NextAgency Principles: Part I

NextAgency offers brokers two powerful platforms: NextBroker is a comprehensive agency management system.  NextHR is an employee management system brokers can give to their clients for free. We’re a new, unique solution for brokers looking to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their agency and to bring additional value to their clients.

NextAgency is available now, and we’re constantly improving it with new features and tools. The platform is expanding, too. For example, we started off supporting just employee benefit agencies. Now we have tools for brokers selling individual or group coverage, benefits or property and casualty insurance, and support a number of coverage types.

Because NextAgency is evolving, we think it’s important for you to understand the principles that guide our software development and drive the company behind the platform, Take 44, Inc. We have five key principles:

  • Start with brokers: build from brokers out.
  • Don’t interfere:  broker-client relationships are paramount.
  • Empower choice: brokers and clients choose their own vendors.
  • Be realistic: don’t overpromise.
  • Protect data: offer secure systems and clear permissions.

This post explores the first two principles. The rest are explained in Part II and Part III.

Start with brokers. 

Some vendors selling software to brokers started out as PEOs, payroll companies or HR administrators. Eventually they realized the value you deliver to your clients. They changed their marketing and grafted some broker-facing tools to their existing platforms. This was smart. At the end of the day, however, they’re still PEOs, payroll companies and HR administrators.

On the other hand, NextAgency started  as an agency management system. Everything we build is centered around helping you grow your business. No big surprise there. Three of Take 44’s founders are licensed agents (and the fourth a carrier executive). Two of us are past presidents of the National Association of Health Underwriters. We not only understand what you do, we appreciate what you do. “Your Value. Our Tech. Unbeatable.” is more than our marketing statement. It’s our reason for launching NextAgency in the first place.

This focus is why NextAgency’s core component is NextBroker, the ideal agency management system for insurance brokers. Everything else builds out from NextBroker. NextHR, our employee management system helps agencies inoculate themselves from tech-centered competitors like Zenefits and Namely. However, it does more. NextHR integrates with NextBroker in ways that make both platforms better. For example, it can take days to track down the age of the third child of the twelfth employee in a company seeking medical coverage. NextAgency gets the job done in minutes. Your clients maintain their own census data so they can get you this information in a few clicks. And that’s just one example, but it’s what happens when you start off with a focus on brokers.

Don’t interfere.

With this focus, it’s only natural we help help you strengthen your relationship with prospects and clients. This means not getting between you and them. This approach is rarer than it should be. Too many health insurance companies, for example, think they “own” the groups you bring them. They’re wrong. They are your clients. Want proof? When’s the last an employer fired their benefits broker at the suggestion of their health insurance company? Yet employers fire their carriers on the advice of brokers on the first of every month.

The same holds true with software. Too many technology companies believe that once your clients start using their product, they own them. If they want to cross-sell to your clients they will, regardless of your wishes. They’re wrong and they shouldn’t. You are your clients advisor, consultant and advocate. You have the primary relationship with them.

That’s why your agency name and contact information is front and center in NextHR. That’s why when we launch NextMarket in 2018 — an online resource with products, tools and services aimed to help you and your clients grow your businesses — you control what products your clients see. For example, say we add web designers to NextMarket. If you have a preferred source for this service, no problem. You’ll have the power to remove our vendor from what your clients see. After all, they’re your clients.

Yes, this will cost us some money. Holding to principles sometimes does that. It’s a price worth paying as it reflects who we are.

At NextAgency we start with brokers and we bolster your client relationships. One of the outcomes of this approach is that we don’t force you to change who you work with and how you work with them in order to use NextAgency. That’s the topic of Part II.