You’re Not Getting Everything You Need Out of Your Agency Network. Here’s Why.

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It’s time for insurance agency principals to expect more in exchange for their membership.

All revolutions start with an idea.

On Jan. 9, 2007, Steve Jobs strolled onstage at the Macworld Expo, inside San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. His critical mission: to unveil the first iPhone, and in doing so, transform the way people looked at a communications device that was more than a century old and teach them to expect more from it – more than they previously could have imagined.

“Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” Jobs said to the audience’s cheers as he described the company’s clever synthesis of elements that before had never been offered in a single product. Prior to the iPhone, people could not have conceived an intuitive, sleek-looking invention that gave users a mobile phone, an iPod with touch controls, and an Internet communications device with the ability to use e-mail, web browsing, maps and searching. Suddenly, the phone had truly evolved.

Before that day, the world literally did not know what it was missing. Apple had delivered a solution for needs that millions of people didn’t even realize they had.

These days, many principals who are in agency networks are in the same boat. They thought they simply needed the ability to make calls, but they really need so much more than that.

Sure, you get access to an expanded selection of carriers and certain profit-sharing benefits if you join a network or commission club. However, those are just table stakes. There’s far more value to be expected from a premier agency network that you’re not getting.

You may think your network provides all you need – but the truth is, your agency deserves a lot more than basic features.

Envisioning more from your membership

Research shows that most principals whose agencies are members of a network or a commission club are content with the choice they’ve made. While surely a few wonder what lies beyond the network to which they’ve aligned themselves, for the most part they’re satisfied with where they are.

In a recent survey by trade publication Insurance Business America, 92% of agents surveyed rated their networks as “Excellent,” and said little could make them leave. Meanwhile, 6% rated them as “Good.” Only 2% rated their network as “OK.”

In any case, I know if those principals knew not what they were getting but what they weren’t getting out of their current membership, they would feel differently.

What’s important to you in a network?

To that end, the surveyed agents said the factors that were most important to them when selecting a network were:

  1. Product range (93%)
  2. Commission rates (93%)
  3. Fees & charges (91%)
  4. Entry price (87%)
  5. General support (84%)
  6. Technology (84%)
  7. Training (70%)
  8. Marketing (69%)
  9. Financing options (53%)

 

Consider that for a minute. More than 8 out of 10 agency principals said they desired general support – which can include:

  • Commercial Lines and Personal Lines policy placement experts to assist in pairing your client with the right carrier;
  • Relationship management with your carriers, to free up time for you to serve clients;
  • A team that helps members earn more revenue on the premium you’re already writing by negotiating better deals with our partner carriers and work with your agency to identify accounts that can be moved to carriers that could earn you more compensation;
  • Daily reporting tools that help create initiatives designed to drive growth in your business; and
  • Back-office help to free up your staff to concentrate on selling, rather than tedious tasks like billing, bookkeeping, accounting, and commission reconciliation.

 

The vast majority of agency networks don’t provide support of any kind – and the ones that do leave their agents on an island to figure out how to use the limited services they do get.

Again, what’s the disconnect here? How can agency principals in a network say they’re satisfied, when they’re not getting everything they need? That doesn’t make sense. They aren’t asking for more than just carrier access and enhanced commissions, and therefore, they’re not getting it.

Members of Renaissance Alliance, meanwhile, receive all the benefits agency principals say they want, in addition to guidance on how to best leverage them.

Turning awareness into opportunity

Yet there’s even more that members of other networks are missing out on.

For example: having the valuable services of an Agency Growth Partner, who creates a customized strategy to help maximize your business growth. As a member of Renaissance Alliance, your AGP acts as an extension of your team, helping your agency fully utilize the services available to you that will best benefit your business. Or marketing savvy that can help elevate your business’ profile in a digital world.

Recall that 8 out of 10 agency principals said they wanted the benefits of better technology. That means software to make agency workflows more efficient, and data & analytics that deliver business insights.

How many agency principals realize the number of revenue opportunities that can be unlocked when their agency’s data is collected, sorted and presented in an intuitive, easy-to-view format? Our proprietary technology tools like Arno, which allows you to scroll through your entire book of business on your phone and empower you to manage your clients’ needs from anywhere, enable you to finally harness the value of your agency’s data.

Your agency has collected customer data for years. Can your network put it to work for you?

Likewise, Portico, our submission system that integrates a small-commercial comparative rater, dramatically streamlines the submission process, saving you time and money each time you use it.

When your network provides a valuable solution for a problem you didn’t even realize you had, amazing things start to happen for your agency.

Getting what you give?

In a lot of networks, the offerings are enough to get you to join and risk complacency over time. But Renaissance Alliance isn’t interested in incremental growth or taking control of your agency – something that’s very much on the minds of agency principals. It’s true that in certain networks, the principals give up control of their carrier contracts – but not with Renaissance. With our network, you retain complete control of your agency. You still have the final word on every decision, just as you have for years.

Let me stress that again: With Renaissance, your agency remains 100% independent while you enjoy all the benefits of being part of our network.

Ask yourself: Is what I’m getting from my network worth giving up control of my agency?

I also realize that there’s a sense of loyalty engendered in some networks, a feeling of camaraderie – and that some agency principals might feel disloyal even in checking out what another premier agency network has to offer, much less leaving the pack to join a better one. It can feel like a betrayal.

At the end of the day, however, you’re a business owner. If a much better deal for your agency can be found elsewhere, will you choose your golf buddies, or the growth of your business? That’s a decision only you can make, but savvy agency principals know that the smartest call is the one that ensures your future – and your legacy. Don’t risk that, just to avoid a potentially awkward encounter with a former network member.

At Renaissance Alliance, we are providing all the things that agency principals desire, plus a few they haven’t even considered. We can show you that you always have more options than you think, and that the network you may not have known about just might be the key to your agency’s future.

Let us educate you on what you’re missing out on – and that expecting more is the key to getting it.

Kevin Callahan is Chairman and CEO of Renaissance Alliance. Have a question, a comment or want to learn more? E-mail Kevin at kcallahan@renaissanceins.com.

Schedule a 30-minute call now with Renaissance to start growing your premiums and your revenue, and protect your business’ future.

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About Renaissance Alliance

Renaissance Alliance works with independent property casualty agency owners to grow your premium, maximize your revenue and increase the value of your agency through increased profit sharing, guaranteed override revenue and offloading non-revenue generating activities. The net effect is higher revenue, decreased expenses, improved operational efficiency, and accelerated agency growth.

 

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