On a cloudy day in March, I went by the post office to drop off some items and pick up my mail. There was the normal mail, a bill or two, a movie and a large envelope from D Magazine. I almost threw the D Magazine envelope away thinking it was a solicitation for a new subscription but didn’t. I was pretty amazed to learn I’d been selected as one of the Best Home and Auto Insurance Agents in Dallas 2013.
It was an overwhelming moment as it sunk in that I’d achieved this in only 2 years after having started Wise Insurance Group. I couldn’t say anything until the July issue of D Magazine was on the newsstands, but that gave me three months to think about what this means to me, the companies we represent, and to our clients. Here are 5 items I’ve identified since that day in March that helped achieve this award.
- Have the right focus
- Educate & consult
- Have the right partners
- Improve daily
Have the right focus: Before starting Wise Insurance Group, I’d worked as an agent at Liberty Mutual, Countrywide Insurance (Balboa) and as a producer with a friend of mine who was a Farmers agent, which is where I learned about insurance. I’ve not always been in insurance. I started my career in the technology arena selling computer hardware to medium and large companies in the 1980s. After 22 years of helping build companies for other people, I knew I wanted a change.
I wanted to start and build a company that was focused on what the client wanted and needed. The guiding principles would be:
- Be Grateful: No client is an inconvenience, interruption, or a bother. Without clients there is no Wise Insurance Group. We celebrate every client and are grateful when people refer us. Referrals are where 90% or more of our business comes from.
- Be Responsive: One of the biggest complaints I heard when I became an insurance advisor was people not being able to talk with their agent. Every client has 5 ways they can interact with me including:
- Office phone number (469) 464-5740
- Cell phone number (469) 766-0404
- Email address firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook & Google + pages (the links are at the bottom of the page)
- Twitter @wiseinsgroup
- Client Driven: Do what’s in the client’s best interest, always! Most people know when their best interest is not the main focus. This is why people I wrote at Liberty, Countrywide, and Farmers found me when I opened Wise Insurance Group. They knew I had their best interest at heart.
Educate and Consult: I believe it’s vital to educate and consult with people on their insurance. Most people have never had an agent provide basic information to them or explain what they’re getting. I think that’s wrong. People are intelligent and capable of making the best decision for them if they have the right information, and that’s what we provide. We do this in several ways including:
- Educate: Our goal is to review every quote with a prospective client. This enables us to explain the coverage, answer questions, and confirm we haven’t missed something important to the client.
- Answer Questions: Not everyone thinks of everything when in the midst of buying a home or car, when a baby arrives, a death occurs, or a job is lost. Life changes so it’s imperative we answer all clients’ questions and anticipate the ones that aren’t asked to make sure we cover them in the best way possible.
- Blog: I’ve always felt most information provided by insurance companies has been more marketing oriented rather than educational. My goal was to provide material that helps people become educated consumers. Give people information and they can make decisions that are good for them.
- Consult: Our goal is help be properly covered should something happen. That’s why we ask questions. It’s to make sure we’ve properly addressed our clients’ needs.
I don’t believe in selling. In fact, if we’re selling we’re doing something wrong. That’s why if we provide the right information, it will either make sense or not and we’ll only proceed if it makes sense and is in the client’s best interest.
Have the Right Partners: Most people understand having the right partners will make you, having the wrong ones will break you. That’s why I work only with insurance companies that meet the following criteria:
- Financial Strength: They must be financially strong and highly rated or we will not work with them. We only have to look back to 2008 and remember a number of financial institutions going through a very difficult time.
- Claims Process: A company can have a great policy on paper along with a competitive premium, but if they are awful during the claims process, they will not last. How quickly and expertly a claim is processed is key to a strong client experience. Being able to rectify a botched process is also important.
- Relationship Ease: How easy does the insurance company make it for me to work with them? If it’s tough on the front end, I’ll assume it’s tough on the claims side too. Can they give me answers in a quick manner? Does the company understand we’re partners?
- Competitive Pricing: If the company has fabulous financial strength, excellent claims service and are easy to work with, but their pricing is out of line, we won’t be able to write them. If there’s a pricing gap, then the product must be superior in every way.
- Family Test: The final criteria is would I write my own coverage or use the carrier for one of my sons or closest friends? If not, we don’t do business with them. It’s simply not worth it.
Improve Daily: Every organization can improve somewhere each day. I never want to stop striving to make Wise Insurance Group the best it can be. I want to continue to utilize tools that enable us to serve our clients better. It takes trust to build a relationship like that; a trust that has been earned by consistently showing up and exceeding our client’s expectations.
Over the coming year, we’ll be implementing a number of new things to help improve our client’s experience with us, as well as making it easier to get what they need. With that in mind:
- If you’re a client and have a suggestion on what we can do to improve your experience, please email me at email@example.com
- If you’re an insurance company, competitor, or consultant to the insurance arena, email me your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m glad I didn’t throw that envelope away and I’m thrilled to be recognized by D Magazine as one of Dallas’ best home and auto insurance agents! It’s truly an honor and we’re celebrating, but we’re not done yet. We want to build the kind of Dallas agency that’s not only different but better than what I’ve experienced so far. Share your comments, suggestions or questions with me on our Facebook page or in the comments section of our blog.