After working in corporate for years, Luke Bohlman launched his own agency at the start of 2017. With help from Precise, he’s managed to build a successful (and growing) business in less than one year.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 second installment, we spoke with Houston-area agent Luke Bohlman. Here’s how his partnership with Precise helped him launch his new business and ultimately find success in a highly competitive market.
Precise: Can you provide a little background about yourself? Where are you from originally, and how did you get into insurance? What’s the path your career has taken up to this point?
Luke: I’m originally from Houston, but I’ve lived and worked in a few other cities, as well. I’ve worked in insurance for 30 years now, but I’d always been on the corporate side, mostly working with companies on employee benefits. Last year, I finally decided it was time to go off on my own, so I purchased two agencies and their books of business, merged them, and opened our Farmers Insurance — Bohlman Agency office in January 2017.
P: 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: The internet has completely changed how we reach customers. Everybody looks for what they need online, whether it’s a phone number, an office address, or an actual quote. At this point, you can’t find the best clients or prospects any other way. You need an internet presence to reach your target consumers. If you don’t adapt and meet them halfway, you’re never going to survive — especially in a highly competitive marketplace like insurance.
P: How did you generate leads before partnering with Precise?
L: For the first six months after I opened the agency, we tried to go after new business the old-fashioned way. We did some word-of-mouth marketing, asked for referrals, mined the existing clients of the agencies I bought for cross-selling opportunities, and did some outbound calling on our own. But those kind of tactics eventually wear thin.
P: Why did you decide to start purchasing Internet leads in the first place?
L: I went to an agent conference sponsored by a lead generation company and listened to some testimonials about how internet leads could support growth with the right approach.
Then a representative from Precise reached out and I quickly realized that with their help, I’d be able to reach my target customers through home leads. Most of my clients are what I call “confident planners.” They’re typically homeowners with college degrees, a solid job history, and a higher income. Because of that, purchasing home leads over auto leads is notably more effective for me.
We got some great leads right away, followed-up quickly, and started closing deals. Then we started purchasing higher volumes, which is when we started to see real results. We worked on refining our system in order to work the leads more effectively, move them through the sales process, and to avoid spending time on the ones that obviously weren’t going to convert. Of course there’s always room for improvement, but we now have an effective process in place and we’re happy with the ROI.
P: What about Precise specifically has motivated you to remain a customer?
L: Precise has been very easy to work with. I really like the dashboard, which is great for lead management and performance tracking. Even if we don’t make a sale at first, we still have that lead in our system. We never look at a missed sale as a dead lead. We can add that prospect to our mailing or callout lists and continue to pursue them if they have potential.
When we close with a lead from Precise, we’re probably selling a minimum of two policies. It’s not a mono-line sale by any means, and we don’t approach it that way. We’ll take a one-policy sale, of course, but our goal is to use that as a transition to other pitches.
Working with Precise feels more like a partnership to me than a vendor-customer relationship. As we continue to grow, I see leads from Precise as the steady stream of new business opportunities we need to support that growth.
P: Can you describe some of the notable successes and/or positive impact you’ve experienced since partnering with Precise?
L: Because we’re in a coastal region, we’re always told to avoid certain areas like Galveston County where business is hard to come by. Yet we wanted to capture the market there, so we started purchasing Galveston leads from Precise. One of my agents started calling those leads when she got them, and we found success where a lot of other agents and agencies had not.
Historically speaking, Galveston County has not been a great market for insurance agents. Homeowners have to buy a separate wind and hail policy, a separate flood policy, and an additional homeowner policy for fire and other peril. But we found that if we closed just one out of every four leads, we ended up with three policies every time. That got the office really excited, and the staff realized that these were real deals. Of course, we’re not going to close every single one of them, but we’re moving them through the system and we have a very good shot when we actually connect.
P: Do you have any advice for agents considering purchasing internet leads? How many should they buy and when to purchase? How can they close more deals and boost ROI?
L: I would tell agents that you have to commit to a system. Now, agents sometimes get discouraged with internet leads. But you’re simply not going to close 50% of all the leads you purchase. You can’t get a lead, try calling them one time, then give up when you don’t get through. If you can get to a close rate of about 10 to 20% — and you start selling multiple products to each new client — your policy close rate is going to be a lot higher than your actual household close rate.
Agents need to call as soon as the lead comes in. If a lead comes in at 9:00am and you’re not reaching out until noon, you’re done — you’ve already lost the sale. You have to call them right away, because that same lead could be going out to two other agents. You must have a sense of urgency. You’re paying for the leads and you have to treat them like gold. They are the lifeblood of any growing agency in the internet age.
A big thank you to Luke Bohlman 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!