How to Motivate & Retain Producers

How to Motivate & Retain Producers

Thursday, February 19, 2015/Insureon Solutions, Industry Tips

Two insurance agents are sitting at a bar, talking shop, when one asks the other, “How many producers do you have working for you?”

The agent shrugs. “About half of them.”

It’s an old joke and one that probably applies to most professions. But does it apply to your independent insurance agency?

Keeping agents productive is one of the most important tasks you take on as an owner. Your agents are the ones who are going to help you grow your business, so let’s take a look at three ways you can get – and keep! – good producers in house.

Step 1: Attract Good Insurance Agents

If you had to guess what the top operational enhancements are for independent agencies, what would you say? According to the agents surveyed by Accenture, hiring new producers comes in second only to customer service improvements. (Read more about the survey in this article by PropertyCasualty360.)

Sometimes, those two goals go hand-in-hand. Good agents know that maintaining strong customer relationships is essential to earning renewals and referrals. So if you’ve decided it’s time to hire a new producer, make sure you’re attracting potential hires who can be an asset to your team. For example, consider…

  • Developing a strong value proposition. A clear statement of what makes your agency unique helps job seekers determine if it is the right fit for them. Value propositions are good for business, too. Read “Develop Your Agency’s Value Proposition to Increase Revenue” for more information.
  • Hiring someone without a license. Few agency owners want to pay for a new hire to complete their coursework, but they may be missing out on some fresh talent. Moreover, studying for licensing exams can happen on the employee’s own time.
  • Asking questions to determine a cultural fit. Most interview questions don’t tell you much about a candidate’s personality. Step away from the same old questions once in awhile and see how they respond.

Hiring a candidate who fits your agency culture doesn’t have to mean you have to find someone who is just like you. Balance, especially in terms of skill, is important, too. Learn why in “Need Help at the Agency? Hire Someone Who’s Not Like You.

Step 2: Learn What Makes Your Producers Tick

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume your producers are motivated by the same things you are. True, you’ve all ended up in insurance, but that doesn’t mean the draw was the same for each of you. When you get to know your employees, you may be surprised to learn they are driven by…

  • Compensation.
  • Independence.
  • Advancement opportunities.
  • Personal security.
  • Learning opportunities.
  • Recognition.
  • Opportunities to serve others.

By the way, it’s a well kept secret that even millennials have inner drives that you can tap into – a good thing, considering the insurance industry is getting a little long in the tooth. Find out what motivates youngsters in “Hey, Millennials: Here’s 5 Reasons to Choose a Career in Insurance.

Step 3: Create a Positive Work Environment

That heading probably sounds like touchy-feely nonsense, but don’t scroll past it just yet. The fact is that no one wants to spend a huge chunk of their day in misery. Go figure!

Making the office a positive space doesn’t have anything to do with burning sage or playing team-building games – although, if either of those fits your corporate culture, have at it. Rather, think about how the day-to-day operations can make office life bearable. Here are some basic ways you can improve your employees’ experience:

  • Celebrate sales. Publicly recognized success motivates both the agent and their coworkers. On the flip side, if you use failures as teachable moments, you’ll go a long way toward de-stressing your crew.
  • Provide professional development. Continuing education and training can be a heavy burden on agents, especially when you add in all the other work they have to do. Provide agents with the time and resources for professional development to keep burnout at bay.
  • Encourage innovation. Listen to an agent who suggests a new approach. It may end up saving time and money, and accepting their recommendation gives the agent a sense of ownership over the process.
  • Invest in technology. Minimize frustration by making sure your technology is up to date and your employees are trained in its use. Also consider investing in an agency management system to make your agents’ lives easier. 
  • Play to agents’ strengths. Placing your agents in positions where they can make best use of their unique skills brings more chance of success and greater job satisfaction. 

Do you have insurance agents who are just starting out? Learn how you can help them flourish in “7 Tips for Maximizing New Producer Success.”