By Diane Wagner, COO, First Choice Agents Alliance.
Change is coming and now is not the time to stand in place. It is the time to act and prepare for the opportunity ahead. Embrace the potential that independency offers your agency as you make the transition from Exclusive to Independent agency.
This new world is NOT for the faint of heart. There are a number of strategic and tactical things to consider as you make this change for your business (and personal) life. Are you up for the challenge? Do you have the time and resources to learn new systems and ways of doing business? From a strategic standpoint, do you have a plan? Does it include the foundations for success: Growth, Profit and Perpetuation?
1. The Sky is the Limit!
This is your business and the sky is the limit. What is your vision for your agency in five years? Ten years? What about the end game? Down the road, will you sell, perpetuate? Start building a plan with your vision in mind, from 30,000 feet.
Create a strategy to help bring you to your end game in bite-size pieces. Create 90-day plans with execution at a high level. Hold yourself and your staff accountable for the results you desire. Ask yourselves weekly, “Is what we are doing today as an agency bringing us closer to our plan or further away?”
2. You Get to Do What You Love!
What type of business do you enjoy writing and what would you like to write more of? If commercial insurance is outside of your comfort zone, are you looking to hire? A strong mix of business is a key to growth. Again, the sky is the limit and the past is the past.
What insurance company contracts will you need to achieve this vision and how will you feed those new relationships? If you don’t know it already, in the independent world, the insurance companies expect to be fed!
3. You Have Choices!
Start the evaluation of whether you will join a group or go it alone.
Take your time, don’t be swayed by one-time offers, such as reduced fees, to join now. There is plenty of time to properly evaluate the best program for your agency. This is a very important decision in the life of your agency and it should not be taken lightly.
What are the features and benefits of the groups you are considering for your agency based on your plan? What is the return on the investment? Joining any group should be an investment. Know your numbers and what the specific financial return will be. Understand what the contract says. What are your obligations and how specifically do you exit if it’s not the right program for you? Make sure you are in no way jeopardizing your existing contract!
4. You Can Decide on Your Technology.
Invest in your agency management system now.
The purchase and implementation of an agency management system is a massive undertaking and is a critical decision in the life of an agency. Don’t wait to be pushed into the deep end of the pool! Go now, go slow, and learn. The swimming will be a lot easier for you and your staff. This is not an area to skimp relative to time or investment. Do your homework. Every agency’s needs are different. What may be a good system for one may not be for another. There is no time like the present.
Diane Wagner is the Chief Operating Officer for First Choice Agents Alliance. She has 35+ years in the insurance industry, including 13 years as owner of a SIAA territory. She can help you build your plan for independency and evaluate any aggregator / cluster opportunities you might be considering.
First Choice is an aggregator group run by Nationwide agents with a mission to help Nationwide make the transition to independency. It’s important to know who you are aggregating your books of business with prior to making that decision.
We are here to help. Do business with people you know!