Starting an insurance business can be a smart career choice. Everyone needs insurance, and good insurance agents are also important assets to the community.
Like many other business owners, insurance agents have entered the fast-paced information age, and have had to adapt to new customer practices and demands. Customers have access to more information than ever, and want to make the most informed decisions about their insurance. Therefore, an insurance company's "reputation quotient" is more important than ever.
What Makes a Good Company?
A recent Harris poll breaks reputation quotient down into six dimensions that companies of every type should strive to address:
• Social responsibility
• Emotional appeal
• Product and service offering
• Workplace environment
• Financial performance
• Vision and leadership
Clearly you can't run a successful insurance agency without the products and services people want, but you also have to pay attention to "soft" skills so that people feel good about doing business with you. These soft skills can also affect how efficiently your business runs.
Listen to Your Customers
Insurance agents don't retain customers by forcing them into products they don't like that result in higher commissions. By listening to customer needs, insurance agents may make lower commissions sometimes, but they'll keep the customers and will spend less time having to drum up new business. Word of mouth recommendations carry real weight.
Your disposition and that of your employees is also critically important. You don't have to try to be something you're not (which can come across as fake and a turn-off), but you do need to have a certain amount of energy and enthusiasm for what you're doing. You also have to be able to handle rejection with a smile. And there is absolutely no substitute for honesty. Dishonest insurance agents either won't stay in business long, or will run into major trouble later on.
These "people skills" should be built on a foundation of strong, up-to-date knowledge about the insurance industry, trends, and product offerings.
Did you get a bad review from a customer? Read this post on "How To Respond to a Negative Insurance Review"
Invest in Online
Online sales and service may be a big part of your business, or a minor part. But not having an online presence these days is practically career suicide.
Investing in the services of a skilled, trusted web designer to build your website in compliance with corporate and industry regulations, and taking the time to put valuable content on your site (or hiring someone to do it for you) is critical to having steady web traffic and keeping existing and potential customers informed. Building a social media strategy is also important.
If you don't know how to do this, you can outsource it to a person or company that does. For today's insurance agents, brand building online is important just like brand building in your geographic community is.
Wondering how we get over 100,000 visitors a month to our website and blog? Check out how we boosted our online traffic by over 5,000%.
Hire Administrative Help
If you're spending too much time fielding phone calls, opening mail, and replying to emails, consider hiring administrative help so you can focus on your core business process: selling insurance.
When you hire an administrative worker, you can be sure someone is always in the office, and when this person happens to be licensed to sell insurance, he or she can help you build business as well.
Whether you hire someone who is already licensed or you're willing to help them become licensed is up to you, but it's a smart qualification for your assistant to have.
Consider Surety Bonds
Some insurance agents also sell surety bonds. Surety bonds are necessary for many types of transactions, from obtaining a business license to accepting a construction contract to replacing a lost car title. Insurance agents sometimes avoid surety bonds because they think they take more time than they're worth.
However, internet technology has made the selling surety bonds as quick and painless as possible, cutting processing time significantly. Selling surety bonds can help you develop a healthy revenue stream that adds to your insurance company's success, even if you don't have a resident bond expert on staff.