Partnering with the right agency network will enable you to do what you do best – get back to servicing and selling.
Independent agents know that the success of their business is greatly dependent on one thing: relationships. And quality customer service is the foundation upon which those relationships are built.
As any independent agent will also tell you, serving clients to the best of their ability – whether it be marketing risks to carriers, binding coverage, producing certificates, and other tasks – is a daily challenge. There are only so many hours in a day, and agents and their staffs have to constantly triage and reprioritize certain tasks (and in the process, key clients) over others, quite often leaving the producers with less time to sell.
Prospecting new business while servicing existing clients is the key to sustained growth for independent agencies, but accomplishing that goal only seems to get more challenging over time.
Your agency’s ability to meet the expectations of your customers and maintain your own standard of excellence don’t have to suffer, however, provided you have the right resources. What if you had a partner that could take on responsibility for many of your agency’s most time-consuming tasks, such as:
- Securing coverage quotes for your clients as quickly as possible
- Transactional activities like invoicing and billing that eat up your staff’s bandwidth
- Managing relationships with carriers
A trusted partner could take that work off your plate, allowing your producers to get back to the business of selling. Joining a network that offers those member benefits would give you back the valuable time to focus on growing your agency.
Benefits the ‘Right’ Partner Will Offer
Agency networks offer a variety of member benefits, but selecting one that helps you more effectively manage your agency’s day-to-day activities is a beneficial move that will pay dividends. Let’s look at some of the ways in which being aligned with the right network will help.
Placement services are a valuable resource for independent agencies. Joining a network not only provides you access to a wider panel of carriers, but certain networks also provide the resources to market your clients’ risks quickly and efficiently. These member benefits can include access to a dedicated placement specialist to work with you to market and place commercial lines risks; middle market and large accounts; and workers’ compensation risks.
Easy-to-use proprietary technology that allows you to submit risks to market and view the status of those submissions, along with comments and quotes, is another major asset from a network, as is having access to a small commercial comparative rater that agents can use to get quotes from multiple carriers simultaneously to find the best policy terms – and price – for your clients. This approach saves the agent the work of going to each carrier’s site individually to obtain quotes for the same client.
One of the most time-consuming tasks for any agency is invoicing and billing. Certain networks offer the opportunity to take on that transactional work as part of your membership fee, assuming the steps of direct bill commission-payment reconciliation, including obtaining the carrier statements. Your clients can also receive agency bill invoices on your behalf by the network (in co-branded statements), and the network remits those payments to your carrier partners.
Finally, one key task that the right network can take on for you is the process of managing your carrier relationships. Agency principals often find themselves having to meet with their carrier reps on a regular basis, and need to serve as the point person for their agency with their insurance company partners; with the right network, those meetings are conducted on your behalf by a network executive.
This also eliminates conversations among the principal and the carrier over premium goals that often need to be met to continue to keep your carrier appointments, and replaces those with advocacy on your agency’s behalf to secure you more reliable, consistent revenue by getting you paid more for the business you write as part of the network.
Once you have more time to devote to the things you want to do versus what you have to do, the network you’re with should also have the technology to interpret your agency’s data and provide you easy access to dashboards that provide you actionable steps for retention, cross-selling, and account optimization.
In the end, the agency network you choose to align with should always be interested in your continued growth – and redirecting your time and resources to serving your customers better, prospecting for new clients, and growing your business can get you to stop running in place and help ensure your agency’s future.