Benefits Brokers for Small Business: How to Hire the Right Benefits Broker
As a small business, you’ve got to make the most of the resources available. Whether operating as a lean team, on a tight budget, or both, who you partner with matters more than ever. Finding the right employee benefits broker can not only help you offer competitive benefits while staying within your budget but serve as a true extension of your team.
Even when zooming in on brokers with experience working with small businesses, businesses are often still overwhelmed with choices. With so many brokers available, how can you truly know which broker is right for you?
Our benefits experts broke down how to hire the right broker in a step-by-step guide so you can easily make the right decision for your organization.
First, define your needs and goals
Before you can even find a benefits broker, you need to first decide what types of benefits you need for your employees and the role that benefits will play in your talent strategy.
The best place to start is to look at your employee population and assess their needs. You can do this by examining prior utilization and survey data.
Looking at benchmarking data in your area and industry can also provide you with invaluable insight into what other companies are doing.
While you don’t need to mirror the competition, tablestakes offerings include the big three: medical, dental, and vision. Any additional perks will come down to what will be best used by your team and the budget available.
Consider using a broker who specializes in working with small businesses
While a big-name brokerage may seem like a no-brainer at first, clout doesn’t always mean that incentives and resources will be aligned. Being a small fish in a big brokerage pond may not give you access to the personalized, one-on-one guidance and support your employer may need, especially as you’re likely to be an HR team of one.
Hone in on brokerages that have experience working with small businesses. If you’re unsure, ask pontential brokers for case studies, testimonials, and references that reflect your company size, goals, and industry. These skilled brokers will have more experience dealing with businesses like yours, making them better equipped to do more with less.
Make a list of potential broker candidates
You don’t have to scour the internet for hours to develop your shortlist. There are three great points of research to use when creating your list of dream brokers. First, get recommendations from your peers in HR, then seek out contributors to benefits trade publications you trust, and lastly, ask your preferred benefits vendors for their recommendations.
The best broker’s name might come up in one or more of each of the previous categories. When a broker is contributing to publications and is beloved by both HR teams and benefits vendors, they are likely quick to go above and beyond the call of duty to get the best plan for all parties involved.
Run a thoughtful RFP process
You’ve got a gameplan, you have a list of potential brokers – now it’s time to learn more. The RFP process is the best way to weigh your options and make sure you have chosen the right broker for your needs before signing a contract.
Make sure you build your RFP questions so you get the answers and data you need to make an informed decision. Shameless plug, but we offer an RFP Roadmap that features a free plug-and-play template that makes it easy to get all the information you need before making your final decision.
Ask for references from previous clients that are of a similar size or industry, and/or have similar needs
While an RFP will likely tell you a lot of this information, numbers only say so much. People, specifically other small business owners and clients of your top brokers, will be able to offer insights that data points simply cannot.
Investigate each broker's experience, credentials, and rates to find the one that best fits your needs. Remember that the broker with the most experience and credentials may not necessarily be the right person to work with your business’s individual needs.
Finally, choose a broker who can support you year-round
A decent broker should be available to answer questions during renewal season. A truly remarkable broker should support their small business client’s small HR teams year-round.
They should work as a team player, feeling more like a member of staff than a consultant, and they should make benefits easy with proactive support that’s tailored to your unique needs.
Ready to connect with the right benefits broker for you? Talk to one of our experts today to schedule a free consultation.