The first step in running your agency virtually is to overcome the fear of where to begin, said an advisor who is experienced in running a virtual agency.
Ryan Pinney, president of Pinney Insurance Center in Roseville, Calif., gave his tips for running a virtual agency to members of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Services at its online Town Hall meeting Friday.
Advisors are finding they need to conduct business online now that COVID-19 has closed many offices. Pinney said that in order to be successful in moving to an online practice, advisors must answer two questions. They are:
- Are you going to take action or not?
- How will your current COVID-19 business model and your after-COVID-19 business model look?
Advisors need to implement a number of tools to create a successful virtual practice, Pinney said. He gave a list.
- You need a video conferencing or desktop sharing platform. Test it before you use it for a client presentation.
- Your environment is a major factor in creating a successful video meeting. Close window blinds, watch out for backlight, and make sure your environment isn’t too cluttered.
- Have the appropriate hardware, such as a good webcam.
- Have a quiet environment or use good headphones.
- Use a client management system to track client information and follow-up.
- Use a chat platform to meet with staff or partners.
- Don’t forget to turn technology off when necessary. You and your staff can’t be on technology all the time. Take breaks when needed.
After you have your technology, your environment and your staff communications down, Pinney said, the next issue is to “make sure you look the part.”
“Don’t change your regular style just because you are working remotely,” he said. “This will let your clients know you are ready to go and prepared to help them.”
The current working environment “is a huge opportunity to pick up clients, market share and new opportunities moving forward,” Pinney said. He noted that his agency has increased its marketing efforts during this time of social distancing. “It’s hard for people to know you’re there unless you tell them”
Being proactive and letting clients know you are in business will reap rewards when the COVID-19 crisis passes, Pinney said.
“Consumers remember who helped them and who was there for them when nobody else was,” he said.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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