Are you ready for a quick excursion down memory lane? It’s a short trip, so there’s no need to fire up the old DeSoto. Instead, just walk over to your nearest filing cabinet and dig deep into your oldest commercial lines folders (or scanned files). Inside many of them you’ll discover ancient black and white Polaroids and other photos of an insured’s or prospect’s place of business.
Many of these photographs were taken for agency or company underwriting purposes. Others were used to customize new business proposals. Regardless of the reason for their snapping, selected snapshots make meaningful and unique gifts for insureds and prospects when properly packaged and delivered. They denote and display the subject business’ past, its growth path, and most importantly, its connection to your agency.
Your office can rightfully take credit for helping your commercial clientele focus on their daily operations instead of worrying about insurable risks.
Photos to Look For
Some photos that you’ll uncover are more meaningful than others. Blurry drive-by images and pictures that don’t include the front of the building are best left in the folder. Crisp photos that clearly show the front of the property and any custom signage are frequently the most desirable. Other representations to search for include:
- Successful landlord’s first building of many.
- Retail chain’s oldest store, as it looked when it first opened.
- Retail business’ only store, as it looked when you first insured or quoted it.
- Homebuilder’s first residential subdivision.
- Successful restaurant’s premises prior to expansion.
- Strip mall’s first leased location.
- Professional firm’s first office building.
- Residence owned by a VIP client, as it looked when you initially insured it.
- Church’s parsonage home as it looked when you first covered it.
- Any building that you still insure while it was in the course of construction.
Individual photos. Scan, enlarge and enhance each photo that you wish to give away. Frame it in a business quality wall frame, complete with hanger wire and hook. Present the packaged image as a symbolic gift that dually represents the person’s early days in the business and the start of their relationship with your agency.
Photo collections. You have many accounts with more than one photograph worth framing. For instance, a landlord with multiple properties and a long history with your agency can generate a stack of file photos; at least one for each building that they own. You may also possess a selection of snapshots from years of unsuccessful quotes to a still desirable, yet hesitant prospect.
As with the individual photos, scan and enhance the pictures for a collection but instead of individually framing them, incorporate them all, in time sequence, in a printed, bound photo book. Use the first property insured or quoted with you, or the latest, on the cover. Apple’s iPhoto software, available for Macs only, makes the book creation process a pleasure. Windows users can create their photo books online using such Web services as Flicker.com or Shutterfly.com. Just make certain the framed photo or book’s value doesn’t exceed your state’s gift threshold limit.
You have two basic drop-off options: hand delivery or professional courier (Post Office, UPS, etc.). The former gives you the opportunity to get warm and fuzzy in person, chat for a few moments with the recipient, and perhaps reminisce. The latter treats the delivery more as a surprise gift that is customarily rewarded with a thank you phone call or e-mail. It might even include an invitation from a prospect to stop by. Both approaches require thoughtful handwritten comments that remind the business owner or manager about their firm’s history with your office. After all, a gift doesn’t really mean as much if it doesn’t include a personal note or card.
In this troubled economy, it’s essential that you make every effort to retain the business you have and strive to add new accounts as well. Gifting selected images to valued insureds and prospects helps in this regard. They creatively add the human touch to what is too often perceived by outsiders to be a cold and impersonal industry.
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