When choosing an agency management system, it can feel like you’re sitting at the poker table. Livelihood and legacy are on the line. If you pick the wrong system, you stand to lose efficiency, time and money. If choose correctly, you win a partner that will help your agency grow to new heights. How do you know which is the right choice?
Does the system have the buy-in to sit at the table?
Management system capabilities like fully integrated accounting, document management and commercial and personal lines download are the buy-in to sit at the table. There may be other capabilities, like email integration or a customer portal, you may also want.
Step one is determining if the system has those capabilities. Step two is testing them out in a demo to see how they function. A system may have a whole host of potentially useful features, but they’re only useful if you and your staff can use them without memorizing a user manual.
The bet in choosing an agency management system comes from things you can’t see on a demo.
What tells should I look for in a management system provider?
There are ways to tell if a management system provider has the right hand for your agency. Three common tells for a quality system and provider include:
You want to choose a management system that supports agency growth. That means being upfront about management system costs and providing value equal to or greater than its cost. When looking at a provider and system, ask yourself:
- Will the system provide efficiency to lessen workload?
- Does the system have annual price increases? If so how much are they?
- Do you have to pay for improvements to the system?
You want a management system provider that holds themselves to the same high-level customer support standards as your agency. Consider questions like:
- How long does it take to receive an answer to a question?
- Do you talk to a real person or an automated system?
- What type of onsite training is provided?
- How much does training for new employees or continued training cost?
You know your customers and they know you. You want the same from your agency management system provider. Determine how you’ll be seen by your provider by answering these questions:
- Can you call the c-suite officers to talk about long-term projects and the future of the business?
- Do they have a product roadmap and do you have input in it?
- Can they provide custom enhancements for your agency?
How do I make an informed bet?
The best way to get the answers you need about a new system and provider is to talk with other agencies who have made the switch. Connect with those that have about the same book of business, organizational structure and future goals as your agency. Talk with them about their decision-making process and experiences with the different providers they tried.
Once you have a short list, ask for references. Evaluate if their answers align with your agency’s needs and put an offer on the table. Your thoroughness will ensure you’ll cash out a winner.
Thinking about stepping up to the table? Take the betting out of it with SIS and our Partner XE management system. Our customizable system, dedicated service team, and engaged Partner XE User community are a sure win for you and your agency. Get in touch with an SIS team member today to get the conversation started.
“We’ve always done it this way” is never a good reason for anything. Yet, I often hear this when talking to owners about their insurance agency workflow procedures. The old way is not necessarily bad, but chances are it isn’t the most efficient. There is a better way.
The tech-revolution has hit the insurance industry – hard. Agency management systems have grown by leaps and bounds, including adding in a host of time-saving system integrations. With so many new advancements in such a short amount of time, it can be hard to keep up. So, we at SIS have stayed up-to-date and sifted through the noise to target where to focus your attention.
Here are three must-have system integrations to keep your insurance agency workflows not only moving, but improving.
See other ways to save your agency time and money by eliminating workflow inefficiencies
- Integrated Accounting
If you watch Shark Tank, you know the one thing million and billion-dollar investors preach is you must “know your numbers” to grow your business. Without an integrated accounting system, you’ll never have a true picture of where you stand.
Integrated accounting saves you from entering financial information into a second system and assures you haven’t missed a single piece of data. From this comprehensive data pool, you can pull a host of reports, each providing essential information on how you’re doing and where you can go next.
Such reports include:
- Profit and Loss Statement
- Balance Sheet
- Cash Flow Statement
- Aged Receivables
- Agency Commission, Sales and Retention by criteria (i.e. company, referral source, producer, etc.)
Find out how to make the most of your insurance agency accounting data
- Email Integration
Much of agency correspondence today flows through email. And, there is a lot of relevant information found in each exchange. But, you don’t have time to go through the endless clicks and keystrokes the drag and drop process takes to connect conversations to constituent profiles. You either don’t do it or eat up countless hours with the process. Either way you lose.
With a truly integrated email solution, you can start an email from a profile or within an email platform and have it automatically saved to that profile. Similarly, inbound emails can directly connect to a profile. Simply save the client’s or prospect’s email address in your management system and your inbox will recognize it and automatically attach the email for you. You no longer need to waste your time with dragging and dropping, and you build better prospect and client profiles. Now it’s a win-win.
