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Working from home during this Pandemic

Many of the people in our industry, like industries everyone, have been displaced from their place of business and now are working from home.  On top of that, many are having to juggle having their children at home, their spouse working from home and other family members or roommates doing the same. 

Working from home is a challenging endeavor in the best of situations and what we find ourselves in, as a family, as a community, as a country, is far from the best of situations.

I started working from home about three years ago and it was a shock to my senses from being in an active, people filled office every day.  At first, I thought ‘how wonderful’ to walk in my slippers to my home office holding my coffee cup in my pajamas.  ‘How wonderful’ to be able to start a load of laundry at any time.  ‘How wonderful’ to take a well-deserved break to watch my favorite TV show because didn’t I take breaks at the office?  I thought to myself that I am still being very focused and feeling very productive.  Then, about a week of this behavior went by and I had to honestly look at myself…I wasn’t very focused and I wasn’t very productive.  The old adage of ‘squirrel’ was true.  Anything would break my focus and lead me away from my desk.  On the other side, I also found myself sitting at my computer until 9:30pm several times a week.  There needs to be a happy medium.

So, what did I do?  I already had a designated work space and I had all of the tools necessary but I needed to learn best work from home practices.  I needed to set office hours and abide by them.  I even began to set alarms for ‘lunch’ and ‘quitting’ time.

I learned that I needed to get up and get dressed and not sit in sweats all day.  Feeling good and positive relays to keeping your mind sharp and focused. 

I had to avoid distractions.  I put a sign on the door to my office to let everyone in the house know that I was working and to enter at their own risk!  In today’s current situation, distractions sometimes cannot be avoided as we have children at home.  However, children (and other distracting members of the household) also need to learn that work time is necessary but you may have to adjust your ‘hours’ to coincide with naps and homework time.

Self-discipline is tool that needs to be learned.  I found that I needed, more than ever, to actually put constraints on my time.  This seems counterintuitive but time constraints can be one the most powerful forces behind ingenuity.  If you are trying to create or refine a concept, give yourself a very short period of time—no more than 20-30 minutes—to generate as many ideas as possible related to a specific prompt. Then work from there.

In the home office setting, it is easy for you to become your own worst enemy.  Shut off your personal email account, turn off the TV news (especially right now!), log out of your social media accounts, stick to the structure of a ‘normal’ office work day and above all else, set goals for yourself for daily tasks.   Using your CRM to its full capacity is especially important right now.  Make sure that you are working as efficiently as possible by fully taking advantage of the automation available to you.  

Hold yourself accountable while still remembering that we are living in trying times…so also forgive yourself. 



Written on April 7, 2020 by Peggy Corbett

COVID-19 and your agency

During this challenging time, Agency Transformation is concerned for the health and well-being of both our agency partners and their employees. We know that in California, and throughout the country, many businesses, including your own, have been disrupted and have had to establish protocols to ensure that employees work remotely.

 In this uncertainty, we fully realize that communication with your clients is a key factor.   We have been contacted by many of our agency partners asking about the ability to send bulk emails to their clients to update them on the agency status and availability.

HawkSoft issued a very helpful email on ‘Resources to help your staff work remote and access HawkSoft’.  We wanted to reiterate that HawkSoft CMS has the capability to send ‘Batch’ emails to your clients very easily.  See below link to HawkSoft's 'Resources for embracing Work From Home'.

If you are not familiar with the process of Batch emails, the full instructions can be found in HawkSoft CMS Help Center > Using CMS > Correspondence > Batch Emailing.  With that said, we are here to help you as well.  If you need help in running a report of your clients and/or Batch emailing, we urge you to give us a call…again, we are here to help.

We offer our best wishes to you and your agency as you continue to provide your clients with the service they need.  We hope that you and your families are safe during these challenging times.

Written on March 20, 2020 by Peggy Corbett

Here comes the New Year…Are you ready?

