A common question from insurance agents is where and how to find quality employees. When we sat down with industry expert, Eddie Emmett, he was unsurprised to hear this. He stated that “that may be the number one topic that comes up, all the time.” Agency Matrix has a large team that involves hiring salespeople, trainers, support people, and others. There are always problems that come with hiring for these positions, even at a company, let alone on the independent agent level.
To find high quality employees for insurance agency success, there are only two things that need to be done. Number one is to always carry your business cards with you. Number two is to remember that every one of us do business. Whenever you go out, whether that be to a restaurant or some other business, you come in contact with customer service personnel. The next time someone impresses you, while out in the world of service, give them your card and offer them an opportunity to further utilize and grow their customer service skills.
It is important to always be looking for talent. Don’t wait to look for personnel just when it is needed. Whether you’re in the market or not, creating opportunities is as easy as handing someone your card and letting the prospect know that you were impressed by their work ethic. If you are in the market for personnel, you don’t always have to search and sift through strangers. It isn’t necessary to discount family and friends just because they are family or friends. If a person could be an asset to your insurance agency team, but aren’t considered for the position because of a fear of nepotism, you could potentially hurt your business by overlooking them.
There are a couple answers to the difficult question regarding hiring friends and family. A family member shouldn’t be penalized just because of that existing relationship. Other employees may think that nepotism or favoritism is at play, and that can certainly cause problems. Because of the possibility of complicating working relationships, hiring family or friends should be considered thoroughly. On the other hand, if you need personnel, consider asking your current employees, as well. For an insurance agency employee to recommend someone is a heavy burden. They have to be confident that the person they are hitching themselves to isn’t going to reflect poorly back onto them. If this new hire acts unprofessionally or even steals from the company it is a direct reflection back on your employee, and you may even be inclined to blame them for that loss.
On the topic of loss, the question of hiring from competitors is also pertinent. Can their loss be your gain? There are right and wrong ways to hire from competitors, and right and wrong employees to hire from competitors. If a person is looking around, and you have a reputation of being a great employer and opportunity, then accept that phone call. However, if the prospect promises to bring business with them, hang up. A company’s book of business is just that, the company’s. Employees have no claim to that business; agency owners do. Many insurance agencies think that this is the way to grow their business, by bringing the business away from someone else. If an employee is willing to steal that business from one company, they are more than willing to do the same to you.
This ability to make away with business raises the point of contention on how much insurance agencies should train their agents regarding their specific company. Where is the line drawn? Insurance agency owners would have better and more loyal employees if they would teach them as much as they can, that doesn’t intrude on trade secrets. Advertising and marketing strategy can be considered nonessential to their training, but they should understand the cost of that strategy. Employees don’t need to know about the hows and whys. They just need to know what it is and how much it costs for marketing to get their phone to ring with a prospect’s call.
An example given by Eddie Emmett referenced his time as a part owner of a group of agencies out of Metro Atlanta. His company had a large amount of Yellow Pages advertising that averaged out to 17 dollars per quote. Emmett says it is equally important to track the closing ratio as it is to track the money.
“Assuming that an agency only had a 50% closing ratio. That means that for every policy sold, you gave two quotes at $17 apiece. Which means the first $34 of the commission went to purely getting the opportunity to get the quote. It doesn't take into consideration any of the employees’ salaries, any of the rent, the lights, the telephone.”
The employee should know that worth of their phone ringing. They should recognize the work, time, and money that has already been expended just for their phone to ring, and their effort to land that prospect should reflect that. If a person is calling, they have almost invariably decided to buy insurance, they just need to decide who from. The employee should, with that in mind, do everything in their power to give a quality quote, answer questions, and encourage the prospect to do business with the agency.
Agency Matrix’s V.P. of Sales and Marketing, Daniel Ochoa, fully believes in “training an employee and letting them be successful… If you want to be successful, you help other people be successful.” Training employees and training them to their fullest capabilities creates an opportunity for an owner to start franchising or open up another office. There is already someone the owner can trust to run it. This level of training breeds loyalty, and even if the employee does create their own agency the loyalty still exists. If there is a piece of business that he or she is unfamiliar with, they will refer it to the owner who taught them everything they know.
This is all just another part of finding and hiring quality employees for insurance agency success. Explaining not only the amount of money the employee will be making, but the opportunities for growth and the future is a great motivator for hiring. This creates something tangible for the employee to reach for, but agency owners now have to worry about whether that ambition will be turned against them. Will this employee use the access they have to take the agency’s book of business and the information you’ve given them and open their own agency? With the proper insurance agency management software, such as Agency Matrix, that access can be restricted.
Like all aspects of business, there will always be some risk. Agency Matrix can reduce that exposure to risk with our employee settings section of the software. This section of Agency Matrix allows admins to micro manage the settings and which parts of the program your staff will have access to. Restrictions can be changed at any time, for any reason, and without the agent needing to know why. While these restrictions are utilized, the agent can continue with the minimal access they have, and complete their day to day until whatever problem occurred is resolved. Another feature to minimize risk is the Restrict IP Address feature. With this feature on, employees can’t access information outside of the office. This keeps all your business in the confines and safety of your office’s IP address range.
And, even within the office there are further restrictions that can be turned on to change accessibility between agents. The system can have a book of business private for each agent, or agents can share a book of business. In the case of client coming in when their agent isn’t available, another employee can have access to that client’s information through the shared book of business.
With all of these options available within Agency Matrix management software, there is minimal reason to fear training your employees to be excellent agents. Excellence breeds excellence, and showing your employees the best way to work within the industry will grow your business and opportunities exponentially.