An effective strategy for marketing to insurance agents is beneficial because in the end, a percentage of agencies will make referrals and often are connected to their clients.
"At 1Collision Network, we have programs that we use to get in front of the agents and build relationships with them," Keller said. "The biggest concern for any insurance agent is retaining their customers because they rely on those renewals, along with new customers, each year to grow their business. We believe marketing to agents is a necessary component to a solid marketing [strategy]."
In the end, shops must address all parties involved---the consumer, the repairer, the insurer and the OE---when it comes to their marketing, public relations and advertising, Keller explained.
"Yes, the OEs are becoming more important now, but the insurance companies aren't going away. To be successful, we must cater to all parties involved, and to leave any of them out of the loop is short-sighted. Good companies adapt and change as the market changes and continually seek new methods and techniques to increase their visibility," he said.
Interacting with insurance agents remains an effective way to connect with them and harvest referrals, but that approach has changed as well.
"Meeting with insurance agents and bringing them donuts is not effective anymore," Keller said. "We continue to have a strategy with the agents and make sure that we get enough touches per year with them because they're the front line when it comes to the customers. We focus more on conveying a strong, relevant message through our marketing, and the results have been very positive. We stress things like driving safety education, CE classes and the dangers of distracted driving programs, rather than social media messages about how to make the best cookies or what breed of dog is the best to buy. 1Collision has also developed a simple and effective policy retention program for agents that involves making the customer feel special, on behalf of the agent, upon completion of the repairs at the point of delivery at the collision center. This has proved to increase agent loyalty and in turn, referrals."