Starting an independent agency can be exciting and terrifying all at once. While the rewards can be fruitful in the end, knowing how to start the process is vital. This is the first in a series of posts from IIANC Member Daniel Rohrbaugh, meant to bring you insight into the agency ownership experience. Over the next few months, he will bring you tips and stories from his time as an agency owner. The first being these “5 Things to Know” when starting your independent agency.
Embrace What You Do Not Know
I worked for a captive insurance agency for nine years, and there was a lot that I did not know about an independent agency. I had no clue what Excess & Surplus Lines was. I took the initiative to ask questions and understand how E&S brokers could help my agency. I also had no experience with an Agency Management System; this was a proprietary product provided by our carrier. I asked a lot of questions and sampled several management systems before I understood what my agency truly needed.
Understand Your Strengths
Most scratch agents are good producers and might have a little experience with management or policy servicing. Surround yourself with people that complement your strengths. There are many resources to help agents, such as Virtual Assistants, which can be more affordable than you might think. A service like this can free up your time and allow you to grow the business.
First Impressions Matter
Do not make your life difficult in the beginning by trying to impress or isolate yourself from others. Work hard and show others that you want to be a part of something bigger; people will start to notice. This is your career, and you want to make it a priority to get along with other agents, carriers, vendors, and clients.
Ask For the Sale (Prospect)
The most important thing a scratch agent can do is write policies. Asking family, friends, neighbors, and any good leads to quote their insurance is imperative. Be mindful of writing good business, but you need to generate as many opportunities as possible. Focusing on rounding-out accounts will help grow the book, and it all starts with asking!
Network With Other Agents
Personally, this has been the most valuable thing for me. Captive agents do not help each other like independent agents. I was surprised by the willingness of other agents who allowed me the time to sit and ask them questions. I fully embraced the concept of using the “new” card to get extra help and advice.
Daniel is originally from Lexington, NC, and moved to Raleigh when he attended North Carolina State University. Daniel worked for a State Farm Insurance Agency for 9 years before starting Raleigh Insurance Group. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for ten years and they have a son and a daughter.