ANALYZING THE NEED
Securing a company appointment is like getting a loan. When there is a lot of money to loan its easy, but when money is tight, only those perceived as the most sound financial risks would get the cash. The key word here is perceive.
In the agency business, it's easy to get an appointment in a soft market, but only those perceived to be the most "Professional," will get the nod when the market turns hard again. When is the company appointment most necessary? During the hard market of course.
Perception plays a big part in securing the contract. Remember that when you deal with individuals, their perception of you is their reality. There are many agencies that are professional, but very few do those little "extras" that differentiate them from the other "me too" agencies. For the agent willing to go the extra mile, the reward
Both companies and agencies trying to form a relationship, which never should have been pursued from the start, have wasted too much time in the past. In an environment of shrinking income and increasing expenses, it is too much of a financial and time drain to pursue a union that is doomed at the onset.
To maximize the effort in acquiring a company contract the agency must prepare a series of documents that will, when assembled, form the total package necessary to make the proper selection and secure that appointment. The first is an agency needs assessment. The agency should closely define exactly the need for the new carrier.
ANALYZING THE COMPANY
It is very important for the agency to attract the "Right" company. After the agency has analyzed the need for securing the contract, a list of possible candidates should be created. The agency must then analyze the companies' demographics, automation, markets/services and future direction.
- Determine the number of agencies representing this company in your marketing area. Your marketing area should be defined in the agency Mission Statement.
- Determine from Trade Association publications and public records, the premiums written for the lines of interest to the agency. This should be done* for the past six years Determine the number of agencies representing this company in your marketing area. Your marketing area should be defined in the agency Mission Statement.
- Determine from Trade Association publications and public records, the premiums written for the lines of interest to the agency. This should be done* for the past six years in order to determine a pattern. Since there is a specific need to be satisfied for the agency, it is necessary to determine the company's ability and track record in responding to those needs.
Too much time can be spent dealing with companies that use different automation than the agency. In the rush to "On-Line" with companies, agencies have failed to recognize the lack of efficiency in multiple inputs. In a typical interface today, the agent enters the same information onto the company's application, the agency quote sheet and then enters some or all of the information into the agency's data base and into the company terminal.
An in-depth analysis of the company's approach to automation should focus on the following items:
- Does the company have the ability to upload/download?
- Is upload accomplished with single entry?
- Is the automated transaction completed in ‘real time?”
In establishing the perfect agency/company match, the age-old problem revolves around how the agency uses the markets and services its companies provide. Many companies, over the last several years, have focused on providing a market for certain classes of business.
Agents that have a marketing plan and tried to match their plans with the companies that they represent have enjoyed a much greater success than the "General Practitioner" whose marketing plans revolve around waiting for the phone to ring.