Have you taken the necessary steps to close out 2019 and welcome 2020 with the fresh start that it deserves?  Closing out last year is a Must-Do step in any agency.

Get your accounts in order. One of the most important tasks at year-end is to accurately and timely close your books.  Close out your account payables and receivables and balance operating and trust accounts.  If you have good accounting, the process should be a pretty easy task.  Closing out of your accounts and starting the year with organized and accurate balances allows you to understand your previous year’s financial activity as well as awareness to any balances that will carry forward to the new year.

Some tips from Hawksoft CMS to help you with your Year End accounting:

  • Run the Customer Summary Balance report to get a report of all of your current customer balances.  This report includes all unpaid customer balances and credits.
  • Clean up balances as needed by waiving balances, voiding invalid invoices, issuing credit, and sending a current statement to your customers.
  • Verify that unpaid company payables are current and accurate.


Understand the KPIs of your book of business from last year.  By understanding the trend of your book of business from last year, you know how to move forward, what to avoid and where you gained the new business.   Although you cannot change the past, it can provide insight to promote your future.

Really look at your Customer KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

  • How many customers and policies did you add in the past 12 months?
  • Of those new customers and policies, what was your best source of acquisition?
    • Are all of your team members entering accurate sources in your CMS?
  • How many customers and policies did you lose in the past 12 months?
  • Did your team do a good job of entering the sub-status of cancelled policies?  The carrier download status of ‘cancelled-non-payment’ is not enough.  The WHY did the customer let the policy cancel is essential.  
    • Was it the price?  If so, who was the competitor?  Tracking trends of lost business to competitors can lead to a Win-Back campaign.  
    • Was it the agency’s or carrier’s service?  This is an opportunity to understand the downfalls of the agency or the carrier.  
    • Using a Report Card or calling the client to find out WHY they left the agency is crucial to understanding retention trends
    • Make sure that your team is accurately entering the status of Replaced for remarketed policies on renewal.  These policies should not be left to Expire as they will impact retention.  Likewise, policies without a renewal possibility – like One Day Event, Course of Construction, Term Life, Builder’s Risk – should also not impact retention.  Using the Replaced: No Renewal Term status and sub-status is necessary on these types of risks.


Move forward with Clean Data.  This has been a hot topic in the industry.  The data that you depend on in your CMS is only as good as data that YOU have put in to it.  You cannot depend on your KPIs if your data is not accurate

  • Data Clean-Up
    • Active Clients with Inactive Policies
    • Clean up Producers and CSRs assigned to policy – many agencies have inactive Producers and CSRs assigned to policies and this has a huge impact on the Download Configuration and assigning workflow.
    • Clean up Policy Titles and Lines of Business – Use default policy titles and lines of business for accurate reporting.
    • Clean up Companies – A company should have only one Unique Name and be listed and the same way for each line of business.  This is the name the users see when selecting a company on the General Policy Information screen and shows up on all reporting.  The issuing carriers needs to be entered in the Programs field on the Policy Info screen.
    • Annual Premium – Current Rate vs Quoted Premium.  For accurate reporting, it is important that the Premium amount is manually entered on policy Coverages screens for non-downloading policies.  If coverage premium isn't entered, CMS calculates the Premium based on the Quoted Premium entered on the General Policy Information screen and the Quoted Premium is usually not the correct premium which means your agency’s KPIs are incorrect.


Now, what are you going to do to Ramp-Up new sales for 2020?

Statistics tell us that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20%.  Yet, almost every agency that I work with has an average of 1.5 policies per customer.   Your own customers are the best source of new business and referrals.

Run the following reports for your agency:

  • Active auto but no home
  • Active home but no auto
  • Active home and auto but no active umbrella
  • Monoline business report of the entire book of business…our favorite report of all!  Using your advanced reporting feature, run a report with number of Active and number of Inactive policy filters.  Simply sort the report for any client with only one active policy and now you have a Monoline policy report.

