You've Taken Over a Book of Business...Now What?
If you’ve recently taken over an agency with an existing book of business, congratulations! There is a world of opportunity waiting for you and how you manage these new leads will determine the wealth of your new network and potential future insurance clients.
Taking over an existing business saves you money since you don’t have to advertise to find customers, or buy furniture and supplies to get started. But don’t think there won’t be challenges. People are creatures of habit and often are resistant to change so making that transition for them easy and providing a little extra will comfort your new clients and hopefully avoid some fall off.
That is why it’s so important for you to develop a plan of action from the get-go to make sure the transition will be a smooth one.
Here are five ideas for smoothly and successfully taking over an insurance agency with existing customers.
- Interview existing employees. Ask them it they like their jobs, what they think works best about the business, and what they think needs to change. Be prepared to implement some of the suggestions you receive. The key to your success is likely going to involve keeping key employees around. If they see that their ideas are valued, that will be incentive for them to stay.
- Ask for a transition period if at all possible. The transition period can be for a few weeks or months, whatever you and the previous owner think is required to make the transition a good one. This will ensure that you learn all you can from the current owner about the customer base and how things have been done at the agency.
- Build a transition team. Recruit people who work well together, have strong communication skills, and who are skilled with conflict resolution and engaging others. Encourage people on the team to come up with new and improved processes and procedures.
A good project for a transition team would be to develop a SWOT analysis of existing marketing approaches. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses/limitations, Opportunities and Trends.
As part of the analysis, look into the tools the company is currently using to secure leads. They should include internet insurance leads, warm transfer services, direct mail approaches and lead management systems. If they are lacking in any of these tools, efforts should be made to add them right away.
- Don’t keep customers in the dark. It is critical that you inform your new clients in writing about the change in leadership as soon as it happens. In the letter you send out, notify people of any changes that take place or assure them that no changes will take place, depending on your plan. Provide your name and number so they can contact you with any questions.
When you send out the letter, perhaps it could be accompanied by a survey where you ask customers to comment on news products and services they’d like to see added.
- Plan an open house. Once you get settled in, plan for an open house and invite all the company’s current customers and prospects to stop by the office for an informal party in their honor. In the invitation let people know this will be their opportunity to meet new staff members. You can offer wine, cheese and hors d'oeuvres at the end of the day, or perhaps a catered lunch for people who’d like to stop by during the lunch hour.
At the open house, be sure to have plenty of information materials and marketing materials available for people to pick up and read, or take with them. Chances are if they have a good time at the party, and enjoy the engagement with your employees, a prospect will suddenly turn into a customer, and existing customers will start telling their friends about the company.