5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016

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5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

‘Tis the season for resolutions, and many insurance agents are setting goals for how much they’d like to grow their agencies in 2016. Nationally, independent agents generate an average of $5 to 6 million in annual premiums, but earn less than $1 million in commission.

What’s your goal for growth in 2016? Here are five steps you can take to grow your independent insurance agency next year.

  1. Hire the Right Staff

Not only the right number of staff members, but the right people for the job. The duties of a CSR are very different than those of a producer—make sure you hire people with the appropriate strengths and skillsets.

If you’re a one-person agency and hoping to hire your first staff member in 2016, consider hiring someone whose skills complement yours. If you’re excellent at underwriting but struggle with sales, hire someone with excellent sales skills.

  1. Start Selling Commercial

Selling commercial lines takes more investment on your part—both financially and in time—but there’s a greater pay-off in the long run. Research your commercial carrier options and create a plan for how you would recruit and maintain commercial lines clients. Commercial insurance clients are often more hands-on than personal lines clients. If you’re able to meet their needs, selling commercial could be a big money-maker for you.

  1. Upgrade Your Agency Technology

There are many back-office tools that make running your agency more efficient and profitable. If you haven’t updated or upgraded your technology recently, consider doing so. Same goes for any marketing tech you haven’t adopted, such as a mobile-responsive website or email marketing tool.

  1. Take the Leap into Social Media

It’s just a fact: Your clients and prospects are online. Personal lines clients hang out on Facebook and Twitter and commercial clients are on LinkedIn. Commit to creating social media accounts for you and your agency and to being active on those accounts at least a few times a week. Social media marketing takes a little time, but it’s a powerful way to stay top-of-mind with your clients and prospects.

  1. Join a Cluster Group

Adding more carriers is difficult, especially when you’re adding a new line. Joining an insurance cluster group allows you to work with carriers and lines that you could never access otherwise. However, many cluster groups make you roll your current book to them when you sign up. They want to take control of your new policies as well as the ones you have already worked hard to build, so do your research.

Sources:
Property Casualty 360
Insurance Journal

Three Marketing Tips for Independent Insurance Agents

Are you looking for new marketing ideas for your insurance agency in 2016? Here are three ideas you can implement TODAY to gain new business as you plan for 2016!

Be an information resource: Use a blog on your website, email newsletters, social media sites, etc. to be a resource for your customers. This is called “content marketing” and you’re essentially gaining website traffic from search engines by using keywords that consumers are already searching for. Consider that scores of customers are searching for specific insurance information every day – if they are searching for something you have posted yourself or re-posted from another site, you will gain more traffic and visibility in the community as a resource.

Run a referral contest: Run a referral contest through your social media sites! Many agents already rely heavily on referral business, but a contest that provides compensation to the customer is a great motivator to consumers. The prize you offer should be substantial enough to entice customers to make an effort. Cash gift cards are more versatile and work better than rewards like televisions or iPads because they’re more likely to entice. Post several times a week about the details of your contest, and make sure you include contingencies that will ensure the contest brings your agency more commission money than the money you’ll be spending on the prize!

Pick a niche market: What if you chose a niche market to be an expert in each quarter? This idea has the potential to earn you additional business from existing customers in ADDITION to new business throughout the year. One quarter you can advertise being an expert in writing policies for teen drivers and their parents. The next, you can advertise being an expert in small business or whichever niche with which you’re comfortable. And you don’t have to break the bank to advertise these capabilities. If you have a good online presence established, you can advertise in multiple ways for free:

  • Promote the market with a new fact about it each day on your agency’s Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile. Write an “announcement” – an informal press release – to post on your agency’s LinkedIn page.
  • Include a blog post on your website where you write about various options and policy types available to customers. Talk about the pros and cons of different coverages. Include stories and testimonials from customers who were saved from disaster by their insurance policies – this is especially good for coverages people don’t consider necessities, like umbrellas or life policies.

Like what you learned here? The October issue of Smart Choice Magazine will have even more tips! We’ve devoted an entire issue to marketing!