Young Agent Spotlight: John Lapointe at Lapointe Insurance Agency

How did you get into insurance?

My grandfather established our agency in the 1960s. Later, my father joined the agency as a producer, and my aunt led the operations. My aunt and father expanded the agency by bringing in more commercial accounts throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

I grew up close to the office, but I wanted to gain experience outside the family business. I attended Boston College and graduated in 2015. I worked as a fundraiser for Massachusetts General Hospital. Fundraising shares similarities to sales, including the cultivation of lasting relationships.

Ultimately, I did not want to fundraise for a career, so I turned to my father for advice and potentially a job at the agency. At first, he said no, telling me to stick with my job at the hospital. I buckled down and focused on my job, receiving a promotion soon after.

Still, I knew this was not what I wanted, so I returned to my father to speak about becoming an insurance agent. He reluctantly agreed and told me earn my license. To start, he then sent me a lead list of businesses in the area. I pounded the pavement for the first nine months. This was a challenging experience, but I found I enjoyed the work and quickly learned how to speak to people about insurance.

How does being a third-generation agent impact your work?

I had an interesting interaction at my first industry conference. A carrier representative called me a SOAP (Son of an Agency Principal). The words stung, but I could see where he was getting at. This comment inspired me to work harder and build off our agency’s legacy.

I started to realize there were areas that our third-generation agency could improve. I first built out our digital presence. This broadened our reach to new potential customers. I also began to look at different ways of funneling new business opportunities to our agency. There was a clear niche for serving first-time homebuyers. These were people that were close to my age, and I was able to relate to them easily.

Can you speak more about your niche?

I started to look at other agency models for inspiration. The agents I spoke to were incredible. They offered feedback that helped me improve my new sales model. I realized I had to create a culture that respected the history of the agency, while adopting the techniques and personality of the present.

I began networking with mortgage lenders and found ways to refine our processes to make purchasing insurance simple. As an established agency, we already had strong carrier markets and knowledge of the business, but these relationships brought us to a new level.

How has your technology changed to support your business strategy?

Technology has helped us overcome several challenges. Account servicing quickly began to restrict our ability to scale. We are bringing on 600 new accounts a month, and historically every CSR/account manager would manage 1,200 accounts. This would mean we’d have to continually onboard new team members to support our growth.

We remedied this through virtual assistants. We have an extended team based in the Philippines. They are incredible and can help us with much of the processing work like endorsements, mortgagee changes, etc.

Our agency management system (AMS) is also critical to our operations. We use a commercially available AMS. We are very happy with the company, and as a small business, they help us remain competitive by helping us offer more to our clients. There are many different plug-ins that we can employ that help us fill any gaps. Also, this year we are setting up a mobile app through our AMS. It will be a great way to offer self-service to our younger clients.

We leverage our insurer partners’ service centers. In many ways, the service center can provide better assistance to our clients that we can. Service centers have more resources, and their staff are multi-lingual. Some people may be put off by not being able to speak to their agent. However, these people are not our target market. We believe that we still provide great service—just in a different way.

Do you have any advice for new agents entering the business?

Be yourself. This is the same piece of advice I share with new producers I hire. People fall flat when you are trying to be something you are not. Sure, not everyone is going to like you—that is okay.

My second piece of advice is to look around and see what other agents are doing to be successful. Often, these agents are open to providing advice. We have a great industry, and we can learn from each other to become better.

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