Agency Profile: Getting Personal

Agency Profile-Canopy GroupThe Canopy Group

Le Sueur, Belle Plaine, and Minnetonka, Minnesota
Founded: 1930
Employees: 32

In a market dominated by captives, The Canopy Group converts 1,500-plus new personal lines clients per year. The strategy: Educate consumers about the advantages of independent agents. Every month, 700,000 highly targeted digital ads on Adobe Audience Marketplace and Facebook are supplemented by local radio spots and commercials on local morning TV news shows. 

Prospects all reach out to the agency; the cold call is nonexistent. A cadre of eight personal lines customer service representatives—bolstered by support teams—work to retain and expand business.

The firm’s year-over-year growth is 23%, with 8,000 personal lines clients bringing in 65% of revenue. Another 2,000 clients are split between commercial (25%) and health (10%). The firm is now expanding the same strategy to commercial and health prospects.

Cara McCann, Marketing Communications Manager

Our initiative is to go after the captives. In our market, 81% of households have one agent with one company. We started with personal lines for two reasons: First, we knew everyone who was listening to the radio would be a potential client. We wanted to make sure this worked. Second, we have such a competitive advantage. We can immediately give that 81% better coverage in three areas—and 90% of the time beat the premium. That’s not going to be true in every market.

Josh Sitzmann, Sales Team Manager

We don’t use do-it-yourself online quoting tools. We sell coverage first, and every prospect speaks with an agent. There’s no way to adequately figure out the risks unless we talk. Our average new client buys three-plus policies. If someone asks for monoline, we educate them as to why that’s not in their best interest. If we can’t persuade them, we ask them to call someone else.

We have had no attrition based on the abilities of any agent we’ve hired in the last five years. Because of that, they make more money than average—but they’re selling 22, 23 or 24 new clients every month.

Paul Borchert, Owner and Managing Partner

Our agency model is unusual. Our marketing team drives prospects to us. Our salespeople then sell, and our new-business people then process them. Then they [clients] fall into the customer service world. We’ve built our support systems around our licensed CSRs. For example, a renewal team touches the client 60 days out and again 20 days out to explain if they should stay where they are or move to another carrier within our agency.

We believe the CSR’s job is the most important. Why? If I factor in expenses, our first-year rate of return isn’t good. It’s years two, three or 10 that matter, and it’s our CSRs who retain and upsell those clients.

Ronimarie Acord is an IA contributor.

Photograph by Ann Marie Skubitz