Posted by: Billy R. Williams Ph.D. | June 27, 2009

Message to Allstate Agents; Will PSA Work?

The PSA model will work for you if. . .
1. You have good money management skills – PSA agents will be expected to have a set amount of licensed producers per PIF, multiple locations they own and operate, as well as money for marketing and prospecting. There are many of you out there that are already hemorrhaging cash to run one agency, what happens when you own three? Now is the time to start looking at low cost, high return, efficient processes, tools, and processes. You also have to start managing wasted resources such as paper, ink, staples, etc., along with many other little things that will pop up. Since the cost of running an agency has been transferred to the agents (business cards, paper, ink, and your choice technology) it has become more expensive to not only attract new customers but to maintain them. More loans to buy agencies mean more debt to manage. Will your current marketing processes be affordable when you have 10K, 15K, or 20K a month in loan repayments? For some of you these numbers are a drop in the bucket because you have one super agency that will carry the new agencies, but for others you will end up buying one or two agencies that are barely keeping the doors open and your main agency might not have the capacity to cover them. For you, good money management skills are of extreme importance.

2. You have good agency management skills – Do you have good tools, systems and processes that you can use to make sure that each office is doing what it needs to do, when it is supposed to do it, in the way it should be done? Take your current staffing, marketing, sales, compliance etc., issues and double or triple those and you have just seen the future for many of you out there. I have many multiple agency location clients and if you ask one of them what two major issues they face every day it is usually staffing and expenses. Both of those are a direct result of how they manage the agency. If you are the kind of agent that throws money at the problem to fix it, bring a wheel barrow full of money to the table. If you are the kind that depends on one key person to run everything in the agency, start looking for two or three more just like them now, if you don’t have a written process manual, buy one or start creating one now. I now receive more calls daily from mega-agents since the announcement of this PSA concept than I ever did before. They are worried about expenses and want to know how to control them with great low cost tools and processes.

3. You have good database management skills – If you feel overwhelmed keeping up with one office and 3, 4, or 5K clients, imagine having 3 offices and 15K clients! I am still amazed at the number of agents that do not use Impact or some other agency and database management tool. If you have two or three agencies don’t you want the ability to check daily work task and customer interactions? Isn’t it important that everything in the agency start and finish in one easy to track tool? Imagine having to look at each staff person’s desk and yellow note pad when a call comes in to try and figure out what is going on with a customer or prospect? Most database systems have similar functionality so if you are using Impact to run the agency and it goes away. . . you transfer those functions to a new database such as Access, ACT, etc., the problem is that many agents don’t have any set database management processes in the one agency they currently own, but they will be expected to own two or three agencies under this PSA system. If you have good database management skills, make them better. If you are not strong in this area start getting stronger now.

4. Start training your staff on the items I mentioned above – Just like a sport, your staff will play like they practice. Don’t wait until you buy a new agency to try to get your staff trained. You can’t physically be in three places at one time, so you will have to depend on great staff to run the agency. Off the top I recommend you interview the agent you are buying the agency from for an agency manager position. Most agents don’t fail because they are not good insurance agents; they fail because they are not good business owners. Given the opportunity to not have to run the money side of an agency, they do very well with sales, customer service and retention. Maybe your great processes and financial strength is all that is required for them to do what they wanted to do all along, be a great insurance agent. Either way you must have good staff to make the PSA system work. Don’t confuse staff that has been around for a long time with “good staff”. You need and want staff that shares your vision for the agency, not just someone who knows the system and shows up every day.

You have quite an opportunity and a challenge with this new PSA program. Are you prepared?

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