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Agency Marketing with Daniel Ahluwalia of Green Planet Insurance

Daniel’s story…

I started Green Planet Insurance Agency in Phoenix, Arizona, in September 2020. Before that, my entire career was as a captive insurance side.

So I graduated from college in 2009 and started working on the corporate side due to accounting and budgeting, and finance, for a captive company. And then, in 2014, I got the opportunity to move to Phoenix and open a scratch agency. For the captive, for a captive company. Now, once we did that, we did well.

We were top 50 in the entire organization for auto three years. For auto insurance sales. So, we did really well. But I, I just, you know, the more and more I got into the industry, the more and more I learned, the more and more I realized that the independent side intrigued me and had this bug or itch to kind of do it.

So, you know, I finally made a move back in September 2020 during COVID. Right. We did that. It’s almost two years since we’ve been in business, and that’s how we started. And that’s how long we’ve been in business. And so far, how our agency is structured, it’s me and then I have a Chief Marketing Officer in charge of our marketing aspect.

We have two sales team members and a customer service/ retention role renewal role. And then, we have a virtual assistant that helps with our underwriting communication. Make sure documents are signed, things like that. So that’s kind of how we have our office structured so far.

Stacie King (Dir of Comms Agentero) Great. Sounds terrific.

You mentioned that you have a Marketing Officer. What is their role specifically within your agency? And I’m sure that you have input in that area. What is your marketing strategy, and how does that look?

Daniel: Yeah, great question. I mean, so there are a million ways to go about, you know, marketing and insurance agency. I mean, you could just Google it, right? And then there’s, there are so many ways, whether it’s Google ads or referrals or just networking or just picking up the phone, calling people. With friends, family, whatever the case is.

So, you know, when I was on the captive side, most of what we did was auto internet leads. That’s kind of how we got started. And then, once we did really good with that, we started getting more client referrals and things like that. So that’s how we did it then.

And then when I, when we opened up the independent office, I realized, you know, quite quickly, like the kind of clients we were wanting. And so, our focus from the marketing side has been on lenders and realtors; to go after the home insurance aspect for new home buyers. People refinancing their homes are their point of contact for insurance. That’s been our main marketing strategy. And then once we’ve done that, it’s kind of funny. It’s like the more you market in one area, the more, the more people you meet in that area and the more leads you generate in that area.

So that’s been a snowball effect over these past two years. And that’s how we’ve been really affected with our marketing is, is going after that how we do it and everything like that. It, I mean, does take time. There is no secret sauce regarding how to get in front of lenders or referral partners. It’s just staying active, staying committed to doing the things that a lot of people just don’t. I mean, you know, going around meeting them, going to networking events, going to their office, trying to get lunch with them, and being friendly with their team.

And then, of course, when they request a quote or ask you to reach out to one of their clients, they ensure you go above and beyond and do it right. And do it, do a good job, and do it quick. It has really been effective for us.

Stacie: Yeah. I agree. Referrals, you know, a lot of people don’t take the time to really appreciate those things and to make sure that those people are treated exactly as expected when someone hands over a friend. So that’s great to hear.

What does your process look like when you’re doing Google reviews in particular?

Daniel: Yeah, no. I mean, with the Google review aspect, it’s one of those things that once we sign up a client, we have an onboarding welcome automation campaign through our CRM tool. Better Agency is what we’re using right now for that. It really, it just sends out an automated text message that says, hey, you know, would you be able to leave us a five-star Google review and share your experience with you know, what, and it’s been really effective? I mean, so far, I believe we have 269 Google reviews on it so far within the past two years. And that’s just been strictly from that. We’re not even, I mean, to be honest, we don’t even do a really, a good job about asking for them. We just send out that text message that’s been effective. And we send it out as soon as we onboard a client. We have an onboarding email that says, “Hey, if you ever need “anything, this is our contact information, this is how you would file a claim, this is how you get a hold of our office.” And then a text message says, “Please if you can leave us, leave us a review on Google.”

Lauren Stuart (ADM Agentero) That’s awesome. Hey, Daniel, a question from the Q&A regarding referrals. Carl from the Q&A would like to know if you compensate your referral partners.

Daniel: Yeah. Great question. So I mean, we don’t, we don’t know, we don’t really compensate them in any way. Other than, of course, you know, we. I mean, we, we do, we do fun events. You know, we’ll invite them out. We’ll maybe do lunches, sponsor events, co-sponsor events, etc. Like we do some of that, but as far as direct compensation, we don’t do that. Hmm. Great question. Good question, though. Yeah. So

Stacie:  Any other opportunities? I know you mentioned that you’re doing Google reviews.

Are you doing any other types of reviews as well? You know, Facebook reviews or I think there’s Capterra and a couple others out there. Are you participating in those, or is your sole focus Google reviews?

Daniel Ahluwalia, CEO of Green Planet Insurance: Yeah, I mean, so great question. And I mean, it’s been solely Google reviews, and then that’s been our conversation. You know, me and our marketing team, we’ve been talking about it. And I think what we’re going to do is we’re going to incorporate a, an email on the onboarding campaign to say, hey, follow us on social media or like us on social media, and then put a link to all of our social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, I think we may be starting TikTok. I don’t know what that is yet. So, we’ll figure that out.

