Introduction to the Insurance Agency Business Plan
We get to the end of the year and it’s time to sit down and create your insurance agency business plan! For some agency owners they love this time of year, for others, it may be something they delay.
However, we know hope is not a strategy, and aligning your team resources and energy is important to make sure you are running your agency and not vice versa. However, sitting with a blank page can be overwhelming.
In this blog, we will give you an outline of how to get started on your annual insurance agency business plan.
For some agents, they think a business plan is only needed when you first open your agency. However, every year it’s an opportunity to refocus and refresh your plans and strategy.
We find in many insurance agencies the team is without a plan and they want to know where the agency is going!
For this reason, we encourage every agency to sit down and create an annual insurance agency strategic plan!
Here are the top reasons your agency should create an annual insurance agency business plan:
- Your agency grows and develops each year you need to recalibrate the team
- Plans on what investments to make
- Identifications of the biggest problems and solutions
- Clarity for your team and where to focus
- Define success! Too often we keep grinding and don’t take a moment to realize we are winning!
Let’s take a moment to identify how to get started building your plan!
Step 1: Review Current Business Performance
To plan for the future you want to make sure you review your year and performance. If your insurance agency created a plan last year, that is a wonderful place to start! How far did you get in your plan?
Here is a list of things to think about and or review that may help you get started in reviewing your agency’s performance.
- As an owner what do you love and hate about your agency? Be honest – this is a great starting point to identify what is not serving you.
- Identify the insurance agency’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- Do you have a 10-year vision?
- Yes – is that still on track?
- No – this may be something you want to identify!
- The owner/leader’s job description. This can be very fluid. Is it clear what you should be spending your time on?
- Reporting overview:
- Activity Reports – What is your team up to?
- Overdue Activities – How backlogged is your team?
- Book of business – What does your book look like?
- Lost Business – Who’s leaving and why?
- New Business – How are you winning?
Another area you want to make sure to spend some time on is getting your team’s feedback. They may have a different perspective.
You want to gather their feedback. The great news is we have a document you can use to gather their feedback for review!
Once you gather your team’s feedback, take some time to review it – remember their perspective is their version of reality!
Step 2: Setting Insurance Agency Goals
Now that you have a clear picture of where you are and have been it’s now time to identify where you want to be. To set a goal it’s important to know where you want to go and who you want your agency to be!
Your goals need to connect to your ultimate target. Too often agencies select random goals and they rarely get stuck because they are disconnected.
To start building your goals you want to have 2 things handy:
- Your agency’s 10 year Vision (what is your target 10 years from now)
- Your agency’s values (what are the norms and rules you live by)
As you set your goals they may not all be about selling new policies. It may be getting people on EFT, running off the bottom 10% of your book, or cross-selling. The vision has to drive the goals.
As you’re setting goals they need to be so clear that there is no question!
We recommend looking at SMART goals:
- Specific: You need to put a number to it!
- Measurable: You need to be able to easily get the data and digest it!
- Achievable: Is it something that with some effort and energy can be achieved and do you have all the tools you need
- Relevant: Do the goals relate to your 10-year vision
- Time: What is the deadline?
At APP we recommend your agency take your goals seriously! It’s critical you know what winning looks like.
If you have a BIG goal we do also encourage you to put some milestones on your journey so you can celebrate being on track.
Step 3: Reviewing the Insurance Market and Growth Opportunities
At the time of writing this blog we are experiencing a hard market. Every year you create your insurance agency business plan the market will shift and change.
There are several market factors to consider:
- Insurance carrier market conditions
- Local insurance trends and law changes (for example when marijuana is legalized in a state it presents an opportunity)
- Local agency changes (agencies selling, merging, gaining or losing carriers)
Every market condition represents opportunity if you have a strategic plan. Too many insurance agencies get stuck when a challenge arises or they are late to the party. Reviewing and researching your market allows you to position your agency to capitalize.
Allow me to review this hard marketing we are experiencing in 2023.
Agencies that have been following the Agency Performance Program are in positions to capitalize:
- The team has clear job descriptions
- Every member of the team has an incentive
- There is clear tracking to work from facts not feelings
- The team is already making proactive renewal reviews so the clients trust the agency
- The sales team has as sales process to reject the unqualified leads and focus on the qualified leads
In a hard market these agencies are in a position to boost marketing and referrals because they are ready and primed to act. Agencies that do not have these items in place are struggling to build trust and scrambling with remarkets.
Having a strategic plan based on your market will position you for the maximum growth.