Are you pursuing leads effectively? Find out in our post on how to prospect right
- Mobile App
As an insurance agent, you protect people from the catastrophes we wish would never happen. If you were a fortune teller, you’d know when your clients were going to have a car crash or house fire. But, since you can’t predict disaster before it happens, you need to be always at the ready to help your clients during a crisis. That’s where mobile access to your management system is critical.
With a mobile app, your client can reach you at any time or place, and you’ll have access to all the crucial information you need to ease their fears. Mobile access allows you to answer all policy and coverage questions on the spot, which is huge during these crisis moments.
Besides providing on-the-spot vital service, a mobile app is beneficial during client and prospect visits. It allows you to map directions for a client meeting, look up contact info, or even add an activity to follow-up after your meeting.
Get more mobile app benefits – check out our post on why it’s a top management system tool
Finding it all in Partner XE
It’s no surprise our web-based Partner XE management system comes fully equipped with integrated accounting, email integration, and mobile app capabilities. These integrated systems are just part of what make the Partner XE system a game-changer for our partner agencies.
Want to find out more? View a demo at sispartnerplatform.com and get in touch with an SIS team member today to take the first steps in growing your agency
Remember those Febreze commercials where people didn’t notice the smell in their homes, cars, and other spaces? They had gotten used to the unpleasant order they lived with in these places. But, when other people came by, it was obvious something stunk.
When I meet with individuals about switching agency management systems, I have a similar experience. I find too often they’ve gotten used to the system they have, even if it does stink. They’ve put up with limited functionality, found workarounds, and have given up on the slow-moving customer service offered by their provider.
Are you ignoring the smell of your agency management system? Check out our “must-have” list below to see if you’re missing these critical pieces for a more fragrant management system experience.
System Must Haves: The Short List
Below are the absolute musts for your management system. If you’re one short, it’s time to move to greener pastures.
||Responsive customer service
|High-quality data security
||Personal Lines Rater integration
|Import/export for data and reports
||Ability to flood policy coverage to ACORD Forms
|Intuitive menus and navigation
Is it time to let your agency management system go? Find out in our eGuide
Top Capabilities: What Sets You Apart
Independent insurance agencies never settle for “good enough.” Go beyond the minimum with these capabilities to set your agency apart.
- Outlook Integration
Customer and company communication is almost exclusively through email. Outlook integration brings email into your system, saving you from switching back and forth.
- Integrated Accounting
An integrated accounting system eliminates doubling data entry in Quickbooks or Peachtree. You also get the ability to run extensive reports using all the data stored in your system.
Read more on the power of integrated systems on the SIS blog
- Client Portal
Client portal access is quickly becoming a must-have for customers. With this online portal, customers essentially serve themselves after regular business hours.
- Proposal Creator
A customizable proposal creator allows agencies to provide clients with professional, agency-branded proposals in 10 minutes or less for all renewals.
See more on SIS’s Proposal Creator and Client Portal in our latest releases
- Mobile App
Another emerging must-have, a mobile app gives employees on-the-go access to customer and policy information. This allows staff to enter follow-up activities and update info in the moment so business can keep moving no matter where you’re located.
Finding a System that Has It All
Is it possible to find a system and provider that has it all? The short answer: no. But the long answer is: if they’re willing to grow. Each agency is unique, requiring a system that fits them. A provider that is open to changing and improving their system can make that perfect fit happen again and again as your needs grow.
Collaboration and growth are integral to our success at SIS. Our Partner XE management system is continually improved to directly meet partner agency needs, ensuring good stays the enemy of great. Find out more about how we work with our agencies through Workgroups and Regional Learnings. Visit us at sispartnerplatform.com to get in touch at email@example.com.
Switching your agency management system is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as an agency. Choosing a new system is a feat of its own, and only the first step in your system conversion process. However, switching systems doesn’t have to be painful! Preparation is the best medicine to save you and your agency from headaches.
Check out what 9 things to look for in an agency management system and provider
6 Tips for Making Your Transition Easy
1. Get team buy-in
Start the process by ensuring key agency team members view the system. Just as you would when purchasing a car or a home, your team should test out and poke around in each potential system. Make sure the work they do day in and day out are just as easy, if not easier, in the new agency management system.
After the “test drive”, ask for (and take!) advice and opinions. This small act helps agency members invest in the new system, making your conversion process easier.
2. Pick a strategic start date
Even the best conversion processes have some hiccups and hang-ups. Give your agency space by scheduling your transition during a less busy time of year. Determine when you have the least amount of renewals or select a time around a holiday. A strategic start date will manage stress.
