In just over five years, Larson Moraes has grown his independent agency into a four-office, two-state business that generates over $2 million annually — here’s how he did it.
Thanks to our unique commitment to quality, agent support, and value-driven service, Precise has been able to build strong, long-term relationships with leaders and innovators throughout the insurance industry. In our Precise Spotlight series, we want to showcase some of these outstanding partners for our readers. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an up-and-coming agent, we hope that their wealth of experience and sustained successes will guide you as you work to realize your own business goals.
For our latest installment, we spoke with Larson Moraes, the owner of an independent agency with four offices spread across Florida and Texas.
PL: Tell us about yourself: Where are you from, how you got into the insurance industry, and your career path up to this point?
Larson: Like many agents, I stumbled into insurance after graduating from college. I started with State Farm in Connecticut about 19 years ago, when I was 21, and I stayed there for about five years. Then I moved to Florida and started working with independent agencies. About five-and-a-half years ago, I opened my own agency, and I haven’t looked back since.
PL: In your experience, how has the rise of Internet-related technologies over the past decade or so — mobile, social media, Internet search — changed insurance marketing and sales tactics?
L: It’s changed everything. When I worked as a producer for State Farm, we combed through the yellow pages to find prospects. Most of the clients were local, no more than five to ten miles away. When I was getting started, people always came into the office. Today, I have three offices in Florida and another in Texas, and I almost never see my clients and prospects in person. Everything is happening online and over the phone now.
PL: What made you decide to start purchasing Internet leads in the first place?
L: The shift to digital sales. My agency’s business model is a little different. I’m very selective with the clients I put on the books. Thanks to Internet leads, I can underwrite prospective clients upfront. Let’s say I get a lead from John Smith. I can look up Mr. Smith’s home on the web for potential red flags. Maybe there are bars on the windows, no trespassing signs, a pitbull in the yard — those are risks I wouldn’t pursue. Internet leads have enabled me to do my homework and up the quality of my clients. That for me has been huge.
PL: What about Precise Leads specifically has motivated you to remain a customer?
L: Simple: the quality and steadiness of the leads. The volume is steady which is an important factor for me.
PL: You mentioned the Yellow Pages. What other tactics did you use to generate leads before partnering with Precise Leads?
L: I researched agencies that use Facebook successfully. But again, let me stress that my business model is pretty unique. I haven’t used anything other than Internet leads since I launched my own agency. I started working with Precise about three-and-a-half years ago and have stuck with this strategy since.
PL: Can you tell me about some of the notable successes and/or positive impact you’ve experienced since partnering with us?
L: Just the sheer numbers. I’ve been running my independent agency for a little more than five years, but I’m already generating more than $2 million in business. Internet leads have been a major contributor to that success. I heard your CEO [Antonio Franzese] on a podcast a few months ago talk about Internet leads, and I think he’s absolutely right.
What many agents don’t realize is that when someone goes online to search for insurance, they’re being told that they’ll get a homeowner’s quote right then and there, but the person usually doesn’t want to be called if they are going online. That’s why I never call Internet leads. Some agents would call me crazy, but I never have.
I learned a long time ago that you should always respond to the client the way he or she first contacted you. If they call me, I’ll call back. If they email, I’ll email back. If they text, I text back. Therefore, if someone goes online, I’ll send them a quote and a presentation about my agency. Many agencies get frustrated because the client won’t call them back. Whenever I hear that, I think to myself, “that’s because they didn’t ask you to call them, they asked for a quote.” It’s incredible to me that so many agencies, at least seven out of 10, haven’t figured that out.
PL: Do you have any advice for agents considering purchasing leads? How many and when to purchase? How to close more deals, boost ROI?
L: Let’s work with a round number. If I get 100 homeowner leads, I’ll usually have about half remaining after I’ve done my research and identified the homes I want to insure. Of the 50 leads left, I’ll get probably a 10% return. Three to five of them might be fake. Some of them might be duplicates. But you’ll never see me asking for a refund, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the numbers. If I get 100 leads, a few of them might not be good, but my 10% return will still be there. My advice to agencies is to look at the total picture, not just the two to three fake leads that slip through.
PL: Of the 50 leads you want to insure, and you send the quotes to, you get a certain number of responses. Of the responses, how many become customers?
L: My system is different. I take the time and send out real live quotes, so I’ll surely get at least five calls or at least five emails. By the way, it isn’t unusual for me to insure a home or a car without ever talking to the policyholder on the phone or in person. It’s all done over email now. Only 10 years ago, it would have been unthinkable to insure your home without talking to an agent. That’s normal today. With texting, it’s even more common.
Again, I’ll get five return calls, emails or texts from the 50 leads I want. Out of those five, I’ll insure 98% to 99%. If I’m sending out a quote, what is there to talk about? I’m sending out the quote with everything they want to know. If somebody calls me back, they aren’t asking me for a quote, they already have a quote. From that point, we can just move forward.
A big thank you to Larson for taking the time to sit down with Precise and share his experiences as an insurance agent! We truly appreciate his partnership and contribution to the Spotlight series. Be sure to keep an eye out for more stories of hard work, opportunity, and success from Precise agents.