Whether you’ve been a broker in the business insurance industry for one year or 10 years, chances are you’ve heard something about choosing a specialization, or niche. It’s a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Niching offers a variety of benefits – all of which lead to more clients and steady business growth.
But first, let’s get clear on what it means to choose a niche.
Niching down is picking a specialized segment of the market to focus your efforts on. This specialization might be a line of business, a particular industry, or even a geographic region. This gives you what NIP Group CEO Richard Augustyn calls a “sustainable ‘right to win.’”
Here are five reasons that brokers who specialize can be more successful than someone who is trying to be everything to everyone.
- Stand out from the competition.
There are plenty of insurance brokers who can help anyone and everyone. This results in a high level of competition because everyone is going for the same clientele. There’s likely very little differentiation between brokers and you potentially lose out to bigger names, bigger agencies, or simply because you didn’t stand out enough.
- Attract better-fit clients.
When you choose a specific niche, you get to understand your target audience and their pain points very well. You can answer their specific questions and clearly define how your insurance offerings can meet their needs. These business owners don’t need general insurance – they need a policy that meets their unique needs.
- Become known for your expertise.
Gaining expertise in a niche sector’s challenges and exposures will help build your agency’s authority and reputation, increase referrals, and strengthen retention. You move from a transactional relationship to a consultative business partner that clients can trust.
- Gain more marketing opportunities.
When you have a niche, you can also target your marketing to more specific industry lists, trade associations, publications, industry shows, and sponsorships. You can join Facebook groups and follow specific accounts on social media that may offer more opportunities to showcase your expertise and build your reputation as a niche broker.
- Offer a better customer experience.
Every business owner knows that customer experience can make the difference between someone choosing you – and staying with you – or going to another broker. One of the biggest and ultimately most rewarding reasons to choose a niche is because it enables you to use data and expertise to help your customers and offer a better experience.
“You also start to build valuable data sets that allow you to examine, analyze, make better and faster decisions, and ask the right questions. The last thing a broker wants to do is answer 30 standard questions… use your data, use your expertise to ask the 3-5 questions that matter the most,” Augustyn said in a recent episode of AM Best TV.
How to Choose Your Business Insurance Niche
Now that you’re on board with choosing a niche, the best place to start is looking at your existing book of business.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you see any patterns?
- Are there any sectors that stand out as having more customers than others?
- Are you more passionate about or do you already have more expertise in one sector than another?
- Have you noticed any opportunities or trends in existing sectors that might have unique needs that you could jump on before everyone else?
Other ways to determine your niche might be talking to underwriters about trends they’re seeing, keeping an eye on legislation and laws that might affect certain industries, and doing your research to explore complementary or adjacent industries to the groups you currently work with.
Regardless of what niche you choose, know that it may be tough at first to turn down business outside of your target market, but it’s essential to stay focused when you’re becoming a specialist.
For more benefits of specialization and tips for how to find your niche, watch this Special Presentation from AM Best TV, featuring Augustyn and other industry experts.
Founded in 1899, AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher, and data analytics provider that offers Special Presentations on AM Best TV around specific topics. NIP Group CEO Richard Augustyn was featured on a recent episode with fellow thought leaders Geof McKernan (CEO of NSM Insurance Group) and Troy Korsgaden (Principal of Korsgaden International) to discuss how transitioning from generalist to specialist has broadened their opportunities for success in the insurance industry.
Augustyn kicked off the conversation about the benefits of specialization and how it can increase efficiency, credibility, retention, and revenue as compared to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
“Specialization allows agents and brokers and MGAs to really set themselves apart from their competitors far beyond the table stakes,” Augustyn explained. “Whether the specialization is at the line of business level, at the industry level, or even in a region, it gives them a unique competitive advantage and what you might want to call a sustainable ‘right to win.’”
The group went on to discuss a variety of topics around specialization:
- The challenges of finding and retaining talent in a niche industry
- Choosing a niche and growing your company
- The role technology has played in the ever-changing risk landscape
- The biggest lessons the panelists have learned from specializing
- How narrowing your business or industry focus allows you to develop – and demonstrate – your expertise
- The benefit of wholesaling to offer a more complete package
- Upcoming trends in specialization
- and much more
One of the biggest and ultimately most rewarding reasons to choose a niche is because it enables you to use data and expertise to help your clients and customers.
“You also start to build valuable data sets that allow you to examine, analyze, make better and faster decisions, and ask the right questions. The last thing a broker wants to do is answer 30 standard questions… use your data, use your expertise to ask the 3-5 questions that matter the most,” Augustyn advised.
