When I was in college, my close friend Tom and I would occasionally debate over the food joints near our dorms. A Virginia native, he would tout Five Guys as the best burger place, whereas I would champion Fuddruckers. We’d also discuss fast food: which of their dollar menus was best for a college kid? Who had the best “gourmet” burgers for a fast food place? And who had the best overall food lineup?
One day while we were in the middle of a heated discussion about who had the best fries, another friend chimed in and said, “I don’t get it guys. They are all practically the same. Burgers and fries, no matter where you go.”
As the uninvited comment rang through my ears, I was incredulous:
However, now that I’m older and wiser, I can see where the guy was coming from. From a distance, all burger places pretty much do the exact same thing: serve tasty burgers and fries.
After all, if they aren’t delicious, they’ll go out of business.
These burger places are all pretty much doing the same thing, and offering one similar key service.
But if you dive in deeper, how these companies go about their business is drastically different.
For example, no one would say Five Guys and McDonalds sell the same thing. Yes, both sell burgers and fries, but their methods are completely different.
Sometimes when I’m talking to agents, they’ll tell me that Firefly seems to be pretty much the same as another cluster or aggregator that they’ve researched.
On the one hand, they are right – at the core, we and our competitors offer one key service: helping agents get appointed with independent insurance companies.
But how we do it is so different.
You can read about how our system and results are different than our competitors. Which of these things interests you the most?
Firefly really is different. But that’s not the purpose of this article, so you can read about the differences here.
The advice that I would give to you if you’re considering starting an independent agency with a cluster, network, aggregator, or on your own, would be to determine what you want. Here are some things that most agents tell me they want:
- They don’t want to start out with a storefront or office
- Binding authority with carriers
- Many high-quality carriers, so they can be competitive
- Little or no production required to maintain a carrier contract
- Ability to sell in multiple states
- Grow their own book
- Have outside appointments
- Their name on the dec pages
- The ability to write commercial insurance
- And MANY other things
I once spoke to an agent who had no idea what he wanted. It was… difficult to help him.
If you don’t know what you want, AND if you think all of your options are “pretty much the same,” then you’re at a huge risk of ending up at a White Castle when you wanted Red Robin.
One of the best ways to figure out what you want is to ask lots of questions. If you’re serious about going independent, check out this article for some questions you should be asking, so you can make the decision that’s best for you.