Overheard at a brokerage recently: “We can’t seem to hire the ‘right’ producers.” A similar comment from another principal: “When we bring new people on, they don’t ‘get it.’”
We hear these refrains from brokerage owners and managers on a pretty regular basis. It’s a reality summed up in the old truism: “good people are hard to find.” Or are they? You really have to ask: exactly what aren’t these new hires 'getting’?
If hiring and retention are constant challenges, the problem may not be entirely with the new hires, but rather with your organization. Specifically, the issue may revolve around your commercial lines workflows and processes that support new staff.
A typical scenario
Here's an example. Let’s say a brokerage's commercial lines staff consists of five producers and three CSRs. Two of the 5 producers are senior and have been there for more than ten years. One has five years experience and the 2 others just joined the brokerage within the past year. Would you expect they all follow the same consistent workflow and processes for various aspects of commercial lines sales?
In most brokerages, the answer is 'no'. The producers were likely trained in different situations, and have adopted unique processes for prospecting, sales and renewals. They do things their own way.
The same is true for the CSRs. A senior representative who has been with the brokerage for 20 years has likely seen all kinds of service changes, workarounds and technology developments. He has adapted his work processes out of necessity and perhaps according to his service preferences.
But the other two CSRs only have ten months of experience between them. Their processes are based on what they see others doing, advice from co-workers and old habits learned at previous jobs. Many of these old habits tend to be paper-based, inefficient and potential sources of E&O claims.
This is what we see in many brokerages: there is no clear, documented sales model or approach linking senior and junior staff within the brokerage.
The question is, how can new staff be expected to succeed when there is no support structure that helps them do so?
Structure = Success
When each person has different processes or the workflows are not clearly laid out, there is no consistency from one employee to the next. This situation is thrown into bold relief when a new hire comes on and is told three different processes from three different employees. There is no standardized orientation, training or explanation of workflows for sales and service in commercial lines.
Here are four recommendations for brokerages that may be experiencing frequent staff turnover or sub-par staff performance.
- Standardize all work processes and functions for commercial lines. This should include clear job descriptions, skill sets required for specific employees and consistent, documented explanations of workflow and common processes for each job.
- Use common tools and an automated system. If employees are switching back and forth between computer platforms (i.e. portals, BMS), fax, paper-based communication and file formats, the potential is there for even more confusion and workarounds. Select an automation system, train employees on it and ensure everyone is using it consistently for all transactions.
- Have a mandatory orientation and training program. This should include a well-documented guide on standard work procedures, trial runs on any automated system and a thorough explanation of common tools used for commercial sales and servicing. Leverage the knowledge of senior staff to create a rich learning plan.
- Create a workflow guide. This need not be a 100-page manual gathering dust on a shelf, but rather a simple map that shows the basic processes for your brokerage in commercial lines – from prospecting to sale to bind to service and renewal. Even if it’s a one-two page document, it’s a great starting point and an excellent opportunity to reach out to producers and employees for input.
Good staff may be hard to find. But once you get them, make sure they're supported in the best possible way to succeed.
Topics: Best practices