Inspiration can be hard to come by so here are 5 blog topic ideas to consider writing about:
Insurance Agency Websites - Do It Right Because When Will You Have Time To Do It Over?
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you are going to do something, then do it right”. Then there’s a quote by John Robert Wooden who was an American basketball player and head coach at the University of California at Los Angeles who said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”.
I don’t believe there is a perfect website on the internet. It’s subjective, but it’s easy to spot bad ones. There is a lot going on within a website that we don’t see, but what we do see can either make a great impression or a bad one.
Here Are 5 Elements of a Good Website
Design - Is it aesthetically pleasing? The design of your website will be the first thing a visitor will see when they arrive on your agency’s website. You only have seconds to grab a visitor’s attention before they leave your website. Use a website theme or template, uncluttered layout, appealing colors and make use of white space.
Content - In my experience, this is the one independent insurance agents struggle with the most. Think about the quote, “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”. If you have decided to build a website for your independent insurance agency, you don’t have to rush to get it published. Take time and think about what your agency offers and how you stand out from the crowd of other local agents in your area. Answer the questions your potential customers want to hear, why they should contact you for their insurance needs.
Call To Action - They like what they see. Make sure they know exactly how to contact you no matter what page of your website they’re on. Examples of calls to action, “Get A Quote Now”, “Click Here To Call”, “Directions To Our Agency”.
Continuity (Page Navigation) - When a visitor comes to your website, it should be easy to navigate to the information they are looking for. Page navigation should be clear, concise and uncluttered. Don’t bury pages deep within other pages.
Mobile - Your website should be mobile-friendly. Period. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you are losing mobile visitors immediately. Most people will visit your website from a mobile device. If they have to use their fingers to zoom in to see your page and content, they are leaving.
These are just a handful of tips. Don’t forget to keep your website fresh. Update your website with fresh content, blog, use real photos of your agency, use your brand and logo to prominently stand out and separate you from your local competition.
As an independent insurance agency owner, you want your agency’s name and brand to stand out in the local crowd.
Does your agency have a logo? If yes, does it help represent your agency’s brand, products and services?
I recently came across an agency’s website that uses a bird in the logo. The name of the agency includes a bird species in the name, but as a standalone logo you would never know it was the logo of an insurance agency. But together, the logo and text were very memorable. I saw that logo and name a couple of months ago and I still remember the name of the agency. To me, that is great brand recognition.
The goal of a logo is to build brand recognition.
Here are 5 reasons why your independent insurance agency (small business) needs a logo for the agency’s brand:
These are just a handful of reasons why your independent insurance agency should have a brand. The brand and logo should be used consistently on all marketing materials including your independent insurance agency’s website, your web marketing business listings, marketing materials, email signature, forms, and anything with your insurance agency’s name.
In Journalism they used to teach the 5 WHs for writing a news article: The Who, What, When, Where, Why and sometimes How of the story. Think about your independent insurance agency’s website as the story people are searching to read.
Your agency’s website must have all the important elements to be a successful insurance website.
Within seconds of that first look, a visitor should be able to see who you are, what you sell, when you are available, where you are located and why people should do business with your agency. Your website might have beautiful pictures and fabulous design but if the content isn’t there to show a potential customer those 5 WHs, then you will lose them before they look any further.
Does your agency’s website make it easy to:
If your website is optimized and people are searching for the products and services you offer, your agency’s website is the first thing people will see. Remember, a majority of your clients and potential clients will visit your website before they make contact with you or your staff. Does your insurance agency website have the who, what, when, where and why of what they are looking for?
Take some time and audit your website. Make good notes and make improvements where necessary.
Insurance Shopping Around
I’m currently shopping around for a better rate on my auto, home and umbrella policies. I requested a copy of all of my declaration pages from my “big” captive insurance company where I’ve been a customer for over 25 years. My rates just went up on my auto policy so I decided to shop around.
