Is Going Green Worth The Investment For Your Agency?

The term “payment environment” is used a lot these days. It describes consumer preferences and trends in paying for goods and services. Notice that the phrase contains the word “environment.” It’s not by accident: paper-based billing and payments seriously impact the physical and natural environment!

We touched on these environmental drawbacks in our blog post on the hidden costs of paper checks. We understand your primary goal is to sell insurance and keep your clients happy⁠—saving the planet may not be a top, or even mid-tier, priority. However, it’s good business to think about reducing your agency’s carbon footprint. You might want to care because…

Your Clients Care
Environmental responsibility is expected from more than just larger companies. Even small business owners are becoming more aware and incorporating sustainability practices

Your Employees Care
 Who among us doesn’t know about “reduce, reuse, recycle,” which now includes a fourth “r”: rot (compost). As consumers themselves, employees want to support environmentally friendly businesses. Working for one can be a source of pride.

It Can Save You Money
As discussed in the “hidden costs” blog, paper checks are more expensive to process than other payment methods. If you can cut costs without cutting corners on the environment, it’s a win-win.

Let’s do a quick comparison of payment methods and their impact on the environment.

Payments by Check

  • The process of making paper checks includes excess energy, water and chemicals (not to mention the trees themselves).
  • Transportation (mainly driving) of the check itself creates air pollution.
  • As discussed in our companion blog on security, the process of mailing (or hand-delivering) and taking the check in for deposit enlarges your carbon footprint.
  • Envelopes and stamps are added paper waste (and expensive).

If your agency has a paper recycling program in place, that’s great, but this cannot help in the other various ways paper checks have a negative effect on the environment. 

Digital Payments

  • There is no “production” involved (no use of natural resources or chemicals).
  • There is no transportation involved (zero carbon footprint).
  • There is no paper waste, because there is no paper, postage, or printed receipts (receipts are generated automatically and transmitted electronically)

From an environmental responsibility standpoint, the choice is clear, clean and sustainable. Digital payments are the way to go, and ePayPolicy makes those payments even more secure and sustainable.

Choosing the Green Option
Our payment environment is rapidly shifting to a digital payment environment. You might want to conduct a quick sustainability audit and show your business clients (and employees) you’re doing your part to support their efforts.

Switching from paper payments to electronic payments is easy with ePayPolicy, because we integrate with your AMS. It’s faster, simpler, and more convenient for your insureds. Additionally, it’s a positive green-business practice that will bring more literal “green” to your agency.  

Still Not Convinced
Check out this environmental impact calculator for some eye-opening statistics. And here are more helpful resources on migrating to green billing and online payments.

Sell Smarter with Insurance Agency Buyer Personas

What are personas and why would my insurance agency need them? The fact is, buyer personas help you sell smarter by focusing your resources and messaging on attracting the clients you want. Buyer personas for your Insurance Agency are easy and inexpensive to create and require only your internal staff.

Buyer Personas, Defined
A buyer persona is an archetype of a business’ ideal client, customer, or visitor in a specific market segment. It’s an amalgam of details about the buyer’s background, motivations, interests, preferences and habits. Marketers have been using them for years to target (or micro target) potential buyers with tailored, personalized engagements. And you don’t have to be a huge global brand to leverage this marketing tool. Buyer personas become essential as you engage prospects via multiple digital channels like your website, social media, and email. 

Think about your sales pitch to the founder/CEO of a successful, multi-generational construction company (Owner Owen). Now, imagine you’re addressing a young entrepreneur starting a tech consulting business (Startup Shauna). Even if they’re buying the same policy, there are major demographic and psychographic differences between the two prospects. One-size marketing does NOT fit all.

But you know this! No doubt you have a vivid image of each buyer in your head right now, because you’ve been at this long enough to know the pain points and sweet spots of pretty much everyone in your sales funnel. 

A buyer persona just takes this mental image a step further. It formalizes what you already know about your clients/prospects, and adds other important insights to distill it into identifiable “types” (known as personas) so that everyone in the agency is working from the same model and script. 

Meet Owner Owen and Startup Shauna
Owner Owen is the patriarch of a family business. He’s likely in his 60s or 70s. His business is well established, with annual revenues of $12 million. Owen’s getting ready to retire and pass the reins to his son. Owen has purchased numerous insurance policies over the years–he’s a savvy consumer. Where would you likely reach Owner Owen? (Hint: Not on social media!) And how would you talk to him about the coverage he needs, given his goals? 

