Archives for Agencies

Celebrating Cinco de MayoTexas and Mexico have a long history together, from Spanish colonies in both places in the late 1600s, through the Texas Revolutionary War against Mexico, to the current $41 billion per year in Texas exports to Mexico.

So it’s no surprise that in Texas any major “celebration of Mexican heritage and pride” is celebrated widely.

It may be a surprise to you, though, that while Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862, it’s NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, which is September 16. Given the long and rich history Texas and Mexico share, though, it probably should not be surprising that the victorious commander of The Battle of Puebla, Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, was born in Goliad in 1829.

Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday celebrated only in the city and state of Puebla, and “is a holiday that is virtually ignored in Mexico”.

You Never Know What Will Catch Fire

The Battle of Puebla was a relatively insignificant event. The French forces were beaten back, but they did capture Puebla only a year later. It’s not even a national holiday in Mexico. Yet on this day each year millions of people, of Mexican heritage and not, will celebrate the day in the United States.

What has caught fire with your clients? Are you trying different ideas? The only way to know what will work is to test many options. When one does catch fire – run with it! Next thing you know you may have a surprise holiday of your own.

What has surprised you? What has resonated with your clients that you didn’t really expect? Share your experience in the comments.

New Office Front DoorLast month we had to change. For the first time in over five years we had to change our address.

Moving is a pain. We had to deal with utility hookups and disconnects, setting up the new network, and transferring or establishing new services – and we were only moving a mile away!

But as a result of this change we now have a great new space with:

  • Room to grow,
  • Space designed for easier collaboration, and
  • Helpful new production areas.

What change(s) can you make that would take your agency to the next level?

Hopefully you won’t have to move any time soon, but don’t wait until you’re forced – go ahead and make some of those changes now. They won’t be easy, but if you are deliberate about them they could be the key to your next growth spurt.

Go for it!

If you’re a Texas Independent insurance agent who wants to work with a personal property market who is constantly looking to grow and improve, contact us.

TedCruzCSPANLast week our Senator Ted Cruz made national headlines by giving one of the longest speeches in U.S. Senate history. As expected, the speech didn’t change the vote, but it did expand the conversation. Only time will tell what the ultimate results will be, but already it’s attracted both passionate supporters and opposition.

As Texans, we all know about the Alamo, where in 1836 nearly 200 defenders stood up against 1,500 Mexican soldiers. The defenders of the Alamo were defeated, but “Remember The Alamo” became a rallying cry that swelled the ranks of the Texian army and made victory at the Battle of San Jacinto possible and ensured the stability of the fledgling Republic of Texas.

At iMGA we stand for making life as easy as possible for independent insurance agents who work with us. We know we can always do better, but when we find that we’re doing something that isn’t helpful, we do everything we can to fix it. We put a lot of extra time, energy and expense into our systems to make sure they’re as rock solid as possible. We eliminate every question we can, and simplify the ones that are left.

Sometimes that makes more work for us. Sometimes that means we have to choose to say “no” to opportunities that might mean a short-term benefit. But we know without a doubt that as long as we stay focused on making life easy for our agents, they’ll benefit and together we’ll grow more than we could have otherwise.

What does your agency stand for?

Being clear about that one thing sometimes means doing something that is tough in the short run. In the long run, though, it let’s you build a strong foundation that will attract exactly the right supporters, clients, customers and employees. It’s worth it.

If your agency has taken a clear stand and has a distinct message or unique customer base, please leave a comment telling us about it.

If you have a Texas independent agency, don’t already work with iMGA and would like to work with a Texas personal property market that does take a stand, please contact us.

For decades yellow pages ads were the leading source of new customers for most insurance agencies.

How many times in the past twelve months have you picked up a yellow pages to look up who to call? The same goes for your prospects. Searching on the internet has replaced yellow page usage for those prospects, so it’s critical that you are found when they do that search.

Being found in the yellow pages was relatively straightforward – you paid to be found. The more you paid, usually, the more likely you were to be found.

Being found on the internet works in much the same way

No, there’s not an “internet salesperson” who’ll let you pay them more to be found more easily, but the more you “pay” in terms of time and effort, the more easily prospects will find you when they search online.