I chose my agent years ago because of the company’s reputation and the local agent’s proximity to my house. I’ve stayed with them because I felt loyal to the company. My loyalty has since subsided. They sent me the dec pages I requested and the email salutation said, “Dear Policyholder”. How cold.
Now I’m working with one of AccuAgency’s Georgia agents to find a better rate. He’s been fantastic. He said he will be there to fight for me if ever there is a claim. That really means a lot. I’ve called on my big captive company agent over the years and I’ve never heard them say they would fight for me. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard them take a personal interest in any of my insurance needs for all of these years. I just get a tiny plastic business card sized calendar in the mail every December.
So I’m going independent insurance agent. I’m confident I’ve found the right insurance agent who can save me money and find the protection I need. I feel like I’m going from just another number or just another policy to an agent who cares about my family and my insurance and financial needs and goals.
If a customer calls or emails and requests a copy of all of their dec pages, does that throw up a red flag at your agency? Do you oblige and send it without question or do you dig and find out more. Why do they need the dec pages? What can you do to help them?
How To Use Facebook Live
Would you like to increase the number of likes and followers you have on your insurance agency’s Facebook page? Would you like more exposure for your insurance agency?
Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Live videos on April 6, 2016. He said, “Facebook Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket.” He noted, “When you interact live you feel connected in a more personal way. This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it's going to create new opportunities for people to come together.”
Video is growing fast. Really fast. 500 million people are watching videos on Facebook every day and 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. Consider using Facebook Live video.
You might try one of the following:
It’s easy to go live on Facebook. If you want to be mobile, log into Facebook from your phone. If you have a webcam on your computer, use the Google Chrome web browser. You’re limited to a single view on your computer’s webcam. For the suggestions above, use your mobile phone and access Facebook Live.
To go live:
That’s the easiest and fastest way to go live. For the Best Practices visit the Facebook Live “Tips for using Facebook Live” page. Get tips on how to tell people you’re going live ahead of your broadcast, broadcasting from a strong connection and writing a great description before you go live. You’ll find a bunch of examples of Facebook Live videos to check out.
Employee Spotlight - Alex Velez, Technical Support
Today we’re talking to Alex, as many of you have called in for support or chatted online and talked to Alex. Many of you might know he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever talk to and he's great at solving your technical support issues. But did you know he plays the ocarina? Let’s get to know Alex a little better.
How long have you worked at AccuAgency?
I've worked at AccuAgency for 6 years.
What do you love about your job?
There is always something new. Whether it is troubleshooting a new issue, learning something new while testing bugs, or finding more efficient ways of doing an existing job. There is always some new surprise that can be found.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I am an avid musician. I've been playing saxophone for more than 12 years. On top of that, I’m always looking to learn new instruments. I already have considerable experience with saxophone, oboe, and ocarina; I'm currently working on guitar. Others on the list are accordion, piano, theremin, trumpet, and the drumset.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
I love watching Twitch, especially E-Sports. From Starcraft and Dota to Hearthstone and Quake, I could watch those for hours.
What is something you would like to learn to do?
I’ve always wanted to learn more languages. I’m currently learning German, but Japanese is the one I’ve always wanted to learn the most. Also, learning to do visual arts such as drawing and painting better.
What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
My brother Santiago told me the best way to change is to be uncomfortable. It has helped me push myself to do more and to find what things I can improve in my life.
Time To Write The Blog
Your independent insurance agency should have a website and if you have a website you should have a blog page you post to weekly, if not more often. A blog is a way to share information. You aren’t promoting your insurance products and services, you’re stimulating interest in your agency and the insurance products and services you offer.
Drive More Traffic and Get More Leads
You may ask, how does blogging benefit my agency? Bottom-line, blogging drives more traffic to your website. How often do you update and refresh your website content? Probably not often. When you blog you’re updating your website and adding more content. Search engines like Google like to see that you are actively updating your website. When they see updates, they index these updates and it improves your search engine visibility. More organic search engine visibility means more website traffic and therefore more leads.
