By leveraging resources to ensure their agencies continue to thrive, agents can spend more time doing what matters most: advising their clients and training the next generation.
Agency perpetuation planning has never been more challenging. An increase in private equity investments and merger & acquisition activity, the rising cost of new technologies, and a new generation of workers who are less drawn to traditional careers are only some of the hurdles independent agents are facing when it comes to protecting their businesses' longevity.
To ensure their agencies continue to thrive—especially in a post-COVID-19 world—independent agents should look for opportunities to increase efficiencies and enhance the value they bring to their clients while also teaching new talent to do the same.
Improve Efficiencies to Maximize Time
While every agency's growth formula is unique, one ingredient remains constant across the board: time. Since most agents have little to spare as they work tirelessly to serve clients and prospects, it's essential that they seek out ways to become more efficient.
To start, agencies should consider investing in digital tools that will help streamline their workflows. For example, look to carriers that offer innovative technologies that can make it easier to manage client accounts. Through features that make it easier to toggle between accounts, access important alerts, save frequently used applications and filter through books of business, these digital platforms can help improve agents' productivity.
The less time agents spend on these kinds of administrative tasks, the more mindshare they can devote to advising their clients and engaging with new business leads.
Agencies can also benefit from training that can boost productivity and help their employees collaborate more effectively, especially in a remote work environment. Many carriers offer resources that are geared toward helping agents make the most of their workdays—from setting up a remote workplace and leading successful remote meetings to leveraging virtual communication platforms.
Efficiencies should be analyzed and improved down to the most basic level. If agents create spaces that are more conducive to productive work—proper lighting, a good Wi-Fi connection and comfortable seating—and can seamlessly interact with their coworkers, they can more efficiently take on the tasks at hand.
Leverage Opportunities to Showcase Value
While it's important for agents and brokers to maximize the time they're able to spend with clients and prospects, they must remember that how they use this time matters.
In order to build long-lasting relationships, agents need to transcend the role of the transactional policy middleman and become trusted confidants and advisors. One way that agents can enhance their value is by expanding their expertise.
Some carriers offer educational webinars that can help agents dive deeper into a particular subject—from issues in the life sciences industry to cyber risks and more. This way, in their next client meeting, agents are empowered to share more than their insurance policy knowledge.
On a similar note, agents should investigate other educational sessions designed to help agents learn how to make meaningful connections with clients while remaining sensitive to the current environment. The right training sessions can help agents learn how to focus on being empathetic to their clients and making appropriate coverage recommendations.
These educational opportunities are a great way to inspire new talent and grow the next generation of agency leaders. Those who are newer to the workforce might not have a grasp on the intangible aspects of being an agent, as they're less likely to have learned them over the course of their education.
Plus, if they're operating remotely, newer agents might have fewer opportunities to learn by watching veteran agents work and foster connections at, for example, an in-person networking event.
More than ever, clients are relying on their agents' counsel. As agents look to grow their practices, it's critical they become more steadfast sources of support and expertise, especially during this time of uncertainty.
By leveraging resources that can help them increase efficiencies and add value, agents can spend more time doing what matters most: advising their clients and training the next generation. In doing so, they'll shape the future not only of their agencies, but of the insurance industry itself.
John Nilson is Pacific South regional executive officer and Los Angeles branch manager for Chubb.