Start a Cross Sell campaign that fits your agency’s book of business and offer an incentive plan or a competition among your sales team members.  

Studies have proved that personal lines retention rates average 95% with clients that bundle their auto and home.  Whereas, retention rates are only 83% for monoline clients.  Also, the same client with only one product will stay for 18 months on average. The clients with three products have an increased longevity of the 6.8 years on average. The more invested a customer is in your agency, the better your retention and longevity of clients.  

Happy Holidays to you and your team.  We wish you every happiness and success in the New Year!


Written on December 20, 2019 by Peggy Corbett

Why an Annual Insurance Review is a Must!

You work hard to bring in that perfect new client.  You study their needs, you provide solutions and you write the policy that provides them the perfect protection.  You send them a Welcome Letter gushing about your agency’s amazing customer service.  Everything is textbook, right?

Wrong!  You started out strong but like most agents, you set it and you forgot it. 

Every client has specific needs in the beginning of the sales cycle but like all things in life…they change.  The product and the associated coverage that you sold them today will not meet their needs of tomorrow. 

You cannot sit back and wait for the client to think that the events that impact their everyday life will have an effect on their insurance coverage.  This is the job of their insurance professional. The person that have entrusted and depend upon to make sure that they have the coverage when they need it for the exposures that they face today.

The first thought of the client that renovates and adds square footage to their home is not to call their insurance agent but to throw a party, inviting all of their friends, to show off the new home.

The family that has their first child does not think to call their insurance agent with an announcement of this new bundle of joy.  However, their life insurance needs just drastically changed. 

Ensuring your clients have adequate coverage is not the only reason to offer insurance policy reviews.  For example, your client may have just put on a new roof or installed an alarm system which would qualify for a possible discount.  They might have graduated college or landed their dream job which qualifies them for a new professional discount.   The next agent that they talk to will surely discover the additional discounts for which they qualify.  This will not only make the new agent’s premium more attractive but it will emphasize that you did not expertly do your job.

I know…you are thinking that we don’t have time!  Did you know that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than retain your existing customer?  Whether you have 100 clients or 10,000 clients, every client must have an annual review. 

As already highlighted, the annual review provides the much-needed review of the clients ever changing needs.  It also, just as importantly, proves your agency’s value. It is crucial for building and strengthening the Agent/Client relationship and puts your agency’s ‘face with a name’ so to speak.  It also increases loyalty from your clients and provides you with the perfect opportunity to offer needed advice for higher limits of coverage or additional policies.

As an agent, have you ever had a client upset with you because they had too much coverage at the time of a disastrous claim?  On the flip side, I bet that you have had a client blame you for not enough or inappropriate coverage.

Systematic insurance reviews must be a part of your agency’s business model.  The occurrence of these reviews and looking out for your clients’ best interest is the differentiator of your agency versus your competition.  It’s up to your agency to determine if the reviews are done annually on renewal, by a systematic breakdown of the clients by alphabet or working your way through your client base by individual client premium volume.  Whatever works for your agency, just remember to set it and don’t forget it.


Written on August 8, 2018 by Peggy Corbett

Retention, Retention, Retention

​​​We all talk about retention and we know how important it is to realize growth.  However, I have found that many agency owners have no real insight on their actual retention.  Many agents that I talk to will guess and say “95%” without any real sense of how they arrived at that number. 

If an agency sets a goal to grow their book of business by 10%, they need to know their retention ratio.  Using simple math, an agency with a one million book of business with 100% retention only needs to add $100,000 in premium to meet their goal.  While the agency down the street with 85% retention rate needs to work much harder by adding $250,000 to realize the same goal. Knowing your true retention rate is crucial to measuring growth.

Fortunately, many agency management systems can give agencies a snapshot of their retention.  However, like anything else, the information that you pull from your agency management system is only as good as the information that you put in to it.