Here are 15 blog topics you might consider writing about:
Writing your blog:
Publish at least one blog a week every week. It can be overwhelming and time consuming to write a blog but your efforts will really pay off. Once you start writing and publishing you’ll be on a roll. You’ll see things in the news and online and get inspiration. Follow other insurance blogs for ideas.
Use images to make your blog look more professional. Set up a stock photo account and purchase images that will make your blog stand out. Make sure you have the rights to the images you are posting on your blog.
Always share your blogs on your insurance agency social pages (Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and Google+).
This month we’re spotlighting Ken McFeeters, Agent and Owner of PAC Insurance Agency, Inc. PAC Insurance has locations in Hoover, Roebuck and Bessemer, Alabama.
PAC Insurance Agency, Inc. was incorporated in 1981. By focusing their efforts and caring about their customers they have become one of the largest personal lines insurance agencies in Alabama.
How many years have you been an insurance agent?
What is your favorite thing about being an agent?
Working with and helping people. Ken really likes helping people with issues or problems that might occur and feels his experience can help him better serve his customers when they have trouble. He also likes working with the Alabama State Legislation and the Big I legislative committee to help the insurance industry. Ken helped with the electronic verification bill and the agent's fee bill in Alabama.
What advice would you give someone wanting to be an insurance agent?
Be patient. Building an agency takes time and renewals are the key to longevity.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Ken enjoys adventure boat trips. Recent trips include taking his boat from Destin to Fort Lauderdale and another trip from Destin to Key West.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
Ken recently adopted a 2 year old German Shepherd (pictured above) from the local shelter. He named her Carlee. Carlee is now a regular at his office in Bessemer, Alabama.
Know Your Competition
Mark Sanborn, a best-selling author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur said, “If you aren’t a little different than your competition, you’re in trouble.”
Do you know your competition?
Is your agency located in an area with other independent insurance agencies? If the answer is yes, do you think you are different than the other insurance agencies? Can you honestly say you provide your customers a better customer service experience? Better products and services?
Keeping up with your competition is a great way to grow your business. Identify the markets that aren’t being met by your competition. Then consider offering products and services they don’t.
Compile a spreadsheet and note your products and services vs. your competitor’s products and services. What do you offer that they don’t? Find your differences and market those. “We sell boat insurance!”. Compare your operating hours. Are you and open Saturdays and they aren’t? “OPEN Saturdays!” Compare the number of companies you represent. “We’ll find the best coverage for your insurance needs. We represent 12 top rated insurance carriers.”
Attend trade shows to find more markets and products. Companies and carriers want your business. The more you offer, the more you’ll stand out compared to your competition. In addition, you’ll network with other agents, carrier marketing representatives and insurance association representatives to learn about things that are working for them and their agencies.
Here’s a basic example of a tracking spreadsheet. Add to this and find areas where you stand out. Market to your potential customers and promote what makes your independent insurance agency shine compared to your competition.
Is Your Agency Customer Friendly?
Is your office easy to find? Is your office tidy and inviting?
Here are some things your independent insurance agency can do to make your office more customer friendly:
You see your office almost everyday. Get an outside opinion on things you can do to spruce up your agency. Ask your spouse or a friend to tell you what they think of your office.
There are other things you can do to keep your office looking ship shape. Ask your employees keep a clean and tidy desk. You want to make a good impression on your customers so they will feel welcomed. If they feel good about coming into your agency, they will come back to see you when they need additional products and services that you offer.
Do you do anything special at your office that may benefit other insurance agents? Maybe you offer snacks or you have a cooler with sodas and waters for your clients. Do you offer free Wi-Fi? Do you update your furniture as it gets worn and outdated? Do you subscribe to sports related magazines for sports fans? Do you have some cool artwork on your walls?
We’d love to hear about some things you do that makes visiting your insurance agency a pleasant experience. Please tell us in the comments section below.
Optimize Landing Pages for Lead Generation
A landing page is defined as a web page a visitor arrives at after clicking on a link. Typically you arrive at a landing page after clicking on a link on a website home page. Let’s say your insurance agency website has a button to “Get A Quote” or “Get An Instant Auto Quote”. When a visitor clicks the link, they are taken to a landing page.
