In the past, Insurance Agencies needed spacious offices to handle staff, file cabinets, supplies and a numerous other items. Thanks to the Internet age, this has all changed. Once you go paperless, you will no longer need file cabinets. A desk drawer file cabinet should be enough to store those important hard copies of crucial documents.
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It’s truly a different world from 20 years ago when an agency needed tangible items for communication and storage. Today, the cost to run an office has become very inexpensive. Also, more and more employees can work from home or telecommute — another space-saving factor.
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Can you operate a totally virtual office from home? This is actually very possible, yet it has both pros and cons. It will save you money and it keeps you close to your office, and both are helpful during the start-up phase. If you do have a virtual office, I would recommend associating yourself with an executive suites agency that offers the services of a receptionist, office address, mail and other office needs that will bridge the gap of your home office. On the minus side, working from home can be distracting. If you write the type of business that often brings people to your office, working from home looks unprofessional and should not be an option. Also for some, it can be unproductive. It’s up to you to decide if working from home is truly your best bet.
While many smaller agencies do not start off by hiring staffing, I would highly recommend having someone at least part-time from the very beginning. A staffer can help out with a lot of initial marketing campaigns. Having even one good employee will help you grow faster and is usually worth the investment, though it may take a few years to realize the return. As your agency grows, you will want at the very least one full-time staff person and even more as you grow, including adding producers or partners. There is so much more involved in servicing with an independent agency versus a captive agency, most especially for those who write commercial business.
You may also want to take advantage of carrier service centers. Many will provide 24-hour service to your clients and will handle everything except for new business sales and renewal management, however they usually take a percentage of your commissions in order to participate in this. Keep in mind that services centers like anything else have pluses and minuses. Some agencies prefer to service their own customers as it helps build a stronger customer relationship.
There are a number of producer schools that can help educate you about both sales and product training. This is very different than any pre-licensing training you may have had before, as most pre-license courses focus on legal principles and passing the exam. Product training does exactly what it says — it educates you on the many different types of insurance policies and what they cover. This is especially important for those who:
- Have previous experience running a captive agency
- Have only sold personal lines
- Are new to the business
You really need to know your own product if you are to set yourself apart from the competition and win more accounts, especially higher premium accounts. Here is a list of producer schools:
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