He added that if you examine data in real-time, you’re going to spot claim trends that can then help prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Augustyn gave an example of how that happened with NIP Group when three crane trucks tipped over in a short period of time, costing several hundred-thousands of dollars each. After looking at the claims, he found that there was a common operator error and brought it to the attention of the manufacturer. The manufacturer then adjusted their equipment, adjusted their communication and training around the equipment, and since then, Augustyn said, there hasn’t been another occurrence.
The session closed out with Augustyn sharing that some of NIP Group’s best program ideas have come from evaluating the declination list and asking if there are adjacent industries that might be emerging or worth a second look. “Saying no is an important part of what we do,” he concluded.
The episode was filled valuable insights and tips that can be implemented right away. Watch the entire video below.
(Plus 6 Quick Wins You Can Implement Right Away!)
As an insurance broker, effectively marketing your offerings can mean the difference between growing your business or losing another client to a competitor. For our October webinar, we brought together two insurance experts to discuss the cost-effective marketing strategies that they have found to be successful.
NIP Group’s Ron Samson moderated a discussion between Heath Shearon, sales coach at Agency Performance Partners, and Rory Anderson, an insurance broker with Rancho Mesa Insurance in San Diego, California. Anderson has been a broker for four years, and Shearon brings nearly 20 years of experience in sales, insurance, and marketing.
Here are their top three suggestions for kick-starting your marketing, plus a few ideas that you can implement right away for some quick wins.
- Choose a niche
A niche is when you narrow down your focus to a specific group of professionals instead of trying to provide insurance for anyone and everyone with a business. While generalizing may seem like it offers a bigger net for more clients, specializing allows you to really understand the needs of that particular industry and can be a highly effective method for building a lucrative and stable book of business. “When I first got started as a broker, I decided to specialize and really focus on one specific industry. For me, that was the tree care industry,” explains Anderson. Choosing a niche vs. being an insurance generalist has allowed him to become an expert, communicate with his clients more effectively, and fully understand the risks of the industry so that he can help properly insure his customers’ businesses. While at first it may feel like you’re turning down opportunities, admits Anderson, in the long run, staying focused on one specific group is going to lead to more opportunities. Tip: If you are having trouble determining your niche, Shearon advises examining your existing book of business. You may be surprised to find that you already have many customers in a specific industry.
- Define your ideal prospect
Once you choose a niche, it’s important to understand your audience. Getting clear on what your ideal prospect looks like — including the type of company, number of employees, and annual revenue — ensures that you don’t waste your time on a customer that might be too big, too small, or just not a good fit.If you want to dive even deeper, think about what their goals might be, what their pain points are (marketing speak for their specific problems or risks), and why you are the best person to help them with their insurance needs. Tip: This is where the expertise you’ve gained from specializing can help you speak their language and stand out from your competition!
- Create a sales plan
When it comes to marketing effectively, developing a plan or a blueprint for everything from prospecting and sales to cross-selling and retention is essential, says Shearon. He recommends writing all of your ideas down and then breaking it into a 90-day action plan with smaller steps towards your goals. A documented plan helps you define your goals, outline tactics to meet those goals, and identify any potential roadblocks that might pop up along the way. Tip: Don’t forget to include benchmarks and performance metrics to track the effectiveness of your strategies.
6 Quick Wins That You Can Implement Today
If you’re looking for a few ideas that can help you gain momentum quickly, Shearon suggests:
- Register to attend an industry event
- Ask existing customers for referrals
- Establish referral partners with companies offering complementary services
- Join a networking group
- Use social media to your advantage (Skip to the 40th minute of the webinar to learn how often to post on social media and which social media platforms are the best for brokers!)
- Pick up the phone and make some cold calls
In closing, if Shearon had to start his agency all over again, “I would do it all organically,” he says. “Too many people waste a lot of dollar bills on buying leads or buying referrals or spending money on those things, but I don’t think you have to.”
Want more marketing tips about specialization, developing and refining your marketing strategy, and other essential marketing tactics for brokers? Watch the entire webinar on demand here.
Woodbridge, N.J. – September 19, 2022 – NIP Group (www.NIPGroup.com), a market leader in insurance program administration, is proud to receive Insurity’s Speed to Market Champion of the Year Award at this year’s Excellence in Insurance Innovation.