A landing page should be designed using the KISS method. The acronym KISS stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. The principle was designed by the U.S. Navy in 1960. It states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than complicated. The goal is simplicity and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
15 Things to consider when designing your landing page:
Once you have built your landing page and your campaign is live, be sure to track your campaign. Is it successful? If your campaign needs improvement, consider making changes to your landing page and test other versions.
Slow Load Times Can Mean Lost Customers
People are impatient. Everyone wants everything fast. When you do a search online you expect fast results and slow load times can mean lost visitors and lost customers.
42% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
A one second delay in page response can result in a 7% decrease in conversions.
Does your insurance agency’s website load in less than 2 seconds?
If your insurance agency’s website doesn’t load fast, your potential customers will click the back button and return to their search to find another result.
There are websites that will tell you how fast your web page is loading. Google “web page speed test” and you will find a number of services that will tell you how fast your web page is loading.
Check your mobile and desktop page load speeds. You may need to address both once you get the results.
If you manage your own website, you should look at the following factors that impact web page speed:
Improving website performance can be a bit overwhelming, but once you fix some of the main culprits you’ll see a noticeable improvement in page load time.
Insurance Agents Are…
It won’t come as a surprise to hear that insurance agents have a less than stellar reputation. I have Google alerts set up for certain phrases that appear online in the news. I set one up for “insurance agent arrested”. I recently received Google notifications for stories including, “Grifton insurance agent charged again with embezzling from elderly”1, “Two Former Agents Face 55 Felony Counts in Life Scheme”2, and “Loris insurance agent arrested for scamming customers”3.
Here’s something that may make you laugh or cringe, go to Google and type in “insurance agents ar”. Google’s autocomplete search predictions returned the following:
I would never say insurance agents are scum or crooks. But if Google predicts that is something people will search then someone has to be writing about that topic. Now consider if one of those two phrases took you to a page about you and your agency.
Does your agency have a good online reputation? As an agent you want to know what is being said about you online. Think about your entire insurance agency’s internet marketing presence. Will potential clients see your insurance agency as reputable? Engaged? Knowledgeable? An authority on insurance products and services? An independent agency with a clean and unique insurance agency website?
Manage your brand reputation
Managing your agency means managing your brand reputation. Monitor what people are saying about you online. People trust online reviews. So needless to say, you need positive online reviews. When you get a review you should be notified so you can respond to the review.
Manage your notifications in Google My Business
Google says, “You can choose which kinds of Google My Business notifications you receive on your mobile device and in your email inbox. Notifications can help in a variety of ways, like letting you know when customers leave photos or reviews for your business listing, alerting you to product news from Google, and reminding you to keep your listing up-to-date.”
Turn on Google My Business customer reviews notifications:
Manage your notifications on Facebook
If you have elected to allow people to leave reviews on your Facebook business page, you can get a notification each time there is activity on your page.
You can adjust a number of settings and get a notification each time there is activity on your agency's Facebook page or an important page update, get a notification every 12-24 hours on all activity and updates on your page during that time or turn off all notifications.
Never turn off your notifications. Closely monitor all of your online social activity.
I mentioned Google Alerts at the start of this blog. I have alerts set up for work related and non-work related notifications. At the least, I suggest setting up an alert for your name, your agency’s name and your competitor’s agency name(s).
Setting Up Google Alerts
Freshen Up & Tune Up
Once you have set up alerts and notifications on Google and Facebook, take some time to freshen up and tune-up your social media and internet marketing. Do you have products you would like to showcase? Facebook allows you to showcase multiple products. Take some time and create a unique product or services page. In Google, add more photos, add a video testimonial, check your business hours and business categories and update your listing as necessary.
Now go help Google’s autocomplete to say, “Insurance Agents Are Awesome”!
“Hurricane” is a Native American word meaning “Evil Spirit of the Wind”.
