Gear Up Your Agency’s Efficiency and Bottom Line with Automation
If you could dramatically reduce the cost of running your agency by automating certain services, wouldn’t you want to try it, especially if you knew you’d have more efficient processes and your service to your clients improved substantially? Certainly you would.
Knowing what aspects of your insurance business are ripe for outsourcing and automating and how to go about it is your next crucial step.
Balance Sheet Truth
Your agency’s profit and loss statement is where the real story is told, and it’s highly likely that employee costs are the number one expense category. Reassessing your actual staffing needs in light of what can be automated — ruthless though it sounds — could be the critical cut that saves your business.
“What could you do with P&L where expenses were cut by 22 percent, 43 percent, or even 87 percent?” Nicholas Ayers, owner of I80 Insurance Solutions, asked attendees at Agency Nation’s Elevate 2018 conference in the session “How Self-Service, Outsourcing, and Automation Save My Agency Time and Money.”
The money you make is great, said Ayers. “How much you keep is even better. What costs a company the most money? Its employees.”
Huge savings with automation
Ayers, whose agency offers auto, home, life, and business insurance in the San Francisco area, told attendees he realized 87 percent expense reductions in one year by employing automation and outsourcing in his agency, and along the way, he was able to offer quicker service to clients who could access and make changes to their policy 24/7/365.
No, not everyone will agree with outsourcing and automation, Ayers said. But if you are open to the concept, it’s a relatively easy way for an agency to save money.
One Agency’s Story
Ayers’ agency was growing, with more than $100,000 every month in new policies, but despite that, the office seemed to always be in a panic with employees overworked, unhappy, and in terminal response mode — never working proactively.
Meanwhile, as a USP to his customers, Ayers was making himself — personally — available around the clock so policy holders could file claims, change policies, or check to see that their auto policy covered rental cars.
When calls — plus tweets, texts, emails, and Facebook DMs — started to seriously disrupt his family time, he knew he had a problem.
Customers, Ayers said, desire empowerment. Was there a way to cut down on office costs and empower customers?
Ayers eventually instituted a series of changes to his business which resulted in radically decreased costs, while also maintaining customer satisfaction.
The goal, Ayers said, was to find an easy-to-use business model which he could control, while also empowering customers, cutting down on costs, and allowing him to tie in other platforms.
E-Policy Efficiency Boost
Diving in and sampling online support services to determine the right automation and outsource mix for your agency is your next task.
When carriers create digital resources and make those available for partners, that’s even better. That’s a special focus at CBLife, says CBLife President Jeff Levin. “We are always looking for new opportunities to leverage technology.”
“We recently started to issue our annuity contracts electronically and will soon begin e-policy delivery of our life insurance policies,” Levin says. “This reduces CBLife’s cost of sending the contract in paper form to the producer — a reduction in expenses for paper, printing, and postage.”
In addition to those benefits, Levin adds, e-policy delivery helps producers reduce their own mailing costs after policy review and reduces fuel expenses and the travel time used to deliver the contract in person.
“While many producers like to deliver the contract in person and review why the policyholder made their purchase (which is a great best practice),” added Levin, “e-policy delivery still allows the producer to review the contract with their client but enables them to do this more quickly. The result is faster issuance of a policy to the policyholder,” which also results in less buyer’s remorse.
Your Digital Tool Box
All sorts of tasks and jobs can be outsourced. It’s a matter of picking and choosing the ones that are right for you. Ayers used, among others, these virtual office resources:
- FreshDesk for customer support and ticketing; Fresh Desk turns all incoming emails into tickets and lets you prioritize, categorize, and assign them to the right people
- Marble Box for customer changes and data storage; Marble box handles policy processing, policy servicing, accounting, new business support, and renewal support
- Answer 1 for live customer support; Answer 1 provides virtual industry-specific receptionists around the clock who provide lead qualification, appointment scheduling, and all phone calls
- Ring Central for phone support; Ring Central is a cloud phone provider which can facilitate calls, chat, video conferencing, and texting using your phones or theirs
- Zapier to tie it all together; Zapier integrates web apps so they share data, passes info between apps and workflows, and boasts the users can build processes faster—apps range from Google Sheets and Trello to Asana, Facebook, Assembla, and Callexa
The bottom line
“The name of the game is profitability,” Ayers said. “I cut $15,000 in monthly recurring expenses just in payroll.”
Excluding phones costs — which Ayers backed out, he said, because you need a phone no matter what work you do — the cost to his agency for all of that work is $946 a month.
“The cost is less than one full-time employee,” Ayers said. “I can worry about running an organization and not making a change on someone’s policy.”
In addition to that, Ayers said, his new virtual office never takes sick days and does not create drama with co-workers.
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