Startup Shauna is also a business owner. But she’s in her 20s. She is borrowing money from her parents to fund the business. She rents an apartment and will be working from there (at least to start). This is Shauna’s first experience buying any insurance beyond auto. She needs lots of education. Where would you expect Shauna to research business insurance? What concerns might Startup Shauna have that Owner Owen would not? 

Research, the Foundation of Buyer Personas
A good buyer persona is based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. You already have demographics: age, income level, occupation, geographic location, etc. in your AMS, CRM or files. This is an opportunity to round out what you have with valuable insights about the person behind the purchase.  

Here are three typical methods of gathering additional information for buyer personas: 

1. Your agents. They have a wealth of details about who is and is not buying and why.

2. Interviews and reviews. Connect one-on-one with clients and prospects who are happy with your service. Their perspective is invaluable in crafting marketing messages aimed at similar prospects.

3. Analytics. Powerful free tools like Google Analytics show you who’s visiting/engaging with your website and social media pages.

The persona development process itself provides insight into where buyers prefer to access information about insurance and your agency. One might go to social media whereas another might prefer traditional media. Probe to understand how they think, what they like, their hobbies, where they travel, etc. This will likely uncover cross-selling or upselling opportunities. And don’t forget to ask what they look for in an insurance agent!

How Many Personas Should You Have?
There is no magic number. You could have two or you could ten. It depends on your agency’s book of business and how you segment your markets. You can create personas by product line, by industry type or company size, by location, generation, and/or any combination—whatever makes sense for your agency.

Where Do I Start?
There are tons of free templates available online that can help you determine what information to include and how to get started. Not only will you uncover a goldmine of actionable information about where/how to reach out and what content to direct toward each buyer persona, but your team will love contributing to the project. In short, buyer personas help you appeal efficiently to the right people and increase insurance sales.

For more insurance marketing tips be sure to follow ePayPolicy on Facebook

How Generation X Affects Your Insurance Agency

Generation X. You know them, even if you can’t picture them as easy as a ‘Baby Boomer’ or ‘Millennial.’ They are squeezed between those generations at home and in the workforce, and they are a massive market composed of business-owning, tech-using, money-making people with little time and careful trust. 

The bottom line is, Generation X affects your insurance agency as an independent agent’s largest target market. They need to be able to work with you authentically and efficiently in order to earn and keep their business.

What we Know About Generation X

They are sometimes referred to as the ‘Sandwich Generation’ because they’re squeezed between two generations at home. Gen X are the ones making life and healthcare decisions for elderly parents, while also raising their own families. Oh, and likely owning and running a business.

Not to be overshadowed by Baby Boomers and Millennials, they deserve notice in their own right. Marketers of all kinds of products, from financial planning to makeup, see them as a hot market segment. And as business owners, they’re prime candidates for commercial insurance.

How Generation X Could Affect Your Agency

There are plenty of reasons for independent insurance agencies to appeal to Generation X.

There are 82 million of them in the U.S. That’s more than the aging Boomers (76 million).

At 40-55 (in 2020), Gen X-ers have plenty of business-owning years ahead of them. They are also seeking long-term solutions and partnerships when it comes to business.

Financial status

— Gen Xers outspend all other generations.
— They earn 31 percent of all US income.
— They’re projected to hold 31 percent of US net wealth by the end of this decade.

These are America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for decision-makers in the construction industry, financial services or real estate (among other entrepreneurial niches), you’ll find them in Generation X. 

In short, these previously “invisible” go-getters have buying power and are decision-makers for their businesses. They have insurance needs that you can fill and they want to work with agents who will provide them resources that last years in the future. 

How to Engage with Generation X

If you think these middle-aged business owners are tech-averse, you couldn’t be more wrong. This generation are heavy tech users and early adopters. Remember, they’re the ones who first used personal computers and invented and shaped crucial technologies (e.g., the internet).

At the same time, they grew up in a pre-digital world, and they have not turned away from these roots. You can expect them to move fluidly between traditional media, digital devices, and apps. 

Here are some marketing insights to keep in mind as you plan your Gen X client outreach and retention strategies.

Where to Reach Them?

Online: They live online, on their mobile phones and handheld devices.

Social media: They’re obsessed with it—especially Facebook.

Videos: Not surprisingly, the ‘MTV’ generation watch a lot of videos. Primarily using YouTube and Facebook but increasingly watch TV shows and movies on their mobile devices.

