What is a Master Agent?

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

What is a Master Agent?

A buddy of mine and I have been having a conversation for about a month about Master Agencies. We are trying to decide if there is a standard definition for the term.

Generally, a master agent has direct contracts with carriers. These typically come with hefty quotas; hence, why they need sub-agents.

Master Agencies generally perform back office support for the sub-agents. This can include quoting, ordering, order tracking, commission tracking, and trouble ticketing. At the very least, the master agency tracks commissions, quotes and orders.  Master Agencies typically have channel managers to provide support to sub-agents.

We are seeing that Master Agencies today also sell direct. For example, PlanetOne's contract with AMEX. This seems at cross purposes to me. It seems that the Master should be focused on the business development of the sub-agent; that is where the value lies. Otherwise, it comes down to who pays better.

Speaking of commissions, today with the consolidation in the industry, agents may look to the Master Agency for some commission stability.
One Master, Microcorp, has a Commission Assurance program. This is one unique benefit.

InterNAP and Level3 are just a couple of carriers who have gone the Master Agent only route. This means independent agents have to work with a master.

We are also seeing today, master agencies take on hardware. TBI has a nationwide deal with ADTRAN. And WTG has a deal with Alcatel-Lucent.

So what defines a Master Agent? At TCA, the definition had to do with a certain number of direct contracts plus W-2 employees and a minimum of active sub-agents.

I used to have sub-agents and referral partners, but I never called myself a master agency. Why would I? How do you define it?

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