Are you a captive agent looking to go independent?
Captive agents have been making the transition to independence for decades. There are 2 ways an agent can take the leap. Here are the choices you have available to you today including the good and the bad.
What happens if you Go on your own?
It can be done! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, it can be a far more difficult process than other opportunities and it can take much longer to scale your agency to size. Agents tend to struggle along the way as opposition presents itself and causes conflict in their agencies. Its not uncommon for agents to eventually seek the assistance of an alliance or cluster group to ease the pains of trying to grow on their own. Here are the common struggles agents face when attempting to start and scale their agencies by themselves.
Carrier Appointments - Most preferred carriers appointments will be difficult to obtain unless the agent has a profitable book of business to audit for consideration.
Production Pressure - Its not uncommon for agents to suffer from production pressure from their carrier partners. Not all carriers require activity but most preferred or admitted carriers do. This puts stress on agents as the tides of the industry change and carrier appetites change with them. Unfortunately, their requirement for their agent partners to write business never follows suite with their appetite for risk. The bottom line is pressure to write coupled with non-competitive rates can eventually lead to the loss of an appointment. This can be catastrophic because most carriers will most likely never consider you for a future partnership once the prior relationship was ended for lack of productivity or profitability.
Lack of Time - While taking the leap on your own is worthy of applause, you may struggle to grow as fast as you would like. Being the chief, the cook and the bottle washer is a large undertaking. The normal day to day minutia can easily eat up your day and prevent you from the activities that generate revenue. This single obstacle causes more agents to fail than any other.
Profitability - Smaller agencies can suffer from lack of profit margin. With smaller amounts of production comes smaller commission levels from carrier partnerships. The industry is changing and commissions are shrinking regularly to compensate for lack of profitability from the carrier level. This trend will likely not be changing any time soon yet the cost of doing business continues to go up.
Why should I Join an alliance or cluster group?
Alliances and cluster groups have been around for decades and most of them offer you very similar opportunities. Here are the topics you should be aware of and what separates Pacific Crest Services from the pack.
Carrier Appointments - Joining a group can often times increase your odds to gain access to carrier appointments. However, not all groups are created equal and you should know a few things before you take the leap.
How do you get access to the carrier appointment? Some groups give you access to markets by allowing you to use their Master Code to quote but not to bind. Pacific Crest Services appoints you directly with the carrier so you have binding authority and a relationship with carrier representatives and the underwriters. Do not fall victim to semantics! Make sure you get clarity on how you will get appointments, what your relationship with each carrier will be like and if you will have binding authority.
Production Pressure - Joining a large group can give agents the freedom to write business with carriers at their leisure. However, its noteworthy to consider that all carriers are looking for the same things. They all want to be grow and be profitable while they do it. Those two things are difficult to do if the agent partners they chose are not writing profitable business on a regular basis. The point is, don’t let recruiters fill your head with the false understanding that you will get appointed with several carriers without some kind of activity requirements. Pacific Crest services takes a strategic approach to building your portfolio of carrier appointments. Its better to have the carriers you will likely use than to have an unmanageable list of carrier appointments that are hardly used at all. This prevents you from conflict with the carrier in the future. Your carrier appointment list can always be added to in the future when it makes better sense.
More Time to Grow - A relationship with a large group should free up more of your time so you can focus on growing. Some groups will not provide back office support. They will expect you to perform duties such as policy downloading, reconciliations and accounting by yourself. These types of activities take away your surplus of time and prevent you from making profit and growing. Pacific Crest Services handles the minutia of running an agency and frees up the time of their agency partners so they can write more business and grow at a more rapid pace.
Profitability - Make sure when you are researching that the group you decide to join is sharing the enhanced compensation with their agents. Its not uncommon for groups to negotiate high commissions, perks and bonuses without the knowledge of their agent partners and keep these benefits to themselves. Pacific Crest Services shares these types of negotiated perks with their agents because it increases their profit margins and increases their likelihood to succeed.
Book Ownership - This can be a touchy subject because ownership can be viewed in many different ways. Some groups consider equity to equal ownership and will speak as though it is. Its important to understand that real ownership of your book would allow you the freedom to take your policies from one relationship to another without having to ask the permission of the group. Pacific Crest Services has a contract that puts the control in the agents hands and puts Pacific Crest Services in the customer services position.