We still have a few shopping days left before Christmas. But, it's not too early to start thinking about those New Year's resolutions.
Normally, we think of resolutions as something to do with our personal lives. Like lose weight, get out of debt or declutter and get organized.
But what about your agency? Have you ever considered setting a professional resolution for yourself or your agency?
There's something inspirational about resolutions, especially this time of year. The turning of the calendar from one year to the next is a perfect time for reflection. To reflect on what you've done, what's worked, what hasn't and what you want to change.
With everything happening in the industry, you might set a resolution or two to motivate you. Because status quo won't last long.
Here are five resolutions to inspire your goals for change and growth in 2017.
Rise to the insurtech challenge
The insurtech movement is a reality. A few years ago, you could google the term and wouldn't find any results. Now, there are almost 500,000 results. That should tell you something about what's happening in our industry.
Not all these startups are the same. Some want to remove independent agents from the insurance transaction completely. Some want to work with agents to provide consumers with a better experience.
Optimism is not going to be enough to compete with these startups that want to take a piece of your pie. You have to be willing to change.
Take an honest look at your agency. What can you change? What can you improve? Where are you losing potential leads? Why are you not closing sales?
These are the holes you need to fix. If you don't, you're driving consumers to these startups who will give them what they want.
Work ON your business, not in it
Time is the one resource you can't get more of. As an agency owner, the best way to get the most out of your time is to invest it in your business.
You can't direct the symphony if you are always playing the violin.
The owners of agencies that are growing and succeeding don't focus only on sales or service. Instead, they're mainly focused on these three areas: employee development, marketing and operations.
Hire the best person for the job. Train your team in your processes and operations, and coach them. Then get out of their way so they can do their thing.
The top agencies know that marketing is an investment of money and time. They also know it's an investment in their future. What are you currently doing to market your agency? What can you be doing better?
What technology, agency management system and comparative rater are you currently using? Are you using it fully? Are you taking advantage of all the features that are available to you?
Make it easy for people to do business with you
Consumers always have and always will go the path of least resistance. Technology has made shopping for any product and service easier, including insurance.
There's a lot of talk about insurtech startups disrupting and changing our industry. But, the true revolution is coming from consumers and what they want.
It's not just about meeting expectations. It's about how easy you are to work with. Not making the experience to buy from you easy will kill your opportunity to win business.
Look again at the insurtech startups. These companies saw a huge gap between what we offer consumers and what consumers want. They're focusing on making the research, buying, and claims processes easy and transparent.
You can do the same things they're doing. The same insurance technology they are using is available to you. The first step is to take a hard look at your agency operations.
Here's one example. Do you force consumers to print, sign, scan and then email (or worse, fax) that form back to you? Or, are you using esignatures? Which do you think is easier? Which would your clients prefer?
If you don't know, ask. Use surveys to find out what your clients think of your agency. Listen to what they say and be willing to change.
Focus on securing your data
This resolution goes along with working on your business, not in it. But, it's such an important topic that I want to talk about it separately.
Data security is crucial to your agency. You don't have to be a large corporation to be a target. If you don't start taking steps to secure your data, you are risking everything.
Start using stronger passwords. Create a password policy for your agency and enforce it.
Look at the technology you use. Are you using old computers? Get new ones. Are you using software that is not updated or no longer supported? Update and patch or upgrade.
What does your vendors' security policy look like? Do they offer two-factor authentication? Are they doing security audits?
Data security costs money. But a data breach will cost you more. Start focusing on data security for the future of your agency.
Seize learning opportunities
You don't know what you don't know. And that can be dangerous.
There are many resources available to you. Some you can access from your office. Like this blog, podcasts or webinars.
Some resources you have to get out of the office. Maybe even travel. There are many conferences and other events in the industry you can attend.
Like ITC Agent Conference, April 20-21, 2017 in the Dallas area. We've packed the two-day event with informative breakouts and fantastic speakers. You'll get tips and ideas you can implement in your agency. Plus, you'll have opportunities to learn from other successful agents.
(Register in December, and we'll enter you into a drawing for a free SEO consultation. It'll be a one-on-one session at the conference with one of our experts. AND you'll save $100 on the standard registration price with the early early bird discount. Don't wait though. Both the drawing and discount end December 31, 2016.)
Use the resources available to you to learn and improve your agency. Find a conference that offers content on topics you want to learn more about. Invest in learning what you need to so you can grow your agency.
If you're feeling overwhelmed about the challenges ahead of you, set a resolution for your agency. You might find yourself inspired to make the changes you need to make.
The Modern Agency monthly blog series discusses various topics related to the success and growth of independent insurance agencies in the modern market.
About the Author
As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder