Invest in technology to hire and retain
team members in a difficult market
Is your agency attracting
young talent? If not, then maybe there
is something missing in your agency culture.
By Chris Paradis
Invest in technology to hire and retain team members in a difficult market
We all know that the most valuable asset that we have in our agency is people. There is no question in my mind that our people—and the relationships they maintain with our customers and each other—matter in a big way; the stronger our relationships, the more successful our agency.
Great relationships are the key ingredient to having a great agency culture.
Fellow agency owners I meet all say that their agency’s work environment—or agency culture—plays the largest role in retaining great teammates. These same agency owners are some of the fastest growing agencies in the country.
My question to you as an agency owner: Is your agency attracting young talent? If not, then maybe there is something missing in your agency culture.
What we all need to do is put ourselves in the place of prospective employees and see if we would work for our agency. If the answer is yes, then why?
If the answer is no, we must also ask why—and be prepared to take necessary action to change so that we can attract talent and change the no to a yes.
Let’s start with technology. Technology and data are hot words in our industry today, so let’s consider our agency’s tech stack. The reason I wanted to look first at tech/data is because this is the key to attracting talent.
I’ll start with a great piece of technology called DONNA, from Aureus Analytics, which assists my personal lines renewal specialists. The tool helps them understand what they might be walking into (is the client happy or not and why?), so the specialist is prepared before reaching out to clients. The other aspect is that it also helps them identify other opportunities within an account.
You’re probably saying, “Okay, how does this help culture or attract talent?” Well, if you can help your renewal specialist be proactive and not reactive—like at most agencies, it helps keep clients happy versus getting angry phone calls or having to return calls to angry clients.
At Paradiso Insurance, this piece of technology has played a huge role in attracting new and young talent and in retaining our great teammates.
Another great piece of tech we’ve used is Tarmika, which has helped our small commercial lines team turn around quotes in minutes instead of hours—or in some cases days. This not only has been very helpful in retaining great teammates but it also has played a huge role in the bottom line.
Next, let’s talk about the insurance agency app and its role. First off, less than five percent of your competitors even have an app, so just having one sets you apart as being different.
Next is the ability to connect with clients through their smart phones. We all know that the world is addicted to cell phones, and in today’s society most everyone would rather text than pick up the phone. The app helps clients remain happy because they love to communicate with your agency through the app; this in turn allows your teammates to communicate with the client in the way they want—and we all know that happy clients play a huge role in culture.
In our case, our app has not only helped us attract young talent but has been a great piece of technology in servicing our clients.
Open to change
Next up is flexibility. In order to be a great agency owner, you need to be flexible and willing to adapt.
Technology helps assist you in doing that. For example, electronic signature technology and VOIP telephone systems have played a huge role in allowing your teammates to work from home. We as owners need to be flexible in letting staff work remotely, or at least allowing them to work a combination of in-office and at-home work schedules.
The better we embrace technology, the more flexible our agency becomes.
Next is culture. Culture is a word thrown around every chance we get, but as we know, talk is cheap. What are we doing to build the agency culture?
I think too many of us are looking for magic bullets; however, most of the time it’s the little things the can make a difference.
Once again, we use technology and people to help bring a positive experience into our culture. For my agency, we are on EOS (entrepreneurial operating system—if you want to learn more, read the book Traction by Gino Wickman).
In conjunction with that, we use a great tech tool called Bloom Growth. This helps our management team stay aligned and up to date with each other’s roles and responsibilities.
When I think of people, I think of Peggy Corbett and Carey Wallace—consultants we engage to assist our teammates. Both have played a huge role in helping our employees improve. Remember, your team wants to do a great job to do its best, so you need to invest in them. That investment goes a long way in helping agency culture.
The last piece I wanted to talk about is onboarding and training your teammates.
Yes, I’m going back to technology again, and this time I’m talking about the Intranet. This has helped us attract more talent than any other technology; it has also helped our agency compete against the big shops.
This Intranet is all about training and onboarding new teammates. This piece of tech is in your Microsoft suite, which is a free tool if you’re using Microsoft. It houses video, written info, and PDFs of all of our processes and procedures.
This not only has attracted great talent but has played a huge role in retaining our team because no one is spending all day, every day, training.
If you want a better agency culture or to attract new talent, the way is simple: Invest in technology and in your people and your agency will not only grow but you will build a strong agency culture in this very difficult and frustrating insurance market.
Chris Paradiso is president of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, headquartered in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. His agency won PIA National’s Excellence in Social Media Award in 2013. He also heads up Paradiso Presents, LLC, which provides social media consulting, seminars and workshops to help agencies thrive in the online marketing world. Contact Chris via email at email@example.com.