Don’t Treat Small Business Accounts Like Personal Lines

By | December 21, 2015

In the mad rush to economize on and digitize virtually every insurance transaction and relationship activity, some small-business owners are getting shortchanged — and that’s shortsighted.

Still, the growing dominance of the digital world is an overall positive for small business. Its ever-expanding reach enhances the likelihood of growth. Viral social marketing victories, a popular app, and effective e-commerce actions all push this possibility. Meanwhile, the potential for progress from traditional sales and marketing activities remains intact. Plus there’s always the hypothetical of “instant growth” via merger, acquisition, franchising, and outside investments.

Express Actual Interest

How can you get a handle on the growth potential and future plans of the small businesses you insure if they’re viewed as insignificant blips on your bottom line? To grow this book, and to fulfill your promise as a full service insurance office, maintain and express actual interest in the welfare of each small firm you insure. A “contact us with any changes” form letter accompanying or preceding a set of renewal policies doesn’t express this sentiment. A forward-looking questionnaire and a follow-up phone call can clue you in on the insured’s future plans — but a pre-renewal get-together does it better. Then, once you two are face-to-face, you’ll learn where they are today and where they’re headed.

Avoid the Black Hole

The primary argument against such face time is that a producer, whose main job is to sell, cannot expend his or her valuable time renewing/servicing small business accounts. It’s true that many businesses are and will remain small, but as noted above, this assumption can be fallacious. Don’t permanently dump every account under $X in premium or commission into the black hole of an internal small-business unit operated by overworked or disinterested staffers. It’s an invitation to losing the business to rivals (both traditional and digital-centric) who value these accounts more than you do.

Re-examine Small Accounts

Continuously re-examine your small-business book for potential growth accounts. Your producers can then use their professional knowledge, experience and connections to help selected small businesses flourish — while you grow along with them. Fishing for leads from within this base is an efficient, affordable method for producers to develop new business opportunities while simultaneously reinforcing client loyalty.

Local Firms Help Each Other

You are likely a small, local business yourself, so it makes sense to help others in the same position, especially when it benefits both your community and your bottom line. For instance, when you see complementary needs or synergy between agency insureds, recommend them to each other, privacy laws permitting.

Deliver Renewals in Person

Instead of just dumping small-business renewals in the mail, outside producers or dedicated “renewal specialists” can conduct pre-renewal or policy delivery appointments with selected insureds. When a firm’s policies are digitally delivered online, stop by and display them on a tablet or notebook PC.

It’s Not Personal Lines

The year 2016 brings with it more digital advantages to your agency and clientele, but it comes with disconnects as well. Don’t confuse small business with personal lines, although they both offer direct bill and digital delivery. They lack the same homogeneity, and some operations have the potential to grow into sizeable accounts. So, treat these diminutive operations with the respect they’re due. Routinely fish for budding giants within this universe; all you need are a few winners to make the effort profitable.

About Alan L. Shulman

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas® sales and marketing newsletter (free basic subscription at www.agencyideas.com/join). He is also the author of “500 Sales Ideas for Commercial Lines Producers” among many other P&C sales resources. Email: alan@agencyideas.com. Website: www.agencyideas.com. More from Alan L. Shulman

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Insurance Journal West December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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