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Check List for Hiring a New Producer

By April 28, 2020July 9th, 2021Agency Management Moments

Hiring the right insurance producer can be tough. Mark Reilly of the inBuzz Group joins the Trusted Advisor to share what he has learned from experiencing the trials and tribulations of hiring multiple producers. Over the span of his career as an independent agent he learned a few tips and tricks. You will leave this episode with a checklist of do’s and don’ts as well as a few new quips for your banter tool belt. For more agency management moments check in here.

Hiring a new insurance producer can be tough. Take these tips.

Edwin K. Morris (4s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris. Today in the studio we have Mark Reilly and he’s been in the insurance industry for over 40 years. His experience includes commercial production, underwriter, agent, agency owner, expert witness, and educator. Mark has been sharing knowledge and has been a speaker and teacher around the country for many years. And recently he was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Ohio insurance agents association. Mark is currently the sales director and partner for the inBuzz group. Why would an agency even hire a producer and what are the parameters with that?

Mark Reilly (50s):
Well, it’s interesting is historically the origins of insurance agencies is we’re the marketing and sales arm for the insurance industry. Over years, we’ve kind of migrated into a service type organization, but that’s not our roots. And realistically moving forward, when we look at technology inserting itself into our industry, one of the things that, you know, agencies gotta be aware of is the fact that a lot of the day-to-day tasks in an insurance agency are gonna be taken over by machines. And so the idea is this is an, a wonderful opportunity to actually focus on our original mission: sales.

Edwin K. Morris (1m 25s):
As technology changes, does the definition of a producer change?

Mark Reilly (1m 29s):
It can. Absolutely, you know, the one thing about independent insurance agencies, which Iroquois really is supportive of independent insurance agencies, is the fact that key term there is independent. We all beat to, you know, go to a different drumbeat. But the thing is, is modern technology certainly has a place in modern sales. People are buying differently and we need to adapt to sell different

Edwin K. Morris (1m 55s):
In that scenario where you’ve got the world is changing and how the interface and the consumer sees that service, what are the things an agency needs to think of when they want to hire a new producer?

Mark Reilly (2m 9s):
Well, I think the biggest thing is, is, is looking at the fact is placing people along the buyer’s journey, make sure that whatever exit that the buyer gets off of, you’re one of the gas stations at the bottom of the ramp being found and being available, being a trusted adviser. And, and, and, you know, the thing is, is salesman’s responsibility is to be the liaison. The buyer today is very sophisticated. You know, a lot of times when they come to you, just think of how you buy. A lot of the background information is already taken care of. So you’ve got to add value to the conversation,

Edwin K. Morris (2m 42s):
That gets me to a pinpoint question, do they have to be licensed?

Mark Reilly (2m 46s):
Well, they do have to be licensed, but you know, one of the things is, is it’s not necessary that you bring somebody in that’s already licensed. You can find somebody that’s a salesperson. And bring them in. One of my favorite sayings is a lot of times we hire people for what they know, and we ended up firing for who they are, we should hire and we should hire, and we should hire them for who they are and teach them what they need to know.

Edwin K. Morris (3m 13s):
That’s powerful medicine right there. Yup. Yup. Why don’t organizations do that? What’s the biggest challenge of even coming with that as a framework? That makes sense.

Mark Reilly (3m 22s):
It does make sense. And you know, and, and there’s, there’s a lot of places to look for good producers, you know, certainly you can look for other insurance professionals and try to bring them in. But one of my most successful producers and he no longer works for me because I sold my agency, but he’s extremely successful. He was an industrial sales rep, used to going out, looking for a smoking chimneys and banging on doors. And so, you know, looking for the Schwan’s guy that comes to your door and sells you, you know, pasta that’s frozen, you know, if he, if he can sell or she can sell, then there’s somebody you want to talk to.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 0s):
So how much of the work to model that, to mentor that, to build a track of progression for someone, how, how hard is that for someone to undertake?

Mark Reilly (4m 12s):
That’s a great question. And I think a lot of times a failure of producers and, and the rate of failure is pretty significant, is you don’t have the foundation built for them to follow. Right.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 24s):
The culture is not there. Right. I mean, that’s a cultural thing.

Mark Reilly (4m 27s):
There’s, there’s so many businesses, not just insurance agencies that, you know, their orientation is there’s the coffee machine.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 35s):
Well, don’t forget the bathrooms over there. Okay. Got it.

Mark Reilly (4m 38s):
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 40s):
Welcome to work. Okay. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. I know that’s a, that’s always a painful, painful place to be in, but turnover’s the biggest indication of a poor organization. So is there a high turnover?

Mark Reilly (4m 55s):
Well, it is, there is a high turnover rate. There are some things to look for that maybe can reverse those numbers. And one of them is training. You know, it’s an, it’s not an expense, it’s an investment. Yeah. Iroquois has a lot of partners that, that probably will provide training. You know, in my history of producers, I’ve put people through the Westfield insurance producer program, pacesetter program from state auto. The society of CIC’s has a great program to train people and to give them the foundation. In addition, there’s a great course for the owner and its dynamics of sales management, you know, to give you an idea of what should we all expect out of our producers and how, how do we support them correctly?

