Organic produce is popular. Free-range chicken is chic. So, why not get trendy and organically grow your agency?
Naturally, inorganic growth is faster because it involves the buying of agencies, hiring producers with books of business, and other speedy volume builders. But organic growth has its own set of virtues, particularly its relative low cost and high retention compared to buying agencies. Also, developing new commissions on your own, from internal sources, is personally and professionally satisfying. Here are eight ways to do it.
Most firms transact business with a semi-defined collection of suppliers and customers. Often, these relationships evolve into small local networks where information, ideas and referrals are exchanged. Discover who belongs to each insured’s network by exploring the company’s social media connections and postings, its website, and by simply asking. Endeavor to gain an introduction to as many network members as possible. Perform these cross-prospecting activities with each quality business you insure.
Your claims files and certificates of insurance contain potential business leads. Not-at-fault third-party claimants involved in car accidents with your insureds, and firms that request certificates of insurance may be amenable to a competitive quote.
Revisit Your Failures
Dig up and revive recent cancellations and re-solicit failed quotes. You already have semi-fresh contact information and underwriting data, making your job easier. (See “7 Ways for Independent Agents to Recover Lost Policies” in the April 22 issue for tips.)
Agencies that actively gather referrals sometimes neglect to follow up on them. So continue to request fresh referrals from quality insureds, but also go after those you’ve collected but not yet contacted.
Attract business by promoting specific policies and endorsements through the agency’s existing media. “Free” digital advertising venues encompass staff email signatures, promotional emails, ads on your own website and blog, and creative social media postings with enticing links back to you. Traditional approaches include adding inserts to outgoing policies and other mailings and old school promos like newsletters, fax cover pages, and on-hold messages.
Cross-selling, up-selling, prospecting and new business development belongs in every CSR’s job description. If these front-line staffers simply service policies and fail to probe for fresh sales, then your office is missing out on the easiest, most effective method of organic growth.
Hire a Marketer
An in-house marketer is a smart investment for any agency dedicated to organic growth. This individual helps to spot and generate leads from inside and outside your client base, using digital and traditional devices. They can add qualified leads to a commercial producer’s pipeline while assisting CSRs to identify salable leads and market personal lines. Tip: If you can’t afford to hire a full- or part-time marketer, consider a college intern who’ll happily work at or near minimum wage.
Meet and Greet
Connect and reconnect with agency insureds. Hold periodic “meet the staff” events in your office that are friendly and low key. Don’t try to sell anybody anything. This social-only approach is refreshing as it lets producers and CSRs act as hosts, instead of salespeople. Offer insurance information only upon request. This face-to-face “image advertising” favors your long-term interests.
Organic growth is more than a choice, it’s a real business-saver for agencies that can’t afford or attract acquisitions and producers. Most of the internal sales activities cited here are free or low cost. Being an independent agent partly means doing stuff for yourself – so take aggressive advantage of your firm’s many internal resources.