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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.