Traditional Media: Members of this generation still consume non-digital media. They read newspapers and magazines, and listen to the radio. 

What’s Important to Them?

Information: They demand it, and do research both offline and online. If your website doesn’t deliver, they’ll click away and never look back.

Values: They’re all about work/life balance and family, family, family.

Authenticity: It’s the number one thing they respond to. They have enough business experience to know when something doesn’t ring true. So keep things real—and personal!

Personal Focus: See Values and Authenticity, above. Also, Gen Xers love stories.  Show them how your service will improve their life and business. Real-world narratives/case studies work well. 

Loyalty: They’ll reward you with it. Unlike their more skeptical and brand-agnostic kids, Generation X does not flit from brand to brand. They do research up front, including review reading and writing. Once you sign them and deliver value, they’re not likely to stray.

Maintaining humanity in a tech-driven world: The word humanity bubbles up in many articles about Generation X. They’re seen as the keepers of what was (and still is) good about connecting non-digitally and keeping tech-driven communication genuine and caring.

The world reminds us that even when tech-enhanced, insurance is by nature a relationship business. Remember that personal touch, and know that success today means meeting your clients where they live (online) and making it easy and convenient for them to do business with you. Generation X expects and deserves no less.

Are You Ready for Their Business?

As you can see, doing business with these busy, big-spenders requires a solid InsurTech foundation. It also requires sensitivity to their reality and their unique values. Gen X-ers are juggling high-pressure work, multi-generational families and financial demands.

Be sure you have a simple tech solution for your Gen X clients to bind their policy and make payments. Our online payment page makes this easy for you and your customers, with the added benefit of integrating with a majority of Agency Management Systems.

Check out your options for collecting digital payments, and give Gen X another reason to love your agency.

How Much Are Paper Checks Costing Your Agency?

In your office, do you send coworkers letters instead of emails? Do you hand-write invitations to meetings and deliver them to everyone’s desk? Do you post physical to-do lists on everyone’s office door? Then why would someone hand-write and mail paper checks?

How Much Are Checks Costing Your Insurance Agency? 
In the digital age, people avoid paper materials due to the inefficiencies. Physical transactions waste time and money, create the possibility for confusion, and are an unnecessary use of resources. Now, 80% of businesses are seeking ways to convert paper checks into digital payments. 

So, are paper checks outdated? Yes. In fact, it’s possible for banks to consider them “stale” after only a few months. The Federal Reserve Study estimated 28 billion checks were processed in 2009 with a decline of 1.2 billion every year since. At this rate, they estimate paper checks will become extinct by 2026. 

While the need for paper checks is shrinking, the cost is not. In a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, $7.78 was the average cost of a paper check, while Bank of America reports a cost of $4 – $20 factoring in mailing and processing. Bottomline showed processing a check costs a business ten times more than an ACH transfer, and receiving a check costs five times more than an ACH payment. That’s a lot of money being spent on receiving money. 

Let’s Talk About The Customer Experience
Customers crave flexibility, convenience, and speed. Paper checks cost them all three. They don’t want to reach for a checkbook, pen, envelope and stamp before running to the mailbox just to make a payment. The same Federal Reserve Study states paper check usage has decreased by 7.2%, and debit and credit card payments have increased by 8.9%.

We live in a world where there are online services for everything. Customers want and need, to be able to pay for their insurance from anywhere at any time. Slow payment systems like the paper check increase wait times and add the layer for human error to the process.

The Security Risks That Come with Paper Checks 
Paper checks increase the customers risk for fraud and identity theft. In its 2015 Deposit Account Fraud Survey, the American Bankers Association says that check fraud accounted for 32 percent of the industry’s $1.91 billion in losses in 2014. The sheer number of times a check must be passed from hand to hand while it is being processed means there is less and less security available. This also implies an increased risk for your agency to even receive the payments. 

The mail itself offers little security, and someone could easily steal the bank account and routing numbers for an account from a physical check. Your customers trust you with their largest assets and the safety of their banking information. Digital processing creates a secure environment to receive payments and keep accurate records while eliminating these risks.

The Environmental Impact
A growing consumer concern over the last decade has been the environment and our negative impact on it. Customers like to know the companies they do business with are green-conscious.

