Become a Systemized Agency

Systematic Processing Allows Producers to Do What They Do Best … Sell


Catherine recently had a total knee replacement by an excellent orthopedic surgeon in Fremont, Calif. Dr. John Dearborn was recommended by two of our clients that have had incredible successes.

This surgeon implemented “systematic processing” of his business, very similar to the works of Michael Gerber of “The E Myth.” This processing of work is unlike what we see many professionals doing today. They do it all themselves, are workaholics, and wonder why they burn out.

From the initial meeting with the doctor to the postoperative work, every step of the way had been systemized.

The processes went into play from the first contact with Dr. Dearborn’s office. These same processes and procedures could be applied to work in an insurance agency office as well. If a doctor can systemize his business, so can an insurance producer. Simply substitute an experienced owner/producer and staff for the orthopedic surgeon and other agency staff throughout the process outlined in this article.

The Process

The doctor sent a binder (similar to a client proposal) about two weeks before the surgery that outlined everything to know before, during and after surgery. It also listed all of the appointments scheduled the week before surgery, the day of surgery and any follow-up visits.

Then the week before the surgery, Catherine went to the doctor’s office to have all the X-rays and coaching done, and went to the hospital nearby for tests, such as an EKG. This ended with a mandatory afternoon class with the nurses and physical therapists that would provide all the information she needed to know in order to prepare, have peace of mind and comfort. This was all taught in a group setting.

These preparation processes saved the physician and his team so much time. All the information that the patient needed was delivered through the use of a very well-written binder, and in a group setting by the people responsible for the different parts of the process. The binder answered basic questions in a very readable format, laid out well with tabs. This saved the nurses and doctors valuable time. Plus, the people who educated the group specialized in these processes. These specialists, who earn less than the doctor, performed all pieces of the puzzle.

Another useful approach is that all of the doctor’s staff were acknowledged and praised by their boss. Dr. Dearborn stated how they were integral parts to the process and all very good at what they did. It was by far the most efficient organization we have ever seen.

This whole system allowed Dr. Dearborn to perform up to 10 surgeries in a day. Qualified staff prepared the patient for surgery. The doctor was only involved with the intricate part of the actual joint replacement. The doctor greeted each family after surgery to discuss how it went. The doctor came to visit his patient with his team only one time post-surgery. The physician assistants (not doctors) handled the regular daily checkups.

Patients of Dr. Dearborn became like a little family. Patients recovered in a separate building behind the hospital and they were well taken care of. The joint replacement patients were not around sick patients and the staff had them walking the next day, attending two or three physical therapy classes.

Catherine received a customer service survey asking for recommendations for improvement. It was very thorough, with a strong emphasis on customer service.

Relevance to the Agency

Consider the agency’s client proposal the same as the initial instructions given by the doctor and his team in the pre-surgery meeting. Many insurance proposals need to include more helpful information such as contact lists, time schedules related to the process and supporting information on the policies and coverage. The agency can save time by answering the common questions or addressing typical issues in advance.

Replace a client insurance binder containing the insurance policies, summary of the services provided, description of the firm’s policies and procedures and service team (CSR assigned, claims and loss control people), for the patient’s guide to their replacement surgery.

So, the owner/producer gets a referral and screens this prospect over the phone using a prospect qualification list of key questions. If the prospect qualifies for the agency model, then the producer and the account executive (AE) visit the prospect and gather the appropriate data.

Back at the agency, the AE puts the ACORD forms together in conjunction with the CSR or marketing person who markets the account. The CSR or the CSR assistants type up the proposals using a detailed template that supplies the prospect with relevant information. Together, the producer and account executive present it to the prospect.

If the prospect agrees that the coverage will be bound, then the AE does the appropriate work to get the policies placed. When the policy comes, the CSR first checks it over, then either sends the policy to the client or an AE delivers it to the insured. The client is provided a binder that answers common questions and outlines how the agency handles service issues. Clients can refer the coverage binder or contact the service staff for support.

As service calls come in, the AE or CSR do the work. The producer only gets involved if there is a serious problem or at the next renewal for a visit with the AE.

A great technique is to brand the agency and create a common bond with clients. We recommend the agency set-up seminars for networking of clients and prospects. Often the agency can present such topics as risk management, loss control, or unique coverages.

Summary

By systemizing the business, owners can concentrate more on what they do best, which is usually sales. The roles, systems and procedures can be streamlined and handled by qualified, but less expensive people. Owners can make more money and employees will feel empowered if they are properly trained to follow the agency’s systemized processes.

About Catherine Oak and Bill Schoeffler

Oak is the founder of the consulting firm, Oak & Associates, based in Northern California and Central Oregon. Schoeffler is an associate of the firm. Oak & Associates. Phone: 707-936-6565. Email: catoak@gmail.com. More from Catherine Oak and Bill Schoeffler

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Insurance Journal West June 2, 2008
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