Aleckson Insurance Agency in Lake Zurich, Illinois, was the top-performing agency in the $1.25 million-$2.5 million in Revenue category in the 2022 Best Practices Study.
REVENUE CATEGORY: $1.25 million—$2.5 million
Aleckson Insurance Agency
Craig Swanson | President
Lake Zurich, Illinois
Why did you become a Best Practices agency?
I purchased the agency in 2008 and started to use the study to tweak the direction of the business by using it as a guidepost. I hadn't considered entering but was nominated by one of my company reps. I was very familiar with it because I was already using the study to guide the business.
How did you find the application?
Since I'd already been using the study for 10 years before I entered, I was already looking at the various benchmarks and figures and had changed the way we tracked our numbers. When it came to submitting the data, it was pretty easy because I had already been tracking them like an at-home player.
How has the Best Practices Study guided you?
The agency has grown from two part-time employees to about 13 employees. In that process, you have to make sure that you're bringing on the next staff member to handle growth at the right time. The benchmarks that track revenue per employee were helpful because otherwise you're just winging it.
What changes have you made based on Best Practices?
To break out the underwriting and marketing of new and renewal policies into separate job functions. On the commercial side, we restructured the roles and responsibilities because I was able to see that agencies in the size category above us tend to start doing these things, and it leads to more specialized approaches to reach job functions. It made a big impact.
Key metrics that you pay attention to?
Producer compensation is helpful. It's a challenge for every agency to make sure that they have a strong compensation plan for their producers and that the new and renewal commissions are in line with growth targets without being something that's going to break the agency.
Why should agencies use the Best Practices Study?
If you stay within the Best Practices benchmarks and try and keep your statistics in line with the Best Practices agencies, you'll find that delivering the service level on the client side follows very quickly. It really becomes almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everything just functions better because you're not reinventing the wheel and trying to figure it all out yourself.
Has the study affected your perpetuation plans?
I have the distinct advantage of being in the benchmark average age of a shareholder for another 10 years. However, the benefit of participating is that I can get ahead of these things. Our business plan is to be constantly bringing in a cohort of new producers every three to five years to make sure we always have the next age group in the agency.
When we're asked for references, we mention Best Practices. Recently, it sealed a deal with a client. It also helps to be a top performer in our revenue category. Most industries have something similar, which usually translates to the client.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.
This interview is part of a six-part series to mark the 30th anniversary of the Best Practices program.