Think Hiring a Pro is Expensive? Hire an Amateur

October 22, 2014 Laird Rixford

A man drawing his website idea

Are you looking to update your insurance agency website? If you haven't already, now is the time. The insurance market has changed; more agencies and carriers are online to take advantage of the growing opportunities. The first step is finding an insurance web design firm, which is where things can go horribly wrong.

You might be inclined to work with a local firm or small online shop that offers a great price and local service. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I applaud that decision. However, this might not be the wisest choice as I can attest through my own personal experience of creating websites for agencies on a local and cheap basis.

My Story

In 1999 I started a company that developed websites for financial institutions, such as banks, mortgage companies and insurance agencies. I was local. I could come to your office, sit down and design your website to your exact specifications. I would return to the home office and write the HTML, code the forms, design the graphics, and write the content. I would spend hours on your website. I worked a lot longer than I ever billed you for. The relationship worked well.

Then I sold more customers. My new customers needed my time as much as my current customers. My quality waned as I repeated this process over and over again. The new customers pushed my design abilities and time to the limit. I was no longer able to give my original customers the level of service they initially enjoyed. Not only did this lack of service cause me to lose business, my customers also risked losing business because the latest products were not on their websites. My skills, or lack thereof, were showing me as I was... an amateur.

Growing Up

Then I heard the piece of advice that changed my career forever.

'Hire people smarter and better than you.'

It hit home. I was just okay at web development and graphic design. As long as I was doing everything, the quality I provided was only ever going to be just okay. For me to get the next level, I would have to hire people who were better than I was. So I hired an in-house designer and a developer. Overnight the quality of my services increased substantially. My customers noticed this significant increase immediately. They began to tell others, and my firm was recognized for developing great looking and functional websites.

Around 2004, I decided to focus exclusively on the insurance industry. With my new mentality, I hired and consulted with subject matter experts skilled in how to market insurance online. They reviewed our websites, and once again I was revealed as an amateur. Our websites had the wrong calls to action, poor workflows, legal/compliance issues, and ineffective content. We revamped our websites once more with this new information. Now we were creating some of the best insurance agency websites around. They looked great. They worked fantastic. They performed beyond our customers' expectations. I was now a professional.

Focus on the Experience

With every new hire, each new experience, each lesson learned... the cost to our customers continued to rise. The websites for my new customers cost significantly more than my first customers. Our websites were starting to get expensive. Our customers were paying for our experience, our skills and our protection of their online presence.

Before the time of WordPress, good content management systems were hard to find. Finding one for the insurance industry was impossible. Therefore, I decided to roll all of our expertise in launching insurance websites into a product that allowed me to not focus on the backend and features but upon the design and marketing of the website. Insurance Website Builder was born.

With the platform built, when we talk to prospective clients, we focus not on the functionality but on good design, search engine fitness, content, calls to action, good work flow and easy-to-use contact forms. We discuss the back-end features, such as content management, lead delivery and security. This allows us to launch a website quickly, efficiently and cost consciously.

Lessons Learned

Hiring a professional website designer might be expensive. However, you are paying for something that goes beyond look and feel. As I mentioned before, you are getting all of that professional's experiences. This is an intangible that is hard to identify. When reviewing different website designers, ask to see their completed projects within your industry. Speak to those customers. Test their websites. And of course, you could always come talk to us.

Have a story of your own to tell? Leave a comment below, and I'll answer it.


About the Author

Laird Rixford

As CEO, Laird Rixford is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Rixford has a proven executive management track record and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and insurance technology. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.

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