Step 4: Insurance Products and Services
At APP we believe in a 360 client. This means that every client has all the policies they can with the agency. If we can focus on earning the business from our existing clientele we reduce lead costs and boost retention.
Too many agencies focus all on new business and miss a very equitable lead source – your clients.
In looking at your agency it’s critical you identify if you have the right product mix and expertise. Here are some considerations:
- Personal Lines
- Commercial Lines
- Life Insurance
- Health Insurance/Medicare
- Financial Planning Services
- Risk Management Services
For some agencies you may be able to coordinate this in-house. For others, you may need to find a team member or strategic partnership.
All too often agencies identify plans but we never really see it through. In your insurance agency strategic plan we highly recommend you outline a full plan, goals, and marketing plan to see it through.
We see that agencies often focus on their comfort zone or agencies make some of these other policies optional when in fact it needs to be a requirement that every team member understands at a high level the services and how they work as well as how to transfer opportunities.
The key to success in cross-selling is monitoring and measuring the progress – and making it a requirement.
Step 5: Marketing & Lead Generation
In connection with selling more to your current clients your insurance agency should also be focused on expanding your reach. Personally, at APP I see agencies spend far too little on marketing and branding in comparison to other non-insurance agency businesses.
This is generally caused due to lack of understanding and confidence in how to market the agency.
In your insurance agency business plan, I recommend that you evaluate your current marketing strategy and also identify what you want to invest in for the year.
There is so much your agency can do for low cost but high time expenditure. We recommend agencies at a minimum have the following marketing strategies in place:
- High quality easy to use website
- Search Engine Optimization (blogs, keywords, and ability to find your website for your target audience)
- Social Media posts and interactions
- Email marketing automation
- Online Reviews
- Referral program
This is the 101 strategy of insurance agency marketing. Many agencies may be looking to take it to the next level! If you do not have these items in place this is your starting point!
We also want to make sure that your agency has a solid sales process. Your agency may not need more leads; you may need a better sales process.
Step 6: Technology and Automation
The future of the independent insurance agency channel is technology-supported operations. It’s not complete operations via technology that are assisting your team. The challenge we have in the insurance space is technology is still lagging behind other industries. Insurtech is making great strides but we have some way to go.
Integrations can be clunky and too often agencies do not spend the time understanding and setting up the technology. This leads to confusion and often the team is not using the technology – it’s frustrating them.
It’s also very easy to get sold on new technology. I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered the following in agencies:
- Unused/underused systems
- Duplication of system features
- The team not knowing how the system works
- Lack of accountability
- Unclarity in the process
In creating your insurance agency business plan we recommend you stop and take a technology audit! You may want to identify if your team has the best computers, enough monitors, and also headsets (yes please headsets!)
From there, you want to identify your best tech partners. I encourage agencies to not look for the cheapest partners.
Instead, I want to focus on the best. Some systems may be a bigger investment but offer more features or better onboarding. Your team needs fewer logins not MORE.
If you can streamline your systems your team will thank you.
Step 7: Insurance Agency Team Training
As you identify your vision and business plan inevitably there will be areas you need to train and develop your team. I find that many insurance agencies do not choose to follow their vision because they can get discouraged that their team doesn’t have the skills or training today that they need to hit the target.
Now, for many agencies, they feel training their team is impossible. Everyone is busy, will it work, will people want training?
I again ask us to get out of insurance. In any other industry, training is normal and natural. We in insurance tend to make excuses on why training is inconvenient.
We also make excuses on why we can’t achieve the best practices targets.
As part of your agency’s business plan make sure you add in the following:
- What training is necessary to achieve your 10-year vision
- Do you have the ability to train in-house or do you need to look at other vendors?
- What is the timeline for training?
Step 7: Insurance Agency Reporting & Tracking
As you set forth on your business plan, tracking, and reporting will be critical. Unfortunately, insurance reporting is not easy or simple. It may take some time to identify how and what track.
However, just because it is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible and you do need to commit to finding a way. Without a commitment to reporting and tracking you have no roadmap to success.
Here are the common reports we recommend:
- Activity Report: What your team is doing every day
- Overdue Activity: What is the backlog
- New Business
- Lost Business
- Book of Business
The ability to share where you are each month with your team will help you celebrate wins, identify when your off track and get clues on how to succeed.
Conclusion on Insurance Agency Business Plans
The first year you do a business plan may be your hardest! It gets easier. You will learn what works, what doesn’t, and how much to plan.
The idea is not perfect on day one it’s getting stronger and better. Aligning your team and resources toward your vision will help you stay focused.