3. Get your data ready
Data transfer can be the most difficult part of converting from one management system to another. Think about how your data needs to be managed to get it ready for conversion. Take the opportunity to clean your data and create a plan on how to re-enter or capture and save all the data that will not convert.
Get ready for your management system conversion with our Conversion Checklist
4. Audit your workflows
This fresh re-start in a new system is the perfect time to roll out the most well-organized operations you can achieve. Gather your team and go over every workflow, from documenting prospect interactions to processing a renewal. This is your chance to make sure your workflows are the most efficient and up to E&O standards.
5. Be deliberate about training
Learning a brand-new management system isn’t an easy task. Ensure your staff has all the training resources they need to make it as smooth as possible.
Plan ahead: four to six weeks before your switch, schedule an hour a week to train as an agency or department. Conduct your workflow audit during this time and go over how to integrate them into your new system. Have each team member teach a different session to empower them and create power users within your agency.
Read more on the “how” and “why” of management system training
If your new management system offers onsite training BUY IT! We’ve seen hundreds of agencies transition from dozens of different systems, and each has pointed to onsite training as essential to a smooth transition. This training should happen after your team has started on your new system so you can ask pointed questions about workflows.
6. Be patient!
Have patience with yourself, your team, and anyone involved in the transition. Switching agency management systems is not an easy task. It’s a major change for any agency, needing to relearn the daily tasks you used to know by heart. But, after a few weeks, those tasks get easier and soon it will all feel back to normal. As a leader in your agency, being patience and supportive of your team is vital.
Finding the Right Partner
At SIS, patience and support have been what makes each agency transition successful. We’re determined to be with your agency each step of the way, from sign-on to go-live. Nothing can replace that personal attention and always-extended helping hand.
You can find out more about our training and support services on our website, sispartnerplatform.com. Or, you can give us a call at 800.747.7005, Option 6. We’re here by the phone ready to help.
Congratulations – you’ve finally hired someone for that position! No more resumes or interviews to wade through; you’ve got someone in that spot.
But, now they’ve got questions: Where’s my desk? Who do I report to? How do I use your agency management system? What are our goals?
The on-boarding process is just beginning. And it’s a critical piece to employee, and agency, success. In those first few weeks and months, you and your staff need to help your new hire become part of the team.
Read how the SIS staff partners with agencies to become part of their team
The process can be more difficult for independent agencies, many of which are family-owned and operated. How do you explain what has become second nature for your staff?
Start with three simple steps.
3 Steps to Training a New Employee on your Agency Management System
- Create a New Hire Training Program
- Leverage your Agency Management Systems Resources
- Set Goals and Give Feedback
Create a New Hire Training Program
“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
One of my high school teachers put this up the day before every test. It rang true to me then and rings true now in preparing for a new hire. If you want new employees to hit the ground running, you have to prepare the ground.
[bctt tweet=”If a new hire fails in the first few weeks or months, it may not be the fault of the hire.” username=””]Lack of clear and concise directions puts them on unstable footing. A training program does the opposite. Put together a program covering agency management system training and organizational/culture training. Both are essential to your new hire’s acclimation to the agency.
Get tips on how to set-up and improve your training program
Leverage your Agency Management Systems Resources
You don’t have to create a plan and administer training all on your own. Agency management system providers have resources to help new employees adjust to the system. Reach out to your provider to explore your options.
At SIS, we offer an online learning management system and in-person training sessions. Our agencies have access to video tutorials, a test Partner XE for new hire practice, and free one-on-one webinar or in-person training for all new employees. See what your provider has to offer and integrate these pieces into your training plan.
Discover where to learn how to use your management system efficiently
Set Goals and Give Feedback
New employees need the most direction and feedback. Help your new hire stay on the right learning path: set achievable goals and make time to meet and discuss progress and questions. This set-up allows you to measure the employee’s success. It also helps new hires measure their own success, building confidence and keeping them motivated.
Feedback should be both positive and constructive. Habits are formed early. Encourage positive habits and discourage negative ones. Such constructive feedback helps you mold new hires into the employees you need for success.
Find out how to set and achieve goals for your agency overall
Continue to Grow your Agency
Each new hire is an opportunity to grow your agency. Establishing expectations and solidifying procedures and workflows early on sets each new hire up for positive growth, benefitting them and your agency. If all your employees are on the path to growth, your agency will be, too.
Find out more about SIS training resources and the Partner XE system. Contact us at 800.747.7005, Option 6 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a personal consultation