COVID-19 has changed business as we know it. Even after the acute nature of the crisis passes, insurance agents need to come up with a clear, long-term crisis recovery plan to get their businesses back on track.
The full impact of COVID-19 isn’t known yet because it is unprecedented. While we know that things will get back to normal, it’s not clear how long that will take or what the new “normal” will look like. During this time of upheaval, a crisis management plan can help give your agency focus and allow you to not only survive but be prepared and find new opportunities during uncertainty.
Here is what you know about creating a crisis recovery plan for your insurance agency.
Prioritize Your Team’s Safety and Engagement
Your workers need to know that you care about their safety and will look after their well-being. Assurance that their organization cares for them will help create a cohesiveness that is essential when responding to a crisis.
Companies are a place of trust for many people: research shows that employees trust their employers over all other institutions, including the government and media. Clear communication about what is going on in the world and your agency will help alleviate anxiety and allow them to feel safe during an uncertain time.
Be both honest and supportive when letting your team members know the company plans to keep them safe. Communicate with them that it is not “business as usual” and that you don’t hold them to the same expectations as before the virus. Maintain regular, personal check-ins to ensure that your workers are safe and see how you can best support them.
The size of your agency will determine how to handle your communication plan. Whether your team is large or small, have a plan in place to make sure everyone is included to receive updates, contact, and information. Designate a point person that will handle communication and how best to communicate with each member of your team.
Provide your employees with any tools that they need to ensure their safety. For most insurance agencies, this means providing workers with tools on their portable devices to work from home. Ensure that their laptops have access to essential applications, for example, and programs that allow them to do their job.
Review and Renew Your Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan allows you to provide safety and security to your customers, even in an emergency. Now is the time to review what plans you have in place to ensure your business adapts to the current crisis. If you don’t have a continuity plan, it is critical to get one together as quickly as possible.
To get a business continuity plan in place, though, you need to know what is happening. Monitor the current crisis to get a sense of how it affects your region, national health, and government policies. Watch for official recommendations for insurance companies. Accurate information is critical to your decision making and communication. One survey found that 75% of companies who were stronger post-crisis recognized how important it was to gather facts accurately and quickly.
Create a timeline for how you would like to see your business start functioning back to normal. While no one knows how long stay at home orders will be in place, and the acute part of the crisis will last, it will not go on forever. Create a rolling timeline that can start whenever the economy picks up again. Instead of creating set dates, use general timeframes such as weeks, months, and years to be applied at any time.
It is also time to reassess your goals. It is not likely that your business will be able to achieve the original goals that you had in place before COVID-19: 27% of companies expect the virus to have a moderate to high impact on their revenue. Instead, create new goals and projections in light of the effect the crisis has had on your business.
Create a Communication Strategy
The overall messaging your agency should convey at this time should be authentic and sympathetic. This is a time to maintain communication with everyone about the current situation and your policies in place to ensure both safety and viability. Beyond your employees and vocal clients, agencies need to communicate with all of their clients, vendors, and partners.
Maintain transparency with clients to assure them during this time. Help mitigate any uncertainty by reaching out to your customers and let them know that you are here to help. Demonstrate that they can still rely on you to provide them with the services they need. If there are any changes in service, be upfront, and help them in any way possible. This will give your agency a solid reputation that will last long after the crisis passes.
Find New Opportunities
A recovery plan requires that you think in both the short- and long-term. Consider where you want to be in a month, quarter, and year from now.
A response window looks at the months ahead, but a true recovery plan will think about the years to come. While you need to consider how to maintain business and keep workers safe now, also keep an eye on the future and how you plan to maintain and expand your agency as the economy picks up again.
People are hurting and have very critical needs right now. Find ways to help them and expand your services to meet these needs can help you grow a stronger business even during uncertainty.
Cash-flow is essential in the short-term. A crisis requires you to be more strategic about where you decide to spend your money. Invest in resources that can help you expand into new territories and provide valuable services to your customers. Tools that enable you to work from home and reach your customers remotely, for example, is a wise investment considering the current needs of your employees and customers.
During social distancing and stay-at-home orders, digital partners are more critical than ever.
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