Yvette Melendrez made a dramatic career move when she became a Farmers insurance agent. For many years she was a school psychologist, but when schools closed due to COVID-19, she began looking for a better opportunity for her family. She continues to work part-time as a school psychologist, and owning an agency within a 5-mile radius of the charter schools she serves helps her set up a flexible schedule.
“I do the testing for special education, for children who may have learning disabilities and/or emotional difficulties,” Melendrez explains. “I then write psychological reports based on the testing data and present each one to a committee that includes a principal, teacher and parent. I provide recommendations on how we should accommodate the student to ensure academic success.”
Prior to working as a school psychologist, Melendrez worked in insurance, even while she was studying for her bachelors and masters degrees. It was an easy transition, going back to what she already knew. When she decided to open her agency last year in August, she brought on her family.
“My husband was working six days a week as a manager at a car dealership, where he worked for 17 years, so he brought many leads from that alone. He now works on the phones and provides training in sales. My daughter also works here too, and she is getting licensed soon. She’s a senior in high school and is graduating in May so she will be an additional licensed agent. Right now, she makes calls from the cold call list and then transfers leads to one of the agents here.”
In addition to two agents, Melendrez has two full-time telemarketers. They are also working towards licensing soon so Melendrez will have three licensed agents.
Starting out, Melendrez was on her own for three or four months because she opened her agency while finishing the Farmers training. She had many referrals from family and friends and the leads from her husband’s last job so she taught herself everything so she could start selling right away.
After exhausting her warm market, Yvette explains that she needed to add more prospects to her pipeline: “We purchased cold calls lists, and we have Smart Financial live transfers for auto and home as well as another lead source from Farmers that we use here and there. SmartFinancial’s live transfers are great: the leads are ready to go so we just jump on the phone and try to help them!”
Everyone in Melendrez’s office is set up with SmartFinancial. They work off a shared spreadsheet, so she sees who everyone is working on. “If we miss a call,” she says, “we call back right away. If they don’t answer, I have my people call two to three times a day. We also text and have a cell phone just for customers. If we do make contact, we run through the numbers and discounts and we thoroughly explain coverages. We then follow up the next week to make sure they get a refund from the previous carrier before we charge them. We also follow up to make sure they have documents and are set up on the Farmers app.”
The hustle doesn’t stop there for Melendrez. She’s also been relying on sales from the apartment complexes nearby, where she drops off flyers regularly. By building relationships with the apartment community, Melendrez is ahead of the game.
“When tenants come to rent,” she explains, “we’re listed as the company to contact for renters insurance. We’ll go there and meet with the tenant and agents to sell policies. Half of the clients end up buying auto insurance.”
Her strategies may seem straightforward, but not skipping steps and making every effort is paying off for the entire Melendrez family.
5 Golden Tips for Agents from Yvette Melendrez
Build rapport and build relationships. I try to make sure they understand everything. People sometimes don’t even know what insurance they have. I take time to go through the whole coverage and why they need or don’t need it. Customers like that.
Invest in leads. The expense is worth it. You can get a lot of sales this way.
Follow-up. People appreciate you spending time with them, and it makes them consider switching.
Deal with the Rejection. You can’t help everybody. Thank prospects, and tell them to reach out if they change their mind. We ask if we can follow up in six months or a year, depending on when their policy ends.
Get on Social media. Let’s face it, social media is huge. Get yourself out there. Get friends and family to share your posts on their pages. We do a lot of videos on social media, mainly on our Facebook business page. I pay to boost my ads. I usually get two or three calls from a video.