ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

FINDING GOOD QUALITY AGENCY EMPLOYEES

Several times a week Agency Consulting Group receives calls or emails from agents requesting on finding ways to staff their agencies. Owners are seeking for customer service, administrative and management employees and producers to help grow the business and care for their clients and business in the same way that they care for their business.

The tenor of the call is always the same – “I can’t find quality people who know insurance or who will work hard and steadily and care about my customers.” The agents would like someone to walk into the agency with five to ten years of insurance experience and ask for employment. These are the same folks who keep a glass slipper in their credenza in case Cinderella shows up one day.

The fact is that the only experienced insurance professionals available are folks who carry baggage, either they were unemployed/ laid off or they had conflicts that led them to depart. Most employee baggage is inevitable and will carry over to the next employer. In a few cases, the cause of the dissent is related to the personality of the agency owners or managers, and those employees might be worthwhile.

Otherwise you are buying, usually at a premium, someone else’s problems.

We have, on more occasions than we’d like to admit, suggested to a client that if an employee wants to quit for whatever reason, do not stop them or counter-offer to keep them. In fact, for those employees that are the cause of dissent and/or problems in the agency should be encouraged to seek other employment. Unfortunately, if you are on the hiring or receiving end of these ‘experienced insurance professionals’, you may be inheriting your competitors’ problems, not their strengths.

SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER?

As usual, there is no Silver Bullet to solve the employment problems of our industry. The solution is to train the right people and ‘roll your own’ from inexperienced workers who have the right drive and the right attitude and simply need the chance and the training to become valuable assets to your agency.

Bill Wilson, a good friend and the Associate VP of Ed and Research and Director of the Big “I” Virtual University of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America recently sent us an article found in the January issue of the CPCU Society E-JOURNAL by Donald Bleich, Yanbo Jin and David T. Russell (all PH.D.’s) titled “An Empirical Investigation into Undergraduate Student Career Interest in Being an Insurance Agent”.

The synopsis states:

The success or failure of insurance companies ultimately will revolve around their ability to attract, train and retain the best people, including salespeople. Reports about the “graying” of the insurance industry suggest that the insurance industry must seek qualified replacements for the coming wave of retirements, especially among the agency force. This article examines the attitudes of undergraduate students majoring in a finance-related field toward a career as an insurance agent.

We recommend to view the link below for the article:

http://www.cpcusociety.org/file_depot/0-10000000/0-10000/3267/conman/CPCUeJournalJan12art1.pdf

It is an interesting studious work that concludes that

a) Insurance professionals should teach classes at local universities,

b) Insurance professionals should provide real world material – actual case studies – to complement course work,

c) That insurance professionals should mentor students,

d) And that CPCU chapters should invite students to I-Day functions and provide scholarships.

We think these are admirable recommendations. But the reality is that it is a long road to creating insurance courses and teaching them at the college level. If you can do so, it would be wonderful. But agencies can provide the same career advice and functions to high school seniors and can attend college recruitment days for their upper classmen who are facing imminent job searches.

Insurance is a technical field, however, when you find a person with personality and characteristics that are best suited to helping people, you can always train the right candidate. Those traits are not limited to college students enrolled in insurance coursework already. They can be identified and penetrated by individual agencies and agency groups through assessments (like Agency Consulting Group, Inc.’s Hiring System ) and a proper interview process.

It has always been our contention that you hire the best personality for the job and train them into the role you desire. Salespeople who are successful in other trades can be shifted to the insurance industry and many of them would salivate over the concept of “renewal commissions” as opposed to fresh sales of products each year to make a living.

The KEY TO SUCCESS in the location of good, strong employees for your agency is in YOU DOING SOMETHING PROACTIVE besides bemoaning the fact that you can’t find good quality people. Call us and we’ll help you through the process. Agency Consulting Group, Inc. will do recruitment at universities on behalf of agents groups (associations and less formal groups) to locate and assess good quality potential employees, sell them on the concept of the insurance industry and send them to the member agencies for their interview and screening process. We can also help you identify the workers in the field today that could become your next service or sales employees. We can also show you how to recruit good staff potential from your high school graduating classes.

It’s simply a matter of reaching out and avoiding someone else’s mistakes. If you don’t, you will have a honeymoon with your new employee and then you will find out why that person no longer works for your competitor...