Building Your Own Medicare Agency with Charline Covington-Plerqui
In just six years, Charline Covington-Plerqui has built a massive Medicare agency entirely on referral partnerships, personal touch, the right software, and a lot of hard work. She shares how she became the local go-to Medicare referral partner for group health agents and financial planners. She later breaks down her AEP process step-by-step to share how she services hundreds of clients as the only licensed agent in her agency.
Why Charline started her own agency
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to making decisions, especially when those decisions involve such a sensitive topic as Medicare. For Charline, she realized that she could best help people by empowering them to make their own decisions, based on the knowledge she had acquired through her years of experience in the insurance industry.
Charline's defining moment came when she was working as a Medicare sales rep standing at a booth in a supermarket, trying to sell insurance to people who were just trying to buy groceries. She knew this wasn’t the way she wanted to help people with Medicare.
“It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like I could give them the personalization that they need for such a sensitive topic when I’m standing in a crowded supermarket.”
This is when she decided to start her own agency, PTI Consulting. PTI stands for “Personal Touch Insurance”, which embodies the way that Charline works with her clients. By engaging with clients on a more personal level, she is able to provide them with the individualized attention they need to make the best decision for their Medicare coverage and feel at ease with the process.
Charline has worked in insurance since 2002 across group health insurance, working at a Medicare carrier,
The referral partner flywheel
When she thinks about marketing, Charline admits, “I’m not a good sales person”. However, she is very good at educating people and building trust, so she knew she had to build her business in a way that leveraged her strength in relationship building.
When Charline left her prior company to start her own agency, she didn't have to go out and look for new referral partners. As soon as the word was out, her past colleagues from her group health insurance agency were more than happy to continue working with her and referring retiring clients to her. From there, it snowballed. CPAs and other insurance professionals who knew Charline started to send clients to her.
“I never had to ask for referrals because my work spoke for me. Naturally, when one person worked with me and saw I wasn’t your typical cookie cutter insurance broker, they’d start telling everyone else.”
She has found that by providing a high level of service and being genuine in her interactions, people frequently refer their friends and family to her. This has allowed her to build a thriving business that is entirely referral-based.
Delivering on personal touch
Charline’s goal is to send 3 personal touches to each client per year.
“The name of my business is PTI Consulting. It stands for Personal Touch Insurance, so my motto is to always personalize it to make it a little less daunting.”
Despite being a high-tech Medicare agent, Charline still takes the time to send handwritten cards to her referral partners and clients. Whether it is a birthday card, a sympathy card, or just a general thank you card, these cards let her clients know that she cares about them and is thinking of them. This simple gesture shows that she cares about her relationships and is willing to go the extra mile to show her appreciation.
Charline creates a personalized magazine that she mails out to her client base 2 times per year. The magazine includes recipes, games, and a personalized thank you from her. Her clients absolutely love receiving this magazine from her, and it keeps her name top of mind.
Charline uses software to make her service more personal, not less. For example, Charline uses a CRM (customer relationship management) called AgencyBloc to help keep track of her clients' information and take notes on the things that matter to her clients, like a new puppy or the birth of a grandchild.
She also uses a quoting system called Search and Save, which helps her quickly find and quote medication prices for her clients to ensure that she’s considering a wide number of plans and checking the coverage of each and every drug. By using these technology tools, Charline is able to work more efficiently and provide a better service to her clients.
Charline’s website has a form where clients can input their information and the data integrates with her CRM. It saves her a tremendous amount of time so she can focus her client calls on discussing plan options.
The result? It takes 10 to 15 minutes per client for Charline to run a quote and email the client back with their options. These tools make Charline more efficient, and she can reinvest that time back into personalizing service for her clients.
Charline truly loves her work.
“It’s a rare thing to work and enjoy what you do.”