Is Your Employee Benefits Broker a Perfect Match?

Kristi Birkeland on Jul 6, 2018 3:00:00 AM

What’s your relationship like with your employee benefits broker? Are you madly in love with the service you’re getting or merely sticking it out for the sake of your employees?

Are you happy when your insurance agent calls because you know he or she has valuable ideas and insight to help your business? Or do you only hear from that person when he/she needs something from you— like a census, a signature, or a check? 

Is it time to move on?

Maybe you’re having a hard time with the idea of letting this relationship go. After all, your agent is a likable person. You’ve been together a while, and you get along well. Perhaps you don’t see each other very often, so when you do, it’s like connecting with an old friend.

Sure, sometimes it may feel like you’ve been forgotten. Then, just when you think it might be time to move on, your agent delivers a fancy wine and cheese basket, tickets to the big game, or an invitation to lunch.

But is that enough to keep you in it for the long run? Shouldn’t you expect a relationship that’s more fulfilling? A true partnership that addresses all of your business and HR needs?

It’s complicated

Running your organization isn’t getting any easier. And that’s not going to change any time soon. You and your team have serious responsibilities. You need to make critical decisions about your benefit program and strategy, based on your business goals and desired results.

Meanwhile, you’ve got to stay on top of a constantly changing set of industry rules, regulations and compliance issues, and adjust your plans, processes, and operations accordingly. Once you’ve got that nailed down, you have to figure out how to clearly and consistently communicate this information out to your team.

In your spare time, you’re responsible for attracting and retaining employees, keeping them engaged with their work and the company, and dealing with any conflicts and/or issues that come up.

You need a broker who can help ease these pressures, not add to them.

Is this the best you can do?

Deep down, you know you need more. You know you deserve more.

Maybe you’re starting to fantasize about talking to other insurance agents, looking around to see if there’s someone out there who can be the partner to help make all of your responsibilities more manageable.

If this makes you feel a little bit guilty, start thinking about all of the results your current broker swore would be delivered. Did those things actually happen or were they empty promises?

If they did happen, did your work load, your processes, and your business significantly improve?

But they’re all the same! Aren’t they?

Most brokers who come calling will arrive with a very similar list of promises. They say they’ll be proactive, they’ll simplify your processes, and they’ll act like an extension of your HR department.

On the surface, it all sounds great, but soon you find yourself disappointed. Then you find yourself making excuses as to why you shouldn’t look for someone new. You know you’re not thrilled with what you’ve got, but you’re not convinced the ROI is there.

A few common reasons you may be hesitating:

  • The idea of ending relationships and switching brokers stresses you out
  • You’re so busy with the renewal or other things you don’t have time to take it on
  • Deep down, you wonder if a new broker will be any better than your current agent

You’re not alone in your concerns. And many brokers do appear to be the same. Do the following scenarios sound familiar?

A new broker enters the scene:

  • Promising superior customer service
  • Bragging about the relationships they have with carriers
  • Asking for your renewal date so they can give you a quote
  • Talking about the “free” stuff they provide for their clients
  • Showing up with a spreadsheet and a list of all the same old stuff

No wonder you think they’re all alike!

The good news

There are employee benefits consultants out there who are capable of delivering much more than you have come to expect. You just have to find the right match. And once you do, you’ll never want to look back.

The right broker will:

  • Have a significant financial impact on your business
  • Make a measurable operational impact on your business
  • Help you design a long-term, strategic plan for your HR/benefit program
  • Build engagement through enhanced employer/employee relationships, improved processes, and meaningful organizational change

If your agent isn’t doing all of this, it’s time to change things up. Whether you commit to improving your current relationship or starting a new one, you deserve to get the results you need from this important business partnership.

Put yourself out there

Call your broker, and any others you want to consider. Invite them to come in (when it’s not renewal time) and ask them these important questions:

  • How will you help create a long-term strategy for our HR and benefit programs?
  • What kind of operational improvements can you identify and help deliver?
  • What kind of financial improvements can you identify and help deliver?
  • How can you help improve employee relationships and engagement?

If you don’t like the answers you get, swipe left.  

Find the right match

Think of your first meeting like a first date. If a broker comes in making assumptions, telling you what they think you need out of the relationship, and not letting you get a word in edgewise, this person isn’t interested in getting to know you. They’re interested in selling you.

Now, imagine an employee benefits consultant who is genuinely interested in you and your business. One who asks a lot of questions, and then actually listens to what you have to say. A broker who doesn’t expect you to go all in during the first meeting. A benefits consultant who will invest the time and energy it takes to determine how best to reach your goals. A trusted advisor who will provide custom tailored options instead of offering a one-size-fits-all “solution.”

When you find that person, you’ll know. Because letting your old broker go will suddenly seem like the right thing to do. And a whole heck of a lot easier.

 

Photo by akz 

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Topics: Employer/Broker Relationship