NIP Group partnered with Insurity to drive improvements in its underwriting platform. The effort focused on the optimization and integration of available data leading to improved speed and accuracy within the business units, and, ultimately, the elimination of friction for both underwriters and customers alike. By working closely with Insurity and additional strategic partners, NIP Group has successfully integrated and automated several processes to optimize policy turnaround time. NIP Group is proud to be one of eight recipients at this year’s Excellence in Insurance Innovation Conference.
Through the consistent and unwavering support of NIP’s strong, long term relationships with its carrier partners Amtrust and AXA XL NIP has been able pursue the innovation that best enables them to serve the needs of NIPs brokers and insureds. Additionally, in working with their strategic business process partner EOX Vantage, NIP has been able to successfully develop an underwriting workbench allowing instant updates and consistent data accuracy throughout the underwriting process.
“We’re proud of the achievements we have been able to make through Insurity’s platform, “said David Gramblicka, SVP, Information & Technology at NIP Group. “NIP Group would like to extend its gratitude to our incredible staff, without whom these accomplishments would not have been possible. It is only through our team’s creativity, desire, dedication, and fortitude that we have been able to achieve these accomplishments. It’s truly a reflection of their commitment and proficiency as a team”.
About NIP Group
NIP Group is a market-leading specialty insurance program manager that designs unique commercial insurance solutions and risk services for more than 24 niche industries. Working with more than 5,500 broker partners, we help clients gain control over their costs, secure customized coverage and create safer work environments. NIP Group employs more than 150 professionals globally, is headquartered in Woodbridge, NJ and draws upon the expertise of highly talented business partners throughout the country and abroad to meet the needs of its clients. For more information about NIP Group, visit www.nipgroup.com
Insurity is a leading provider of software and analytics for insurance carriers, brokers, and MGAs. Insurity empowers customers to quickly capitalize on new opportunities by delivering the world’s most configurable, cloud-native, and analytical software. To learn more, visit https://insurity.com.
As a broker, generating new leads while maintaining your current book of business is the delicate balance. Effectively marketing your offerings can be a game changer when it comes to growing your agency.
Join NIP Group, along with Heath Shearon of Agency Performance Partners and Rory Anderson of Rancho Mesa Insurance, Inc., as we discuss professional marketing tactics insurance brokers like you can utilize to get an edge above the competition.
In this webinar, you’ll learn cost-effective strategies professional marketing agencies leverage for success, as well as hear a first-hand account from a fellow insurance broker.
Watch this webinar on-demand now!
October 6th, 2022 at 2pm ET / 11am PT
- Ron Samson – Demand Generation Manager, NIP Group
- Heath Shearon – Sales Coach, Agency Performance Partners
- Rory Anderson – Account Executive, Rancho Mesa Insurance, Inc.
Sales are the backbone of your business. Yet, it takes time and effort to get just one new customer. While you are trying to increase revenue, it is crucial to be working on retention at the same time. With every renewal, you want to be sure all the new customers you brought in the door will stay for another year, and ideally much longer. Otherwise, it is much like spinning your tires. The relationship with your MGA is invaluable for brokers and agents who are working on improving their customer service.
In every interaction with a customer, you have multiple chances to earn their trust and loyalty. While you are entirely capable of building good relationships with customers, an MGA typically has insight and information you can share with your clients to lend to your expertise.
Customer service and retention go hand in hand, and the right MGA can help you earn more customers and keep them for the long haul. That is what it takes to build a solid book of business.
How an MGA Helps You Improve Service
No matter what industry you are in, good customer service is important. As you gain new customers, that is one thing they will especially be looking for.
What does it take for insurance agents and brokers to improve upon customer service? Customers want the right products and services. They want to be served promptly by people who know what they are talking about. Customers also want insurance agents and brokers who know their industry from top to bottom, and will help them reduce risks.
These characteristics are the exact same things you should expect from your MGA. The right MGA will have access to a wide variety of products and services your clients need. They will be able to tell you why they are the right products and services, so you can relay relevant information to your customers.
Your MGA will also be in the loop of the latest industry and compliance information. By sharing this information with your customers, they will know that you are looking out for their businesses and their best interests. Your customers are sure to notice you going out of your way in your efforts to adequately insure their businesses.
Relationships are important, and it is to your benefit to keep a good relationship with your MGA. They will educate you about industries of niche markets you are trying to build. MGAs are usually willing to meet with your staff and educate them as well, which is important because your staff is often responsible for answering incoming calls and emails. When you or your staff do not have a quick answer to a client’s pressing question, your MGA is bound to have it.
