It is no secret in the insurance industry that we face a significant transition of ownership in the next 5-10 years as over half of the agency owners are nearing retirement. Historically, there has been a belief that agency owners do not need to know their value until they are ready to make that transition. In addition, many agency owners have assumed a value of 1.5x-2x revenue for their agencies without actually knowing their fair market value. This type of thinking is dangerous.
I want to change those beliefs and provide agency owners with practical examples of how knowing your value can lead to opportunities for growth, increased profitability, and an increase in your agency’s overall value in a relatively short period of time. When you marry knowledge, time and action, the impact to you, your agency and the future agency owner is significant.
1. Use the gift of time.
Knowing your value and what drives your value is powerful. The earlier you gain this understanding the more time you have to increase your agency value. If you wait to learn your agency’s fair market value just before you want to transition ownership or sell, it will just be a number that you have no ability to change. If you know your value well in advance of any transition, you give yourself options as well as the ability to take the right steps to increase your value and best position your agency for the future.
Use what you learn about your agency, your situation, risk factors that are impacting your value and the allocation of resources that currently exist inside your agency. These are all possible areas of opportunity. Once you see those opportunities you have the power to act. While every situation is different, you will be able to see how doing things like reallocating resources and investing in your agency can significantly improve your agency’s value over time. It is much like the time value of money when investing in stocks. The earlier you invest, the greater the potential return. There are several key areas where you can make investments in your agency to drive your value up, and I love to help agencies find those opportunities.
Allocate resources to invest in growth
Reduce and mitigate your risk factors
Document and implement a buy-sell agreement and perpetuation plan
Understand the tax implications of your current corporate structure
3.Have a plan.
Your agency is most likely your biggest asset and may even represent your life’s work. It needs to be protected, and the best way to do that is to have a thoughtful plan for the future. Just like your job is to help your clients understand their risks and take the steps necessary to protect themselves, their family, and their businesses, I am focused on helping you do the same with your agency. Understanding that the plan for every agency is not the same, I am able to walk you through the process, provide you with the areas of focus and help you define the plan that is right for your agency.
Find out the value of your agency as a multiple of EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization), not a multiple of revenue. You'll see why this wholistic approach is important and how you can leverage this knowledge to plan for your agency, grow and compete in the changing insurance marketplace.