How Independent Agents Can Build a Small-Business Specialty

Why should independent agents get into the small-business market? In a word, opportunity.

The small-business market in commercial lines is underserved and can help agents create a profitable, stable business and deepen their client relationships. That’s just one reason why competitive independent agents now offer both personal and commercial lines as standard practice.

Start by getting the training you need to fully understand the most common commercial products, such a businessowners policies (BOP), property, general liability and commercial auto. Doing so will give you the confidence to sell these products and answer questions for your clients.

Once you are well-versed in small-business products, you will want to build a list of businesses you would like to win as clients. How do you do that? Start with your current book of business. Of your personal insurance clients, who owns small businesses? Home businesses and side hustles are quite common these days, whether people want to increase retirement savings or turn their hobby into a lucrative opportunity. Ask your current clients if they operate a small business and then market your products with further conversation.

Have your small-business prospects purchased a BOP policy? The BOP policy has similar characteristics to a homeowners policy with set coverages and limits, so be prepared to help them understand their risks and upgrade as they grow: Understand the client’s business, develop the relationship and coach the client on exposures they have. Eliminate surprises or coverage gaps, and the client will be more inclined to hear how their insurance coverage will evolve in the future.

Once you are well versed in the basics of selling commercial lines, ask yourself about your favorite part of the local business community – what do you do know well and who do you want to work with most in the future? It may be not-for-profits, the trades, retail shops, restaurants, banks, gyms, health spas, specialty foods, garages, doctor’s offices, etc. Introduce yourself to this sector and get to know the business owners by name.

Another approach is to study the markets today and align yourself with growing areas. Concentrating all of your marketing efforts on a small but specific and well-defined segment of business will help you target your message to that audience. If you want to create a niche market, get to know that industry inside and out, so as a company grows, you can suggest additional products to ensure all of its business is covered. As you study your community in-depth, notice which businesses are using or requiring insurance for new technology as these investments are significant and will need to be covered too.

Read the full article, written by Steve Tombarelli, Senior Vice President, Business Expansion & Innovation, published September 20, 2019 in The Standard. Reprinted with permission from The Standard, Copyright 2019, Standard Publishing Corporation, Boston, MA. All rights reserved.