How Independent Agents Can Use ‘Being Local’ to Their Advantage

By Alan L. Shulman | January 28, 2013

As an independent agent, you possess many advantages over the national P/C marketers that operate mainly online and over the phone. One strong point, among many, is that you operate out of a local office. Don’t look at this as expensive overhead; instead, use your physical presence to differentiate your operation.

Here are several tactics and reminders to consider.

In-Office Events

Invite insureds and prospects in for a series of free agency-hosted events. These might include a simple meet and greet office tour, a jewelry appraisal day (with a hired professional), or a lively insurance education seminar for new teenage drivers. You can even host a policy organization session where attendees bring in all of their insurance papers, regardless of who writes the policies. Staffers assist visitors in discarding outdated policies and bills, and organizing those that are current. Insureds and prospects benefit from a helpful house cleaning, and you get the opportunity to eyeball any policies that you don’t yet write. And when your companies offer it, tout discounts for online policy delivery, where paper contracts “disappear.”

Use your place of business for more than a workspace.

Umbrella Policies

Virtually every quality personal lines insured/prospect needs an umbrella (or excess liability) policy. Use your office advantage to entertainingly entice selected visitors to ask about the contract – by offering them a beverage. Provide a little paper umbrella (available at most party stores) along with their water, soda or coffee. When the recipient comments on the mini-umbrella, initiate a brief policy discussion and provide an instant courtesy quote. You can even give them a real golf umbrella (available for a few dollars from many carriers) after they buy.

House Calls

In-person sales calls are seemingly quaint throwbacks to the pre-Internet era, yet they remain viable, at least with quality personal lines prospects. People are never more comfortable than they are at home and when the hosting duties are theirs. You get to see how they live – and view all of their policies while you’re there (when you require this as a precondition). Ask the host to invite neighbors and adult family members who don’t live with them to stop by, to turn your sales visit into a larger event. Underwrite, rate and close on the spot, when possible. As a side benefit, the people who buy this way are slower to abandon you (for minor savings) due to this pleasant personal experience.

Further Advantages

Additional local-only actions you might employ include holding a “financial services” fair in conjunction with non-competing professionals. You promote P/C; they tout life, health, tax services, etc. If your agency is housed in a mall that holds sidewalk sales, participate by offering instant quotes from an outdoor table. You can even invite happy local insureds to recommend your services via live, two-way, video chat while desirable shoppers sit in your office. And of course, the service advantages of your local presence are many. People get to see, interact with, and gain professional advice from a friendly face, instead of a distant stranger or digital interface. Forever tout this buyer’s benefit.

Use your place of business for more than a workspace; employ it to your agency’s advantage. It’s something that most national marketers don’t have (GEICO excepted, in some locales). Wield it aggressively to demonstrate your connection to the community and to sell in ways that only a locally based operation can. These actions supplement, but do not replace, your online marketing and sales efforts. Maximize your agency’s growth by promoting all it has to offer, vigorously, within the physical and digital worlds.

image of Alan L. Shulman

About Alan L. Shulman

Shulman is the publisher of Agency Ideas, a subscription-only sales and marketing newsletter. He is also the author of the many tools posted on the Agency Ideas Instant Download Store. Phone: 800-724-1435. Email: alan@agencyideas.com. Website: www.agencyideas.com. More from Alan L. Shulman

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West January 28, 2013
January 28, 2013
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Excess, Surplus & Specialty Markets Directory, Volume I

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