The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially started on June 1 and ends November 1 but most storms occur during peak hurricane season between August and October.
2017 Prediction: Above Average Activity
Hurricane season begins when the waters of the Atlantic become warmer. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released its outlook on May 25th predicting a 45% chance of an above normal season. 35% chance of a normal season and only a 20% chance of a below normal season of activity. The NOAA’s above normal prediction means the east coast can expect to see 11-17 named storms.
Whether the predictions call for above normal or below normal activity, always be prepared and have a plan. People living on the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coasts or Caribbean should have a disaster plan laid out. Benjamin Friedman, acting administrator of the NOAA, said “the most dangerous part is not the wind and the rain, it’s the flooding and the storm surge that occurs afterward. We need to be prepared for all of that”.
Think ahead and plan for:
Your Agency’s Data & Disaster Recover Plan
Most insurance agencies use data files throughout the workday. Data backup and recovery should be an integral part of the business plan and information technology disaster recovery plan. Your agency should conduct frequent data and security backups if you use on site files. Backups like cartridges, tapes and large capacity USB drives. Backups and the security of off-site storage should be in the agency’s business plan. Most vendors like agency management system software companies offer data backup services including storage in the “cloud”.
Have recovery strategies for:
Assuming your data is backed up offsite or in the “cloud”, the data can be accessed at an alternate site and your business can continue operating.
Your agency should develop a disaster recovery plan taking into account the recovery strategies listed above. The plan should ensure all your agency’s critical information is protected and backed up.
Are you and your agency on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social media network designed for business professionals to showcase their job experience and professional outlook and thoughts.
LinkedIn is a great place to discuss industry news and the products you specialize in at your agency. LinkedIn was created to be a networking tool. It’s a great place to tell your agency’s story, share career opportunities and market your insurance products and expertise.
LinkedIn is growing fast. 2 new LinkedIn members join per second. 3 million LinkedIn users share content each week.
You may think LinkedIn isn’t for you but you should reconsider. Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn company pages and posts high in search engine results pages.
Just having a LinkedIn company page isn’t enough. You will need to update, share, post and contribute insurance industry and product knowledge to your company page. Optimize your post content with insurance terms to improve your search results on Google and other search engines. As a result you will see your insurance agency website traffic increase.
If you still haven’t bought in, consider creating your insurance agency’s LinkedIn page as a boost to your agency’s reputation and trustworthiness.
With the recent cyber security attack in Europe and some companies in the United States, data breaches are becoming more common and more costly. Businesses that have been exposed to data breaches face civil liability from customers, credit card issuers, business partners and stakeholders.
PC Magazine defines a data breach as, “An unauthorized dissemination of information. It may be due to an attack on the network or outright theft of paper documents, portable disks, USB drives or laptops. Sensitive information can also be found in trash cans when reports are carelessly discarded.”
As an insurance agent you gather personal data such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers, credit card or bank account information and more. Most agencies have moved away from paper records to electronic data systems and web based applications to store your agency’s data. The personal information and data must be protected from hackers and data breaches. But these days that isn’t always possible.
Most small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses or a data breach. That’s because most small business owners think they’re too insignificant to be attacked. The reality is most data thieves are looking for an easy target. Security software company Symantec did a study and found that 40% of attacks are against organizations with fewer than 500 employees. Computer hackers aren’t the only ones who can attack your agency. Your agency can be open to attacks by disgruntled or recently fired employees who have access to your data.
If you are reading this, you’re probably an insurance agent or you work at an insurance agency. If anyone should know why you carry insurance, you do. A business liability policy is unlikely to protect against most cyber exposures. Most commercial policies are written to insure against physical loss or injury. These policies don’t protect your agency from electronic damages associated with a data breach.
Like the recent ransomware data breach a cyber liability insurance policy covers cyber extortion. Cyber extortion is when hackers hijack your website, data, and/or networks and deny you access until you pay them to restore your systems. Cyber liability insurance covers expenses associated with data breaches like credit monitoring, costs to defend claims against state regulators and losses resulting from identify theft.
