Is There a Future for the Independent Agency?

jimOAA and its 135 member agencies, held our Annual Success Celebration last week where we gathered to celebrate our collective success in the past year.  That event was highlighted by the attendance, and remarks, of Jim Masiello the founder of SIAA, which OAA is a part of.

During one session with Jim I asked “how confident are you about the future of the independent agent?”  I pointed out that he has two 12 year old grandsons and I have to sons in college.  I asked “would you recommend that they consider the business for their careers?”  Without reservation Jim’s answer was yes!

Interestingly, the current issue of the Insurance Journal contains the results from the “2017 Young Agents Survey”.  The results indicate that young agents agree with Jim.  According to the survey 58.1% are very optimistic about their career while 29.2% are optimistic.  Thirty seven point nine of these same agents are very optimistic about the future of the independent agency system while 41.5% are optimistic.

Overwhelmingly, those in whose hands the future of our industry rests, believe we have a bright future!  I agree with them.

Those who read my postings here will note I believe that our business will be changing over the next few years.  But I also believe we aren’t going away.  The independent agent’s fundamental value proposition of choice, advocacy and trusted relationship is more valued than ever, by more consumers than ever, as indicated in other surveys of consumer attitudes.

With all of this optimism it is certainly a privilege to participate in the creation of dozens of new agencies each year here at OAA!  How can we help you move forward with your business and career?

AccessPlus Adds New Professionals!

OAA has gone through some changes in the last few months, not just new scenery with our recent office move, but we’ve also added several new faces!  Our AccessPlus team is member focused, and we’ve been working hard while stretched thin these last several weeks.  After an exhaustive search for the right fit for our team and yours, we are so excited to introduce our new AccessPlus professionals.  Please meet Robbie Hoffman, Sylvia Smith and Caleb Wonn.    Be sure to welcome them to the team during your next AccessPlus interaction.  They are here to help you and are training hard to do just that!



OAA’s newest team members are pictured left to right.  Below you will see their answers to these 3 questions:

  1.  How many years of experience in this industry?
  2. What is something you think you are good at that will lend itself well to helping our members?
  3. What do you enjoy doing outside of work, hobbies, interests, volunteer work etc?

Robbie Hoffman

  1. 20 years
  2. Knowledge about the industry; I really care about what I am doing; helping clients to the best of my ability
  3. Spending time with my 3 grandchildren & my family; Reading; Cooking; Being outdoors

Sylvia Smith

  1. 20 years plus
  2. I enjoy helping people and it’s important to me to exceed expectations, and give the best customer service
  3. I love to run in my spare time and I also have 2 grandchildren that I love spending time with

Caleb Wonn

  1. 7 years
  2. I love crunching the details of coverage. I think that knowledge will be beneficial to the members as a way to distinguish themselves
  3. Fishing, camping, boating, water skiing, play piano and guitar, being a husband and dad to three girls fills a lot of my time

It’s Time to Make Hay

hayEver since the election in November, I’ve been talking to business people about the results.  Regardless of party affiliation or candidate preference in the election, one thing has been coming through loudly and clearly: excitement!

Like the coming of spring when the clouds depart and the sun shines, business people seem to be full of enthusiasm for the future in ways I haven’t heard in a long time.  Almost every business owner I have spoken to is thinking about how they plan to increase investment to take advantage of what they see as an improved climate for business.

Obviously, we insurance agency owners are probably also excited by and large.  I know that I am.  As I’ve thought about what I hear about lower taxes, perhaps the end of the death tax, less regulation, etc., I’ve also thought about how we as agents can leverage this optimism to grow our businesses.  Here are just a few ideas:

Now is the time to review with business customers their plans for increased sales, payrolls, and property values so we can make policy adjustments early.  This helps our customers plan better, may increase premiums and commissions, but certainly cements the idea that we are valuable advisors.

  • Optimism will lead business owners to purchase coverage, like higher auto limits, excess liability policies, and increased employee benefits that they may have dropped in recent years.
  • For consumers, whose measured confidence is increasing, we need to be doing coverage reviews to make sure our policies are keeping up with their spending.
  • For personal lines customers, now is the time to suggest an umbrella policy, additional life insurance, or other products that they may have been putting off until now.

It also appears that increased expensing allowances and reduced taxes are going to set up an opportunity for business owners (like you!) to make additional investments in your business with new technology or other needed items.  This news coming at Profit Sharing time means that you have the means and the motivation to consider how to invest in your business to grow even faster this year.

What do you think?  How can you leverage the new political climate and the optimism it is engendering to grow your business?

What Are Your Biggest Opportunities?

prioritizeThanksgiving has passed us, so it must be planning season!  Planning season in the insurance agency business involves not only thinking about where you are relative to your short and long range business goals but also receiving a lot of input and sometimes pressure from others.

Most successful business owners are pretty focused people.  They understand that resources like time, capital, and people are limited.  Regardless of their relative level of optimism (an absolute requirement for success), they understand that they can’t do everything or at least not all at once.

Another hallmark of successful people, as compared to those who are not, is that they have an abundance of opportunity.  They not only see lots of different opportunities, but the more successful they become, the more realistic actual opportunities are for them.  So, as they go about building a bigger and bigger future, choosing which opportunities to pursue becomes an ever more important task.

During planning season as we face the next year and the demands of many others who want us to focus on their priorities (opportunities!), choosing those things we will concentrate our efforts on becomes a critical decision.  Last week, I was having lunch with a successful entrepreneur in a completely unrelated business to mine.  He asked me a wonderful and powerful question during our meal “what are the best opportunities in front of you right now?”

That question really focuses the mind.

I was able to give him an immediate answer and listed for him four priorities for me and my team.  We have more than four opportunities in front of us, so I was interested in my own immediate reaction.  You see, like most entrepreneurs, I am constantly seeing opportunity and weighing my capabilities and interests.

I answered my friend with four things and a quick note as to why they were important and valuable for our business.  The question really helped me to focus, prioritize, and verbalize what I want to capitalize on out of the many choices.  It happened in an instant and will now guide us as we plan for the next year or two.

What about you?   What are the best opportunities in front of you right now?  Those are the ones to focus your planning around!

Commercial Coffee Break kicks off to a great start

OAA members are always asking about ways to drive new growth to their insurance agency.  One avenue to growth can be writing more commercial business.   Our members asked us to get our carriers together to address questions on carrier appetite and product offerings.  And today, over 30 agents and their CSR’s joined the first of a series of webinars titled Commercial Coffee Break.  OAA’s Agency Development and AccessPlus Commercial teams hosted the webinar.  The Hartford was our inaugural presenter this morning.   Cliff Crenshaw from Leblanc Family Insurance was the winner of the $50 Visa Gift Card.

  • Review of Excess Compensation and Profit Sharing Deals
  • Market Appetite
  • Product Discussion
  • Quoting Tips, Underwriting Guidelines and Education/Training Opportunities
coffe breakcofee