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How Small Businesses Can Benefit From Virtual Assistants

The reality is that outsourcing work to virtual assistants is a viable solution for all types of businesses, including independent insurance agencies.
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how independent agents can benefit from virtual assistants

Outsourcing is no foreign concept, but it is often overlooked by small businesses. I began my career at an independent agency and assumed that only the big guys like Progressive and Geico were outsourcing staff. I also assumed that when the big guys outsourced, it only supported the value of a hometown agency.

The reality is that outsourcing work to virtual assistants is a viable solution for all types of businesses, including independent insurance agencies.

You are probably familiar with insurance carrier service centers where agencies can buy back the option for a carrier to service the policies they write. While intended to alleviate some of the workload from agency staff, this does not come without challenges. For instance, what happens when a client decides they are unhappy with their rate or they have another line of business with a separate carrier? That call lands right back in the agency's lap.

This is when a virtual office assistant can offer something far more comprehensive. Think of it as a service center for your agency that handles incoming calls, follows outlined procedures and acts as “an extension of our service team," says Heather Minkler, CEO of Clark-Mortenson Insurance. “The process is seamless and they are flexible when we need to forward more work to them, due to vacations or staffing changes."

During what experts are calling the Great Resignation, businesses are being left with no choice but to get creative with their solutions. Employee turnover is a major threat to productivity. And no business wants to make clients unhappy with long wait times or exhaust employees to the point of no return. Enlisting a virtual assistant firm provides additional staffing at a lower cost to your agency than hiring a full-time employee. Further, many firms charge by transaction, such as per vehicle change or for every mortgage binder issued. Whether your agency experiences a busy or slow month, the extra overhead you pay is cost-effective.

Even in times when the labor market is less challenging, this type of service lightens the load. It gives an agency the flexibility to let their employees focus on outside sales, professional development, meeting with marketing representatives, training, volunteering or taking time off. With phone calls and other work bypassing your desk, what would your team do with the extra freedom? The support of virtual assistants raises the baseline for what an agency can handle.

Virtual assistants give an agency the opportunity to restructure and refocus resources while knowing your clients are always receiving exceptional customer service without the overhead of spending time on the hiring process or wasting resources if a new hire doesn't work out. The agency also saves money on benefits, IT equipment and office space, which frees up resources to be allocated in areas that increase employee retention and build your business.

If you are looking for creative ways to grow your agency and focus on what is important, consider adding virtual assistants to your agency. You may find that outsourcing is not just for the big guys.

Ali Stewart is personal lines trainer at Virtual Insurance Pro

Wednesday, November 30, 2022