Often I speak to agents looking to grow their agencies with the hope of making more money in the short term. However, every business owner needs an exit plan. Whether to collect recurring paychecks while sitting on the beach, sell it, or pass it down to family member, you probably don't want to run an agency forever. No matter what option you choose, your goal should be to increase the value of your business through more sales and longer customer retention.
There are hundreds of thousands of articles out there talking about improving the people, the product and the process within your agency to increase its sell-ability. However, many of these articles fail to mention a critical part of the process... technology.
Consolidation is happening.
Consolidation of the insurance industry is happening. Successful agencies are being snapped up at a surprising rate. ITC sees this happen all the time within our own customers. When I reach out to the new ownership, I ask, 'Why did you purchase this agency?' I always get standard business responses: Synergy. Profitable. Strategic. Until one day, I heard something different. Technology. That's right. They purchased an agency because the agency had invested in technology.
How technology helps.
If you are looking to sell your agency whether today, tomorrow or 30 years from now, you should invest in technology yesterday. Systems such as agency marketing automation systems, comparative rating sales systems, and agency management systems are essential to increasing your valuation.
Marketing Automation Systems
Your agency should invest in a sales and marketing automation system that creates a consistent contact, follow up and retention workflow for both your prospects and existing clients. By increasing the number of policies you close and retain the value of your business will increase. A few systems that you should look at include Velocify for lead management; AgencyBuzz for automated agency marketing follow up and retention via email, print and text message; and Insurance Website Builder for a fantastic insurance agency website so you can stand out.
Comparative Rating Sales Systems
A comparative rater is more than a tool to get insurance rates from multiple companies at once. It is an intimate part of the sales process. Beyond allowing you to quickly rate a risk, your rater should also integrate with your lead and marketing systems. As you work the prospect through the sales process, your comparative rating system needs to communicate to the prospect, keeping her in the loop about the policy you have quoted. It should also collect valuable marketing, sales, and process tracking information to better sell policies and train and manage your producers.
Agency Management System
How often do you get a request from a client that requires you to look up some information in your insurance client management system? Rarely. Then why do you spend so much money on it? Data.
While looking up current clients is great, your agency management system is a wealth of information waiting you to mine it. For example, your management system should contain every prospect, client and lost client you have ever worked with. Why not reach back out to them? Many agencies have hired a person to reach out to these old contacts and re-engage them with the agency. What about developing a better understanding of your client/carrier performance? What is your retention by carrier? Which ones perform? Which ones don't?
You have it, use it.
Technology is there to help your agency throughout the entire lifecycle of your clients. Often there are significant costs relating to acquiring and maintaining it in the form of servers, workstations and monthly service fees. You should be taking full advantage of the technology you have so make sure to reach out to your technology vendor. Ask them about new features. Ask about features that you might not be using or could use more effectively.
As a technology vendor ourselves, we are tied to your success. Let us help.
About the Author
As president, Laird Rixford is responsible for sharing the vision and direction of the company with its customers, vendors and affiliate companies. He oversees the direction for each of ITC’s products and the company’s sales and marketing department. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.Follow on Twitter More Content by Laird Rixford