As we mentioned in our last post, many independent insurance agencies are family run businesses, with ownership passed from one generation to the next. When the generational pass happens, many new owners are faced with a conundrum: how to gain new customers without losing current ones. The delicate balance between the “old” and “new” ways is a difficult one to keep, but with patience and planning the two can be blended.
The first and most important step in maintaining this balance is to track your business. Find out where revenue is coming from, paying special attention to VIP clients, referrals and specific producers. If you don’t already, get to know those customers and producers bringing in business – take them out to coffee or lunch and pick their brains on best practices. By building these relationships, you will get a sense of how to connect with and solidify your current customer base.
As you gain knowledge from these individuals, begin to consider increased investments in successful areas. Are you getting a high response from direct mail? Start putting more money and brainpower in to it! You want to do more than just maintain your successful processes, you want to make them better. Also, investing in these successful means will resonate with your current customers as you show them they are valued.
On the opposite end, identify gaps and make a plan. This may be more difficult to do, so reach out to other agency owners through user groups to find out what you’re missing. Many new owners find a need to grow (or create!) an online presence. Be sure to do your research and make a plan before taking action. Also, be wary of doing too much at once – focus on one new change and do it well.
Finally, check back, assess and adjust. The process of growing and retaining your customer base is continual. Set checkpoints throughout the year to asses and be ready to make changes each time. No one gets it right on the first try, and the only way you’ll learn is to try. As you see growth, start building your infrastructure with new producers and upgraded technology. Take it one step at a time for a steady build.
As you track your business, one of your most useful tools is your agency management system. We at SIS are always available to help you and your agency maximize Partner XE and its capabilities through trainings, online and offline, personalized for your agency’s needs. Contact us today to set up training or answer your questions about any of Partner XE’s many capabilities, customized for you.