But I think we’re going to do something like that because our focus has been Google because, you know, we are a new agency. We don’t have the brand recognition and the community, so we really wanted to just start somewhere. You’ll be shocked. I mean, most people are using Google to look up things. And so, it’s been effective for us. Like we get call-ins daily for quotes. They say I found you on Google, and it’s so funny. It’s like the longer we do this, it’s. The more quote requests we get for home insurance more anything or flood insurance. It’s kind of one of those things.
And then, of course, you know, when we get them on the phone, we are pivoting to other product lines.

Stacie: Yeah, it sounds like a wonderful plan. I know that with Facebook, at least, once somebody does put a review out there on Facebook, those are where your personal referrals come in. Instead of somebody searching for you, it’s a person they know that has put a review on for you guys. So, I wish you well, and that that’ll be exciting. Gosh, with what you already have. You’ll have a lot of business coming in.

Daniel: Yeah. If I was honing this in, or if I had to, think about the next step: focusing on getting some on Instagram and some reviews on Facebook will be the next two things we would like to do. We are just now starting to build up our content on Facebook. We really were kind of, we were kind of like sporadic with our content. So now we’re doing more of that. So now we’re going to send it. They’ll like us on Facebook. I think we’re in a good spot where we can do that.

Stacie: Perfect. And as for TikTok, just a quick note, I love TikTok! You can learn anything on TikTok. And I noticed the other day that one of the most influential billionaires out there who is a financial guru has a TikTok, and he’s in his seventies or eighties, and he’s on TikTok every single day. He gives advice about being financially aware of the economics of the world, as well as just personal finances. And he’s trying to educate people. So, I applaud you for trying all the different platforms. It’s great when people are taking the time to learn new things.

Going back to what you’re doing now… How are you managing your cross-sell opportunities? You mentioned what you’re doing for some of your marketing, but are you doing anything else for cross-selling opportunities?

Daniel Ahluwalia, CEO of Green Planet Insurance: Yeah. I mean, we’ve been learning as we go, right? I mean, this has kind of been new to us. So the majority of the leads coming in have been for home insurance. So, in the beginning, we were doing the home insurance, and then we were saying at the very end, and oh, by the way, we also do these other products. We do auto insurance and things like that. You know, we’d love to get you a. And you’d be shocked because I would think that would’ve worked, but it didn’t.

We were not closing. We were not getting even auto quotes. Really that well, so what we started doing is just upfront. When we get someone on the phone talking about home insurance, we say, oh, by the way, we noticed that we didn’t get a request for your auto insurance. Who do you have for auto insurance? Oh, really? How long have you been insured with Geico? Oh, okay. When’s the last time you actually reviewed your policy and went over your coverages? Now that you’re buying a house, or now that you’re refinancing, you’re going to have extra equity or things like that.

We’ve got to ensure you have the right coverages and liability limits. And then we started just going over the auto before we even started going over the home. And that’s been more effective that way. That’s been effective because we found that once you close the home or one product line, going back and trying to get people back on the phone was like pulling teeth, teeth and herding cats. It wasn’t as effective. So that’s kind of really been our focus. Really trying to get everything on the front end… But if we don’t, I think we’re dealing with similar issues as many others, and that’s just staffing and finding good people to join your team.

So when we do, have that, or have the capacity to do it, we were going back and turning on those automation campaigns within our system for clients that had just home, no auto. And we were, they were sending out a series of calls, you know, where we would call them an email and text them to ask them for an auto insurance quote. That’s what we were doing with that.

Stacie King, Dir of Comms Agentero: Terrific. Good to know. The interesting thing you mentioned is the virtual assistant. Do you want to expand upon where and how that came about? Because not everybody is familiar with those, it’s a great resource, and there are a lot of new players in that space.

Daniel Ahluwalia, CEO of Green Planet Insurance: Yeah. I mean, so, you know, so we have a virtual assistant she’s amazing. She’s out of Latin America. So she’s bilingual, English and Spanish, and she’s really smart. She’s, she’s been amazing. She works full time for our agency. She’s virtual; she has a laptop.
We have her in our Lightspeed Voice over IP phone system. She’s access to our email and everything like that. There are many ways to go about it. We went through a company to do it. We went through a company called Agency VA, which we use to help source that virtual assistant and her name’s Diana. She’s amazing.

But we, you know, there are a million ways to do it. I know there are other companies, and then people do it directly and find people online. So, that’s how many people have done it. I think virtual assistant is great for those aspects of your agency, where it’s more of the admin, more following up checklists, things like that. To make sure that documents are signed for errors and admissions purposes, make sure that your data’s clean, you know, that okay. That their phone numbers are correct on all the platforms, whether it’s a carrier website their phone number is correct. EX Lynx, which is our rater and AMS system. Just making sure that everything is accurate there. Those are the things that they do really well with that they can do.

