THE TOP 5 INDUSTRY POTHOLES TO AVOID
Practical insights to help ensure that you don’t fail
Even if you are the greatest insurance expert in the world, if you can’t express your
knowledge in a way that others are receptive to and understand,
your expertise is unlikely to amount to what you are hoping it will.
By Michael Wayne
Organizations come into existence for a variety of reasons, one of the most common being that someone has realized that a portion of the public—or all of it—requires a good or service and then takes action to fill the current void.
Then there are those entrepreneurs that take the next step: ensuring that their creation remains in demand. How they do so is incredibly varied. Take Michelin for example.
In 1888, French brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin began making tires for bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. They started manufacturing tires for automobiles in the ensuing decade. All was going well, but the brothers, like most business owners, were intent on greater profitability.
The public had received their product well as a quality investment. Michelin tires were durable and would last a long time. Therein was the issue for the brothers—automobile owners did not have to buy tires often enough. The brothers had to figure out a way not to compromise their product, while also increasing demand. They did exactly that.
Twelve years after the brothers started manufacturing tires, they published the first Guide Michelin. Conceived when the entirety of France had fewer than 3,000 cars, the guide provided travelers useful information—maps, where to fill up, how to change a tire.
As time went on, the guide evolved and, in 1926, its popular restaurant section featured fine dining establishments marked with a single star. By 1931, dining establishments were awarded zero, one, two, or three stars.
The concept had been simple—the more people had a desire to drive places, the more they would actually drive; the more that they drove, the quicker they would need to replace their tires. Ultimately, however, the guide took on a life of its own and spawned another industry.
Guide Michelin became a trusted source of information, one capable of making, or breaking, the reputation of dining establishments by adding or subtracting a star from their guide entry.
Andre and Edouard are long gone, but Michelin tires and guides are going strong 135 years after the former first came into being. You may not be too concerned with a business legacy that spans well beyond your lifetime, but you’re no doubt thinking about today, tomorrow, and the near future at least. What are you doing to ensure that you don’t fail? Here are the top five industry potholes that could cause a flat if you don’t avoid them:
Zero to 60 takes time. When you’re just starting out, you’re not going to have a million-dollar book of business. In reality, this isn’t likely to happen for some time. Exceptions to the rule exist, but unrealistic expectations more times than not are harmful.
Even if your premiums are on par with a seasoned vet, that doesn’t mean you are going to be taking home the same paycheck. You need to have “great expectations” for what is to come through the steady building of recurring renewals.
You have to give it gas for it to go. Sales don’t just happen. You are in the business of relationship building. Frankly, the overwhelming majority of organizations are, one way or another.
You will hear “no” more frequently than “yes,” and you must develop yourself into a trusted brand that prospects will trust, eventually seek out, and tell others about to be in a situation where you can foster relationships in a shorter amount of time. You have to put in the effort to learn how to sell.
Even if you are the greatest insurance expert in the world, if you can’t express your knowledge in a way that others are receptive to and understand, your expertise is unlikely to amount to what you are hoping it will.
Offer rides to those who need them. This one is a bit related to the sales aspect. People need to know you are in the industry. You have to tell them—starting with family and friends. Ask them to tell their friends that you can provide solutions for their insurance needs. Give them collateral to share—digital and printed.
Get involved in your community. Network. Be a part of associations, both civic and others that are directly connected to the types of organizations that interest you most. If you have a vested role in the success of a niche and others recognize that, you’re more likely to be seen as an oasis for advice, instead of an outsider simply looking to add to their book.
Accidents don’t just happen. As the saying goes, “if it were easy, everybody would do it.” In this case, we’re talking about the daily grind that comes with the job.
When you aren’t available to take calls, you have to make certain you are returning calls. If contracts need to be signed, paperwork submitted, and online forms filled out, you have to take care of it. Otherwise, the calls will stop. Worse yet, you may have more calls to contend with than you ever dreamed of because a client is holding you responsible for not properly handling their account or a claim.
Cruise control is not an option. You have to constantly be checking your mirrors for tailgaters who want to pass you and take the lead. If you aren’t looking out to see what’s ahead or behind, you’re going to cause an accident.
Service with a smile. One of the best ways to alienate a client is to only talk to them when it’s time for a renewal or when they have a claim. You may be the best prospector the insurance industry has ever known, but if you concentrate on commissions, instead of concentrating on the relationships you are supposed to be building, you are going to find yourself on the downside of that prospecting peak quickly.
Your clients are relying on you to know their business or their situation better than they do when it comes to coverage. Give them reason to consider you the best option because they see that you care and that you are providing exactly what they need. This is how you focus on renewals and not commissions.
Buckle up. The road may be bumpy at times, but they’re a lot easier to navigate the more you know them and the more you drive.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.