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The $40,000 olive: A Lesson from American Airlines

Why the commercial insurance sector should spend time saving time.


When it comes to operational efficiency, the $40,000 olive offers up serious food for thought. 

Around 30 years ago, American Airlines hit upon a cost-saving idea. Through analysis, they established that by removing a single olive from every passenger’s salad, they would save $40,000 per year, without affecting passenger experience. Factoring in inflation, this would be a yearly saving of around $100,000 today. 

It goes to show that the cumulative effect of small changes can be huge.  

For brokers, the ‘olive’ is time. Small changes to working practices can unlock micro time savings, and while five minutes saved here or there may not be noticed, the cumulative effect could be hours per week, which could amount to weeks per month, or indeed, months per year. 

How Brokers can streamline operations

Broker Insights Head of Commercial Development, Andrea Wells, provides following examples of small adjustments that can yield significant benefits, contributing to streamlined operations and enhanced cost-efficiency: 

  • Effort v Return   

For both brokers and insurers, one clear area to address is the time and effort taken processing and following up on prospective proposals, which can be disproportionate to the value generated. By moving towards targeted engagement with markets that have an appetite for the risk, the waste can be practically eliminated, saving time for both parties and freeing up resources for more impactful tasks. Try the Broker Insights time-saving calculator and find out how many hours could be saved.  

  • Process Streamlining  

By streamlining processes through digital tools and automation, such as the engagement channels within Vision which allow brokers and insurers to communicate directly about upcoming renewals, organisations can significantly reduce the time required to perform routine tasks. This then allows them to focus on value-added activities such as client engagement. 

  • Time Management 

By implementing time-saving strategies through the use of technology, organisations can deliver a quality service while maximising efficiency. For example, Vision supports a client-centric approach to renewal management, helping to optimise internal processes to enhance client service while freeing up time and resources that can be reallocated to high-priority tasks such as commercial development and client engagement. 

Resource optimisation and time efficiency

While at first glance, American Airlines‘ olive-saving strategy might seem unrelated to the world of commercial insurance brokers, the underlying lesson of resource optimisation and time efficiency is hugely relevant. Just as the airline’s minor adjustment resulted in substantial annual savings, insurance brokers can achieve significant time savings by embracing process optimisation, effective  resource allocation, and a client-centric approach, positioning themselves to deliver exceptional service while making the most of their valuable time and resources. 

To discover the time you could save by fully utilising Broker Insights Vision in your workflow, visit the broker time-saving calculator.

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