Whether you’ve already decided to go independent, or you’re still on-the-fence, here are four things you need to know to set you and your business up right.
(1) Find the right agency to work with
You can’t go at it alone. Even if you have all the relationships in the world, you’ll still need a support team to turn to with questions and advice. When evaluating agencies, make sure their values align with yours. Some are transactional, others are long-term focused. Think through what your desired approach is.
If you have several agencies in your area, research each one and interview them. They work for you, not the other way around. They should be helping you grow your business.
When you interview them, ask which companies they’re contracted with and whether they’re in good standing with them. Observe how they speak about agent support and client service, and what resources they’ll provide. Ask them about their local relationships and how their agents are performing today.
(2) Ready yourself with Medicare tools & resources
Having resources at your disposal is crucial to ensure that you can reach prospects so they can attend events or know that you are THE Medicare agent in their area.
Does the agency have a marketing center that can help you customize fliers, develop a webpage, or support you with finding the best vendors to work prospect leads? Additionally, is back-office support available to help you with administrative details or client support that can be time consuming? Do you have a good way to manage your clients in a CRM?
If so, ask about costs associated to make sure that it fits your budget.
(3) Get commissions assigned to you
Make sure you’re getting paid correctly, from the start. Your initial contract with the agency can have long-term repercussions. If you are generating your own business and expected to generate leads yourself, ensure you are getting paid directly by the carrier. Your agency should not be paying you street commissions. You might hear the terms “street agent” or “licensed only agent.” It can be confusing, but you want to ensure that you are set up as a street agent and that your commissions are assigned to you (or your business entity) directly.
This becomes important if the agency isn’t working out and you want to leave. If commissions are assigned to the agency and not to you, without the right contract in place you may lose all your renewal revenue.
(4) Know your agency’s release rules
You always enter a business agreement in good faith and optimism, but you should be prepared in case the partnership doesn’t work out. Ask your agency about their release rules. Do they provide an up-front release policy or will you have to wait a long time to get released?
If you can’t be released from your agency, they can potentially keep your commissions, client data, and other information that you have shared with the agency, depending on the nature of your contract. And if they can’t keep it, they can make the transition to a new agency difficult.
A different approach in the industry
Our mission at Spark is to help seniors take control of their health. We do this by partnering with local agents who are knowledgeable about their community. We have topline contracts with major and local carriers, provide agency and client support, and pay commissions directly to agents. If an agent or agency asks to be released at Spark, which we work hard to ensure that doesn’t happen, we provide an upfront release and we initially provide that information in writing as well.
We want to bring transparency to an industry that has been opaque for too long. Call us or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can start putting us to work for you.