Independent Agent, Meet Outsourcing

Let’s face it—you’re busy.

After processing renewals, dealing with customer claims, following up on quotes and prospecting for new clients, there aren’t many hours leftover at the end of the week.

When was the last time you looked at your operations strategically? Are the day-to-day demands of running your agency preventing you from achieving greater efficiency and streamlined operations? What goals are you currently unable to achieve with your in-house team (for example, building a better website, making more outbound calls to prospects or fully deploying your new AMS system)?

Here’s the good news: The Internet is changing how insurance professionals structure their organizations—which means you can now leverage the Web to gain higher-quality work, a more scalable workforce and better bottom-line performance.

The number of highly skilled online workers is growing exponentially. The Freelancers Union reports that 33% of adult Americans are now working as freelancers in some capacity. Many millions are doing so through the Internet on websites such as oDesk, Elance and more.

It may seem like a long shot that your agency could ever benefit from online staffing—it’s definitely is an innovative business practice. But consider the potential benefits to your organization.

  • Access to expert talent: When it’s time to re-vamp your website or design a postcard, what do you currently do? Bypass an expensive ad agency or your intern’s sub-par work and hire an expert online.
  • Cost savings: Remember, online workers are freelance contractors and not your employees. By hiring online freelancers, you bypass much of the red tape associated with traditional hiring (workers compensation, benefits and payroll taxes, to name a few).
  • Greater visibility: Most online marketplaces offer instant time-tracking, which allows you to review your team’s screenshots and hours billed. No more wondering where all those hours are going.
  • Improved capacity: Your office phone ringing off the hook will not be a distraction to your virtual team. Allow your in-house staff to manage the day-to-day, and send your strategic initiatives to your outsourced team.
  • Lower risk. Most online workers understand downturns happen. When you need to scale back hours (or ramp them up), it’s much less difficult than changing an in-house employee’s work schedule.

How can you get started? For many agencies, the biggest barrier to getting started with outsourcing is knowing where to begin. When you’ve done things a certain way for decades, the concept of outsourcing can be a radical shift. To start the internal discussion, refer to this free outsourcing checklist. You may find it useful in developing a game plan for getting the most out of freelance labor.

Outsourcing certain aspects of your agency can add significant value by helping you achieve more goals. Many agencies are already tapping into the millions of skilled professionals online. Keep it simple at first, steadily grow your virtual team over time and sit back and reap the benefits.

Matt Keener is president of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC and author of the “Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career.”