I’m a committed believer in the value of benchmarking operational results and comparing them to the results of other similar businesses. I’ve written about that many times, but essentially the idea is to answer the question, “is my business running well or not?” To answer that question in a realistic and helpful way, the second question should be, “compared to what?”
That is where industry benchmarks come into play. They answer the second question and allow the business owner interested in improving performance to compare his/her business against peers.
Where can I find insurance benchmark information?
There are several data-driven sources of insurance analytics and benchmarking, for example, the Best Practices Study Update published by Reagan Consulting in the Independent Insurance Agents Brokers of America. In it, you can see how similarly sized agencies are performing in many important aspects such as customer service, managing insurance companies, levels of digital transformation, staff allocation, and more.
This exercise, in and of itself, is incredibly valuable because it can highlight areas that may need attention. You may discover that your life insurance sales cost more than they should, or that you can gain a competitive advantage by adopting good practices and business models from the top-performing agencies in your category.
What should I know before benchmarking?
Insurance analytics and benchmarking don’t require very fancy tools, like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, or predictive modeling. However, they do require you to take a long, honest look at your agency and that you have the willingness to make the necessary changes.
Remember you already have the data sources to find out your KPIs, and that good data management is fundamental to success. You may have a very customer-centric agency and deliver the best customized experience, but your business won’t thrive if you’re spending too much on staffing and not selling enough to make up for it.
Insurance audit - scary but effective
It may also happen that when you start comparing your business to others in the insurance industry you see an anomaly, but the cause isn’t immediately apparent. Now what? This is where inviting other business people, in a similar business(es) to look in detail at certain parts of your operations, may be very helpful.
My experience with an insurance audit
Recently, we had several key people from a similar business in a different part of the country, visit us to “audit” our operations. I wanted to try to better understand how good a job we were doing, where we might improve, and perhaps return the favor by allowing others to learn from us. In my invitation, I was clear that no question was off-limits, everything was available to see, and our employees should cooperate as fully as possible.
This takes a willingness to be humble! After all, you’re essentially parading naked down Main Street, in a metaphorical sense.
The results of the visit we had over three days were extremely helpful to us, and allowed us to better understand the impact of our operations on our numbers. We got a lot of great ideas for improvement and had meaningful conversations on a range of issues that affect our business. Yes, the debrief required a lack of defensiveness, but the learning was outstanding. Our colleagues also benefitted as they learned some new ideas as well. It was a tremendous win for everyone.
Have you ever tried something like this? If not, I hope our experience is motivating to you. With a properly prepared Non-Disclosure Agreement and colleagues who are not competitors, you can’t lose!
Benchmarks may tell you something could be better. Going beyond benchmarking can show you how.
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.