In an industry that has historically operated with a "lone wolf" mentality, outsourcing and collaboration have become critical. The ability and willingness to do so quickly separates the highest performing agencies from those fading into irrelevance.
We hear alarm bells sounding that our industry is going the way of the buggy-whip salesman. This is a fair prediction for agencies still focusing solely on insurance policies. However, for the open-minded and curious, the bell isn't announcing their demise; it is the sound of opportunity. It rings with the recognition that the help employers need has shifted dramatically.
John Donne wrote some 400 years ago, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." You need to ask, "Which bell rings for you, one of demise? Or opportunity?"
Needs have shifted
In the past, employers depended on you to educate them on insurance policies, get quotes, and fix inevitable problems. Of course, for many reasons, the policy advice and procurement of quotes – although still extremely important – has become much more commoditized. And, when everyone delivers the same price on the same policy, there is no differentiator in delivering those quotes. This is why you so often hear, "Brokers are all the same."
It isn't that clients don't still need your help; they need it more than ever. However, the support they need is much more strategic. It's driven by many factors such as new compliance requirements, risk finance considerations, the need for higher levels of employee engagement, the need to communicate more effectively, and the list goes on. Their world is more complex than ever, and employers need your guidance to simplify it.
Shift your focus
To deliver that strategic help usually requires a shift of focus for brokers.
Most in our industry have felt a sense of control because every business owner has to buy the insurance products we sell. In some instances, they're legally required to buy it, but, for most everyone, it is a necessary cost of being in business.
Rather than focusing on the fact that business owners HAVE to buy insurance, the best agencies focus on what those owners WANT when they buy it. Owners may have to purchase insurance, but what they WANT is to be seen as an "employer of choice."
The best agencies have shifted to ensure their clients attain what they want. They start by helping each client define what being an employer of choice means to them, and then the agency takes responsibility for helping make it a reality.
Insurance alone is insufficient
There is no insurance product, or combination of insurance products, that can make a business an employer of choice. Yes, insurance is still a foundational part of the answer, but it’s only a small part. When added together (along with insurance), these three things result in an employer being an “employer of choice”:
- Employer/employee communication
- Implementation of wellness programs
- Employee engagement strategies
Helping clients become an employer of choice will make you the agency/advisor of choice.
Be a collaborator
Most of us can't deliver all these answers on our own. This is where outsourcing and collaboration come into play. The best agencies create partnerships with others who specialize in communication, wellness programs, and engagement strategies— and work together to bring a complete answer to their mutual clients.
You may think your clients won't accept these outsourced solutions from you, but I beg to differ. They don't care where you go to find the answers they need. They're only interested in having their problem solved.
Besides, you have always outsourced the insurance product on which you built your business.
Be the quarterback
The best agencies embrace collaboration and see their primary role as the one who:
- Creates, for each client, the vision of what it means to be an employer of choice
- Builds the collaborative team that can make that vision a reality
- Outsources services that are better performed by others
- Serves as the quarterback of that team to ensure clients get the results they need
You can use this same proven strategy to catapult your own business. Here are a few action items to get you started down that path.
- Make a list of what your clients need/want to become that employer of choice. If you aren't sure, or even if you think you are, go sit down and ask them what they need to be more successful. They will tell you precisely what they will buy from you if you bring it to them.
- Identify which items on your list can be delivered directly by your team. For each, document what resources you need and establish an implementation plan to help drive success.
- Identify which of the items on your list you will need to outsource to others and how you will collaborate with them to deliver results to your clients. Identify potential partners and establish a vetting process to determine where you have the best alignment.
Yes, this is going to be hard work, but this kind of hard work catapults others to unprecedented levels of success.
Photo by yurolaitsalbert