Six and a half months.
It’s been six and a half months since the pandemic forced us out of our normal lives and into our homes using only Zoom and social media to stay connected.
Hard to believe it’s been that long and even harder to imagine when it will end and what life will look like at that point.
There has been a lot of stress and tragedy from the pandemic. But, it has also forced us to slow down, breathe, and look around us.
Many have used the extra time at home for those things we always promised we’d do when we had more time. Lose weight. Learn a new skill or hobby. Read that stack of books. Reorganize a closet. Watch too much Netflix, ahem.
But, what about at work? Has business slowed leaving you with more time? Or, maybe like me, you have more time because you’re not traveling as much.
Now is not the time to take it easy. To take a little extra break. Now is the time to do things you’ve always wanted to do. Now is the time to work your hardest.
Why? Because at some point this pandemic will end. While I can’t predict what it will look like, I do know that the economy will pick up. Commerce will return. Those agents who put in the work now will earn dividends when it does.
Now is the time to work on your business. Here are a few ideas if you’re not sure where to start.
Call Your Clients
Get your whole agency involved and reach out to every client.
Every. Single. One.
Not to sell them something, but to check in. See how they’re doing. Use it as an opportunity to confirm their information in your agency management system. Your data is one of your biggest assets. If you plan to sell your agency in the future, data that is incorrect or incomplete can hurt your valuation. So, start cleaning up that data!
Also, ask your clients how they prefer to hear from you and make a note of that. So, going forward you are contacting them the way they prefer. That’s how you start building a good customer experience. And a good customer experience is a big step in improving retention (and your valuation).
Inspect What You Expect
As an agency owner or principal, it’s important to look at the activity logs or reports in your technology. Yes, you may trust your staff, but you still need to verify what is being done or said in your agency.
Beyond verifying that things are getting done, this is an opportunity to identify weak areas and coach your staff.
What is the average time to quote in your agency? How many quotes haven’t been closed and why? What is your closing ratio by producer?
Pulling these types of reports in your comparative rater will tell you a lot about your agency performance and show you who the outliers are. Then, you can dig into what may be going on and why. After you have a clear understanding, then you can make a plan to make your sales process stronger.
In your agency management system, look at the activity logs. Listen to calls, if you’ve got a phone system that records calls. How is your service department handling their calls and requests? How are they at diffusing an upset client? Are they asking happy clients to leave your agency a review on Google or Yelp?
Looking at this information can help you see the opportunities for coaching to improve your agency’s sales, service, and retention.
Examine Your Technology
Insurance agency software has come a long way in the last 30 years. If you haven’t evaluated your technology in the last few years, now is a great time to do so.
Do your current systems integrate? Or, is your agency having to do workarounds or double entry to get data from one system to another? Do you have processes that could be automated and take some workload off you or your staff?
Conduct a deep dive into your current systems and really understand their capabilities. It’s not uncommon to outgrow a system you’ve been using for a long time. Particularly if the vendor isn’t continuing to evolve the platform to meet the needs of a modern insurance agency.
By staying on a system that your organization has outgrown, you’re only holding your agency back from potential efficiency and growth.
Invest in Digital Marketing
I’ve seen it many times. When business gets slow, marketing is one of the first things cut. I can understand that reflex. Revenue is not coming in like expected so expenses need to be cut. That makes sense if you see marketing as an expense. But, I see marketing as an investment in your future.
One thing that has come out of this pandemic is proof that consumers want and are willing to go online for just about anything, including insurance. By investing in digital marketing, you can capture attention and build a brand while others are shying away. Those who do invest in digital marketing right now will be in a great position when the economy turns around.
One of the biggest pros in digital marketing’s favor is the ability to measure its effectiveness. So, be sure to track the results of any digital marketing efforts you embark on. You’ll know what is working and what is not. So, you can focus your time and budget on the ideas that do work.
Life as an agency owner is busy. But, you can’t hide behind the busyness right now. Sure, this has been a hard year for us all.
But, it’s also a gift because you don’t have to be reactionary. It’s a gift to move forward and try things a different way. You have the time to really focus on your agency.
Look down deep and think ahead. Dream of the possibilities. Remind your clients why they chose you. Dig into the activity in your agency and coach your staff so you can all improve. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new marketing ideas.
Never give up.
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