NEWSLETTERS: Secrets of Success
A most fascinating factor of the commercial insurance industry is the opportunity to work with business owners. These people are the pioneers, the risk takers, the entrepreneurs who generate most of the jobs in America. The stories they tell of the trials and tribulations, the peaks and valleys of opening and operating a business are the stuff of dreams. These business owners can be hard bitten men & women who have survived every attack and every economic downfall and somehow continued to thrive. They can be driven and introspective, gregarious and focused, wary yet open to new avenues and new ideas. They have taken their education, formal or informal, and guided their business through times for which no classroom could prepare them. They are such an interesting lot and a never-ending source of inspiration and insight.
Among the hundreds of business customers at the Bowermaster brokerage, we see many similarities. So what are the essentials of their business success? There are at least three:
- An understanding that a good reputation is a major form of capital
- Being able to distinguish between people who are trustworthy and those who are not
- Realizing that it is okay to fail so long as you get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.
The business owners place no emphasis on being cool or being the 30 minute winner. They realize that problems aren’t resolved so neatly as in a half hour TV show and that losing can be a very valuable teacher. They know that their reputation is crucial and that sometimes it’s better to lose money than to lose a customer.
The successful business owner has the innate sense of who belongs on his corporate team. The Board of Directors, the CPA, the attorney, and the insurance broker are usually chosen for their knowledge, their trustworthiness, their stability, and the amount of quantifiable value they can bring to the company.
This is where a good reputation can be a major form of capital. In the insurance world, the only product is paper and promises. The personal reputation of the insurance brokerage and the insurance carrier must guarantee that the paper is solid and the promises are true.
Just as there are differences in insurance brokers, there are huge differences in insurance carriers. Since the broker is the conduit, some of the questions we ask ourselves when presenting an insurance company to one of our clients are:
- What is the financial stability of this carrier? We always check several sources to verify the capability of this carrier to honor its promises.
- What is the reputation of this carrier for claims handling? We rely upon the experience of our agency and that of our customers when recommending a carrier. When you have been in business for 60 years as Bowermaster has, we have a treasure trove of anecdotal and actual facts regarding which carriers handle claims well.
- Does this carrier perform their service functions well? We check to see that policies and endorsements are issued accurately and promptly. We evaluate the billing practices of the carriers and their flexibility with late payments.
- Is the pricing fair? Of course this factor is important to our customers not just this year, but every year. We try to use carriers that are consistent in their pricing and continually offer honest value and coverage.
Matching our business customers with our best carriers is our goal. This is where reputation, good people, business smarts and stability make a difference.