Can you believe that we are entering a new decade? When I was a kid thinking about 2020, I thought we would all be in Jetson-style flying cars — but we have hope for driverless cars instead. As you take time to reflect on this year and plan for next year, we wanted to give you a few points of reference to frame your reflection.
A Year In Review
The insurance community seems to be getting tighter and closer-knit. The Internet and Facebook groups, as well as new national industry events, are bringing together the best practices faster and closer than ever before. The agencies that are invested in growing and finding efficiency are becoming active on the best ways to do this. Think about your favorite industry event and the groups you need to be active in!
Carriers changed a lot this year. Carriers invested in new systems and ways of doing business. This sometimes improved things and sometimes made our jobs very challenging. Agencies that are heavily involved in running their business from the management system metrics were very challenged by this. As carriers modified their downloads or changed policy numbers, agencies were left with a great deal of data clean-up.
More agencies have embraced team training. We all know that the biggest investment for every agency is in payroll. How we optimize and maximize each person’s skills is critical. The challenges have changed and we need to arm the team with the best practices of efficiency, time management, and sales, so they can rise to the occasion.
Outsourcing is mainstream. Finding and keeping good people is a huge concern for the independent channel. When you have licensed people doing unlicensed work, you can struggle to be profitable. Your licensed team needs to be focused on growing business and keeping clients. Non-licensed team members can focus on the transactions. What was once taboo is now common in agencies: having team members abroad helps you manage expenses and team member turnover. The entry level jobs are always the most transient and, for most agencies, training is a struggle.
Agents embraced marketing. As our industry continues to change, more agents have embraced the idea that they need to focus and develop a marketing strategy to target ideal clientele. While most are still not completely sure how to do this, there is a growing awareness to the need.
What’s Ahead in 2020
Agents must get proactive, especially in personal lines. It’s stated that over $7 billion is spent annually on direct writer marketing to attract the personal lines clients of your agency. While they can build awareness, we can build relationships by proactively reaching out to clients annually for a formal review. This review needs to be scripted and prepared for to drive the highest result. With most business being transacted over the phone and with most people being on EFT, there is a limited relationship at the point of sale. To survive and thrive, we must build those relationships by being proactive. Consider our AppX Retention Program.
Agencies have more and more non-producers selling insurance, especially for the lower premium policies. Many of these agents are servicing and selling. Non-sales people often prioritize service over sales; you need to instill in the team a commitment to following sales processes that maximize every lead. Agencies need to start tracking quotes and stop emailing quotes. Small amendments to a sales strategy can lead to big rewards. Consider our AppX Sales Program.
The common objection we hear from agencies across North America is “I’m too busy.” This is not only an excuse, but also a cry for help. In insurance, the roles have shifted and changed and no one really explained how an agent should best manage their time following the change. It’s common for work to get missed if someone is out, and, most importantly, agencies have struggled to assist people with prioritizing work. In order to best manage that valuable resource called “time”, we need to install time management strategies in agencies. Consider AppX Time Management.
Agencies that want confirmation they are on the right page need to have a commitment to metrics, outside reviews, and matching the current strategy to best practices. Many teams in family-owned agencies have only worked for one person — their family. Having a check-up for your agency is something we recommend every 3 years to stay competitive. Consider our Agency Assessment.
Finally, agencies have to work on their competitive advantage. This is what makes you stand out to your ideal target market. You have to start by knowing who you are, where you are heading, and who you want to sell to. You should then work with a group of branding experts to help position you correctly to your target accounts. Consider working with us to create your Agency Appeal Brand Guide.
2020 will be the year of training for agencies. They must commit and invest in developing the best team they can attract to help everyone meet the demands of the new consumers. At Agency Performance Partners, we are working to launch a new, on-demand training center for our clients that will be available in Q2 2020. All active clients will have access to it and any past clients will be invited to sign up at ridiculously amazing pricing. In Q3 2020, we will launch this service for our loyal followers.