic Clubs in Bozeman, Montana.

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Norm Cates (NC) - Tom, your resume, work experience and industry activity over 30+ plus years in the financial services industry seem to indicate that you have had some success attracting, training and retaining good quality people. Why do you think this is so important, and what are some of the implications?
Tom Henderson (TH) - Well, Norm, you are asking an excellent question. People are the life blood of any organization, and attracting and retaining good people is an imperative. From a cost perspective alone, it is essential for any business in any industry to do their utmost to find the right people with whom to work. And, keeping them over long periods of time has enormous benefits for the bottom line. Consider the negative effects of constant employee turnover. Of course, the 'churn' has to impact your profitability! The process carries a heavy expense when you take into consideration the staff time and money required to recruit, hire and train a new employee. I estimate that the cost to replace someone could be between 30% and 75% of the salary in question. But, just as important, the negative impact on an associate's morale, and the unfavorable impression you convey to your clients and customers, can be a deadly hidden cost, too.

If customers begin to go elsewhere because there is no continuity and the personality of your organization is constantly changing, it is a double whammy. Who is the winner in this scenario? My guess is that it's your competitor. Therefore, it is vital to invest in the most important asset of any business: Your People. An old saying goes something like this, 'If you can't find the time and money to do it right, when are you going to find the time and money to do it over?' Finding the right people can provide the power that propels your organization to prosperity. This is within everyone's control if the proper steps are taken, and your ROI will be well worth the effort.

NC - What are some of the methods you used to hire the right kind of person and to address the concerns, fears and trepidations one might have when they are deciding to enter such a complex industry?
TH - Almost 50 years ago, in 1969, I entered the life insurance industry. I knew absolutely nothing about the products, nor how to go about selling them. I didn't know one person when I moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and I lived in the YMCA until I had enough money to rent a one-room flat above a bar. In short, I was petrified. Yes, I was receiving some very basic training that the company offered, but even at the age of 22, I knew this wasn't enough. So, I enrolled in a fundamental sales course offered by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association. Tucked within the curriculum of this course was the key that unlocked my future, first as an agent and then in management.

This little miracle was called The KASH Formula. It stood for:

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