Hiring in any industry is expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved. However, turnover in the insurance industry is even more frequent, with one of the highest industry-wide turnover rates at 11.9% (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). In fact insurers have seen a 20% increase in involuntary industry turnover since it hit a low in 2009. Unfortunately for agency owners, frequent turnover is almost unavoidable due to factors such as losing producers to other industries and even other agencies poaching high-performing employees. But as an agency owner, one thing you can do is make sure your hiring practices—everything from job postings to selecting interview candidates to interviewing and extending job offers—optimize your chances of finding and retaining qualified employees.
With that in mind, take a look at these six tips vetted by expert agents. If you’re struggling with your hiring process, or just looking to fine tune it, these tips will help. (Tweet this!)
6 Hiring Best Practices In The Insurance Industry
1. When you start as an agent, have enough cash put aside to hire one full-time recruiter/HR person.
This person will be at the helm of filling key roles, so you can focus on operations that will grow your business. New agents in particular have many aspects of the business they need to be on-top of, so it’s nearly impossible to give hiring the time and attention it deserves. Hiring a recruiter with a solid track record can make all the difference when it comes to staffing your office with top notch employees.
You’ve got the employees, but does your sales process measure up? Don’t guess about what might work—implement a proven process. Download the Insurance Agent Sales Process Quick-Start Template.
2. Don't hire anyone to whom you are not willing to delegate tasks.
One of the biggest issues we see is with agents who don’t trust their team to handle aspects of running the business. While you are ultimately responsible for the success of your insurance agency, you can’t do it all. Trying to do so often ends up being counterproductive, as you insert yourself into every small decision and become a bottleneck for the entire organization. This is why you need to invest in finding the best fitting team members who align with the type of agency you want to become. Don’t hire someone out of desperation—you will end up right back where you started. Instead, take time to vet the best candidates, be willing to invest in their professional growth, and then let them handle the tasks they excel at.
3. Have a general insurance job description at your disposal for all positions you’re hiring.
One of the reasons agents struggle with hiring is because of high turnover with producers. Even top agents have turnover—it’s part of the business. Be prepared for that inevitable hiring process by having job descriptions at the ready.
Some agents use a site like indeed.com to post jobs when the time comes; others have programs within their carriers that place new agents in established agents’ offices for training purposes.
Here’s a template for an insurance job description you can use for general hiring purposes:
Free Insurance Job Description Template
We are a future-focused agency growing actively searching for highly-motivated sales professionals to join our team of top producers. Only people who are truly committed to becoming top producers need apply. We are looking for candidates with grit and a serious work ethic, who are passionate about joining a fast-paced, team-oriented culture.
Sound like you? Apply to [Agency Name] today.
4. Recognize there is no perfect formula for hiring nor any “perfect” candidates.
Instead, focus on giving yourself the highest probability of success with each new hire. For a number of agents we talked to, the most important thing they look for in a new hire is grit—the desire to keep going even if he or she gets knocked down. Employees who have an internal drive to succeed are typically the best performers in an agency.
5. Look for candidates with experience in tough work environments outside the insurance industry.
As an agency owner, look for people who have experience working with tough or rude customers (for example at a luxury hotel or in high-pressure sales environments), people who’ve had to work on holidays, and people accustomed to working long hours in an environment where a lot of employees don’t last. People who have worked in these difficult jobs in other industries will know how to handle the pressure of being in insurance sales, and they may even be able to add processes or ideas to your agency that have helped them before.
6. Ask the right interview questions.
Now that you think you’ve got some great potential hires, you need to make sure they can think on their feet and actually sell insurance. That means you need to ask strong questions that will weed out candidates who aren’t up to the task of selling insurance. Implement one of the six must-ask questions outlined here to increase your odds of success.
One Final Tip
When the hiring and onboarding process is complete, make sure your new hires are equipped with qualified leads to keep their pipelines full. If you don’t currently have those leads, contact us. People who come to our website are already looking for insurance products; we then provide that lead information to agents like you, in real time. It works for thousands of agents (including top agents like Perry Olson), and it could be what helps your agency reach that next level of success. You can schedule a call to talk with us about our process here.