Flower Mound, TX, November 17, 2009 – When you’ve been in the business for more than three decades, it could be difficult to make the adjustment to today’s drastic industry changes. Customers know enough about insurance to be dangerous, and instead of looking for insurance in the phone book, they search endlessly online. Independent agencies are being outspent in advertising by companies with deep pockets as well. How do you grow your business, maintain a website, advertise, retain current customers, and find an hour or two to hit the green? An agent has priorities!
Tommy Thompson, President of Southwest Insurance Marketing Group, feels confident his agency has the formula down to a science. “We don’t wait for the business to come to us,” says Thompson. Southwest spent time building name recognition in their community and surrounding areas through multiple channels. After several months of creating their website, the agency strategically added their website link to the bottom of their email signatures to be included with each new email. It didn’t matter if the email was directed to a customer, family member, or friend. Every email was an opportunity to expose the Southwest website and attract new business. “Our website is the path of least resistance. Customers these days are not always eager to talk to you on the phone. They can check out the agency website and receive a quote (CPLive®) without feeling like they are being sold to,” explained Thompson. “If they are really interested, the applicant will respond to the email or phone call when we follow up with their quote request.”
Although it took months to set up the agency website, Thompson takes pride in this investment. Southwest easily spent $10,000 a year on print yellow page ads before creating their site, and have already seen valuable return. “People think it comes down to spending money, but it is really important to have a strategy that will work in the current market,” Thompson advises.
Southwest will not work with certain independent companies that write direct to consumers because it believes they will take business from independent agents. Thompson did not mention them by name, but says, “This is a tough business.” There are other companies out there that are driving independent agents out of business. It is hard to develop a sense of community when independent agents are essentially competing amongst themselves for new customers. Understanding the complexities of the insurance industry helps the agency make informed decisions about managing their business.
“We are out of the order-taking business. We used to spend a great deal of time running multiple quotes for customers who were not really ready to purchase a policy. My team and I can now focus on interested applicants while other consumers can use my CPLive® (on the website) to generate quotes.” With updated tools to efficiently manage his business, the Southwest team spends most of its time utilizing their expertise of insurance consultation and providing excellent customer service to his clients. For Thompson, the reward of being an agent is being able to educate the consumer on the value of protecting their family through effective coverage. “The agent is a critical piece of the puzzle when purchasing a policy. How can an agent focus on addressing customer needs when they are chasing down customers who are just shopping for insurance?”
Southwest proudly touts its 90% customer retention, refined website, and search engine optimization plan. “Competitive companies with great technology tend to last much longer than those who don’t adapt to new technology tools.” Thompson experienced the transition from 1970’s to the new millennium, when agents went door to door to sell policies and the extensive time spent on the phone trying to make a sale. “Technology has evolved and I understand the huge role that insurance software and automation has played in our agency.” He feels that utilizing EZLynx® and its live quoting feature for agency websites (CPLive®) makes an agent’s life easier. The independent insurance agent market has gone down in Texas and Thompson attributes his success to maximizing the best insurance software tools available to make his business run smoothly. He has done something right; not just once, but many times over the last thirty eight years. You won’t see him left in cyber dust.
About Webcetera, L.P.
Webcetera is a leading provider of real-time quoting and insurance software solutions for independent insurance agents and carriers. Its flagship product EZLynx® delivers accurate real-time rate quotes to independent insurance agencies across the United States. As an insurance software provider, Webcetera has focused on empowering both independent agencies, wholesales/MGAs, and insurance companies with the technology they need to grow and compete. Webcetera is a privately-held company. For more information, visit https://www.ezlynx.com or call us toll free at 877-932-2382.