Open enrollment is the busiest time of the year for benefits brokers. Things settled down after the first of the year, which is when brokers try to get reorganized in anticipation of what lies ahead. But truth be told, there is no slow season in the benefits industry – or at least there shouldn’t be. From the end of this year’s open enrollment to the start of next year’s, there is plenty of work to be done.
BenefitMall, a general agency based in Dallas, says that digital technology is making life a lot easier on brokers these days. That is good. But even going digital does not translate into having a slow season. It just means increasing efficiency. It means making a broker better at what they do.
1. Immediately Following Open Enrollment
The best way to look at a broker’s annual work calendar is to break it down into two sections: open enrollment and the rest of the year. If open enrollment is the busy time, the rest of the year is less busy. It is not slow. For example, there are things to do in the weeks immediately following the close of open enrollment.
Brokers should be following up with employers to answer any questions about new benefits packages. They should be checking in to make sure employees are not having trouble understanding their plans. Those first few weeks after open enrollment are generally filled with questions waiting to be answered.
2. Keeping an Eye on Carriers
Annual open enrollment only lasts for a couple of months. Yet insurance carriers are active year-round. Between open enrollment periods, the benefits broker has an important responsibility: keeping track of their carriers and what they are doing. The broker needs to be on the cutting edge of any new products or services. The broker should want to be in the know when current products or services are modified in any way.
3. Preparing for Next Year
The 10 months between open enrollment periods tends to go quickly. A broker who does not actively prepare during that time is likely to be caught off guard in the fall. That is not a good position to be in. The last thing a broker needs is to get a phone call from a client already looking into changing benefits for the following year and not be able to offer solid information.
4. Broker Training
In order to keep ahead of the game, brokers have to undergo regular training. Sometimes, training is as simple as participating in a one-hour webinar sponsored by a carrier. Other times it means traveling to a conference for a week of live sessions. Either way, training takes time. It pulls a broker away from other responsibilities.
5. Attending to Business Growth
Even with all these other things going on, a benefits broker has to pay attention to growing their own business. Operating on the assumption that their current book of business will remain stable all on its own generally doesn’t end well. Why? Because customers come and go. Insurance is no different from any other business in this regard.
The best brokers are continually working on growing their book of business. They are continually identifying potential customers, contacting them, and following up. They are selling new policies as much as maintaining relationships with existing clients.
If you are doing it right, there is no slow season in the benefits game. There is only extremely busy and less busy. No matter the time of year, there is always work to be done. If you are a successful broker, you already know that.