Five Tips for the Part-Time Agent
Starting a career in the insurance industry can be intimidating for beginners. The temptation exists to maintain a part-time or full-time job while getting your bearings in the field. Maintaining financial security while venturing into the industry might be a smart choice. But is this choice truly possible possible, or are you doing a disservice to your practice if you are working another job at the same time?
We heard some success stories about agents and brokers who transitioned full-time into insurance after an experimental period. One agent talked about working full-time for RR Donnelley and selling insurance part-time at nights and on weekends. He made a hard switch after one year, making more money working less hours at insurance.
Other agents felt strongly that insurance is a full-time business. One told us, “I started out full- time in the insurance business 20 years ago. I know that sometimes I have prospects call who are ready to buy on the spot. I feel like an agent will be more successful by being committed. Not many people uses a part time doctor or lawyer.”
Agents from the forum weighed in on the practicability of establishing oneself as an agent or broker in the field, while maintaining other employment. If you’re thinking about being a part-time agent, or a full-time agent with another job, read on for their advice.
1. Don’t Quit Your Day Job Until Your Side Job Becomes Your Day Job
One agent recommended that individuals starting out as independent agents, and not quit their day jobs until they feel they are losing money by being there instead of selling insurance. He noted, “When I got out of the Army in 2005, I sold Medicare Advantage plans by day, and went to my bartending gig at night. After six months of that, I had enough cash to go all in and never looked back.”
2. Manage Expectations
For agents in the transitional period, it is important to manage expectations of both clients and colleagues / employers. One forum member has been a full-time firefighter for several years, but works in an agency on a part-time basis. He noted, “There are times that I do feel like I am doing a disservice to the agency when I am away at the fire department and customers are calling wanting to speak with me. Thankfully I live in a smaller area where everyone seems to know everyone and many understand and do not mind waiting for me to be back in office.”
These times are tempered by the knowledge that this agent will move on to a second career after retiring from the fire department, having already established a book and a customer base. He has been professional and communicative about his additional responsibilities, in order to foster an environment of flexibility and understanding on the clients’ behalf.
3. Be Realistic About Your Schedule
Setting a realistic schedule throughout the week is vital, according to most multi-job agents. While some part-time jobs are feasible, others may not be. One agent told us, “Bartender at night? Great. Firefighter? I think it’s doable, just let your clients know you work x days per month. A full-time job and insurance at night is probably too much.” By overcommitting, new agents will likely end up overwhelmed, so it is important to set boundaries around scheduling.
4. Consistently Re-evaluate
After starting a multi-job schedule, it is important to occasionally reassess if you are meeting your goals. If your long-term goal is to transition full-time into insurance, have you developed substantial expertise, and are you ready to commit full-time? If your long-term goal is to see if you enjoy the process of being an agent, have you developed an accurate perspective? After assessing the process of being a part-time agent, decide which direction you want to head toward, and then jump in with both feet.
5. Keep Clients In Mind
You want to do the best job that you can for your clients. One agent told us, “If you don't have time for their calls and questions due to your other job, then this could negatively impact your business due to the quality of your service you provide. There will be a breaking point once you grow so big that you need to start paying more attention to your insurance business. At that point, you'll need to hire someone or go full-time.” Your clients will be the most accurate indicator of how well you’re multi-tasking.
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