Pete Yozzo remembers how 15 years ago his fellow insurance brokers competed on highly personalized services at the best prices to help clients improve the efficiency of their HR function. Now as founder and CEO of ThinkHR, he says that value proposition has since shifted to emphasize securing as many affordable tools and technologies as possible.

But the path to differentiation now hinges on ensuring that clients are actually using those resources to avoid potentially cost-prohibitive needs, such as labor attorneys, according to Yozzo. “We believe that the way to drive adoption is to start giving people data and benchmarking,” he suggests, noting how it also will help strengthen client relations.

Also see:The year in commentary: Broker commission losses and the future of healthcare.”

Brokers who find themselves spending more on tools and earning less income need to devote more time to helping their clients adopt practices that will create a more productive work environment, according to Yozzo. And by proving to be a more consultative partner, he says it also will help retain clients.

Despite having easy access to a world of information from trusted sources at a fraction of the cost, he says employer clients will still call their attorney or do Google searches “because they always have and old habits die hard.”

For example, there are technology platforms designed to help HR departments update an employee handbook, and in the process, save on considerable attorney fees or conduct online training and escape another potentially costly vendor expense.

Proper timing
Yozzo says brokers need to get in front of the issue by meeting with clients midyear when there’s no renewal just to analyze how they’re driving efficiency and benchmark those results against what others are doing in the market. His point is that clients staring down the barrel of an 18% increase in employee healthcare costs won’t have the stomach to talk about HR efficiencies.

The trouble with the host of services that technology brokers are providing employers is there’s no proof that they’re being adopted, Yozzo says. ThinkHR created a value report that brokers can bring to clients to benchmark best practices.

“Brokers are bringing more and more products to their clients that the brokers are not paying for,” Yozzo explains. “These clients have money to pay for these products. They don’t mind paying for them. But when the broker is participating in helping to drive adoption, I see that being something that is going to create higher retention and revenue opportunities for brokers, and it’s going to be driven by these technology brokers that are not equipped for the human aspect of how the market is changing.”

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