Organize and Embrace Change

Independent agents who remain static and focus only on servicing their current books of business are not positioning themselves for the future. With direct writers and new technology eating away at standard agency offerings – prince-sensitive auto and some home insurance – professional insurance agents need to keep an eye on the competitive landscape. That means finding time in their busy schedules to develop a strategic plan – and giving themselves the products, tactics and tools they need for success.

The planning process begins by examining where you are now: Where is your agency growth coming from? What differentiates your agency in today’s crowded insurance market? And, do you have strong and sustainable industry or operating niche? It’s also important to look at what your competitors are doing; how technology is affecting your business; and how can you use it in your favor. Also, look at whether you have the markets, internal resources and community presence to implement new strategies effectively.

Evaluate your agency

If you don’t know how to start when evaluating your agency, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a good place to start. This technique can help you carve out a sustainable niche in your market, and a simple web search will give you plenty of guidelines to help you along. Don’t forget to include your staff in the SWOT analysis, get their input, buy-in and have them be part of the solution.

This analysis makes you examine how to build on your strengths. Maybe you have a strong industry niche; a recognizable brand; or impressive community presence. It also asks you to consider your weaknesses. Maybe your investment in technology has lagged behind other agencies, or you rely on home and auto policies rather than expanding into commercial lines or life insurance. Perhaps your staff lacks training to sell these other policies.

Then, find opportunities upon which you can capitalize. These may include expanding into other product lines; developing a specialty; or expanding your access to admitted or specialty/program markets. Finally, identify threats to your business. These may include direct sellers or competitors that have invested in technology and are using it to grab additional market share.

When finished with this analysis, you should have a good picture of where your agency stands in today’s market, including what policies you’re selling; to whom you are selling; the tools you are using to sell them; and whether you have the systems and resources needed to make necessary changes. Now, let’s look at some of the key considerations in planning today.

Read the full article in PIA Magazine, written by Matt Masiello, CEO of SIAA – reprinted with the permission from PIA Management Services Inc.