Agency Management systems are often misunderstood in the normal functioning of an agency. Agents are told they must “automate or die”, which does not fit in with their experience.
I have heard many agents say “I have gone this long without a management system, why should I move now?” While I was thinking this topic over, it came to me that I have never heard an agent who has a system say “This is worse than having no system, so I am going to drop it.” Even those with systems that provide more power than they need with costs that they cannot afford do not opt to go back to nothing. They look to find a system that fits their needs better.
So why is it so important to be automated? Some of the answers might surprise you.
The Old Reasoning
In the past, most of the justification for having a management system has focused on costs. But particularly in a small office, it might be hard to see where those cost savings are going to come from.
I could spend a lot time talking about increasing business with the same staff, cutting inefficiencies, etc., but you have heard that before.
I think there are some much better reasons to think about a management system. Let’s talk about some of those reasons.
The Joy of Having Everything in One Place
It is hard to imagine the ease it brings to your workday to always have everything in one place, available without even having to stand up. Your client contact information, the associated company information, policy schedules and coverages, all important documents, letters, emails, pictures, and the list goes on and on. You can even have the Pizza Hut number available in that same central place.
That means that when you need to know anything at all about a client or a policy or any other aspect of your business, it is at your fingertips. Need to call your client and ask a question? Need to send your underwriter an email on behalf of this client? Need to see a signed copy of the application? It is all there with a couple clicks of the mouse.
I am sure that this is going to save you some money, but I doubt you will ever be able to put your finger on exactly how much. The greater benefit in my mind is the ease of doing your job, feeling on top of things, and looking good in front of your clients and your company people.
As an extension of the concepts of having everything in one place, consider going paperless.
The idea is to scan all of your paperwork into the management system and attach it to the proper client and policy. Then, all of your documents are always available from anywhere you are, almost instantly.
Now I am not telling you to actually do away with your paper, although you certainly can if you want to. If you want to continue filing it, that is perfectly alright. Or you can file it organized loosely by date to minimize filing expense.
Going paperless does not have to mean throwing your paper away. It just means you don’t have to depend on it any more, or spend countless hours trying to track it down.
Imagine never having to go look for that paper again. You can just sit at your desk and click a couple of buttons, and you will be looking at that application, or letter, or photograph, or spreadsheet – anything at all – almost instantly.
And no more chasing around finding out who has the file.
Better yet, if you are working from home one rainy Saturday afternoon and your client gives you a call, you can hop on to your laptop from home and still be looking at that same document in a few seconds.
Again, the same list of benefits apply, the ease of doing your job, looking good in front of customers and clients, lowering the overall stress level.
Real Time Interface
More and more companies offer online policy service, ranging from a simple inquiry to full endorsement processing, payment inquiry, and claims management.
A good management system will give you one-click access to the real time data on your company system.
This is the best of both worlds. Your own information that you collect and store locally, combined with instant access to information collected and store by your companies.
An often unrecognized benefit of storing all your information together in a management system, along with contemporaneous notes on phone calls, personal conversations, memos and emails, is that you build a good system of legal protections for yourself. A properly designed management system provides defenses for many E&O situations. (Talk to your lawyer about this if you have legal concerns.) Your E&O premium may be lower, and of course, your exposure to E&O risk is lower.
Finding Your Ideal System
There are a lot of systems out there, all claiming to be very user friendly, with robust features (whatever that means), and all at a low cost. Well, some more than others.
If you already have a management system, then you know what it can do for you. If you are dissatisfied with it, you already know why.
If you do not have a system, you should think about what things you want your system to do for you and then ask around as to what systems offer the features you are looking for.
Talk to some of your friends in the business, and those you know through the PIA, and find out what their experiences are. What kinds of benefits are they experiencing? How much does it cost them?
Some vendors offer a free trial period whereby you can evaluate the system in a non-pressured environment, and determine for yourself whether this is something that would be good for you before you take on any financial commitments.
A good management system should make your life easier. It should help you provide better service to your clients, and to raise the level of pride you have in your own business.
Once you find the right system, you will never go back.