Advice On Developing A Producer Recruitment Program

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ADVICE ON DEVELOPING A PRODUCER RECRUITMENT PROGRAM

'What advice would you offer an independent agency on a step-by-step basis, for developing a producer recruitment program?'

Peggy Mika

Mika Freelance

Pensacola, FL

A growing agency must have a producer recruitment program in place at all times. Even when there is no specific opening, the astute agency manager is looking for potential new producers.

The ongoing plan should have two components: a pool of potential candidates and a method of recruiting on college campuses.

The manager should keep a list or 'pool' of the names of potential recruits at all times. Each name should be kept in a separate file or on a card, and information about the candidate's qualifications should be recorded and updated on the card.

The manager should stay in touch with the people in the pool on a regular basis - every quarter or every six months, for example. A phone call, letter, or a lunch meeting will do the trick.

The size of the pool should be small and manageable. Names should be added and removed as the manager gets to know the candidates or finds better prospects.

The candidates in the pool can be gathered from many sources: people in the office with potential; people in the competitor's office with potential; people who have been recommended by friends; sales agents who call at the agency (the copy machine salesperson); names of friends or their children who have potential.

An agency that is serious about growing should also be in touch with (if not actively involved in) a college recruitment program. There are many advantages to working with producers right out of college compared to those who have been in the business or another business for a period of time. Recent graduates are eager to make money, but do not demand the salary of someone who has been in the work force for a period of time. They are ready to work long hours, are enthusiastic, and don't have any preconceived notions about the 'right' way to do the job.

An agency manager can work with the placement office at the local junior college, four-year college, or university (in some cases, a high school) to gather names of potential producers. The manager can even be on campus on recruiting days - if possible, when other sales firms are interviewing candidates.

Some carriers recruit and train college graduates for their agencies. In addition, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America has a college recruitment program. An agency that is not located near a college campus might take advantage of one of these programs rather than try to develop its own recruiting program. There are a couple of important steps to take when the time comes to actually hire a new producer.

Check the job description before calling anyone in for an interview. Job descriptions change over time; make sure when you are ready to hire that the position is well defined. Consider when you want a producer to maintain an existing book of business and free up another producer to sell, or whether you want a producer to go out and drum up all new business.

Know what kind of support the business will have. Will the new person share a CSR or work with a pool of CSRs?

When the opening is clearly defined, the qualifications you are looking for in a new producer become more clear.

Finally, firm up details about salary and profit sharing, training, and advancement. Know exactly what you have to offer the new producer.

When you're interviewing candidates, have a system: a telephone interview followed by a brief get-acquainted interview. Use a psychological test, check references, talk with the candidate's spouse, and don't ignore your gut reaction.

William Kennedy

The Insurance Group

Eatontown, NJ

The first thing I would like to do is to add to the concept of 'a successful producer.'

I wish I could spell out an easy 10-step plan which if followed, would assure success in hiring producers. Unfortunately, that is not possible.

I can tell you, however, the approach we use in our agencies which has worked for us. During the past 10 years, we've hired 23 producers. Three have resigned, three have been let go, and 17 are still with us. There are three broad areas that are key to success for both the producer and the agency - planning, attitude, and commitment.

PLANNING. Know exactly what you need. Focus on these areas:

  • soliciting and selling new P/Caccounts
  • reviewing and updating existing book
  • handling office sales
  • soliciting and selling Life and Health coverages
  • servicing an existing book

In other words, what do you need? Zero in on those needs.

ATTITUDE. Without question, this is the most important item. Look for the following:

  • Ambition - is the producer really hungry?
  • Appearance - will the producer's style of dress conflict with the office staff's?
  • Enthusiasm - you cannot teach this!
  • Self-discipline - does the producer set goals and stick to them?
  • Perseverance - can the producer take the 20 no's to get to the yes?
  • Reliability - day in and day out, is the producer committed?

COMMITMENT

Agency

Producer

time

time

money

programs

training

self-starting

accountability

success

Both the agency and the producer must be committed to making a plan and following it. I believe most producers fail because of a lack of commitment by either party or both.

Hire for the right reasons, not because the producer:

  • has an existing book.
  • is intelligent.
  • is licensed.

Hire because you need him or her to fulfill the agency goals.

Last but not least, you must like and respect each other. Besides a dollar and time commitment, this is a highly emotional relationship. Both the sales manager and the producers have to be working for the same team.

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