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South Side Focus Group Findings

Posted By Chris Prewit, Thursday, August 3, 2017

Diversity Task Force/South Side Initiative on July 20, 2017
Written by Robert Crosby, Executive Director of Independent Insurance Agents of San Antonio

The IIASA has created a Diversity Task Force, with a goal of creating a focus group in a round table discussion to determine the problems, issues and pain points of the minority agents on the south side of San Antonio. The Association can take the round table ideas to build a business plan to alleviate some of the problems and issues for the south side agent. The following points came from this discussion.

  • Staffing Issues - How does the agent go about finding staff in today’s business environment
    • Determine if the agent is looking for customer service representatives versus sales staff
    • Collaboration with high schools and community colleges and universities
  • How does the agent on-board their staff
    • Creation of a comprehensive training plan using techniques that have a 30 to 60-day probationary period
    • Utilizing the IIASA/IIAT online training programs, producer tool kits, hiring tool kits and Info Central
    • Use of Kaplan classes and the National Alliance educational programs
  • What challenges are facing small agents today in retaining staff?
    • The small agent employees are best characterized as inconsistent, unreliable, and unable to keep up with the workload, quick burn out and leaving for higher paying jobs in other business industries
    • The smaller agent must get creative with compensation, incentives and bonus plans Testing the future employee for skill sets and people skills
    • Sharing information with other agents - if one employee doesn’t fit in one agency, refer that employee to another agency where there might be a fit
    • The agent must create a culture of training and development, not just about compensation
    • The agent must do a better job of showing the new employee that there is a career path and a great future in the insurance business.
  • What level of education or experience is the agent looking for?
    • In the past, experience was not required, however times are changing and agents are looking for more experienced employees?
    • Many agents are putting their new employees on a probationary period, so the agent can observe if the employee can do the job, before they pay for their licensing exam
  • What are the Educational Challenges that face the smaller agent?
    • Once the staff is trained, how does the agent maintain continued education and further development
    • What tools does the agent use to improve the educational development of their staff?

The answer to these questions are that most agents do not have a clue.

The role of the IIASA to develop and maintain levels of education, through educational programs and Scholarship programs developed by the IIASA, IIAT and the National Alliance.  The Hartford Insurance Company is developing unique IT systems to educate and help the agent deal with their work load more effectively.

  • Sales, Marketing & Insurance Company Issues
    • How does the agent market their agency and what type of support does the agent receive from the carriers?
    • Newspaper Ads
    • Social Media
    • Cold Calling by phone and unannounced visits to prospective clients
  • Solutions to Improve Sales
    • Use of the unlimited resource of the agent’s insurance carriers, such as Banner, plaques, co-branding, swag material
    • Setting up marketing spaces in commercial businesses and shopping malls
    • Try to differentiate and advertise the big difference between a captive agent (direct writer) and the Independent Insurance Agent.
  • What else is keeping the agents up at night?
    • Making sure employees are doing their job correctly
    • Auditing the books and policies
    • Marketing effectively Growing the footprint and reaching new territories
  • What can the Association do to help the south side agents?
    • Continue to provide monthly CE classes Provide Scholarship funds for education
    • Do a better job of promoting the insurance industry

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