TOP 5 WAYS AGENCIES ARE FINDING SUCCESS
Everything from trust and compensation to education and engagement
Fewer than 20% of agencies attend career fairs. Fewer than
30% offer internships. Get on college campuses and even high school campuses and show your face.
By Michael Wayne
Earlier this month, I read an article that analyzed AM Best’s most recent market segment report for U.S. property and casualty insurance. The piece’s title explained last year plainly, “2022 In Review: It Was Bad.” A 40-year high in inflation and the second-costliest catastrophe event on record—Hurricane Ian—were overriding factors. Yet, 67% of agents’ businesses grew in 2022, according to a recent survey of independent insurance agents.
Without a doubt, times are tough. The earthquakes that rocked Turkey and Syria in February—killing at least 53,000 people, displacing approximately 2.4 million people, destroying more than 200,000 buildings, affecting some 24 million people, and causing property damage of at least $55 billion—will only exacerbate the already hard market. In our industry, there is a lot of work to be done finding solutions at a time when human resources to create those solutions and implement them are low.
Worse yet, “solutions” that actually help clients realize lower costs are extremely difficult or impossible to come by. That last statement may come across as negative, but it’s reality. Last week, while meeting with our advertising team, they raised the question of how we can beat our competitors at this point when it comes to premiums. The response was that we can’t.
In promoting ourselves to our clients and to prospects, the primary thing we can do at this point is empathize with them. Yet, as stated earlier, a majority of agents’ business grew last year. Here are the top five ways they are finding success.
Tried and true methods
Like every other industry where sales are involved, insurance will always be about relationships. When it comes to establishing trust with clients, there are multiple pillars to build upon, but two of the strongest are unparalleled service and providing second-to-none subject-matter expertise.
Clients want to know that they are receiving the best of everything. Establish that they are and then continue to fulfill the expectations that you set.
Educate clients and prospects
One revelation that seemingly pops up again and again is that many homeowners who make upgrades to their residences don’t understand the necessity of telling their agent and updating their coverage. It stands to reason that some business owners, like these same homeowners, lack this comprehension as well. If that is the case, there are untold numbers of organizations that are not adequately protected from numerous risks. Make certain your clients understand what they can have an effect on and what they need.
Employees don’t know what they don’t know. Ensure that they are taking advantage of whatever marketing and training support your insurance-carrier partners are offering, and ask those partners to increase it in whatever ways possible. Of course, the other half of that equation—making certain that you and your employees are absorbing what it offered—is paramount.
Offer better compensation somehow
We all know that it’s easier to poach talent than cultivate it. One of the biggest impediments to finding and retaining great people is compensation. If you don’t pay top dollar to your employees and your employees are the reason for your success, someone else is going to eventually take notice and swipe them from you.
If you can’t pay more, find other means of compensation that will make your employees think before jumping the fence. Do they want to work remotely? Are you able to provide more personal leave? How are you showing your appreciation above and beyond their paycheck? Express to your employees that they aren’t easily replaceable, that they do matter to your success, and that you are interested in them being an active part of that success.
Show your face
Networking is fundamental to every aspect of making your agency successful. If you are not an active part of the community, not serving in industry working groups, and not participating in association groups that matter to your clients and the prospects you hope to acquire, you are in a losing battle. This takes time, and for smaller agencies, you have to figure out where to best allocate that time. Simply showing up on someone’s doorstep or participating in an RFP (request for proposal) just doesn’t cut it. You have to be a known commodity.
The same is true for attracting talent. While it may be easier for larger organizations to pluck the talent that they want from smaller agencies, there is another way. More and more universities are offering sales training and even insurance degrees. Fewer than 20% of agencies attend career fairs. Fewer than 30% offer internships. Get on college campuses and even high school campuses and show your face.
The perception of insurance has never been that we are an industry that is thrilling, exciting, or lucrative. You have the opportunity to change that perception and establish your agency as one of a very select few at this point that is able to provide a great paying career path with tons of ways to actually shape that path.
Michael Wayne is an insurance freelance writer.