Does your agency have Cyber Liability Insurance? If not, contact your broker and discuss the level of coverage your agency needs based on your range of exposure.
Tension, conflict, fighting, friction, whatever you call it, can have a drastic effect on productivity in the workplace. You’ve probably experienced some workplace conflicts due to deadlines, clashes in personalities, different work methods, power plays and emotional issues. A little healthy competition isn’t a bad thing but working in a volatile atmosphere isn’t good for your agency or your employees.
The best thing to do is nip it in the bud as soon as you are aware of it. First, encourage your employees to work it out. If the conflict persists, listen to both sides individually and don’t play favorites. Identify the issues at hand and get to the source of the conflict. If necessary, refer to your employee handbook. Once a solution is found, you may want to document the incident. Some employees may need time to cool off and in some cases you may want to reevaluate your staff.
You may find that some employees who continue to hold a grudge can’t work it out no matter how much talking you do. There are workplace communication and problem solving training courses available if it comes to that. This problem-solving therapy helps people cope with difficulties in the workplace and teaches them to proactively solve their problems. You may not have the resources or time so once again, you may want to reevaluate your staff.
The worst thing you can do is let these conflicts continue to fester. Employees will spend a lot of time discussing their version and getting people on their side. That time is wasted time. The tension and conflict could lead to bad decisions being made and lowering job motivation due to poor focus. You could lose an employee if one gets fed up and decides to leave because of the conflict. The conflict could lead to sabotage and damage to the business as the employee’s anger grows due to lack of resolution.
Bottom line, get to the bottom of the conflict, speak to those engaged in the conflict and get it resolved before your business is affected.
We’re spotlighting another one of our wonderful agents, Janeth Ochoa, Owner and Manager at El Gallo de Oro or The Golden Rooster. The Golden Rooster agency is located in Gainesville, Georgia.
Janeth’s agency offers home insurance, auto insurance, commercial insurance, workers compensation, general liability and tags and titles and more.
We asked Janeth a few questions about being an agent. Janeth exclaimed the Nike slogan when asked about insurance, “Just Do It”.
How long have you been an insurance agent?
What's your favorite thing about being an insurance agent?
"The best aspect is being able to work with people and help them."
What advice would you give someone who wants to be an insurance agent?
"Just do it. It's a great field to get into."
What is something about you that would surprise people?
"I love crossfit and do it as much as I can"
If you would like to be included in our agent spotlight, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the worst things you can do for your body and your health is nothing. Leading a sedentary lifestyle, for example, parked on a couch, may contribute to anxiety, depression, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Now let’s say your body is your agency’s website. Your agency’s website lives on the internet. If you don’t frequently update your website with fresh content and new information, it will become stagnant and drop in organic search rankings never to be found on search engine inquiries.
Fear not. If you update your website often with high quality content, search engines will reward you for it. Keep your website healthy by staying engaged and up-to-date. Consider updating your website with blog articles, videos and new web pages. The more frequently you update your website the more often a search engine will crawl and index it.
A web crawler or spider is a program that visits websites and reads the pages to create entries for a search engine index. Here’s how Google describes their indexing, “The crawling process begins with a list of web addresses from past crawls and sitemaps provided by website owners. As our crawlers visit these websites, they use links on those sites to discover other pages. The software pays special attention to new sites, changes to existing sites and dead links. Computer programs determine which sites to crawl, how often and how many pages to fetch from each site.”
Note that Google pays close attention to “changes to existing sites”. Google sets the bar for all other search engines. You want to cater to the Google Gods when it comes to updating content for future indexing.
When you publish new content be mindful of using keywords. Frequently added content like a blog post or an article post allows you to optimize the content with keywords pertinent to your products and services that can help attract visitors to your website.
Google is not looking for repetitive keywords throughout your content. Google is looking for quality content that has keywords within it. Write content that provides information your readers are actually interested in reading. Not a bunch of insurance jargon and gobbledygook.
