Lüftner Head Office Agency: Young, informal, digital...

People & stories, 18.05.2017

The Lüftner Head Office Agency in Wendelstein near Nuremberg is trying out new ways to communicate with clients. The agency team is fast, pragmatic and approachable. And it can be reached at any time, thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp – even very early in the morning.

Benjamin Lüftner’s voice and laughter ring out into the corridor: “You just can’t top that song!” He’s talking about the music playing, by the 90s pop starlet “Blümchen”. She’s warbling away  her only hit “Herz an Herz” at full volume. Sound check at the Lüftner Head Office Agency. The boss wants to test what the speakers have in them.

The team moved into new offices at the start of the year. At the other end of the corridor, just a few metres from a shopping centre in Wendelstein near Nuremberg. And yet some things have certainly changed here. The new premises bear the signature of Benjamin Junior, who took over the management of the agency two years ago from his father Reinhold. “There are outdoor loungers here in summer,” the young boss explains, pointing at the large balcony. “And this is our social media workplace.”

Lounge? Social Media? The Lüftner agency has been rejuvenated. Suits and ties remain hanging in the wardrobe. Customers contact them by WhatsApp (Tel. 00 49 (0)179/9228444) or arrange appointments using Facebook. “We’re always available to you”, promises the agency. If the customer realises that he has been broken into at six in the morning and wants to know that his insurance covers, then he’ll get an answer at six in the morning.

“We offer straight talking.”

People from this region are pragmatic – and good-humoured. They get up to all kinds of nonsense at Lüftners – laughing and sharing jokes with each other. “That’s just the way we are“, explains Benjamin Lüftner. “We don’t have standardised sales talks with the usual formulations. We offer straight talking. And I visit my customers however it feels right to me.” Even if they might expect me to look different as an insurance representative? Lüftner remains relaxed: “It makes me more genuine”, he believes. “That creates a sense of trust. And that’s also important vice versa.” His success bears out the straight-talking Franconian’s approach. 3,700 families have concluded some 11,000 policies with him.

Customers want to be entertained

Honesty is also paramount when it comes to the agency’s website – the boss’ hobby horse. Together with his partner Yavar Parili, the boss regularly gets involved with the Facebook page. “We invest one day a week – both of us,” explains Parili. The friends commissioned an advertising agency and developed a well thought-out concept. That involved asking a few basic questions: “When do people read our posts? In their free time,” according to Lüftner. He continues: “They rarely want to read about the protection offered by their car insurance abroad. They want to be entertained.”

So the insurance broker organised a competition, asking readers to name the additional room in the new offices or get involved in its design. The results surprised even the optimistic social media duo: clients eagerly discussed the issue, posted photos of furniture and links to a carpentry employing physically disabled people. This kind of involvement enriches the agency with ideas at the same time as intensifying our relationship with clients.

320 Facebook fans gained in a few months.

“Setting up the concept cost us a lot of money,” Lüftner admits. Money that doesn’t always pay for itself immediately. “We cannot measure whether we are getting there or not,” says Parili. However, what the two can do is measure how many people they are reaching with their website.

The number of Facebook fans has grown to 338 within a few months. As each of them is a potential multiplier and might forward what they have read to many of their friends, some articles written by the Lüftner agency are getting several thousand hits. "The coverage is therefore just as wide as with the advertisements that my father previously placed into the local newspaper,” explains Benjamin Lüftner, expressing his happiness about the feedback.

Parili and Lüftner quickly learned from the feedback which articles work particularly well: the ones in which they tell a compelling story. Lüftner reports, for example, of the premature birth of his son in the USA or Parili writes on how a client had to be saved by the mountain rescue services. The message is unobtrusively concealed between the lines of the PS: “Be sure to think about your insurance before heading off on holiday!” Visitors to the ERGO agency’s Facebook page learn that Lüftner's father loves the old town of Palma de Mallorca, he “incredibly loves” drinking a good coffee and Yavar Parili has a weakness for sneakers. “It simply comes down to getting to know people,” explains the boss. “We need to support each other. Someone who follows us might sometime say: Yes – I think you’re cool. I’d like to get an insurance from you guys.”

“When we do something, it has to look good.”

The website is therefore also “cool”. “We don’t want bad photos or a look that messes up the page for us. We’d then rather have nothing at all,” explains Lüftner. “When we do something, it also has to look really good,” Like the huge graffiti in his new office. Sprayer KL52 has immortalised the ERGO team as an oversized comic. Lüftner Senior is looking over the shoulder of a boy in an Iron Man costume, while partner Yavar Parili, green like the Hulk, stands at the side of the fire-red bearded Deadpool Benjamin.

And what does his dad think about this? “First of all he was rather sceptical. But then once he saw the image he thought it was really good,” explains his son. “He joins in with everything we organise. He has an iPhone, he uses Facebook.” Benjamin Lüftner would like to go one step further with his website: “I’ve been thinking about Instagram.” But Yavar Parili has put the brakes on that: “Let’s first do really well what we are already doing. And then we’ll think about it.”

By Achim Willems

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