Another simple way to calculate your customer retention rate is to locate a few key numbers:

Retention Rate = ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100 

C= number of customers at end of period

C= number of new customers acquired during period

CS = number of customers at start of period 

Once you understand your retention rate, you can accurately measure your growth and proactively plan your strategies to grow your agency. 

Agency owners need to look at retention as a sales strategy.  It is equally (if not more) important than your new business acquisition strategy for every boost in retention will increase bottom line profits.  Studies have shown that $1 paid towards customer retention increases profits by more than $5 spent on new customer acquisition.

Now…how do you improve your retention?

Retaining your customers is based on a variety of procedures that should be set up in your agency.  I recommend that you initiate as many of the below strategies to effectively boost your retention.  Also remember that a retained customer is a strong source of referrals.

  • Put it in writing! First and foremost, your agency needs to have documented procedures on your retention strategies. These procedures need to include that the agency’s outreach is consistent and that every employee is held accountable for delivering an exceptional experience at every level of client interaction.
  • Appoint a Retention Expert in the agency. This person should be the point person that swiftly reacts to any whiff of a potential loss of a client.   The ideal person for this role is someone with a strong sales ability and the authority to negotiate on behalf of the agency.
  • Annual reviews are an agency’s best friend but few agencies actually follow through with this process. An annual review is your way to ‘touch’ your clients and prove your agency’s value.  It can be a 5-minute call that can be used to update information, offer new discounts and necessary coverage advice, cross sell or just remind the client of your referral program.  Always remember to genuinely thank the client for their business and to remind the client that you are a full-service agency representing multiple carriers and there is no reason to ever shop their insurance.
  • Strengthen your onboarding process. Many agents write a new client, collect the new commission and forget it.  Treat each new client as a new member of the agency family.  Introduce them to the agency principal and their customer service representative either in person or by a Welcome Kit.  Send out birthday cards and handwritten notes. By treating the client like family, you ‘marry’ the client to the agency and establish a bond beyond just the sale of insurance.
  • Get in front of rate increases. Many agents would rather put their head in the sand, ignore the rate increase and hope for the best.  But what does that say to your client?  By being proactive on rate increases, you show your client that you are looking out for them.  Set an alert in your agency management system to trigger a suspense for any rate increase over 5%.  Be prepared with suggestions on how to possibly lower the rate or to explain that their actions impacted the rate (ticket, claims, change of underwriting factors).  Remember, an unexpected and unexplained rate increase is one of the biggest incentives for an insured to shop around for new coverage.
  • Offer to shop rates for them. This is a double-edged sword as it can make clients price centric.  However, when you know that a client is unhappy with a rate explain that agency represents the top carriers and you will do all of the shopping for them.  Head off competitor shopping and be sure to share with them the higher rates of other companies that the agency represents.
  • Educate your clients. Anyone can get a price online but when you explain the coverage that they need versus their specific exposure, the more value they will see in your service.  Give claim examples as a way to illustrate the need for certain coverages.
  • Be a claims advocate. This is your opportunity to shine!  Call every client on any claim.  Show your concern, walk them through the claims process and advise if expectations are not met to call you.  The worst place an agent can be is on the wrong side of a bad claim experience.  When clients have a bad claims experience and they don’t tell you about it, they’ll think the only way to send a message to the company is by cancelling the policy.
  • Reward referrals. A reward for referral is just a thank you on steroids!  Who doesn’t like to be thanked and get a small reward at the same time.  Make it meaningful and be consistent.  A socially conscious act can go a long way too.  Donate to their favorite charity, their kids school or their church.
  • Set up automatic payments. Clients on EFT payments renew their policies at a much higher rate.  A rate increase on an automatic monthly payment is much less noticeable and more palatable than a rate increase that is 12x as much on an annual renewal.  Remember that carriers recognize the increased retention on automatic payments and typically charge considerably less payment fee for this type of payment.  Getting your clients on automatic payments is a mini-sale within the sale and should be appreciated for its value.



Written on May 3, 2018 by Peggy Corbett