June 11, 2012
The major topic of discussion last week was the development of new business and continued growth. The week began early Monday morning with a marketing discussion allowing sales associates and interns to offer insight on how to achieve steady growth. The “Pipeline” has been a central focus of our discussion. The insurance “Pipeline” is similar to the Alaskan oil “Pipeline”; it requires an availability of resources that will eventually become a profitable product. As the Alaskan Pipeline carries oil from its origin to refineries for it to be converted into gas and heating oil, qualified prospects may turn into insurance policy holders.
As simple as it seems, maintaining steady growth in the insurance industry is more complicated than the basic “Pipeline” analogy. In the marketing discussion, we realized that potential customers were slipping through our fingers unnoticed. With a large customer base, it is possible that some customers hold either car or homeowner’s policies with us, but not both. Simply asking clients if they want a second opinion on their policies held elsewhere is a simple, effective way to grow while providing the client a valuable service. Though it is not always easy or convenient to ask clients about policies held elsewhere, it allows for quality, organic growth. Conventional advertising and promotion are effective ways of acquiring new customers but can be very expensive in comparison to growth from within. Having never been part of a discussion like this, I was humbled to learn that my peers had far more to offer to me than I did to them. As an intern, my purpose is to offer tidbits of my knowledge to improve the brand. Whether it be improving the use of our social media outlets or preparing mailings to reach new customers, it is my job to help put the executives and sales associates’ ideas into practice.
In an industry crowded with companies offering low prices, differentiation has become a focus of the agency. We discussed what factors differentiate our agency from our competitors. While insurance is a homogenized service to a certain degree, not all agencies offer the same quality service. At any given price, a myriad of companies offer insurance policies with the same or similar coverage. To be successful in an industry riddled with competitors offering the lowest prices, exceptional becomes a separating factor. In the discussion, we came to the conclusion that easily accessible, welcoming, and helpful agencies and associates become most successful. Exceptional service not only creates a strong reputation for an agency, but it generates growth in the form of referrals. Customers will change agencies, sometimes at a premium, to ensure that their problems are solved, questions are answered, and that they are treated with respect. It is our responsibility to ensure the tactics we discussed would be put into practice to generate growth.
Last week, we had Arbella’s Distractology 101 trailer in our lot to enlighten teen drivers of the dangers of distracted driving. It took a lot of effort to orchestrate the an event, from generating awareness through mailings to booking appointments for drivers to complete the simulator. With the aid of media outlets such as The Enterprise, WQRC, and the Cape Cod Times, we generated enough buzz to more than 50 young drivers. Drivers were put through several scenarios such as hidden stop signs, cars stopping short, and vehicles running stop signs with and without cell-phones. They were made aware of the dangers of driving distracted, and almost every driver had an accident or two while using the simulator. Many drivers crashed without even using their cell-phones, which was unsettling. It was exciting to see many young drivers willing to participate in the driving simulator. The easiest way to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving is through hands on and demonstration; using the simulator proved effective. The drivers were asked to complete pre and post-assessment surveys, and most responded positively that they were aware of the dangers of distracted driving. While the program took significant effort to put together, watching teens walk away with a sense of enlightenment was ultimately worth it.