Develop Your Business Plan
It’s time to talk planning. You certainly don’t plan to fail, so don’t fail to plan!
Determining how big you want to scale your agency is very important to know as you develop the plan for your insurance agency.
Here are some questions to help you think through your goals and when you want your business to scale.
Ask yourself the following:
What are my goals for year one?
What are my goals for years two to five?
Why should an agent come work with me?
Let’s work our way back through these, starting with that last one.
Why should an agent work with you?
An important part of your planning is determining your value proposition to an agent.
We’ve developed the following list of considerations to help you understand what you can offer to an agent.
One. How many agents do you want to recruit in three months, six months, one year?
It’s important to set a realistic number.
If you’re a one-person shop and you plan to add 10 agents in a month while maintaining your existing book of business, can you meet all the commitments you’ve made?
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Be sure you don’t overextend yourself to hit big goals quickly.
If you’re sacrificing agent mentoring to service your book of business, then it’s time to reassess.
Two. How about the long-term? What does my recruitment plan look like in years two to five? Do I double year-over-year?
This really comes down to what you can and are able to do — and only you know that!
If you want to double your agent recruitment or triple your agency production, then go for it!
BUT… while staying focused on milestone goals, don’t be afraid to revisit the tasks necessary to achieve those goals.
You can’t scale Mt. Everest without first making basecamp.
If you need to scale back, it’s not a failure if you’re still moving forward overall.
As your agency grows, there will be an increase in back office work. The administrative stuff, like contracting your recruited downline agents, agent certification, monitoring agent production, and other tasks.
Consider hiring an office administrator to help with technical support while you continue to focus on strategy growth, agent mentoring, and marketing.
Three. What production minimums does my agency need to meet to continue growing?
This answer is going to be different for every agency.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide what success looks like from a revenue and profit perspective.
If we approach this as contract level eligibility, and depending on the carrier, it will be either downline agent recruitment and/or agency production.
As you take on more and provide more for your agents, determine the admin fee, or override rate you need to cover expenses, grow, and profit.
Four. How much of your personal time and resources are you able to commit to mentoring new agents?
This is where sweat equity comes into play.
You’ll need to put in the time and effort to recruit and develop your agents.
Once you’ve recruited your agents, here are some examples of things you should be doing to develop their skills.
Shadow agents on calls, and that can be face-to-face, or virtually.
Provide real-time feedback to improve their close ratios.
Teach them how to cross-sell.
Help them understand the importance of client retention.
Meet weekly or bi-weekly with them to check in, answer questions, and discuss how it’s all going.
Five. Identify the type of downline agent you want to recruit.
Do you see these agents as seasoned and experienced with a certain focus?
Will they be new to the industry?
And just a note, this question is easier to answer once you’ve thought through the previous questions.
Often it seems like it should be the starting point, but there are many other important factors to consider first, hence why it’s number five on our list.
Six. Identify how you want your agents to be paid.
Do you, or more importantly, can you pay their commissions? We’re talking new business and tracking their referrals.
Or, do you want them to be paid directly by the carrier?
Seven. Are you going to continue to produce while scaling your business?
It might be better to consider it this way, are you open to moving your clients to your agents?
Eight. How are you going to help your agents build their businesses?
Think about the things that you needed as a producer. Will you provide leads?
Will you offer marketing support, like buying or helping with the purchase of business cards, direct mailers, and flyers?
What about assistance with in-person or virtual education and sales events?
Will your agency provide office space, equipment, a phone allowance?
There are a lot of benefits to consider offering your agents to make working with you worth their while.
Nine. Last but definitely not least, make sure you’re building policies and procedures for various needs as you go.
Establishing agency policies is just a good habit to get into.
Policies provide a clear understanding of expectations between you and your agents.
Some examples include a code of conduct and understanding the government screening process for both downline agents and any staff you hire.
CMS requires anyone selling government plans like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, to screen their agents and employees against a federal exclusion list.
For information on how to complete those screenings, be sure to check out the resources page at the end of this module.
Think about a release policy, too.
If an agent should ask for a release, what considerations go into your decision?
And then, what about contracting levels?
If agents are contracted at street level and they want to recruit themselves, will you allow an agent to promote under you? What will that look like?
There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting an insurance agency, as we’ve just outlined.
But making a plan and figuring out some of these aspects before they’re an issue, will make your business run that much more smoothly.
That leaves you with the ability to focus on growing your business and reaching your goals.