Take paper receipts for example. Have you noticed a trend of customers saying no to printed receipts and receiving them electronically? People view paper checks as equally not preferable. The check creation process involves water, gas, trees, and releases greenhouse gases. Once the check is processed, it will most likely end up in a landfill, adding to more waste. Moving to a greener, digital solution will not only create positive PR but will have a powerful effect on the environment. 

Have questions on how you can move away from paper checks? Reach out and schedule a demo to learn why ePayPolicy is the simplest solution for you to collect credit card and ACH payments for your insurance agency.

Studies used for this posting include…
The 2019 Federal Reserve Payments Study
2019 AFP Electronic Payments Survey
What is Check Fraud 

Your Time is Valuable: Maximize Growth and Boost Profits for your Independent Agency

Understanding The Opportunity Cost Across Your Agency

As an independent agent, your time can be rather divided. Between processing claims, building new business and nurturing your current clientele – there is little time to grow.. 

How are you spending your time?

When hiring support staff isn’t an option, you might have to buckle down and wear a few necessary but non-revenue-building hats. From prospecting to invoicing and everything in-between, you are down in the trenches, doing it all. 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and by the end of the week you have 5+ hours spent on… not growing your business. What if you could have those hours back?

Achieve Sustainable Growth

You may have considered investing in some InsurTech solutions such as a digital payment processor to speed up your receivables, but are hesitant. The upfront cost seemed too high at first, but have you crunched the numbers, determined the value of your time, and compared them apple to apples? You might find that the cost-benefits far outweigh the initial expense.
If you are still accepting paper checks, chasing payments, physically making deposits and reconciling your accounts, you are leaving money on the table. You might be saving $20 a month, but when you look at the opportunity cost to you and your team, it just doesn’t add up.

What is Your Time Worth?

Those tasks need to get done, and that’s a fact. However, assigning a specific value to your time can clearly show the ROI from a variety of InsurTech solutions.

If you streamline your workflows and automate repetitive processes—like accepting manual payments—you can allocate those hours towards more profitable activities that will grow your customer base and send value to the bottom line.

Here are examples of profitable activities you’ll have time for:
 – Build and expand your business
 – Deliver top-quality customer service
Offer convenience and expedience
 – Gain insight and improve your company’s operations

And here are examples of the extra benefits you’ll reap:
Reduce the time you spend on mundane tasks
–  Reduce missed payments
– Streamline and simplify accounting processes
– Eliminate data entry and accounting errors
– Automate payments and improve cash flow

Dreams Do Come True

You might be thinking that it sounds too easy, and in a way, you’re right. You’d be giving up a lot of inefficient busy work and giving yourself the luxury of time; time you can now use to improve the value of your business.

And the cost? Insignificant in comparison. Though your investment will rise a bit, the gains in revenue will more than makeup for it. 

It’s 2020. Time to grow and adapt to modern conveniences, time to strategize and invest in your agency. When you’re ready, ePayPolicy is here to help with payment gateway solutions to support your growth. Reach out today to schedule a demo.

Complete Guide to Employee Appreciation

How do you build a strong company culture? Two simple words: Thank you.
Appreciation comes in many forms other than that little phrase, but expressing even the smallest form of appreciation to your team cannot be overstated. ePayPolicy has developed a culture of energized teamwork and productive growth. Our focus remains on our clients but it’s imperative to build a strong foundation at the core of our company.

For us, it starts at the top. Our co-founders Todd and Milan are motivated, interactive, and always seek better relationships with the team. These genuine actions promote a positive environment where the team can grow and develop.

After this leadership develops a driven mentality in their employees, they act on it. If you’re constantly asking “How can I encourage?” people will thrive because of you. Setting and achieving goals doesn’t always have to come from management, sometimes it’s inspired by management. 

People aren’t strictly motivated by raises or bonuses anymore. We are motivated by the chance to grow, to move up and take on more responsibility. ePayPolicy utilizes this by providing more autonomy to team members as a subtle but meaningful form of appreciation. Just imagine how wonderful it would feel to hear, “You’ve done a great job and we’ve noticed. We’ll let you take it from here.”

We’re sure you’ve heard the phrase “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” The same could be said in the corporate world. When people are excited to come to work, motivated by their peers and opportunities, they produce better results. 

Simplicity is best. So thank you, ePayPolicy team – for supporting, teaching, loving, inspiring, and collaborating so well with each other

P.S. – Small gifts are an easy win for clients and employees to feel appreciated. And we all love stickers! To get the very best laptop stickers we suggest Sticker mule. We love working with them and they’ve always delivered quality content in a great time!