One of the other great ways MGAs help you improve customer service is they have the right technology to streamline everything, from the quoting process and lead generation to issuance and customer service. Older, legacy systems are not as agile or responsive to changing market conditions, and that can really lead to a downfall. The ease of the right technology is something that can get you off on the right foot with new customers. It will certainly help to differentiate you from competing insurance agents and brokers.
How an MGA Helps You Improve Retention
Beyond helping you build clientele, an MGA helps you retain the customers you worked so hard for to get. They have the right technology, pricing, administrative support, and authority to help you serve your customers well every day.
Technology helps you retain your clients in several ways. Software programs make easy work of requoting policies at renewal time. Moreover, MGAs have access to multiple companies, so brokers and agents can find the best pricing for their customers. Furthermore, MGAs usually have solid relationships with leading insurance companies in various industries, which will help give your agency credibility and brand recognition. This is an especially nice benefit if your agency is small.
When it comes to claims, commercial claims are usually quite complex. MGAs work with claims adjusters, as well as brokers and agents, to make sure claims are handled smoothly and professionally.
You or your staff must make changes to policies regularly. Customers may change locations, add locations, change coverages, or change their billing information. Therefore, you or someone in your office needs to keep client records updated, document claims, add coverages, and remove coverages as needed. The right technology makes quick work of these tasks, which benefits your staff, in addition to your customers.
MGAs usually have some underwriting authority. That means you can get policies issued more quickly and with less hassle.
Furthermore, MGAs tend to stay current with issues like updated regulatory compliance, new trends in an industry, industry innovations, and strategies for client retention. By partnering with an MGA, brokers, agents, and staff have access to continual education in the market.
From a risk standpoint, MGAs know niche markets inside and out. They often have ideas about how companies can reduce risks to keep employees safe and protect their businesses.
Finally, satisfied customers are happy to spread the word about the good relationships they have built with their brokers and agents. The hidden benefit of this is brokers and agents can expect to receive quality referrals.
An MGA Is Your “Go-To” Person for the Industry
A successful MGA has earned the trust of the insurance companies they represent. To maintain their trust, they must consistently perform for the insurance companies as well as for brokers and agents.
Most independent brokers and agents opened their own agencies because they wanted independence and control over their agencies. Since they are already at the top of the ladder, they do not have anyone to go to when they are uncertain, or when something goes awry. As experts in niche markets, MGAs are your “go-to” person, whether you are pursuing a niche in excavation, landscaping, greenhouses, or building trades.
It can be tough for brokers and agents to get into a niche market without the help and support of an MGA. It can be even tougher to compete with larger insurance companies without an MGA by their side.
One of the toughest parts of being an insurance broker or agent is lead generation and quoting. The technology knowledge MGAs bring to the table helps create efficiency in creating leads and quoting policies quickly, so insurance salespeople can strike while the iron is still hot.
Technology also gives brokers and agents access to a wider variety of insurance carriers and markets than they could reasonably access on their own. MGAs have requisite underwriting expertise, and they are a good resource for advising agents and brokers about underwriting guidelines for the companies they represent.
Overall, MGAs share not only in the responsibilities for customer service and claims, but also the risks that come with insuring businesses. With the help of an MGA, brokers and agents can improve efficiency, reduce costs, improve customer service, retain more clients, and most importantly, increase revenue.
Brokers, agents, and their staff need to communicate effectively with their customers. Responses must be timely and informational, whether they go out via a call, email, or text message. The consequences of not doing so costs brokers and agents in retention.
If you are looking for ways on how to improve customer service, NIP Group is invested in helping you. We have the knowledge and expertise to assist you in serving your customers well and retaining them. Call one of our experts at NIP Group for a quote today at 866-780-8076, where we serve over 25 industries.
Take a look at some additional customer relationship and lead generation topics:
For most businesses, having a thorough, up-to-date employee handbook can be a small oversight that leads to major repercussions down the line. A concise employee handbook is a great tool for defining a company’s mission statement, code of conduct, and employment policies.
In this webinar, Brandon Battles, Vice President of People at NIP Group, will discuss the importance of an employee handbook and what every handbook should include. Here’s what you will learn:
- Benefits of having an employee handbook
- What to include in your handbook
- Multi-state compliance
- Key trends & important items
Watch this webinar on-demand and learn how an employee handbook can protect your business!
July 28th, 2022 at 2pm ET / 11am PT
- Ron Samson – Demand Generation Manager, NIP Group
- Brandon Battles – VP, People, NIP Group