Providing new visitors with valuable, up-to-date and relevant information about your insurance agency lets them know you are actively involved in your business. Inform your audience about customer satisfaction, benefits of your insurance products, why they need your insurance products and they will be more likely to contact you for your services.
Today we are pleased to have a guest blog from David Robinson, Territory Sales Representative, at Progressive Insurance.
Best Quote Practices to Increase Auto Conversion
We’ve all heard that dreaded response from new prospects after delivering (what you thought!!) was an excellent rate: “No thanks, I got lower quote somewhere else.”
Did you know that when a potential prospect calls your office requesting an auto quote, that, on average, you are the 3rd option they are calling, whether they contacted an agent down the street or quoted an online company?
That is why it’s critical to do the following on every single auto quote: Ask the right questions, apply all available discounts, offer the best bill plans and follow up by emailing the quote.
I like to use an acronym for best quote practices called BRET- Best Rate Every Time.
In my 12 years working with Progressive agents and previously in our Direct call center, it is critical to accurately apply and lead with as many discounts as possible. If you don’t, I guarantee there is an agent down the street that is quoting with all the discounts and we all know that the Progressive Direct or Geico call center sales rep is quoting that prospect with every available discount.
Here are a few tips to help increase sales when that new prospect calls in for the first time:
1) Ask for/ collect email addresses on every quote. Why? You can leverage more discounts, such as Paperless and Snapshot, on the quote. Also, did you know that agents who regularly email quotes have reported higher conversion levels vs. agents who do not email quotes to potential prospects?
2) Take time to connect with your new prospects through relating, asking the right questions, listening, and understanding their needs. Don’t assume it’s always about lowest rate.
3) As an independent agent with multiple carriers, set yourself apart by letting prospects know they do not need to shop with anyone else because you represent “x” number of carriers. Present multiple carriers/ quotes and let the customer choose. Be sure to let the prospect know the various features/ benefits of each company that you represent.
4) Accurately apply discounts in your AccuAgency rater on each first quote and discuss best bill plan options that give the largest discount. For example, if the customer has an email address, tell them you are going to give them both a Paperless and Snapshot discount. Using the word “discount” connects the client to the product you are selling and increases your odds to close the business. Some of the most commonly missed discounts Progressive offers include: Advance Quote, Length of Vehicle Ownership, Education, Occupation, and Snapshot (up to 10% at new business). Please note: All of Progressive’s discount questions are listed in your AccuAgency Rater.
Remember, to increase your agency sales and revenue, don’t forget the importance of connecting with your clients, emailing quotes and make sure you utilize B.R.E.T. on every single new quote.
Territory Sales Representative
Employee Spotlight - Luisa Guzman, Inside Sales
Our next employee spotlight is shining on one of our brightest stars, Luisa Guzman. Co-workers and agents alike love working with Luisa! Here are 5 things Luisa shared with us.
1. Who is one of your heroes?
Mother Teresa. A nun who spent her life among the poor in Calcutta, and who was declared a Saint.
2. What is something about you that would surprise people?
I am a twin.
3. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
I have a small blanket I’ve kept since I was a baby. I need to smell it every night before going to bed.
4. What is something you would like to learn to do?
I would like to learn how to cook. I am a cooking disaster.
5. What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
Be Impeccable With Your Word. Don't Take Anything Personally. Don't Make Assumptions. Always Do Your Best.
This is the second in a series of how to generate referrals. Please use the comments section and share your ideas on how you generate referrals and what has worked best in your agency.
Getting Referrals - Client Featured Marketing - Write Your Story
Do you have a client success story? If you’re in business, the answer is yes. Your agency wouldn’t be open without happy clients and customers.
Take a close look at your entire customer base and identify all of your unique client success stories. I bet you’ll be surprised at the number of success stories you can identify. Now that you have identified your success stories consider how you can use these in your marketing materials. You don’t need to share multiple success stories. Find one or two and write your marketing stories highlighting your happy client and how you went above and beyond to make them happy. If possible, include a photograph or video of your client or their situation.