Mark Reilly (5m 41s):
If you set up the basis and to do the training correctly, you can, flip-flop those numbers instead of 70% failure rate, you can have 30% failure rate.

Edwin K. Morris (5m 51s):
How often do you see producers moving?

Mark Reilly (5m 55s):
It’s not unusual, whether it’s, whether it’s a, a generational thing, you know, and I, I hate to pick on the generational topic, but millennials seem to, they’re more fluid in their ability to change jobs. And so, you know, it’s one of those things, you gotta figure out a way to keep them. But on the flip side is I’ve always looked at it is if you bring somebody in, even if they’re successful and leave, it’s like, Oh, I’ve had enough. I’m never going to do that again. That’s the wrong attitude. It’s, it’s one of those things I had CSR’s that were real bummers. And when they left, it was like a necessity. I had to replace them. My philosophy was all the same with producers. I was constantly on the lookout for producers. It wasn’t like let’s put an ad in the paper, which really shows you how old I am.

Mark Reilly (6m 35s):
And so, but, but it’s one of those things that we were constantly on the lookout for producers. And if, if they came along, we found room for them in the office,

Edwin K. Morris (6m 44s):
You’re already prospecting for a personality trait that, you know, pays dividend, regardless if they know what they’re doing or not. Right. It’s like, that’s a characteristic of the human, right. Yeah. And that’s a definite skillset. That’s beneficial in most organizations regardless what the label is and the type of industry to me. Right.

Mark Reilly (7m 3s):
Correct. Yeah.

Edwin K. Morris (7m 4s):
Very cool. Yep. What’s the biggest downer of all that?

Mark Reilly (7m 7s):
Well, there’s frustration when it fails, but, but there’s also great joy when it succeeds, you know, nothing makes me feel better that, you know, now I still talk to my producers and people that I’ve mentored. And I just got a great deal of satisfaction, knowing that I moved, if I’ve contributed at all to the, the next generation, I just hope that they do it to the next generation, because I think I really wish that I was 40 years old in the marketplace right now because it’s very exciting, very exciting. I wish I was in my thirties, but I was still making really bad life decisions then. So I still,

Edwin K. Morris (7m 42s):
So if you were 38 and a half, almost 40, what would you do differently now? What would, what would be your target thing you would take after,

Mark Reilly (7m 51s):
You know, what, I, I enjoyed my journey and I probably would just be in the time and place of the journey. Now I really am a big, big, big proponent of making sure that we’re where the buyer is. And it was so exciting when I did that. You know, we, again, I say said as an agency owner, we were struggling. And then when we got into the right place, it was just, you know, we had streams of new opportunities coming to us. It was really exciting. And for our producers too, because you know, they, they had to contribute, but we also supported them with opportunity.

Edwin K. Morris (8m 26s):
Well, you brought up a key point, which is be there where the buyer is. In that Avenue 50 years ago was yellow pages, knocking on doors, and print ads. I would assume those are the three biggies, right? Yep. That landscape is almost like you just said, like, Oh, I’m dating myself by saying a print ad or an ad in the paper. You’re like, who does that? Who, who even reads a paper, but that morphing of how the consumer is and where they live has forced don’t you think the industry to have to change?

Mark Reilly (9m 2s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s, it’s one of those things that, you know, it’s the, the thing that’s good now is I think agencies have finally come to grasp with that. That’s where it is. There’s another, and this isn’t mine, but it’s, it’s pretty funny is where’s the best place to hide a dead body. And that would be on page two of Google. And so that’s, you know, where you are is whether – we were doing business in, in over 30 States when I sold my agency because we decided our footprint was going to be on products and niches, but there’s other agents that they want to make their footprint for their agents to be a zip code, a County, and figure out how to get your, you know, get your foot into the plant

Edwin K. Morris (9m 45s):
And forecast what the new need is. Right? So like cyber and marijuana and just all these new things that people are going to have to contend with either as a commercial enterprise or personally.

Mark Reilly (9m 57s):
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Edwin K. Morris (9m 58s):
So what’s 10 years from now look like for you?

Mark Reilly (10m 1s):
What we’re looking at is going to be a significant diminish in insurance agencies, in jobs that are administrative and, and more the stability in our marketplaces and sales. That’s what I see is we’re a sales organization. We’re going to be, you know, I know myself that when I came down here, I took care of my own insurance. I did it all online and I found the agent. And interestingly enough is when I got down here, I did meet my insurance agent and we worked together. Yeah. We worked for the same company that is a small world, but, but you know, I did it all. And so people are more empowered that if they can do it, they’re going to do it. And they only want us there when they get to the point where like, I’m afraid to push that button.

Mark Reilly (10m 42s):
And so we have to be the tipping point. That’s where we have to be.

Edwin K. Morris (10m 45s):
Well on that note, I think you’ve covered a great topic and I hope to see you back again on our next episode.

Mark Reilly (10m 53s):
Sounds great. I’d love to.

Edwin K. Morris (10m 58s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. This program was recorded Live at the Cohen multimedia studio on the grounds of Chautauqua institution. I am Edwin K. Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.