AGENCY / BROKERAGE PROCEDURES CONSULTING
Efficient office procedures are vital to any insurance agency or brokerage. Few principals of such firms have the time or experience to properly review and analyze their existing procedures, and to implement the inevitable changes and improvements that would become apparent from such a review. Furthermore, politically it is often difficult for a principal within a relatively small business to make changes in procedures developed by long term associates. Also, there is a prevalent attitude that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" that masks the fact that there are really much better ways; less costly, more efficient, more secure, more informative, than the present policies and and procedures. Those entities that actually publish their own procedures manuals are sometimes holding the sword by the sharp edge - they can hurt you badly, if flawed, or if staff does not follow these written procedures. In our expert witness and consulting roles we sometimes see situations where agents and brokers are attacked for not following, to the letter, some well intentioned, but obsolete or poorly thought out set of rules.
Quality control is often talked about in agencies and brokerages, and often there are staff members who are assigned secondary roles as quality control committee members. But since this is generally just another task outside the always pressing work normal to an agency or brokerage, there is a tendency to put off meetings, and to put off the real work necessary to maintain an effective and ongoing review process. Furthermore, just how hard are the quality control committee members on themselves when they find a problem that they caused? In many instance the problem is fixed with as little notice to others, especially to principals of the firm, as possible, and without developing a universal method to preclude that problem or circumstance from occurring again by either themselves or other staff members. For that matter, how hard is the quality control staff on the brokerage's principals, who, in my experience, are often the worst offenders in ignoring the prescribed standard procedures of that entity.
Few brokerages actually share information about procedures with other brokerages. The trade associations generally do not have "model" agency procedures manuals, and the seminars that are so often attended by only a few office staff members (usually principals who are too busy to implement the ideas they might hear about) are usually superficial - just how much can be done in an hour or so? Satori's President and owner, Bennett Bibel, headed the California Transaction Tracking Committee of IIR / ACORD:(see Bibel Biography and Agency Automation pages) for many years, and in this process found that almost all agencies do the same things, but virtually never the same way - not in the same sequences, not with the same safeguards, and certainly not with the same efficiencies. This is not to say that there is a universal "best way" for all agencies, of all sizes and structures. Insurance agencies and brokerages develop, over time, a unique mix of business, a personality of sales, service, and claims handling, and a recognizable, valuable, identity to the public and to the industry. These should not be sacrificed in the name of efficiency, but there is always room for improvement, and to further enhance the agency or brokerage image.
Satori Associates, Inc. can be of great help in the quest for improvement. As "outsiders" we have no political baggage to contend with, nor do we have a vested interest in the status quo. We are purely objective in our analysis, and are not personally offended when our recommendations and suggestions are not implemented. Often, just knowing that a problem exists, or that an inefficiency has the potential to ultimately cause a problem is sufficient to start a corrective process. Individuals regularly seek physical examinations for peace of mind, and to catch problems at an early, hopefully treatable, stage. Should businesses do less?
Revision Date: February 03, 2012