Chris Barredo studied telecommunications management at Devry Institute. Mainly, he went to college to pacify his parents, but never worked in the area of internet technology. Instead, after graduation, he began working at Enterprise in a managerial role. He sold protection plans, rented out cars and managed a team of agents. He then got a job at the Auto Club of Southern California (AAA).
AAA paid for Barredo’s training and insurance licensing. For two years, he learned all the skills needed to excel in selling insurance and ranked #1 out of 13 new agents both years. Eventually, Barredo was promoted to insurance business manager and oversaw a team of 10 to 15 people at a time. He stayed with AAA as a manager for three more years.
In 2011, Barredo pursued his dream of becoming an agency owner by beginning a training program with State Farm. He sought out State Farm because the carrier always ranked #1 for customer service and for having the most policyholders. “I wanted to be a part of that,” Barredo says.
Barredo breezed through the training program and was very quickly given the opportunity to open his own business. When he opened his agency doors as a scratch agent, he had a three-person team of full-time agents, paid for by his bonus from State Farm, but no leads. His previous experience at AAA was much different, with people buying policies after a DMV service visit or other type of walk-in. For his new agency, he needed to buy insurance leads.
“I’ve used insurance leads since we opened,” Barredo says. “State Farm recommended some vendors, and a few agents recommended others.” In the beginning, Barredo was buying both auto calls and data leads, trying out two vendors at a time. He had starts and stops because of the poor quality of the leads.
“I couldn’t find a lead vendor with good service,” Barredo explains. “I had such a hard time getting a hold of anyone who could help me, so it was a waste of time. I then got referred to SmartFinancial, and it’s been like night and day. My account manager is now my only point of contact, and he is easy to get a hold of. The quality of the leads is good, too. We are closing 250 auto policies a month right now. One month we reached 300!”
Barredo’s agency averages at a $70 cost per acquisition (CPA), and they buy and share roughly 300 leads a month. The average premium the agency sells is $600. Barredo says he makes a profit from renewals too, and now that he’s been selling for quite some time, he’s seeing a higher number of renewals.
His agency ranked #12 out of 3000 State Farm agencies based on premiums. Barredo credits his staff for the success: “I have a great team that provides great customer service. We’re very accessible and get back to people right away,” he says.
Barredo’s 2024 goal is to write at least 2,000 new auto policies by focusing on digital publishing and marketing at supermarkets and on social media. He also expects a high number of client referrals. He’s been a top producer for the 12 years he’s been with State Farm and plans to continue growing quickly.
“I have four team members, all full time and fully licensed,” Barredo says. “I’m hiring new team members now too. My aim is to have six full-time agents and to close a lot of leads!”
Chris Barredo’s 6 Golden Tips for Insurance Agents
- Be accessible for live transfers. Take the call as soon as it comes in. If you don’t get the call, because you didn’t pause it, call, text and email to get a hold of them right away.. You can close lots of policies this way.
- Follow-up is essential. A lot of times you don’t close on the first call. Follow up consistently and you’ll close more policies that way.
- Sell yourself. Be a kind person and answer questions. Even if they don’t qualify with your carrier, you can x-date when the points fall off their records, three years after a ticket. We always follow up, and they appreciate that we remembered them.
- Have a good CRM. We have a great CRM through State Farm, which is a system that helps you stay organized. Organization leads to efficiency.
- A lot of shoppers like to do business through text messages. If you can use your phone to your advantage, do it.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals, especially if the customer seems very happy with your work.