Plenty of agents sell from home, and since COVID-19, many agents have embraced remote insurance sales.
According to a survey cited by the Insurance Journal, 68% of insurance professionals want to work from home at least half the time. Only 15% want to work full-time in an office.
While working from home sounds nice in theory, there's a certain amount of professionalism that comes with an office location, and some clients may expect it.
We hit the streets and asked 8 experienced Medicare agents: do you really need a physical office space to sell insurance in 2022?
1. I prefer meeting clients in their home, and I have a dedicated home office space.
Angie Petts, licensed sales representative for 42 years
I have office space in my home and have been working from home for the past 15 years. It's a dedicated space, and I spend a lot of time within my office to track and monitor all my business.
I believe it's critical to have the space and equipment necessary to work from home, including a phone, fax, printer, scanner, and so forth. It allows us to transact business at our convenience and still feel professional without a brick and mortar office.
My preference is not to meet clients at my home, but to meet them within their home. Meeting clients for appointments (without a pandemic) gives me the opportunity to see their life from their perspective and in their home environment.
I've been in the business for 42 years now, and it was a struggle in the beginning. You have to develop relationships with your clients and do what you say you'll do in order to build trust and respect. The leads and referrals are so much easier when your clients know you care. Referrals are the key to success.
2. It's easier to separate business from distractions with a physical office space.
Michael Sams, licensed sales agent and Director of Sales Training and Development here at New Horizons
It's extremely helpful to have a physical office space, but not completely necessary. Speaking from my own experience, when I get to my office, it's easy to separate business from distractions. It’s also great to walk away and have that clean separation between home life and work.
On the other hand, I'm aware of others who do just fine without having a physical office space. But for me, I still believe it's better to stay organized and keep that clean separation with the work/life balance.
For agents trying to decide whether to get an office space or to work from home, I would encourage them to find someone who is successfully following a routine or system and model it. I feel like I have tried several ideas and approaches, and in the end, following someone and their systems that are proven successful is a lot better than trying to reinvent the wheel.
If your mentor has an office space and they are successful, that is a huge advantage. If your mentor is very successful and they don’t have an office outside of the home, then model their system and stick to it.
I know I seem like I’m on the fence, but if you forced me to pick, I would recommend having an office outside of the home.
3. Working from home requires discipline and consistency, but it gives me a sense of professionalism.
Wanda Snead, licensed, independent insurance producer with 2 years of experience
I have a room in my home fully equipped as an office (i.e. furniture, filing cabinets, printers, desktop, etc.) that I consider physical office space. My business is conducted remotely, but I hold regular office hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment after 5 p.m. in this space.
I operate six days per week and I'm up and dressed in business attire each day, as I do most of my client encounters via Zoom.
I believe you need a physical office space to sell insurance. I track clients, appointments, leads, and financial expenditures each day and require a designated area for efficiency purposes. I will sell on the fly if a client catches me away from home, but everything I need to be thorough is in the office. It also gives me a sense of professionalism and keeps me organized.
Working from home requires discipline and consistency. A home office can be a major distraction without routine. The entire household must understand that the space designated as "office" must be treated and respected as such. Just because I'm working from home doesn't mean I can run emergency errands, have long disruptive conversations with family and friends, or allow life issues to interfere.
You discipline yourself to work as if you were in an outside office. I don't recommend it for those who need accountability or others to get the job done. If I find myself waning in accountability, I'll schedule 8 a.m. meetings to ensure I get up at 6:30 a.m. to be prepped and ready to enter the office at 7:30. I schedule regular breaks, lunch, and time to exercise to keep from sitting too long.
The other side of this is to stick to your stop time as much as possible or you'll find yourself there for 12 hours. So, when deciding to work remotely or in a physical office with others, I say: "to thine own self be true."
4. Insurance knowledge and caring about customer's needs matters, not an office space.
Tyler Petersen, agency owner with 3 years of experience
I don't currently have an office space, and I don't think having a physical office space is necessary to have success in this business.
We do a lot of our appointments at customers' homes. I think in this day and age, that is a personal touch they appreciate. With the ever-changing COVID environment, it allows customers to be able to stay in the comfort of their home and still be able to have the necessary conversations to make informed decisions on their insurance needs.
I think when people understand that you have the knowledge about insurance and care about their needs and interests, that is what matters, not necessarily a physical office space.
My advice to agents weighing the pros and cons of an office space is to think about if it helps you take care of current customers. Would an office location truly help you get new customers or not?
It's about taking care of existing customers the best you can and growing your business.
5. A physical office helps validate your market presence, even if it's not needed.
Kelly Wheeler, agency owner with 16 years of insurance experience
We have an office space, but my husband and I have done both—worked from home and worked from the office. I prefer working in an office setting.
I am much more productive at the office than I am at home! I don't think you need a physical office to sell insurance, but I think it helps validate your market presence.
I know many people are working from home now, so it might be more practical to do that. You have to know yourself and what motivates you to get your work done.
6. Educational seminars are a great way to meet new prospects—no need for a physical office!
Joren Kaiser, agency owner with 33 years in the business
I don't have a physical office space. You don't necessarily need a physical location, but it never hurts to have that as an option. Because of COVID, I think people are now more comfortable doing business over the phone.
That being said, I've met people face-to-face at my public library for Social Security/Medicare seminars and then closed business via phone and internet.
Educational seminars or professional referrals are a great way to meet new prospects that are then comfortable completing transactions remotely. There's no need for a physical office.
7. An office space affords me the privacy to talk with my clients.
Patty Gogerty, licensed insurance agent for 30+ years
I have a physical office space. I think I need it, because it affords me the privacy to talk with my clients and discuss things they may not want other people to hear. It's the way I have always done business, so it’s easy for me.
I think COVID has changed a lot about the way agents operate. I do more over-the-phone sales now than I ever have before.
If you're disciplined enough and have the space to work at home, I would do it. Most companies are eliminating paperwork, and you can do most applications online. But if your clients want to see you face-to-face, it’s better to have the physical office space.
8. To succeed, you need to be out on the road running appointments.
Russell Meskimen, independent agent for 15 years
I have an office in our detached garage. I don’t have clients come here; it’s just impossible to work inside the house with two small kids.
[Saying or thinking] you need a physical office space to sell insurance is [nonsense]. In my opinion, sitting around an office waiting for clients to come to you is lazy. To succeed, you need to be out on the road running appointments at least 3 days a week.
However, you do need a space away from your spouse and kids to get work done.
Before we built our new house, I rented a cheap space in my friend's law office for many years. It was his really small storage room. I didn’t need anything fancy. Just a place to make calls and set appointments. Remember: most of my time is spent running appointments.
I’ve been in the business for 15 years and have never had a client come to me.
So, do you need a physical office space? The answer is really up to you!
An office location allows to have a clear separation from work and home life. It also gives your clients a dedicated place to visit for appointments, which can bring a lot of professionalism to your agency.
If you prefer to service clients in their home and have room for a home office, you may not need a physical office location (or the expense of one).
Plus, with most carriers offering e-Applications and remote signature options, you can likely do everything from the comfort of your home and enjoy the tax deductions that come with it.
What's your take? Share in the comments below: do you think you need an office space to sell insurance in 2022?