Launching an independent insurance agency can be a daunting undertaking, but setting yourself up for long-term success is a strategic challenge in and of itself.
Building a successful insurance agency is a little like building a home: you want your business to stand the test of time, but you also want to add value in new and exciting ways as the years pass by. Like constructing a home, however, success doesn’t come overnight; it takes hard work and long-term planning.
While it makes sense that insurance agents just starting out tend to focus primarily on the day-to-day operations of attracting prospects and servicing clients, it’s important — especially at the start of your career — to establish practices that will serve you and your team well going forward. Even if you’ve already been running an agency for several years, there’s no harm in reassessing your work habits. After all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only half of small businesses make it past their fifth year.
Bucking these statistics demands that agency owners develop solid strategies to set themselves up for success. By following these key steps, you can begin to lay the foundation for future growth.
1. Focus on RPA
Set a daily schedule centered on revenue producing activities (RPA). This might mean preparing for a meeting with a warm prospect, researching new business opportunities on LinkedIn, or contacting clients who have expressed a desire to secure additional coverage. By prioritizing tasks that have a chance of bringing in business rather than wasting time on activities that likely won’t, you’ll be making sure that your time is spent on items that have the greatest chance of growing your business in the short and long term.
2. Set Goals
At the beginning of each year, map out annual goals in terms of news sales, number of prospects converted to clients, and renewals. Then, set short-term objectives every quarter, month, or week that push you toward that target. However, make sure those objectives can be clearly measured so you’re able to assess your progress. Be realistic and flexible; if you find you’re falling short of your goals, don’t be afraid to adjust your objectives and strategies accordingly.
3. Update Technology
Today’s independent agencies thrive on emerging technology. Try to update your agency management software (AMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) program before you fall too far behind the curve. This way, you can streamline operations and collect important client data with the most effective strategies available.
This also goes for your social media presence and online footprint. Make sure the content on your website is optimized for your target audience and that your social posts are aimed at the right users. Since internet-savvy prospects can spot an outdated-looking website in seconds, design a website and social media accounts that are modern, attractive, and user-friendly.
4. Hire the Best People — and Invest in Them
Building a team that will stay with the agency for the long haul begins by hiring the right people. To start, assess your talent requirements. Do you need top-notch salespeople? Do you want to boost your underwriting capabilities? A team that has the flexibility to succeed on multiple fronts will empower your agency to solve client challenges confidently and effectively.
Additionally, make them feel supported by giving them every opportunity to succeed. Offer to pay for continuing education courses and licensing tests, or give them the chance to try their hand at a new facet of your agency’s work. Acknowledge that your team members have a life outside the office, as well, even during hectic periods. Flexible hours and the option to work from home every now and then will enhance your agents’ work-life balance — and their overall happiness.
5. Solicit Feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask members of your team for their input on how the business is doing, what they think could be improved upon, and whether their abilities are being used to their fullest potential. Not only will this provide concrete ways you can improve, it will show employees that you care about their feedback and that you believe they have a stake in your business’s long-term success.
6. Be Informed and Inform Others
Now more than ever, the insurance agency is experiencing far-reaching technological advances while being subject to often unpredictable external changes. To stay abreast of the latest developments, read trade publications, company blogs, and a variety of news sources. Your clients may already know about these changes, but they may still want to get your two cents about what this means.
Likewise, remember that the long-term success of your agency depends on you, so be your agency’s strongest advocate by getting involved in your community. Give lectures on insurance topics to local groups, sponsor charitable events, and talk to young people about what their insurance needs might be as they grow up. The more your name is in the public eye, the better chance you have of growing your business in the years ahead.