Few insurance agents have navigated the changes in the insurance industry like Andre Smith, who spent many years on the corporate side before owning two Allstate branches.
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.
In our latest installment of Agent Spotlight, Precise spoke to Illinois-based Andre Smith. Andre has been with Allstate since 1996 and currently owns two Allstate locations.
PL: So you’re a business owner?
Smith: Yes. I used to be on the corporate side for 20 years, Senior level. Traveled a lot. I’ve had my agency for 5 years. I actually have two offices. One in Lake in the Hills, one in Algonquin.
PL: And you sell everything, right?
Smith: Auto home life business, you name it.
Smith: Boats, motorcycle, motorcraft, everything.
PL: Going from the corporate side to owning a business, how does one inform the other?
Smith: On the corporate side I was an employee. There my role was a Senior Sales Leader, providing sales techniques to agencies. From that I got inspired to do it myself. So now as an agency owner I feel I have control over my destiny and future.
PL: Your Allstate profile has 141 reviews, averaging 4-½ stars. Can you speak to why your review rating is so high?
Smith: We take pride in that. Basically I run the business on my character and we treat each client like one of our relatives. It’s cliche, but we want to make sure they’re completely satisfied. The quality of business that we do, we take that to heart, and it shows up on the results.
PL: It also says on your profile that your office is Spanish speaking.
Smith: We have someone on staff that is bilingual and several others who speak a little Spanish. It helps as we have a variety of clientele. So we do try to make sure we service everyone as best as we can.
PL: A lot of people who read our blog are new agents and would love to hear how insurance veterans have progressed through the early stage of their career. What was your journey like?
Smith: I started working in the region as a Marketing Manager actually. Supporting agencies with marketing strategies and promotions. So there were a lot of connections made there at the start, with agents.
From there I was tapped to go to the Corporate office in Northbrook, and got into Sales Management. My role was primarily launching new strategies and new products into the agency force. That entailed a lot of travel, public speaking to large audiences and everything I could have ever dreamed of from a career.
Working inside agencies I got to understand their processes, how they operated, their excitement and enthusiasm as agency owners. Form there I guess I caught the bug and decided “hey why not”? At this point in my career I’m a little older, more established and this is a good opportunity to change gears and focus on the second half of my working career. It was a good time to take control of my future. That’s when I purchased my first agency.
PL: What has the evolution of insurance sales and marketing been like for you? How have you been able to adapt to the industry throughout the years.
Smith: It’s changed tremendously. Early on it was more heavily weighted on direct mail, at least in my world. Technology wasn’t where we are today. Telemarketing was there obviously. Looking at how far we’ve come with technology and access to client information and data, that’s huge.
Now it’s more technical. We have more access to consumers than we’ve ever had. That’s where things have transitioned. Even consumers’ purchasing habits have changed. Before it was over the phone. Now everyone has the option to do everything online.
PL: Let’s talk about leads for a minute. What’s your experience with them over the years? How long have you been using them?
Smith: For five years now. The vendor you use is one piece of the puzzle. Insuring that you’re using a vendor that has a good process to distribute them is critical. Over the years they’ve been the core to the success of my agencies. It’s a big piece of the pie to my marketing strategy.
PL: So there’s a lot of new agents out there. What would be one word of wisdom you would tell them.
Smith: One thing I would note is that when you’re developing a strategy whether it be direct mail, telemarketing or internet leads, stick with it, flesh it out totally, have a full comprehensive plan in place and work through it, work through some of the challenges and make surgical adjustments as needed.
If it’s internet leads, you have to work them through a 4-5 week period. It’s not a one and done. This is something if you don’t get it on the front end, which typically you won’t, have a process in place where you can have a follow up to rework those leads again and sooner or later you’ll start connecting with those clients and pulling them in for a sale.
It all comes down to having the core process in place, the follow up, and good structure in your office.