Agency succession is coming. You have two choices: make it happen or let it happen to you.
As an independent agency owner, you know the first option is the best. Taking control of your succession planning means you’re ready when the time comes. To prepare, you need to do things like choose a successor, determine your agency’s worth and have the right insurance agency support procedures in place. In short, you need to think about three areas: People, Profit, and Process.
The average insurance agent is 59 years old. That means they’ve lived through multiple insurance agency systems, having been in the workforce through the advent of PCs, the rise and fall of CD-ROMs, the introduction of email and Google, and a whole host of other major technological changes. And it’s time to embrace another.
It’s been said, “when you know, you know.” This is true for all major moments in life: getting married, having kids, buying a house, and even when you’ll retire. But, when it comes to insurance agency perpetuation, you need to think ahead for that “the time is now” moment.
When it comes to agency perpetuation planning, you’re likely somewhere between square one and planning your retirement party. Let’s hope, unlike some of 2016 Future One Agency Universe Study respondents, you’re closer to a beach house and a cold drink. The study found 23% of agencies with one principal over age 66 said perpetuation was more than five years out. Age may bring wisdom, but it should also bring retirement before 70!
Are you looking for the secret to a successful agency perpetuation? We’ve got it in three simple steps:
- Plan ahead
- Plan ahead
- Did we say plan ahead? As in…NOW!
Whether you’re handing off or taking over an insurance agency, it’s never too soon to start thinking about and planning the transition. A large part of that planning is deciding who will be taking over.
Many decide to perpetuate internally, thinking it’ll be easiest to pass on operations to a family member or long-time employee. But, as any owner knows, running an agency requires more than logging hours. It’s what you do with those hours that counts. Here are three real steps you can take towards a successful transition with your successor.
Is internal perpetuation right for you? Read our post on internal vs. external perpetuation to find out
1) Find the Right Person
Don’t get us wrong, long-term investment in the agency is a good indicator for a potential successor. A good successor knows your agency and its culture. Though they won’t run it the same as you, knowing the history and the spirit of the business is huge.
You’ll also want someone who is up to the challenge. Taking on an agency is a big undertaking. Look for someone who deals well with uncertainty and thrives on possibility.
Finally, leadership is essential. A great successor will be able to bring the team together and clearly communicate mission, vision, and goals. They’ll be able to motivate employees to take on the transition ahead, celebrating successes and keeping the team positive through challenges.
Are you asking these five questions as you prepare for perpetuation?
2) Get Them Involved
Once you know who will be walking the transition journey with you, get them involved in the process. Include them in strategic agency planning and get their input. The more your successor knows the better. Give them insight into why things are done a certain way, how decisions get evaluated, and their implication on the agency. Sharing these elements with your successor helps them build a broader perspective for when they take over the agency.
You should also include your successor in all perpetuation planning (you’re starting now, right?!) going forward. Again, the more they know, the smoother it’ll be to hand things over. Part of this planning includes being clear on how you want to be involved post-transition.
Read the dos and don’ts of taking on the family business
Lastly, be intentional about bringing your successor into the key relationships involved in your agency. As an owner, you’re well aware the important role each of these relationships play. Introduce your successor to industry group members, board members, carrier contacts, and your agency management system contacts among other key players.
3) Lean on Your Management System
One of the most challenging pieces of your #agency #transition is exchanging information and knowledge. Your agency management system is an asset here. Be intentional about using it to store data and create a comprehensive picture of where your agency stands. Work with your successor to create and understand financial and other reports and map out best practices for use.
Find out more on how to leverage your agency management system
It’s helpful to get a re-training from your agency management system provider. Use these sessions to introduce your successor to the ways an owner can maximize system use and get your employees on the same page about workflows and best practices.
The dedicated service team at SIS has been part of numerous agency transitions, walking with owners as they navigate the seemingly murky waters. Our team has been praised many times over for their aid during transition, and our PartnerNet portal acts as a 24/7 resource for our partner agencies.
If you’re thinking about making a change in your agency, get in touch with us. Contact the SIS team at firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected today.
Choosing an agency management system can be overwhelming. The thought of overhauling your workflows, teaching staff a new system, and transferring management system data is enough to make your head hurt. But, it doesn’t have to be this onerous.