ITC CEO Laird Rixford talks about common insurance agency mistakes and how you can fix them.
I expect that when you first opened your agency you were optimistic about the future. You knew the only thing preventing you from hitting goals was yourself.
Then things started to change.
It may have been how the staff you hired started to disappoint you. Or it might have been how carriers who previously celebrated your production started sharing how your loss ratios have declined.
Maybe it was how doing what you love most about the insurance business, selling insurance and helping your clients, became the last thing on your mind because you had so many fires to put out. Instead of owning a business, maybe it feels like you bought a job you dislike.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Here’s how to avoid the most common agency operation mistakes and fall back in love with your insurance agency.
First, focus on sales. Sales is the engine that makes everything else possible in an agency, so go back to the basics.
Start by measuring simple metrics. Track the number of new policies sold, the number of clients, and, of course, the premium.
The metrics should be transparent. And everyone in the agency should get a reward when targets are hit. Rewards should be paid monthly. And, you should provide constant updates on your team’s progress.
If you’re only focused on problems with no light at the end of the tunnel, guess what your team will focus on? The problems.
Owning a business can be tough. You may as well make money in the process.
Second, communication is key.
This is a common weakness and one of the biggest. Agencies with toxic cultures have something in common: Lack of communication.
Owners or managers are locked in their offices staring at their computers. Meanwhile, producers and CSRs gossip about the dysfunction. There’s no focus or direction, and nobody is talking about it.
Communicating with your people is the first step to improving anything. If you don’t communicate, nothing will change. Agency owners who have consistent meetings and effectively communicate with their teams are the most successful.
My advice? Communication is the solvent of all problems.
Next, hire people who fit the culture you’re building, and train for skill. You can’t teach attitude and charisma, but you can teach insurance.
Focusing on the morale of your team is vital to success. It’s impossible to attract top talent or achieve your goals with a broken culture.
It’s easy to keep making the same mistake when you need to hire. That is, hiring people with experience but ignoring whether they fit the culture you need to grow your agency.
How many times have you hired someone and thought they were going to be“the one”? Start making culture a top priority.
And, finally, start providing insurance the way consumers want to buy it, not the way you want to sell it.
Do you use technology to guide your sales, marketing and service processes?
Are your tools measuring and tracking the activity you need to grow your book of business?
Are you serving the connected consumer with a blend of traditional and digital marketing?
There are so many options for consumers today. While you’re double- and triple-entering their data into a comparative rater or agency management system, they’ve received three prices online, and you’re not even an option anymore.
Whether they’re a referral or not, everyone visits Google before buying insurance. And they don’t want to deal with your 20thcentury sales process. Speed matters.
Consumers lack the patience to wait three seconds to find the score of a sporting event nowadays. Do you believe consumers want to wait hours for an insurance quote? I don’t.
All that said, there are so many ways to grow an insurance agency. But following a few core principles are essential to succeed. Make sure to avoid these common mistakes on your path to growth.