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Spend Your Day with Real-Time to Improve Your Agency Workflow, Boost Profitability

Featuring Stuart Durland, Co-Chair, Real Time Steering Committee

Posted on 23 Feb 12

Over the last few years, we’ve featured the work of the Real Time/Download Campaign to help get the word out to our agency members about this widespread industry effort. The Real Time/Download Campaign in a nutshell is “dedicated to improving the competitiveness of the independent agency distribution channel through a workflow approach that frees up more time for agencies to sell, process, and service business”.

A couple of weeks ago, we spoke with Stuart Durland, co-chair of the Real Time Steering Committee and partner and vice president of operations at Seely & Durland, an agency based in Warwick, New York. We wanted to learn about Real-Time Day, a web-based event that’s taking place on Wednesday, February 29.

Annie George (AG): Let’s first discuss the progress Real Time has made during the last year or so.

Stuart Durland (SD): “Real Time has been growing in both Personal and Commercial Lines. Of course, everyone involved – from the user groups to the vendors – want it to grow even faster, which is why we’re putting on events like a national Real-Time Day. We want a much broader buy-in from all of the independent agents and carriers.

“Real-Time Day is a means to spread the word, emphasizing what the campaign is all about, showing it in action, and highlighting the players who are actively involved. In addition, it’s an opportunity to get those who aren’t involved to really take a closer look at what Real Time can do for our industry, their agency or company, and to step up to the plate.”

AG: What do you think the roadblocks have been to getting everyone in our industry involved in Real Time?

SD: “First, many agents don’t know what tools are available, and if they don’t know about them, they won’t know how to get them to work. Then it’s simply the sheer number of independent agents and the many different carriers they represent that have to get involved. For example, in my agency alone, we have 14 companies with which we conduct business in real time at varying degrees of implementation. I have several companies that offer real time on billing and policy inquiry but not on rating; other companies provide rating on a bridge format but not on a round-trip basis, while another carrier is doing round-trip rating and endorsement processing in real time. All of this is leading towards the ultimate goal of improving workflow, but you can see that with just my agency it’s at different stages.

“You need more of a global grasp and everyone saying that Real Time is the right thing to do and let’s invest the resources to do so. The bottom line is that once all or most agencies utilize Real Time to some extent in their operations, they’re going to be more efficient, their workflows will improve, they’ll experience expense savings, and have more opportunity to write additional business.”

AG: Tell us about Real-Time Day and its purpose.

SD: “Real-Time Day will bring together all the major vendors, users groups, and many carriers to conduct webinars (live and recorded) on how Real Time and Download tools can help streamline workflows and boost profitability. The first half hour we’ll go over what people can expect throughout the day, and where they can go to access the web broadcasts.

“The webinars will be segmented into two parts to ensure that agents located on both Coasts can participate. There will be set times for hour-long webinars by the automation vendors and user groups so that agents can access those sessions relevant to them. For example, there will be scheduled demonstrations by Applied Systems, Vertafore, etc., and user group discussions from ASCnet, NetVU, etc. The webinars will include Q&A sessions.

“We’re also planning to have many carriers talking about what they’re offering to agencies. If you want to learn about a specific company you represent and what they’re doing to facilitate Real Time, you click on that webinar.

“In essence, throughout the day there will be an informational flow being broadcast on Real Time.”

All panel discussions will be recorded and posted on Real Time will also be reviewing twitter feeds throughout the day and working them into the studio events where possible.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, February 29th, and get real…