Building a network can mean a lot of different things, but what we’re focused on is how to grow your agency through word of mouth, meeting new people, partnerships, and community involvement. In this guide, we’ll focus on how and why to set goals for your agency’s growth, increasing your business through customer referrals and referral agreements, and growing your business through word of mouth and personal connections.
Leveraging a strong referral program is one of the most consistent ways that independent agents grow their customer base and their business. A quality referral system makes up what many agents consider to be the most valuable part of reaching their growth goals, and having a plan is a big part of being successful in creating a constant stream of referrals.
Why Are Referrals So Important?
Simply put, referrals tend to be far more valuable than any other type of lead and at a lower cost than other marketing channels or efforts. Referrals typically come to your business as a “warm” lead, either from friends, family, or colleagues and are not only more likely to convert but also to remain a loyal customer.
Getting Referrals for Your Business
How do you know if you’re capitalizing on all your referral opportunities? Luckily, we’ve created this guide to help you do just that.
- Rethink your referral program. Many agents, especially new ones, think of referrals as their customers doing them a favor. Instead, realize that you’re offering your customers a chance to help their friends, family, or colleagues and approach referral gathering from that mindset.
- Ask for a referral. Missing opportunities to ask for referrals means missing opportunities to grow your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers, especially right after showing them how you saved them money or after any positive experience with your agency.
- Make a referral plan. Just asking for a referral isn’t always enough, be ready with specifics as to why you’re asking, what types of customers you’re looking for, and when you plan to ask. Ask your contractor clients if they know any plumbers that need insurance, or ask your home coverage customers if they have family in the area that are looking for ways to save money.
- Know your target customer. Knowing who your ideal customers are can help you identify who to ask and how to ask for a referral. It also can help you when looking to establish referral programs or partnerships with local businesses.
- Refer your clients. What do your customers do for work? Are there opportunities to connect your clients with each other? By referring your clients and helping grow their network, they are more likely to return the favor and recommend someone they know to check out your agency.
- Find opportunities for referral partnerships. Working with other local businesses such as car dealerships, realtors, accountants, and supply companies to become their recommended insurance agency can create unique growth opportunities for your agency.
- Customer service is king. Giving your customers the time and service they want is, ultimately, what will make them feel comfortable referring you to their friends, family, and colleagues. Regardless of all the other steps you take, customer service is going to reign supreme when it comes to referrals.
Being an active member of your community is a great way to grow your brand and expand your business. Be on the lookout for opportunities to get involved with organizations and meet new people in your community. You never know where that next opportunity is going to come from. There are many ways to get involved, look for what works for you, including:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Volunteering in the community
- Charity Events
- Sponsor a youth league team
- Restaurant menus
While this is far from a comprehensive list, this is a good jumping-off point for ways in which you can get involved in your community.
Having something tangible to give to your clients, prospects, or members of your network is still one of the best ways to create name recognition and legitimize your agency. While there are nearly limitless items to add your agency logo or name to, there are a few that every agent needs to have on hand.
Business cards are the easiest way to give out your information and are easy to keep on hand or leave with a local business or customer.
Brochures that give an overview of who you are and what your agency can do for your customers can help instill confidence in new prospects. Pens, pads, and stationery are great ways to keep your agency top of mind for a relatively inexpensive investment.
Don’t be afraid of change. If you find that your efforts are failing to connect with your customers or your area, don’t hold back on trying new and outside-the-box ideas. Set up a referral contest for your clients or host a party for your customers. Whatever you feel comfortable with and feel will resonate with your customers is worth giving a try. Growing your agency can seem challenging, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
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