Stacie King: Makes sense. So next, let’s talk about the best practices you use in your agency to manage sales, service, retention, and automation.

You mentioned your marketing automation, but talk about, I guess, the rest of it.

Daniel: Yeah, no, I mean, that’s a big one. Right? But I would say if I had to just narrow it down to a few key things, especially regarding service and retention. I believe that you must first decide what direction you want your agency to take. What kind of client do you want to bring on board because that will determine your service level and retention? So, if you’re going after, you know, some of that non-standard business, you know, you’re going to have a higher maybe cancellation rate. Your service will be maybe more billing-related or a little bit more labor intensive.

So, you’ve got to think about how to structure your retention and service aspects. So that’s been a critical thing for us. So, we’re focusing more on the, you know, homeowner slash that kind of business with their auto. You know our retention and our service aspect has been, has been good. And that’s been able to help us kind of put our systems and processes in place to manage that and what, what to look for and what, and what to, what to not look for.

I would say, look at what kind of business you want to bring on to know how you want to set up your service and retention. With the retention, I mean, I know a lot of people they’ll say, you know, well, when you’re newer, maybe don’t worry too much about your retention or your renewal process. Like, don’t worry about that. I would say that when you use your automation and renewal pipeline within some of the tools that may be Agentero has provided, you can make it effective and easy to do your renewal process and still make it just really simple and seamless.

I would say it’s never too early to start that because the sooner you start, the more effective it will be, and the more referrals you’ll get from those clients where you do that. Especially right now, we’re in kind of a rate increase environment, especially on our home insurance products. We’re seeing home insurance go up, maybe 20 to 30% on the renewals. So going re-shopping those where, where it makes sense, reaching out to clients and offering that value-add, because one, some of the feedback I’ve always received as an insurance agent, no matter where I was doing it was, you know, it’s you guys, you guys do all this work to get us, you know, to sign us up, but then you don’t really help us, or you don’t really do anything for us on the renewals on the retention side. You don’t tell me my rate’s going up. Right?

Some of the feedback we get or so, so things like that. So being proactive with that has been effective for us because we’ve been able to save some clients, we’ve been able to, we’ve been able to build those trust in that get more referrals from them that way from clients. So, the retention renewal side has been something we focus on, and I would recommend that.

And then as far as, as far as managing the sales I think one of the biggest things for that for us has been. Getting really good at training the team for the conversation and listening to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

And just providing feedback and coaching daily is what we always do for that. And making sure that you are asking for all product lines up-front. Because I really do feel that when you just go after the one product line that they’ve, that the lead came in for, if that’s all you’re going to do, you’ll see quickly how your accounts are not going to be round at all.

And it becomes a snowball problem. The more you let that happen, they only see you as their home insurance agent. Like I’ve had clients ask me, like, do auto? And I started laughing inside. Because I’m just like, Yeah! I mean, that’s something we do, but they don’t know. I mean, they wouldn’t know. They just thought they called you for home insurance, so they don’t know. So, I think it’s important, whatever your additional product lines are, whether you do home auto and flood, or you’re doing some small business commercial, try and ask for everything up front, find out more about what they do for a living.

There may be opportunities for that, but they are doing a good job on the front end. That’s some of the best practices that I’ve used and everything like that. And then in addition to that, we keep our automation very simple. I know you can get crazy with automation, and you can have it where this goes out when you click this button. If you click this button, this goes out. What I found with the team in general and even myself, if there’s too much automation in there, I’m so scared to click a button because I’m like, I don’t know what it’s going to do. I really, you know, that’s one thing that I’ve always felt, so we really try and keep it more simple on our automation.

We don’t have much automation on the front end when, you know, for like new leads. We do more of our automation for the onboarding aspect. And then once we’ve quoted them, you know, more maybe automation and following up with them about their quote.

Lauren: Hey, Daniel, a question from the chat. I know you mentioned a little bit ago how you manage sales.

Question from the audience: How are you managing sales without Producers?

Daniel: Yeah. I mean, so we have, we have two sales team members in our office. They’re doing the sales side of things. That’s how we do that, and then we’re helping in. I mean, I’m constantly involved daily. I am doing sales. I mean, we’re still a new agency, so that’s kind of how we’re, how we’re managing that.

And then. The key metric we’re looking at is our daily quote volume. So, we run that through our rater. We run a report daily and say, okay, how many auto quotes did we do? How many home quotes did we do daily? And if that activity is low or anything like that, then I’m looking at how many calls were made. You know, like our outbound or inbound. How many calls were received? How many calls were made? And then we’re looking at, we’re looking at conversation, talk time, you know, how long were they on the phone? Things like that. So those are key metrics. It’s like our money-making activities.

“It’s our quote, call, talk is what I always call it. It’s our quote volume. If that’s low, I look at how many calls are being made. And if that’s low, I’m looking at how long people were on the phone. Now I’m picking it up. I’m looking at how many text messages were sent out. What’s communication looking like?” That’s kind of how I do that.

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