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How do you drive growth in a hard market: Through new or existing clients?


July 12, 2019   by Adam Malik


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A pair of brokers have notably different strategies when it comes to finding growth during these days of tightening markets.

For Myles Kuharski, commercial lines account executive at Gillons Insurance in Thunder Bay, Ont., the sound of the phone ringing in a hard market is a good thing. That’s new business he can potentially add.

Meanwhile, Caleb Maksymchuk, chief operating officer and partner at Ravenhill Agencies in Edmonton, Alta., is not taking those calls from potential new clients. Instead, he’s turning to his current list to drive the brokerage’s bottom line.

“That’s the mantra: profitable retention,” Maksymchuk told Canadian Underwriter. “How can we retain the ones we have? We focus heavily on the customers we have already, making sure they’re getting the best coverages and the best premiums.”

That’s a shift in growth strategy from two years ago, when he would split his resources between attraction and retention. Nowadays, he evaluates if someone has been referred to his brokerage by a good client or if they come from the website. One carries more weight than the other.

“We’re not actively seeking new clients,” Maksymchuk said. “We’ve pivoted away from sales-driven marketing to strictly using [those resources] in retention marketing, such as communications tools and increasing integrated marketing, and the proactive things like completing renewal reviews more efficiently.”

Kuharski, on the other hand, still believes there’s great opportunity in being more welcoming during darker times. “People are going to be calling around, so you can still focus on growth,” he said.

But you have to go about it the right way, he adds. That means getting that business by doing those little things that make brokers successful.

“It does come down to value and clarity,” Kuharski said. “If you’re telling them that this is the best you have, and you’re honest in what you’re saying,” then you can establish the trust required to develop a long-term and meaningful relationship.

Retention is still front-and-centre, Kuharski said, but it requires a more pro-active approach. For example, make sure sure you’re informing customers about rate increases, so that they’re not hit with a surprise.

“It comes back to that perceived value, like, ‘Oh wow, my broker’s looking out for me. Conditions are tough. He let me know well in advance,’” Kuharski said. Essentially, you are building a sense of loyalty to retain your customer. “If other brokerages or other direct writers aren’t doing that, you can also win business.”

Maksymchuk is following a similar strategy: He’s making sure his clients aren’t hit with surprises too late. He’s also putting resources towards value-added extras like a blog and newsletter, and ensuring the claims process easier to make his brokerage stand out.

“Just providing awareness to the current market situation and what’s going on,” Maksymchuk said. “We really want it to be a positive experience in order to, again, retain that client.”


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