I want to talk to you about something that many people might think is pretty boring, but it's really important to maximize the income and value in your insurance agency. What is it? Software solutions
What Software Do You Need?
Every agency has to have software. You already have, undoubtedly, an insurance agency management system (AMS), and hopefully you've got a customer relationship management system (CRM) as well. If you're missing either of these pieces of insurance agency management software, you need to get them now - both are critically important.
AMS - Agency Management System
Obviously, the agency management system is what you run your business on and do your accounting: claims management, commission processing, commission tracking and more.
CRM - Customer Relationship Management
The customer relationship management system is one that many agencies don't have, because they think they can do everything in a AMS system, when in fact it’s not the case. A CRM system allows you to put your marketing, lead management, and customer contact on steroids. So if you really want to ramp up your commercial or life and health insurance agency, and ramp up your sales and marketing activities, a CRM system is important.
You must, without fail, have a system for doing comparative rating for personal insurance. And within the next few months or years, you're going to want to have the same kind of a program for small commercial and more. The disadvantage of those programs is that they allow you to compare price directly and focus your staff and your producers on price. So my word of warning to you on these comparative raters is: “Don't let them become a trap.”
Your Direction will Determine What You Need
Here's a suggestion for how to make sure that doesn't happen: set goals for your book of business and decide where your business wants to go, and where you want to go - of course it should be where your agency makes the most money . To ensure your insurance agents are doing what you want them to, build your compensation plan around that. So in other words, pay your producer or your CSR more money for using Company A, than you pay for Company B, because when your interests are aligned with theirs, you're all going to be happier and making more money. And so will they!
That's an antidote for one of the common cancers that comparative raters cause.
So back to the AMS system, Maybe you've got one, but do you know everything it can do for you? Are you an expert at all of the data that it can provide and the different ways to massage that data? Well, congratulations. You're the only agency over in America that actually knows those things.
All kidding aside, an AMS system is incredibly powerful.
Know Your Numbers
Data is going to be an increasingly powerful determinant of agency success in the future. My suggestion is to find out everything your software can do for you: better customer service? Marketing automation? Enhanced sales funnels? Financial services? Find out, and then ask a simple question: are you putting the inputs into it to allow that to happen?
You've heard the expression “garbage in garbage out”. Unfortunately, in many agencies, what's in the agency management system, from a data perspective, is garbage. It's time to fix that.
One of the things that insurance companies are increasingly doing is evaluating their agency team based on their use of automation and technology. And so, how well your staff is using your CMS system to interact with the carrier system is increasingly important. In fact, I think in the next few years, it will make a difference in how much money they pay.
Automating tasks and workflows saves you lots of staff hours, which can be put to better use doing the things only humans can do, such as building relationships with clients. Let the computers do all the repetitive work, and save money while they do it.
The information is all in your AMS and CRM - all you need are the right dashboard to give you visibility. Knowledge is power, and you have all this power at your fingertips. Know which producers are doing a great job and which aren’t, reward customer service staff who upsells, keep an eye on customers who may be ready for account rounding, and much more... at a glance!
Anyway, that's it for software, AMS, CRM, and rating software, in addition to things like Word and Outlook. Those are the main things you've got to have in your agency. But studies show that agencies that do a really good job using cutting edge, cloud-based, user friendly technology to automate tasks, make a lot more money. And in an environment in which cost is going to increasingly determine how much money you make, getting really good at using those three software tools is critical.
Always keen on helping others make their dreams come true, Tony and his team have helped independent agents grow into more than 250 independent agencies. This has made OAA the number one ranked Strategic Master Agency of SIAA for the last 5 years, and one of Oklahoma's 25 Best Companies to Work for.
Tony loves to share his knowledge, insight and wisdom through his bestselling books as well as in free mediums including podcasts and blogs.
Tony and his family are members of Crossings Community Church, and he is very active in community initiatives: he’s chairman of It’s My Community Initiative, Inc., a nonprofit working with disadvantaged people in Oklahoma City; and chairman of the Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs., and he has served through many other organizations including the Salvation Army, Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Rotary Club.
In his spare time, Tony enjoys time with his family. He’s also an active outdoorsman and instrument-rated commercial pilot.