If there’s one key takeaway from the last few years, it’s this: Change is the new normal.
2023 brought its fair share of changes and challenges for independent insurance agents. The insurance industry faced some of the hardest market conditions in recent memory. Agents and carriers grappled with how to harness the power of emerging artificial intelligence tools. More Gen Z employees entered the workforce, driving along changes in what employees want from their employers.
These trends (and more) will continue to drive change in 2024. But challenging times can serve as opportunities for insurance agents to innovate and find new ways to show their value to clients.
Here are a few ways that insurance agents can level up their operations and strategy in 2024 and beyond.
1. Stay flexible and think outside the box
In the ever-changing insurance market, it’ more important than ever for insurance agencies to adapt and stay open to new ideas.
Our 2023 Agent for the Future Award winners demonstrated how top agencies are evolving and finding creative ways to position their agencies for long-term growth. For example, agencies are bringing in fractional leadership, developing new technology tools, partnering with other like-minded agencies, diversifying lead sources and product offerings and more.
As you plan for 2024, encourage your team to explore unconventional solutions and challenge the status quo. Thinking outside the box could help your agency find a new way forward.
2. Invest in your team
Building a strong team is crucial to agency success. In his article for Agent for the Future, Trent Daily of Insurance Management Group (IMG) wrote about the transformation he saw when his agency focused on building a company culture of appreciation and inspiration:
“By working hard to improve our company culture, I’ve found more fulfillment as a leader, and our team has been more connected than ever. We’ve tripled in size since 2015, we were named 2021 Agency of the Year in Indiana by the Big ‘I’ and we’ve been included on the Best Places to Work in Indiana list for the past few years.
“When everyone in the agency started to buy in to the changes we implemented, we could feel it in our relationships with clients as well – and I strongly believe that’s what has driven our growth. If you take care of your employees, they’re going to take care of your clients.”
3. Be proactive in client communication and education
Insurance is a relationships business, first and foremost. It’s always crucial for agents to take the time to build relationships with clients, understand their pain points, and advise them on their unique risks.
As rising costs, inflation and other factors impact customers, it’s all the more important for agents to help clients understand how to best protect the things that matter most.
Agents should make sure they are proactively reaching out to customers before policy changes and using the customers’ preferred communication channels to build the relationship.
4. Use digital tools to drive efficiency
Digital tools have changed the world of personal insurance and are transforming the world of small commercial insurance, as well. Fast-growing agencies are more likely than other agencies to be investing in technology, using digital marketing and harnessing implementing self-service tools allows data for strategic decision making.
Top agencies use digital tools to streamline operations, increase efficiency and augment staff capacity. For example, online self-service tools cut down the amount of time staff spends on routine service tasks. Staff members can then focus more time on finding new business and interactions that build relationships with customers.
5. Take a long view
During challenging times, it can be hard to keep sight of the big picture. But it’s crucial for agents and agency owners to regularly think through their long-term vision and strategic plan.
If you’re an agency employee, this may mean mapping out some long-term career goals and talking to your manager about development opportunities.
If you’re an agency owner, this might mean thinking about the long-term future of your agency. After all, it’s never too early to start thinking about your agency’s perpetuation plan.
A new year offers an opportunity to pause and think about how you want to improve your agency. What do you want to bring forward from 2023? Where are there opportunities for growth? How can you prioritize your team and your clients?
2024 is sure to bring new challenges and opportunities. Agents can set themselves up for long-term success by embracing change and working to lead the charge into the future.
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