Here’s an example, has one of your clients left the office without signing a form and you stopped by their house to get it signed. Or maybe one of your clients had a small house fire and you stopped to check on the family. Consider taking a picture of the fire damage. Follow-up after the contractors have come out to repair the damage. You may consider a video to capture how satisfied your client is with the repairs. You could use the picture you took before the damage and and one after the damage is repaired. People love before and after pictures.
Share your stories on your agency’s website, your agency’s social media pages and any and all of your marketing collateral. Always be looking for client success stories.
If you include a client success story in your marketing you should see referrals in 2 ways. Let your client know you are including their story in your marketing and online web marketing and they will share on their social media pages. Second, client success stories found in your marketing materials show your agency cares about customers, the community and you’re good at what you do.
Featuring clients and sharing your agency’s success is a great way to showcase your services and attract new clients seeking those services.
Getting people to write reviews is a great way to increase your online visibility and boost your web marketing presence. As an independent insurance agent you want people to write reviews about the great service and products you offer. But, not all reviews are positive. If you get a negative review, never assume the best response is no response.
Your potential customers won’t count you out based on one negative comment or review. However, you will gain respect for your business if you respond in a helpful and positive way. Always remain level-headed and calm and don’t let your emotions take over when writing your response. Take some time before responding and gather your thoughts. Formulate a polite response with empathy, acknowledge the customer and flip the switch to highlight your agency’s strengths.
Know all of your review websites and monitor them daily to every couple of days. Monitoring your review websites is a great way to get customer feedback and improve your customer service. Top review websites include Google Places, Facebook and Yelp. Respond to reviews quickly (within 24-48 hours). Never be defensive even if the customer is 100% wrong. You know the saying, “the customer is always right” (even if they are wrong). At the end of your response thank the customer for taking the time to share their issues.
Reviews whether good or bad cannot be deleted. There are limited exceptions. Yelp will only make an exception if the review violates content guidelines. Google reviews appear next to your agency’s listing in Google Maps and Google Search and include compiled reviews from other review websites like Facebook. Facebook will remove a review if it does not meet their Facebook Community Standards or if the review doesn’t focus on the product or service offered by the Facebook Business Page.
Remember when you respond to reviews, you aren’t just responding to the reviewer, you’re responding to anyone who reads the review. Your responses will give your potential clients a glimpse at how you run your agency and how your agency respects customers and clients.
Your Agency’s Central Nervous System
An agency management system could be considered your agency’s central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Your agency management system is made up of all of your policies, quotes and documentation which is essential for running your agency.
Here are 3 reasons why your agency needs an Agency Management System
1. Disaster Preparedness
An agency management system allows you peace of mind in case of a disaster. All of your files are stored in a single web-based central location. No paper files and stacks of files and folders waiting to be filled. With a web-based system you and your employees can access the same customer information from any location.
2. Reduce Your E&O Exposure
An agency management system minimizes your chances of E&O litigation. If your agency’s central nervous system is running smoothly then you have anything and everything you need as the management system creates a permanent audit trail. Your agency management system allows you to store your notes, scanned documents, saved documents, saved ACORD forms, prospect information, quotes, policies, vendors, employees and client documentation.
3. Track Performance
Your agency management system allows you to run multiple reports on your agency’s health including policy reports on your book of business, sales reports, sales growth reports, employee productivity reports and more.
There are many additional benefits to an agency management system. These are 3 that are critical to the health of your agency.
Agency Management System Audits
Ensure all of your employees are using the same standards when working in your agency’s management system. Notes should be professional and very detailed. You want to make sure your management system is used consistently among your staff. Create a manual outlining and describing how entries should be made within all the various features of your management system. Consider auditing your management system periodically to ensure everyone is meeting the standards and make corrections where necessary.
Vikki Thomas has been working in the insurance industry since 1995. Vikki has worked for several carriers in customer service, quality assurance, underwriting, product management and marketing. Vikki has worked at AccuAgency since 2008.