The better the content on your website, the more content you have on your website, the more unique the content on your website, the more likely yours will be the listing near the top of the page when they search.

There’s obviously a lot to learn and do to maximize all of that, but there’s ONE really easy, straightforward step that you can take TODAY.

Complete your Google Places listing

Go to and search for your city name plus the word insurance. What do you see? Here’s the result for “Wichita Falls insurance”.
Google results for "Wichita Falls Insurance"

The top 3 listings and the ones under the map on the right are companies that have paid Google to appear in those spots. Their ranking in the display is determined by how much they offer Google multiplied by how often people click when they see that ad, so you need both money and skill in ad writing to do well with those.

That map, though, and the agencies that show right under the paid ads – those are Google Places results, and you can have that for FREE and with only a little effort. That Google Places listing is the second most important ad for your agency (the first is your web site).

Simply go to Google Places and click on the link under “Get your business found on Google”.
Get your business found on Google
You’ll need a Google account, but that’s free and easy to create if you don’t already have one.

Getting listed in Google Places takes only a few minutes’ effort and will pay off for years. Please, if you have not already done so, complete/claim your listing – you’ll be glad you did.

That’s what Rob’s been saying for years. Until today, when a great article by National Underwriter, showed how insurers are finding it easier to let customers know how to contact them in the middle of a disaster.

Companies like Alfa Insurance, Shelter Insurance and Westfield Insurance used Twitter updates, Facebook posts and YouTube videos to update, inform and reassure customers in the middle of tornadoes, floods and more.

Here’s a sample Twitter post with the location of the Mobile Response Unit handling claims from the recent tornadoes:

Here’s a solid Facebook interaction. Not every interaction will start positively, but responding well is much more powerful than pretending no one is ever disappointed with you:

The recent fires and hail storms have shown us at iMGA that we’d really like to be able to do more of the same as well. Please help us do that with these two very easy steps:

  1. Like Us on Facebook (click on the link, then click on the “Like” button at the top of the page)
  2. Follow Us on Twitter (click on the link, then click on the “Follow” button at the top of the page)

We’ll gladly do the same for you if you add your agency Facebook and Twitter contacts in the comments below.

How is your insurance agency using these great new relationship-building tools with your clients? We’d love to spread great ideas, so please add yours in the comments below!

Every business needs a “hook” . A great hook is something worth talking about. Better yet, it’s something worth driving out of your way to get.

Snuffer’s restaurant in Dallas has a hook. It’s their cheese fries. In my case it’s their cheese fries topped with bacon, chives and jalapenos.

For $8 or less they’ve come up with a dish that is truly noteworthy. It’s special. It’s unique. It made Snuffers our choice for lunch over the thirty other choices we had within 5 miles that day. It’s remarkable in the sense that it’s worth remarking about.

What’s your agency’s hook? What’s the one really unique thing you give/offer/do for your customers? What makes doing business with you special?

At iMGA our hook is that we go crazy making things easy for agents. To do a homeowners, vacant, rental or mobile home quote with us takes well under 2 minutes. We look up the protection class for you. When possible we look up the square footage, construction type and year of construction for you. We don’t ask a single question or require a single piece of paper we don’t have to. We keep our focus on easy in the application and underwriting processes also.

Our goal is to be so easy that it’s noteworthy. We’re obsessive about it because we know it’s our hook. We’re not the biggest or oldest market you have – those spots are taken. But we know we can be the easiest – and we’re determined to be – and as a result agents are telling their friends about us.

How about you? What’s the thing that makes your clients tell their friends about your agency? Please tell us about it in the comments so we can help you spread the word.

Many of us have tried those “30-day-free” trials, only to forget to cancel during the 30 days and end up paying for something we didn’t really want that much.

A free trial offer is a legitimate way to get a much larger percentage of the population to be willing to try a product or service. The big question for businesses, though, is whether to structure how it works in order to “trap” as many as possible, or to treat customers and prospects the way you’d like to be treated.

