The last four months, while we've all been learning how to live and work in a time of global pandemic, we've been busy adjusting. In the first month or two you may have been like me and just crazy busy, as you adapted to a new normal. Perhaps you moved your agency virtual which required time and effort to set up, or you had to develop protocols or procedures for operating safely in your office. All of us had lots of client calls regarding their concerns. We were busy reassuring our teams that their jobs were secure and that we were focused on the future. Then the new normal set in and we began to adjust to a different way of living and working.
Just about the time that new seemed normal, the country began to reopen and we had to adapt again. Just weeks later, Corona flames shot up once more and many of us have had to adjust yet again. Despite all the adjustments that we've had to make, one thing has become clear to me. That almost everyone has more time on their hands than they did six months ago.
This time has been freed up because all of us are in fewer meetings overall and especially meetings that require traveling, even if just across town. These time users simply aren't taking place with the same frequency; certainly, the travel time is gone. People who are working, even part-time from home, have lost the commute that they were having to make every day. Plus the time consumed in adjusting from home to work and back again has been freed up. Unfortunately for most people, vacations haven't been a reality this year which has created even more time. It's difficult to go out to dinner, to a movie or other forms of entertainment, which has resulted in even more time on our hands.
The question for the entrepreneur is what to do with all of that time. The easy answer is to just binge-watch TV until you've exhausted everything that Amazon and Netflix have to offer. While that is a possible solution, it isn't one that will set your agency up for continued success into the future. My suggestion is to pick something instead that will make a difference for your agency's growth and prosperity, not only during the time of pandemic, but for years to come afterwards.
Recent surveys of independent agents’ attitudes conducted by the PC360 magazine indicate that the number one concern of independent agencies is increasing competition from online sources. Why don't you think about taking some of this free time to develop a new capability, to prepare yourself to combat that new competition? Here are some suggestions for things to think about:
Consider mastering a new technology. There are all kinds of technologies that can help your agency grow. You might decide that something as simple as Zoom is the technology that you want to master. Zoom can be used for selling insurance, both in your local community and across the country, but to do it well requires some investment in training and a small investment in equipment to maximize your professionalism. Mastering Zoom might be one of the ways that you spend your time.
Another technology that will yield tremendous benefits is a customer relationship management (CRM) program like Salesforce. A CRM program can automate a lot of your marketing and it can put cross marketing your current book of business on steroids. CRM programs aren't expensive and they aren't particularly difficult to use, but mastering them and building the content that you will need for the marketing campaigns will take time. Now is a great time to do it.
Another suggestion I have for a technology that is well worth the time to master is your agency management system (AMS) automation. Most agents have only a high-level understanding of the capabilities of their AMS. Perhaps you want to take the time to attend a seminar or a webinar or two on all the different things that you can use your AMS to do, and the different tools that it already has available to you for growing your agency. This is another great use of your time and mastering technology that will help your agency grow for years into the future.
Additionally, a great idea for adding capability to your agency is to develop a new website. Most agencies now have websites; however, most of those are nothing more than electronic brochures. Why not take some time and do some serious market research and learn what other websites represent best in class for the insurance industry, and then look at other service businesses and see what they're doing with their websites? Based on your research you can plan a new website that will be state-of-the-art and help you actually sell insurance. With that in mind, hiring a developer to help you create the new website will yield benefits for the next several years. All this effort does take time. Now is a great time to do it! Be sure as you work on building your new website that you think about and provide for as many ways as possible to quote insurance from the new website, as well as allow customers to provide for self-service.
Yet another technology suggestion to develop in your newly found freed up time is to become an expert in the use of social media for marketing and communications. Perhaps you need to take some online classes or webinars to learn all the different capabilities of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, to gain a thorough understanding of how they can help you build your business. If you already have that basic understanding, you could move directly to building sophisticated marketing programs using social media to grow your business. Regardless of which approach you take, using the free time you've now developed to put your marketing program in high gear with social media is a great way to spend your freed up time capability.
One other idea I have for you, is to take some of your newfound free time to create a conveyor belt marketing system. What I mean by conveyor belt marketing system is a marketing system that traps the data for everyone who visits your agency, whether electronically or in person, and puts those people into an appropriate marketing system where you regularly communicate with them with offers about products that you sell and services that you offer. You can use tools like HubSpot to help you accomplish this. HubSpot can be used both on your website to identify traffic uniquely to your site and can also be used for its CRM capabilities outside of your website. Developing a conveyor belt marketing program takes time, because you'll want to carefully craft your offers, your emails, and your other communications that prospects and clients will receive.
The bottom line is we all have a choice. Amazon Prime or agency progress. If you'd like to explore how any of these strategies might benefit your agency, feel free to reach out to me or any one of my team members at One Agents Alliance. I don't think anyone knows how long COVID-19 is going to affect the business climate and the insurance industry. But what I do know is those who use their time wisely today are going to be more successful when this is over.