I’m in the market for a new car.
Being a car guy, I’m always paying a bit of attention to whether I’m actually shopping or not.
However, a few months ago my pride and joy, (2003 Passat W-8), had a major mechanical issue and I had to put her out to pasture. Now, I’m actively watching the car market a bit more closely.
Although I would never believe it could be so, I’ve been smitten by an American luxury brand.
Have you seen the Lincoln commercials with Matthew McConaughey?
If so, you’ll immediately know the look: He’s handsome, dressed to the nines, and driving a good looking American-made luxury car.
A couple of years back, a friend was telling me how his newly adult son had been invited to a wedding. Like many young men of his cohort, his closet was conspicuously lacking dress clothes.
Give the young man some credit; he went out and bought himself a pair of slacks and a sport coat at the local mall.
Unfortunately, when he modeled his new clothes for his dad, it was obvious that his 6’4″ slender frame didn’t quite fit his off the rack purchase.
Thankfully, his dad had the solution in mind, they went downtown to the father’s tailor. A quick fitting and a week’s time got the son exactly what he needed, an outfit that looked great and fit even better.
The interesting thing wasn’t that the son got quality service and a product that delighted him, but that the son didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a tailor.
His experience was that clothes fit the way they fit, and you didn’t have a choice.
For him and many if not most Millennial consumers, all of the clothes that they have ever bought have been off the rack. A tailor isn’t part of the thought process. For all intents and purposes tailors don’t exist!
In a world of bespoke and tailored clothes is so obviously a better product, why would anyone ever choose “Off-the-rack?”
There are many times when couture and hand crafted don’t make sense, like:
- Cleaning the car,
- Washing the Weimaraner,
- Painting the porch.
So what if your pants drag on the floor, your shirt cuffs don’t break right on your thumbs, or your seams are a bit crooked?
Does it really matter?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
It depends on your point of view.
What do you think the tailor’s perspective will be?
“Well of course it matters! What if the mayor stops over to get your opinion on the urgent matter of the day? Or that hottie from down the block needs a hand? You don’t want to look like yesterday’s newspaper do you?”
To which you might reply;
“Mayor or not, hell if I’m going to sweep my garage in a $ 500 Armani!”
Neither perspective is necessarily wrong…
In today’s name-your-price and cheaper-is-better insurance world, many times we insurance professionals are perceived as out of touch as that tailor.
Yes, there is a time and place for bespoke insurance, but honestly, doesn’t off the rack have a place too?
Isn’t a fresh out of college grad, with no real assets, properly covered by a 100/300/50 policy with matching UM and UIM limits and comp and collision deductibles?
I think, yes. We can argue about the edge cases, but in general, most likely she is.
Of course, as an independent agent, you are a professional, and your reputation is on the line if you don’t sell coverage, all the time.
I’m not actually suggesting that you skimp on coverages.
What I’m suggesting is this: If they won’t consider your agency defined minimum policy, then you don’t pursue the business in the first place.
Let them buy from Geico or State Farm.
This is the “Horror of horrors,” I know.
I hate this thought as much as you do. I don’t want to give up on those insureds, because their needs will change, and we want to insure them when “Off-the-rack” insurance no longer fits.
So what do you do in the interim? How do we put our “Tailor” skills to best use?
A tailor gets busy when a customer wants, or needs a tailor.
Logical arguments aren’t going to convince somebody to get their jeans hemmed, and you probably aren’t going to have success with the majority of consumers who think that the cheapest insurance is the best insurance.
Sure you can talk yourself blue, but even if you can get a third of them to change their minds, think of the time you’re wasting on the other two thirds.
If it’s your brother-in-law, convince him. It it’s somebody calling you on the phone, let them live in their happy little world.
Time to GET OVER IT!
What you want to find is people who want and need your insurance expertise.
There are plenty of reasons to become a specialist, including how it helps your agency valuation. But in today’s context, being a specialist will help when you provide expertise in unique and complex areas.
You’ll see more success because people you deal with will understand the value you provide.
Anybody with a price gun can write the house with a white picket fence in acres of suburbia. Put that same house on a barrier island, or in protection class nine, and you have a whole different thing entirely.
A good buddy recently bought a vacation cabin in northern Wisconsin.
But the usual insurance company suspects didn’t want to write him. Either they declined the risk outright, or else they wanted an arm and leg for annual premium.
A call to Agency Nation reader Aaron Wallrich saved the day.
Aaron and his agency know that marketplace. They know the territory and how to insure seasonal homes.
Done. Written. Ring the cash register.
Maybe you want to write commercial. You can choose to spend your time being one of the crowd writing BOPs, or you can develop a specialty in some nasty, ugly business:
- Roofers over three stories
- Horizontal drillers
- Long-haul trucking
Sure these clients have unique problems and needs. Of course you’re going to need to find specialty markets.
No there aren’t as many of these accounts as there are flower shops and shoe stores.
The difference is that when you help them understand how a good fitting insurance program sets them apart, you’ll have a new customer pronto.
Long Story Short
Just like my buddy’s son, too many of today’s insurance consumers don’t know the value that a true insurance professional can add to their protection package.
But trying to convince every client that they need custom insurance program with all the bells and whistles can be more work than it’s worth.
If you specialize, you can be ready to dress your customers for success, and start tailoring coverages for your clients.
What do you think?
Is it time to specialize on the less familiar and let the time wasters go? Or am I one stitch short of a full set of britches?
We’d love to hear your opinion below…
P.S. If you want specialized opportunities flowing to your agency consider the TrustedChoice.com Referral Program.