How to Decide Which Insurance Agency Network is Right for You

You’re an independent agency principal looking to accelerate your business. Every agency needs additional resources, and there’s one particularly sound strategy for acquiring them. In order to unlock your agency’s full potential, aligning with a network of independent agencies seems like a wise move.

The question then becomes: Which agency network is the right one for you?

A number of agency networks offer access to new markets, in addition to profit-sharing incentives and fixed overrides – all of which are very good reasons for joining a network. However, if you’re going to align your agency with a group, you should receive more than that. The right agency group should be a solid fit in every way that matters to you.

It comes down to this: The “ideal” agency network for you is the one that always makes you feel like you’re getting more than what you’re paying for.

Identify Your Needs

What that looks like is different for every agency, as every agency has different needs. Before you even consider the offerings of different networks, ask yourself: What are my agency’s biggest pain points? Compile a list of the things that would contribute to the most efficient, most profitable version of your business. Develop that vision first, before seeing what various networks have to offer.

Establish market access and profit sharing/fixed overrides as a baseline. On top of those, what else would help your agency thrive?

  • Do you need people to help with your billing/accounting and other back-office work?
  • Would you like to have a trusted partner to handle your commercial lines placements?
  • Would it save you valuable time if your network assisted in managing your carrier relationships?
  • Do technology tools that comb through your agency’s data and reveal new selling opportunities appeal to you?
  • Would you like to do a more effective job of marketing your agency?
  • What other member benefits would you like to leverage?

 

If you go to market knowing exactly what it is you need, the process of selecting an agency network will be worlds easier.

Additionally, and this is critical: Develop an informed opinion on the length of the commitment you’re comfortable making to an agency network. Some will require long-term contracts that can prove extremely difficult – and costly – to exit, if things don’t work out to your satisfaction.

The 2 Essential Research Steps

Next, it’s time to do your research – and there are two excellent strategies to consider. (For the record, we suggest pursuing both in equal measure.)

First, do some Google searches and compile a list of the agency networks available to you. Some might have a concentrated membership in certain regions; others will have a national presence.

Then, visit their websites and take notes on which networks offer certain benefits. Again, do this with an eye toward the resources your agency needs most.

You’ll soon become knowledgeable about the offerings of different networks, and, just as important, what they’ll expect from you. Get a sense of how involved the network will want to be in your agency’s day-to-day operations: Will they allow you to operate with complete independence, or will they want to regularly review your books? Will the network offer you an expanded palette of carrier options, or will you only be able to use certain carriers? Will you be required to use the network’s branding?

Does the network you’re researching have a YouTube channel? If so, check out some of their videos and get a feel for what they’re offering.

Next, reach out to fellow agency owners and other colleagues who are members of various networks and learn whether they’re happy with their member benefits. Are they pleased with what they’re getting, or would they opt out if they could easily do so? Do they feel they’re they getting their money’s worth? Did they get what they were promised when they joined? Are things working out?

A series of honest assessments from your contemporaries will go a long way in deciding which network feels right for your agency.

When considering joining an agency network, there’s no substitute for doing your due diligence. Do your homework, and know your options. Don’t sign until you know precisely what you’re getting, and what you’ll be paying to get it. Nothing is more expensive than regret.

Savvy agency principals also know that in the end, you get what you pay for. Make sure the investment you make in joining an agency network provides you exactly what you need to help your agency succeed, for a price that’s right for your business.

 

Want to learn more about improving your agency? Download our brand new e-book: The Independent Agent’s Playbook for Success

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