Last month, 650 independent insurance agency owners gathered in Las Vegas for INNOVAT19N, the annual conference hosted by IAOA (Insurance Agency Owners Alliance). This is a great group and an amazing conference that is highly anticipated and very well attended. What started as a Facebook group to connect independent agents has grown into a force within the industry. The conference is very unique for a variety of reasons. While being in Vegas has some perks from a fun perspective, the value of this conference by far supersedes the location.
The number one rule to even join the Facebook group is that you must be an agency owner. There are no vendors, carriers, or even employees allowed in the group. This is also true of the attendees of the conference. Although there is a vendor hall, all of the attendees are agency owners. This allows for some amazing discussions outside of the sessions. Everyone is there to learn and to help others. Because they are all agency owners, they share a common and unique experience. The opportunity to meet agency owners from around the country, share ideas, and seek solutions for common (and uncommon) agency issues is at the top of the list for many attendees as the reason for attending.
The idea that everyone is an agency owner extends to the speakers. There were well over 30 speakers with topics ranging from leadership and organization, to servicing and selling insurance, to automation and technology. Since all of the speakers are also agency owners, they were speaking about their direct experience with the topic. These are industry leaders from around the country coming to share their knowledge with other agency owners! While there are some insurance focused topics, the focus of most of the discussions is about running your business. My favorite topics were on branding, the future of the industry, and building a sales culture. For smaller agency owners, there were some items specifically targeted to budgeting for a smaller agency or creating a successful strategy for your scratch agency.
IAOA has developed an amazing network of vendors; many of whom have discounts available through IAOA. Also, many of the vendors were in attendance at the vendor hall. What makes this vendor hall somewhat unique is that these vendors reflect the progressive nature of the agents in attending and are therefore typically more forward thinking. The vendors aren’t restricted by region or having to pick which state association events to attend. It really is the best collection of products and services suited to help you improve your agency.
At Agency Performance Partners and Agency Appeal, we chose to be a vendor partner for IAOA and attend the conference because our ideal client profile matches up well with the typical IAOA member and conference attendee.
There were agents from at least seven Massachusetts agents including two of the speakers. Although they were able to connect with agents around the county, it was also an opportunity to network in a different setting with some closer agents. Many times when I would run into a MA agent, they were with another MA agent.
From my perspective, this is at the top of the list of national conferences to be considered for an independent agency. You’ll meet like-minded people who are either in your shoes or have been in your shoes. There is an incredible sharing of knowledge not only from the speakers but amongst the attendees as well. Honestly, this conference would hold tremendous value even if there wasn’t a speaker program! It’s also a really fun group of people! Joining the group is free and easy; just go to www.facebook.com/groups/IAOAlliance/ to join. You can also visit www.iaoa.com to learn more about the group and about next year’s conference, INNOVAT20N! If you’d like to chat with a Massachusetts agent in the group, please let me know. I know of 20 members that would be happy to chat!
More about this week’s InsurOp-Ed Author
David Siekman is a Performance Consultant with New England-based Agency Performance Partners. An accomplished sales professional, he has more than 15+ years of experience directly managing sales and marketing teams and is passionate about creating a superior customer experience.
He places a strong focus on revenue generating activities and driving organic growth utilizing traditional and digital marketing and sales techniques built on a perspective gained from working for a carrier and independent agencies. “My career has led me through different opportunities in operations, service, marking, and sales. All tasks that I have taken on are focused on creating a positive customer experience while working within the constraints of tight budgets and limited resources.”
By helping independent agents build and maintain effective and efficient processes focused on people, process, and systems, he helps agents to create a “wow” experience for clients that goes well beyond simple customer service.
To learn more about Mr. Siekman, you may want to refer to Agency Checklists’ June 19, 2018 interview with him entitled, “Inspiring Excellence & Increased Sales For Independent Insurance Agents & Agencies in Massachusetts.” To get in touch with Mr. Siekman, he can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.