Citrix does this really well with their GoToMeeting service. It offers a 30-day free trial. The day before the trial ends they send an email that includes a reminder that you’ll start getting billed the next day, an offer to convert to an annual subscription AND information on how to easily cancel the trial – including a link to make it really easy.

Go To Meeting Email

In insurance we can’t offer free trials, but – with things like clear language, readable fonts and timely reminders – we CAN make it clear that every time we get the chance we choose to treat prospects and customers as we would want to be treated.

It’s just plain the right thing to do. At iMGA, we believe strongly that it’s also better business in the long run, and we plan to be here for the long run.

What are some examples you’ve seen of insurance companies and agents really treating clients and prospects with respect (or not)?

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every Groundhog Day up to 40,000 people gather to see if Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous groundhog, will see his shadow. If he does, then tradition says we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter and people can prepare accordingly.

A large crowd on Groundhog Day.
Do you have a “groundhog” in your agency? An early indicator that lets you know what to expect – and how to prepare for the future as a result. If not, think back over the last few years. When has your business gone up? When has it gone down? What preceded those changes?

Have a Groundhog

Managing a high-growth independent insurance agency is much easier if you have just a couple specific leading indicators you always watch. Not your sales or cash (those are lagging indicators – by the time they’re dropping there’s already a problem somewhere much earlier in your sales funnel). For many insurance agencies it might be something like the number of incoming phone calls, number of new quotes issued or number of inquiries via your web site. Whatever it is, make sure you have one. It can make the difference between having the time to prepare and being caught by surprise.

In our business there are several, but a couple that are much more reliable than others. Which brings us to the other important step.

Make Sure Your Groundhog is Accurate

Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow nearly 100 times, has not seen it 15 times, and nine years are unaccounted for, but his prediction as to whether there will be six more weeks of winter or not only has an accuracy rating of 39 per cent. That’s not very reliable. In fact it would make more sense to see his prediction and do the opposite.

So, look for those leading indicators in your agency, but always test the results against expectations. Otherwise you may find yourself in for a very long winter.

Photo courtesy of Aaron E. Silvers.

Last week we talked about how we’d been called “second best” and – in this case at least – didn’t mind at all.

We’ve just added a page to our web site where we share more about what agents have to say about iMGA.

What do your customers say about you? Do you know? Are you collecting that and sharing it with prospective customers? How? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

Oh, and if you’re an iMGA agent we’d REALLY appreciate it if you’d add your testimonial.

The news this week was full of coverage of the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped 2,000 feet underground for 69 days.Photo of an unknown Chilean miner - NOT one of those rescued.

According to one article on the rescue,

Many agencies and companies around the world contributed expertise or products related to the rescue, from a high-calorie liquid diet, donated by NASA, to suppress motion sickness in the miners as they ascended; to iPods donated by Apple, which the miners were to receive when they emerged. Gifts for their families donated by unions, companies and individuals have ranged from food and clothing to sexy lingerie, wine, toys and children’s Halloween costumes.

The gift that has received the most attention, though, has been the Oakley Radar sunglasses that were donated to help the miners’ eyes during the period of readjustment to light levels on the surface.

Did Oakley make the donation (valued at $6300) out of the goodness of their heart or purely in a gambit to get media attention?

Bottom line – it doesn’t matter. Regardless of the reason Oakley made the donation, the miners got something that will help them at no cost to them. No laws were broken and no one had to be forced to make it happen.

Capitalism leads to better things for all – those in need and those looking to fill a need. It’s nice to see that this time it was noticed, but there are millions of times each year that similar things happen that don’t get reported on by the Associated Press.

That’s okay, but keep it in mind the next time you hear some talking head or politician promoting the need to take more from businesses by taxation or regulation. Good businesses already do a lot. Bad ones will ultimately go out of business. The market (you, me, our friends and neighbors making purchasing decisions every day) does sort these things out over time.

As insurance professionals it’s pretty clear what needs our businesses meet. Every time our customers have a claim, need to get a mortgage, or just want to sleep well knowing they’re protected in case something happens we’re there for them. Remember that – and be proud of it – the next time someone asks what you do or attacks businesses in general.

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