There are nearly 16mn small business owners in the US, all with unique insurance needs, and according to Dovetail Insurance Executive Vice President Dennis Rabon, “that number is only going to grow.” However, the landscape of small businesses isn’t the same as it was even a few years ago, and producers need to be prepared if they want to compete.
The number one thing Rabon sees on the horizon for small businesses? Expanding use of technology.
“I think small business owners are embracing technology more than ever before and those that do not are getting left behind,” he said. “As [an]…agent, working with small business owners is going to become more and more a virtual engagement. The ability to do business quickly and virtually will be valued as much, or more, than price and product. Time is their most valuable commodity.”
To still offer that personal touch that defines a producer’s role while respecting a small business client’s time, agents and brokers need to build relationships through social media and other technological outlets.
“Your business owners need you, but they don’t have any time to spend with you,” Rabon said. “You can win by adding back. ‘Like’ your clients on Facebook and reach out to them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Engage them in ways that improve their business.”
Rabon also recommended introducing clients that might be a good business fit for one another through email.
“If you can help create profitable relationships for your clients, your relationship…is much stronger.”
Using the right carrier software will also help producers come out on top. Dovetail practices what Rabon preaches with a broker portal for its NetBOP, a convenient business owners policy that can be written quickly.
“What agents really like is that you can rate, quote, bind and issue in as little as 10 minutes using the portal,” he said.
The approach is working for Dovetail. The company just expanded to Colorado where it hopes a “very strong community of independent agents” will appreciate its progressive style.
Linc Trimble, head of eCommerce for Torus, also believes technological efficiency will separate the winning producers from the losers in the small business sector.
“The extent to which brokers can accept data from third-party sources and deliver that data in an efficient way is really going to be a differentiating factor for brokers,” said Trimble, who developed a similar portal for Torus. “People who can get speedier responses to customers with greater efficiency are going to be the winners.”