Do you have clients asking for help with small commercial quotes, but you turn them down or pass them to other agents because you believe “small commercial takes too much time?”
If so, you’re not alone. In fact, you are part of a sizable majority of agents. Most never write any small commercial business (less than $30,000 in premium), even when it’s practically handed to them by a current client!
For most producers, that can be a big mistake. If you are in that group, chances are no one has shown you how simple it can be to expand your business and your income by adding small commercial lines to your offerings.
Small Commercial Insurance the Easy Way
This article describes five ways to help yourself and your clients, without having to stop doing the things that make you successful in other lines. Let’s start with the most important one first because this one idea will substantially improve your results in the other areas.
1. Use Technology – Web-based comparative raters have changed the small commercial insurance industry dramatically by automating the formerly time-consuming process of obtaining quotes. With this powerful tool agents now can enter client data once and get back quotes from multiple carriers in a matter of minutes.
Comparative raters put the power and credibility of the biggest carriers on your side immediately, even if you’ve never written a small commercial case. In addition to quotes, you get top-quality sales presentation materials to print out, including coverage and premium comparisons.
Agents without commercial carrier direct appointments can use wholesale comparative raters and receive commissions through the wholesaler, while agents with direct appointments can use retailer raters and be paid directly by the carriers. Either way, the process is fast and easy.
2. Ask for the Business – There is no reason not to ask existing clients and prospects for small commercial business, once you have the power and expertise at hand. Think not only of your personal lines clients who own businesses, but the people they know, too.
Ask your clients where they work to see if it is the kind of business you might like to have as a client. If your client works for a small business, ask her for the name of the business owner, or better still, ask for an introduction. Remember, the road runs in both directions: just as existing clients can lead you to profitable small commercial business, new small commercial clients have personal needs you can serve, too.
3. Associations and Vertical Markets – Many agents find real gold in getting to know the needs of vertical markets, developing solutions and promoting them to all businesses in that niche. For example, if you were to decide to become the industry expert in bowling establishments, you would develop packages that include liquor coverage, as well as traditional small commercial coverage.
You become the “go to” insurance professional for bowling establishments. Then, join bowling associations and attend every meeting. Develop trust by getting to know people in the associations and have a blast doing it!
When you begin to master a vertical market you will find which carriers are most likely to have the best coverage. Know your markets! Carriers that are strong in one type of coverage for years often are replaced overnight by other carriers. The comparative rater will help you make certain you keep getting the most competitive quotes.
4. Business-to-Business – As an insurance agent you are an expert at serving the needs of individuals. That qualifies you for the small commercial insurance market because, regardless of the market, people make the buying decisions, not companies. Focus on serving the decision makers in an organization.
You may find it much more profitable to use any unscheduled time calling on small businesses instead of cold calls to ex-date auto and homeowner policies. Take a stack of business cards, get out of the office and stir things up.
Chances are very good you will find several business owners who are not satisfied with their current coverage or agent. You will establish yourself as a complete professional when you tell them you will search the top commercial carriers for the best coverage and rates and get back to them later that day or the next.
5. Social media – Make your website the hub of your marketing activities. If you do not have a website specifically for your business, it’s a good idea to get one. Regardless, you should use social media sites to promote your business.
A weblog should be the cornerstone of your social media strategy. It allows you to express yourself in a personal, yet professional way, and you can get valuable feedback from comments readers make to your blog posts. Do posts that include success stories and case studies. A Facebook fan page for your business can be a valuable adjunct, as can a Twitter account.
Think of social media as an online social mixer, where you meet people and get to understand their needs. Use social media (and your website) to inform, not sell. Provide great information about things of interest to your clients, including links to articles or blog posts by top professionals. This works especially well on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn discussion groups.
Give Yourself a Pay Raise
The average Small Business Owner Policy premium is between $2,500 and $5,000. Sell two policies per week at a 10-to-15% commission rate and watch your bank account grow exponentially each month.
Kick back and watch each succeeding year as your renewal retention rewards you every month. Eventually this could become your core business. Remember, with a comparative rater doing the calculations and presentations, you can invest your time getting in front of more clients and prospects.
Start today. Get online and start finding out about small commercial business and comparative raters. Call or make an online request for a demonstration.
Mark Van Horn is president of Quantum Integrated Systems, Inc. and RealTimeExpress.com a small commercial comparative rater for independent insurance agents nationwide. He has more than 20 years of commercial insurance experience and can be reached at 214-295-1586 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.