Staffing For Success

Staffing for Success

I get calls all the time from insurance agents asking if we have some licensing students who would make a good team member for their agency. They seem to think that if someone has made the decision to get a license in insurance, they are already committed to an insurance career, and it would be an easy transition for them to work in their agency.

Even though I like their thinking, we are not an employment agency and would never give out the names of our students to a recruiter. If you are thinking about calling us to get some names, don’t! We won’t do it. While it is true that our students have made a commitment to pursue an insurance career most have already committed to an insurance company or an agency. Giving out our student names to a competitor would be unethical and could cost us future business.

Yet, this recruiting idea, to reach out to license schools for names of students, has got me thinking about how insurance agents and agencies could, or should, look for successful team members.

Surprisingly, the first hire of staff for an insurance agency is typically not one that was well thought out. The first person hired is usually a family member, a friend, an acquaintance, or anyone that should be able to help with the service load. However, what typically happens is the agent gets burdened with most of the workload. Quite often, the expectations of each party do not match, which can lead to more problems; I cannot tell you the number of agency owners who have confided in me that they made a horrible mistake in their first hire simply because they felt overwhelmed.

Let’s talk about that “first hire.” This may sound strange, but it all starts with a plan, and a plan that was developed early in the agents career. Do not wait until staffing needs become overwhelming and you are forced to make decisions based on desperation. If you are looking for that first person who will take your agency to the next level, stop now, and develop a plan. The plan should include the basics of Who? What? When? Why? and How?:

Who – This is not usually a specific person but a ‘type of person.’  What skills are you looking for? Do you want them to do sales? Do you have someone in mind already? Will they fit the core values of the agency? The Who is probably the most important piece of the plan.

What – What will their job be and who will train them? Can you get assistance from your insurance company for training? What are the job benefits to the new hire? What are the daily expectations of the person?

When – When will the agency have the resources to hire a new team member? If the money is not there, can you secure a loan and from who? When will the new hire be required to get licensed?

Why – This may seem obvious, but my experience has shown that many new agents will accept less for themselves simply because the desire to succeed is diminished due to the daily workload. They learn to accept less for themselves. Keep telling yourself that the key to long-term success comes from building a plan and following that plan.

How – This is the culmination of the plan. When will it all transpire? How will it be activated? How will I know if the new hire is on task?

After these questions have been answered, and once the plan is in place, the next step is to look for the perfect person. Ok, no one is perfect! But how do I find the person that will take me to the next level?

An employment agency is a good start, but they can be expensive and may not have the kind of candidates that you are looking for.

You may want to consider someone part-time in the early months of their hire. Make sure that they are willing to go full-time in the future as your business grows.

Current policyholders can also be a good resource but make sure there is a clear understanding with the new hire and the policyholder what the job entails. You do not want to lose a good policyholder because their referral did not work out.

Many agents use social media postings to find team members. These can be great but, once again, make sure the job description is correct and up to date. Old print newspaper ads don’t seem to have the same punch since the onset of social media.

A friend of mine has another approach to hiring talented people: He leases a new car for them. This plan has worked extremely well in finding good, qualified candidates.

Or, finally, you could call me and ask if I have any new students who are in licensing school that would be a good fit for your agency. Of course, I will tell you NO, but we could still talk and perhaps I could be of some assistance in helping you find a good candidate.

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