One of the toughest tasks for any agency manager is determining how much work a staff person should be able to handle. Workloads in either extreme can lead to frustration and lost productivity. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers but, in this article, our agency management gurus take a stab at some of the factors that should be considered and “on average” what some of the numbers may look like.
Recently, we received the following question that has perplexed agency owners and managers for years: “Do you have any statistics as to the volume (policies and premiums) that a CSR (commercial and personal) can handle and still do an efficient job?”
This is similar to questions like, “How much is my agency worth?” and “How much should I pay my producers?” The answer is: It depends. How automated is the agency? Do you use transactional filing? What is your business mix? How experienced is the CSR? Does the CSR handle claims? Is the CSR responsible for any inside sales? And the list goes on. There are no simple answers, but our agency management gurus take a stab at the issues below.
Faculty Response…
There is no doubt that you will get info from all over the map on this one. Here’s my take based on the following criteria (which, unfortunately in some cases, are typical of many agencies):

* Automated agency.
* Transactional filing.
* 90% standard business.
* No service center involvement.
* Upload/download data with carriers (particularly PL).
* 3 to 5 years experience for CSR.
* Separate claims department.
* Little or no sales accountabilities other than the normal “round if you can.”

Personal Lines
The CSR should be able to handle $100,000 to $125,000 of commission income to the agency. This normally equates to 950 to 1200 accounts…not policies, but accounts. We are figuring, on a national average, that there are approximately 1.7 policies per account.
Commercial Lines
The CSR should be able to handle $200,000 to $300,000 in commission to the agency. This amount can go as high as $500,000 depending on the makeup of accounts.

Small commercial accounts are usually targeted at $10,000 of premium and less. We see the average agency CSR handling about $125,000 to $150,000 of commission income for these accounts.
Mid-sized usually over $10,000 of premium and under $100,000. The average agency CSR is handling $200,000 or more of commission to the agency.
Large/Jumbo accounts…these range in premium of $100,000 to ???
The CSR can handle $300,000 or more depending on how many accounts are involved.

I have one agency client with a very experienced CSR handling $600,000 of commission income with only THREE accounts. Hard to tell what or how these can distort the averages.
Faculty Response…
Without being facetious, but as you put it, “It depends on……..” In personal lines, the answer can vary from $75,000-$300,000. In commercial lines, the answer can vary from $100,000 to $500,000.
Faculty Response…
Much depends on the automation level, job functions, etc. In fully automated agencies (no need for paper files in daily transactions) we can get up to 500 customers/CSR in commercial lines and up to 1,500 customers/CSR in personal lines. This assumes that the CSR is responsible for front-end work (customer generated contacts) with an administrative assistant responsible for back-end work (checking policies, etc).
Faculty Response…
It depends on the size of the accounts, the quality of the information provided by producers, the agency’s procedures and automation status, the source of new business, and the agency’s hit ratio on new business (and of course, the amount of new business quoted). These factors cause the range to be so large and any average without qualification is all but useless. In personal lines, the commission volume can range from $50,000 to $400,000. In commercial, the range can be from $50,000 to $500,000. Many CSRs with $100,000 commission books work much harder than CSRs working $300,000 books.

If the agency wants a definitive answer, I strongly suggest they complete an Agency Operations Analysis.

(from IA Magazine 9/2011)

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