Most of our agency clients tell us they have a hard time finding producers. They want to know where to look and how to bring them in. It is not an easy task to find someone especially that is experienced from another agency with a book, that can just come in free and clear with a book of business and easily fit into the agency’s culture. Every agency is different, has different levels of support staff, different markets, training, computers, perks and contracts.
Following are some of the ways an agency can find good people and be successful in this endeavor from our experience in working with thousand of agencies over the past 35 years:
Promote from Within
We have interviewed so many agency staff over countless agencies, that feel resentful that owners and managers often look outside the agency to bring in managers and new producers. They may be CSRs or Account Managers that have worked in the agency for a long, long time and know the customers well, the underwriters, the processes and procedures of the firm.
Often, we are told that they do not have an avenue to move up in the organization nor are they ever asked of their desire to do so even at performance review time. It is just “assumed” that they are not interested or willing to move up. They also have a big fear that if they did move into sales, they would have to go on straight commission.
With this concern, even if they have a sales personality and could handle most of the commercial lines or benefits call-ins, they won’t accept the job.
The answer can be a different role that some agencies have created called an Account Executive. These AEs, they are called can handle existing books as producers do and are not expected to bring in new clients. They are usually expected to cross sell the existing account with other coverage lines, such as umbrellas, EPLI, fiduciary responsibility coverages, business interruption, Cyber, etc. Most can do this if they have taken some CSR and CIC courses and have a good manager to lean on.
The key is how to properly compensate them. Most AEs that have that position compensate them on a percentage of the book they handle as a salary, usually in the 20% to 25% range. Usually AEs have CSRs to delegate to for clerical tasks and operate more as a producer on the accounts. If they cross sell or bring in new accounts, they should receive commission for this outside of their salary.
In most agencies the personal lines sales are handled by the CSRs/Account Managers and not specific producers.
Hire Professionals in the Community
This was an avenue taken by a CA firm we knew and they would hire people in their community that were coaches and teachers. These professionals knew everyone AND had a desire and drive to win. They are usually also unable to make a lot more money in their current profession AND are somewhat deadended in their careers.
The agency we knew that did this hired about forty of these people and they rarely ever left. They were extremely hardworking and grateful for the opportunity and were quick studies.
Salespeople connected to Agency Niches
Another source is to look at people that sell in the niches that the agency likes to write and already know that specialty well. An example would be a lumber salesperson or equipment dealer salesperson and the agency has a specialty in contractors or dealers. The salesperson already knows people to connect with that are contractors and the subs and can talk to them about the program the agency has, that would be perfect for their needs. Another example would be a car salesman and the agency writes dealerships, or an attorney who can easily write law firms.
College Marketing Projects & Internships
One of our clients has found two great long-term employees through this idea, a producer and a marketing manager. They started as college business students needing to do a marketing project for a business. They were invited in and got to know what the agency does, what its marketing efforts were, and concentrated on assisting with their website, mailings, ads, social media, etc.
After making recommendations for their project to the agency, they both ended up so impressed with the owner, managers and the firm, that they first had internships and then when they graduated were offered jobs and are still there today!
Many people do not really understand the jobs in an insurance agency and how challenging and exciting it can be to work with a wide variety of clients, especially in commercial lines and employee benefits.
When I was in college we had an insurance degree at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, called Risk Management & Insurance. After you would get the degree and were ready to graduate, the college would have recruiters from insurance firms come to school to interview us. It helped us get a big picture view of all the roles available in the insurance industry and I took a job with St. Paul Fire & Marine as a Marketing trainee. I also had a summer internship as well with Employers of Wausau that our Risk Management professor recommended to by sister and I and we did not have anyone in our family that had been in the insurance business.
Working there really opened up our eyes to all the possibilities there were. Insurance agencies should go to their local colleges and community colleges to pitch their firms and explain the opportunities they have available. Often an agency can also post openings on the college website, which can help students find great jobs in insurance.
There are many colleges all over the country now besides Wisconsin that have Risk Management and Insurance degrees, which is a good place to look for agency prospective employees, such as Fullerton & Sacramento in CA, Arizona, Michigan, Mass, Alaska, Mississippi, Colorado, etc.
Project Invest by the Insurance Women
The National Association of Insurance Women for years has tried to get high school students interested in getting into the insurance industry, both carrier and agency roles. Parents of students in the school that were insurance veterans and other insurance personnel could come in on these career days to explain to students the opportunities that abound in insurance.
Hire a Specialist to Find Producers
There are some good recruiters that specialize in insurance. Some are specifically dedicated to insurance producers, such as Art Betancourt of Michigan and email him at Arthur.firstname.lastname@example.org to see the unique way he and his team work to teach agency owners how to do the recruiting themselves.
There are also ads an owner can run in insurance magazines, such as the Insurance Journal and the National Underwriter.
Non-Owner Producers Competitors
There are many producers that come up against someone on an insurance sale and lose to them. If the owner or non-owner producer find out they are not the owner, and they were great, the client may be willing to give you their info. Then your agency can reach out to see if they might be interested in a job.
Lastly, recruit those you come across that impress you. For instance. a waitress in a restaurant you are very impressed with or a clerk in a store. Are their personalities or knowledge worth exploring for your own firm?
Always remember that it is much easier to teach someone insurance, than how to close. The key is to make sure they get that insurance training from within the agency or schools that exist from carriers or organizations like the Society of CIC.
This article gives agency owners many ideas on how to find or grow your own producers. Any one of these ideas have been proven from others in the business and may just open up one’s eyes to the possibilities out there.