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Mobile Agent vs. Office Dweller: Pros and Cons

With the invention of the SmartPhone, it seems like people are constantly connected, 24/7 to new information, advertisements, work, social life and friends and family. The world fits neatly into our pockets. As the way we work and communicate changes, which strategy would work best for your business? Take a look at the pros and cons of being a mobile insurance agent, versus an office dweller and consider if any of these are reasons why you prefer one over the other

Availability 24/7

This first point can really be taken as either a pro or a con—depending on how you work and how much of a work-life balance you need. With a Smartphone in your pocket, you will be available to your manager, and all of your clients 24/7. This is good for your clients from a customer service standpoint. They know where to reach you at any time. They also know your email is sent directly to your phone, and you don’t have to be sitting at your desk in an office to check it. This also means your clients will expect you to answer their inquiries quickly, or they will assume you’re ignoring them. Since your email pops up immediately on your phone, and most people have their phones on them at all times, this could become a problem for you if you want to keep your personal life and work life separate.

If you still want to manage your business when your offline, look into a call answering service that is available 24/7. If you don’t get many calls after hours or on weekends it may not be practical to use this service however some will also take calls on your behalf over the weekend. Remember that one of the most important aspects of closing more leads is speed to contact. If a prospect can’t get ahold of you or your business when it’s convenient for them, you may be feeding clients to your competition.

For agents that are always on the go, check out InsuranceQuotes new mobile app, iQAgents. It’s available for iPhone and Android devices and let’s agents manage their account, leads, and communication through a simple, easy to use interface. (Note: the iQAgents app is available to active customers of insuranceQuotes only.)

Personal Relationships with Clients

Pro: You can skip the formalities of having your client come into your office and sit at your desk for an in-person meeting. Loosen it up a bit. Meet them for a cup of coffee at that quirky coffee shop. Take them out for lunch. Meet at a park. Being a mobile agent allows more flexibility of where you can meet your clients without having to “clock out” for lunch and be away from your desk for too long. Meeting clients and prospects outside of an office setting will make them feel more comfortable and at ease, thus they may be more willing to work with you or feel more comfortable to let their guard down. You can develop a trusting relationship with them.

A great tool to ensure you are still making a lasting connection is to inquire if your insurance clients are willing to speak via Skype or Google Hangouts over your phone or mobile device. This ensures that they can put a face to your name and many times gives clients (at least ones willing to participate in a quick video chat) a sense of comfort and good customer service. This method of communication will not be useful for more introverted clients, so a quick note about their openness might help warm them some of your clients up. Of course always offer this type of communication as optional in replacement of a face to face meeting. Never call a client or prospect unannounced over video chat!

Con: Some people may feel like they want to meet someone in the office because it exudes an heir of professionalism more so than a casual cup of coffee. If many of your clients are this way, make it as comfortable as possible and. It all depends on your client base.

Another option, if you are mainly a mobile agent but prefer a more professional setting once in a while, is to leverage local co-working or shared office spaces for quick client meetings. Places like these are becoming more and more popular for small business owners who demand the flexibility of working from a home office, with the occasional modern office setting. Check out WeWork, a national co-working provider, The League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces, or search the internet for places in your area. If you’re near a larger city hub, chances are there is one close to you.

Lower Overhead Costs

Pro: If you’re a manager or owner of an insurance agency, but you’ve hired everyone as a telecommuter or a freelancer, the overhead costs of mobile agents are significantly lower than if you had to rent an office space, provide electricity, heating and air, and rent or manage the coffee machine and water coolers. Additionally, you don’t have to provide health insurance to freelancers, making your bottom line costs even lower.

Con: With no office environment, it’s harder to have team meetings. There is also less of a feeling of competition because everyone isn’t in the same space competing to get more clients. Agents can’t bounce pitch ideas off each other as well. From a manager’s perspective, it could be considered harder to keep track of insurance producers working hours and monitoring their work habits. You have to have a certain amount of trust in your employee for this to work and for you to know they aren’t billing time while they watch TV. The same can be said with aligning your calling campaigns or other insurance marketing initiatives. When all of your help is outside of the office, working remotely, clear, concise communication is required.

Spend More Time Getting to Know Clients and the Industry to Better Serve

Pro: Without the restrictions of working only during office hours, you can take more time to talk with your clients. This will give them the satisfaction of feeling like a priority in your life, thus you’re more likely to get more referrals. Spending more time with them allows you to gain more industry knowledge as well, because you won’t be stuck only selling the type of insurance your office allows. You can learn and study on your own time, becoming a connoisseur of the insurance industry.

Con: You probably won’t just be working 9 – 5 like other insurance agents who work in an office environment. They can shut everything down when they go home. When you make your own hours, sometimes you’ll be spending later nights or evenings, or even early mornings to make sure you are on the top of your game. Everything becomes your own responsibility, and the time you’re not spending networking or researching is time you’re not making money. You no longer will get paid for showing up to the office. Before, downtime was welcomed in the office so you could mess around on Facebook. Now, it will be a scary proposition for the independent, mobile insurance agent. Time is definitely money.

Do you prefer to be mobile or do you like the office type setting better? Let us know by sharing your comments below.

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