The world was taken by surprise this year with a global health crisis and a widespread quarantine that sent all but the most essential workers home. Markets change constantly, and the situation is unpredictable and volatile. Considering all of this, if you’re in the insurance business it’s a good time to make some changes to your business model and marketing and turn a profit in these interesting times.
Instead of sitting at home looking at declining sales and wishing that everything could go back to normal, consider this might be the perfect time to pivot into the virtual insurance market, in which agents and brokers work from home in a more permanent fashion.
Going virtual opens up lots of opportunities: new markets far from your hometown and office, more and better candidates if you’re looking to hire, lower costs, and simplified operations…
If you’re only used to “the old way of doing things” change may be scary, but at times like these, the only way to survive and thrive is to adapt and evolve. The “old way” will not work in the current market. Accept that change is a part of life, and get ready to turn your business into its most successful version to date!
Virtual Insurance Office: Managing Remote Employees
Managing teams remotely is a lot easier and more transparent than many imagine. A motivated, well-trained customer service team and your agency’s licensed insurance agents will not simply slack off just because you are not watching them. Make sure your team is working towards clear goals instead of just punching cards, and keep them motivated to meet and exceed their metrics and quotas.
Team communication and meetings can be held with the same frequency as usual, and you can assign and track tasks efficiently using web-based software and tools, such as the ones we are about to outline.
Make sure your remote insurance agents are meeting their sales quotas, and encourage productivity and more meetings per day, since commuting is no longer part of the equation.
Additionally, consider this as an excellent opportunity to add to your team, since many excellent sales representatives with insurance sales experience are seeking remote positions right now, both full time and part-time. You’re no longer bound to hiring in your neighborhood - the whole world is your oyster when it comes to good candidates seeking remote jobs.
Virtual insurance tools: Work from home Software
When managing a virtual insurance agency, communication is vital. Keep your team linked using any of the many free and paid networking tools available: Google chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Workplace. Some favor Slack because you can have separate channels according to your business needs. Zoom is a great video conferencing tool, and it has become incredibly popular during the last few months, but you can also use Skype or many others.
There are countless web-based project management tools such as Jira, Asana, and Click-up, as well as more sales-specific ones - Salesforce and HubSpot come to mind. They can help you stay on top of tasks and projects, send job alerts when things are going off track, and even track time and automate payroll.
"Don’t be afraid of going virtual."
Agent-customer relations need not suffer if you keep in contact via phone and email, and virtual meetings and presentations can be just as engaging and warm as those you used to have in person. Consider the increase in productivity and efficiency: travel time and expenses will be a thing of the past, since virtual meetings can be taken one after another, with no need to fly or drive between them. Your producers should be closing many more deals, if only because they will be seeing so many more customers in a day.
Virtual Insurance agency finances
Agency management is an art and a science, and going virtual may actually make things easier for you. Most of the expenses that come from running a brick-and-mortar office will be reduced or gone altogether: rent, utilities, equipment, amenities, even cleaning, and maintenance!
While you may have to pay for some software licenses, you will find that overall you will be saving a significant sum. Also, if you manage your team with a time-keeping tool, wages will be easier to calculate and account for.
One option to consider is outsourcing customer service and call center operations - this has been proven to reduce operating costs between 30-50%, as well as increase customer satisfaction. Engaging the services of an insurance service center will simplify your operations, and turn fixed costs into tax-deductible expenses.
Some insurance companies offer contact centers for various types of insurance, and using their service will reduce your expenses significantly. Give it some thought.
Remote insurance sales: Marketing a Virtual insurance agency
Potential customers are staying at home and spending a lot more time online. If you didn’t have a solid social media and online marketing plan, this is the time to make one and get it rolling. Insurance sales are on the rise, and you should take advantage of the crisis to create opportunities. Don’t get left behind by other agencies whose owners are not afraid to leap into the new waters of digital marketing.
The COVID pandemic has everyone worried - turn this into an opportunity by doubling down on advertising for your life and health insurance products. In times like these, people become interested in purchasing life insurance and expanding their health insurance, and insurance carriers may be willing to negotiate rates and commissions with you.
One big plus of going virtual is that your market is no longer bound by geography - you can recruit and hire independent agents regardless of location, and you can also sell and serve customers anywhere in the country. Make sure your insurance licensing is not limited to a specific region, and start selling in places you had never considered before.
A virtual insurance agency can be a very profitable business - take advantage of all that technology has to offer, and turn a crisis into an opportunity for growth for yourself, your company, and your team.
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.