November 11, 2022

Scott Henman

Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by Scott Henman, commercial insurance agent at Michigan Insurance & Financial Services. Scott talks about his love for the trumpet and joy of being a dad in addition to his career in insurance that started 2 days after graduating from college. Scott talks about his longevity in the industry and the growth he has seen over the course of his career. His advice to other agents is to lead with authenticity when engaging with potential and existing clients.

Share icon

Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by Scott Henman. Commercial insurance agent, trumpet player, and Dad.

You can also hear the interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcasting applications.

Find more about Scott Henman

Season 2, Episode 14 

Scott Henman

Jason Keck: That was a great episode. We just had Scott Henman, agency partner, trumpet player, and dad from Michigan Insurance and Financial Services, on the show. Scott talked about how important it is to be authentic, about his role as an educator, as well as a producer in his agency - about 75 agencies across Michigan.

I was really interested to hear about how he's taken on the responsibility of training and sharing knowledge across the agency because, frankly, commercial insurance is a complicated space. The more you understand the nuances and can propagate that knowledge to the rest of your agency, the more effective you'll be as a company, and the better you'll be able to serve your clients. With that, here's the start of the show.

Hi, welcome to another episode of The Enlightened Agent, the podcast that brings you conversations with top insurance professionals and industry leaders. My name is Jason Keck, and today I'm joined by Scott Henman, agency partner, trumpet player, and dad at Michigan Insurance and Financial Services. Scott, welcome to The Enlightened Agent.

Scott Henman: Thank you, Jason, for having me. 

JK: Glad to have you. To kick things off, Scott, I know you and your agency are leaning into technology - new users of our platform, excited to have you, but I'd like to know, and I'm sure our listeners would like to know more about you as we get into the show. Who's Scott Henman, and what do you do today?

SH: Well, as an insurance agent, I'm one thing, but at home, I am also a father to four kids, and I've got my wonderful wife, who's the leader of our family. I truly wouldn't be where I am today without all the things that have brought me here. You can't have tomorrow without what came before. I'm really proud of the work that our agency has been able to accomplish in the last few years. We've got a great team of people, and it's an exciting time to be in insurance. 

JK: I agree. I never thought I would ever say that, but coming from the technology space, insurance wasn't my first choice of industry, but once I found my way into it, I'm confident I'll never leave. There is a lot of opportunity, and it's a great place to be. Part of your title, you said agency partner - is there any more you can tell us about that in terms of your role at MIFS?

SH: Sure. Here at Michigan Insurance and Financial Services, we have a group of 10 agencies across Michigan - that's our agency footprint. We also have our leadership team at our headquarters in Utica, and what's really nice is that each agency partner owns and operates their own book of business as though it was its own independent retail agency. Collectively, our work together and the collaboration of ideas amongst all these different people from the CSRs, agent donors, our agency partners like myself, sales producers, and the leadership team. When we all come together and try to tackle an idea, we've got 75 folks that all have some idea of what's been working, what hasn't, our pain points, and our clients' pain points. How can we make this easier for us? 

Insurance companies want us to write their business, but it's really difficult to place business with them a lot of times because it's not always easy to do business with. While we're easy to do business with, we are often finding ourselves trying to leap over an obstacle, whether it be a platform, claims issue or billing issue, or perceptions by the clients and of our own. When we see something, we have that conversation about it. We're able to do it. 

As the education chair of our agency council, I'm able to take and synthesize a lot of the coverage ideas and process ideas and share them to say, 'This is the way that has worked best. In this case, it hasn't worked well here.' You can try this, you can utilize this, and you can even make it your own because it's all about being authentic in front of the client.

JK: Yeah, having that partner and training responsibility, you're in a really powerful position. I'm certain that being in the middle, between clients and carriers, there's a never-ending set of challenges and trying to match the right client with the right partner and the right coverage. There are a lot of lessons to learn in the middle. Frankly, with a changing, changing environment around coverages and insurance, the lessons don't end. Things that worked a few years ago may not work this year. 

SH: Correct. As many as six, seven years ago, I can remember sitting in a professional development seminar, learning about Hartford Steam Boiler's cyber policy, and thinking to myself, 'Wow, this is hot and buzz-worthy, but are my clients actually going to take this'? What we found is that if you actually lead with a lot of the things that aren't talked about, and six years ago, cyber wasn't really talked about. It was new. Everybody was thinking that they weren't a target or a major bank that was going to get hacked and their customer data being stolen. The truth is, if you look at the data, the statistics say that a smaller business, especially a mom and pop who utilize a lot of paper or an insecure web access, wifi, tablets, computers, or iPads that travel with sales folks or employees,  they're really exposing themselves to it - unknowingly.

Any bad actor can have five seconds of unsecured wifi access and get the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. When we think about the process that we take with the client, we talk about disruption a lot in our agency. We bring cyber to the forefront of the conversation and say, okay, so we're going to look over your policies, but first, let's look at cyber or the data breach liability. A lot of times, the eyes go blank, there's some silence on the other end, and they say, 'What are you talking about?' It's a perfect opportunity to take their bias of how they think that conversation is going to go and offer an opportunity for them to have a greater understanding of the risks that their business takes.

Once you open up that line of seeking to understand, they're really gonna start asking other questions. 'What about this part of my policy?' We're talking about slips and falls on general liability; we're talking about contractors' errors and emissions. 'What is cyber liability? Why is it a thing? Why is it now coming on homeowners' policies? Including anti-bullying measures so that if your child is bullied, there are carriers that have added cyber liability that will pay for the cost of counseling or other needs that your child may have because they were the victim of cyberbullying.

These are things that, as you talk to parents, it's not just an umbrella policy. If your kid says something to someone else, you're inherently liable for that. What if your kid's on the receiving end? 

JK: Yeah, that's tough. My kids are six and seven. They don't have devices yet, or at least not communication devices. I know you said you had four kids - I imagine one of them's at device-level age, so it's really relevant. 

SH: Yeah. They all are. They're aged from six to ten years old. The oldest is asking for TikTok, Facebook, Insta, and all these things. I'm sitting here on the other end of that conversation, wondering why it became such a thing that they're addicted to. There's a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) amongst these kids: 'My friends are doing it, so I gotta do it. I see these creators and these kids that are making millions of dollars a month playing video games or making funny videos. I want to do that too. I want to be a part of that.' 

But when they get into it, it's that dopamine response and that rush. You get sucked in. Adults get it, too - how many times have we all sat on the toilet with our phones in our hands, and we can't stop? We know that they get to the end of the video in six minutes, but we can't stop watching the whole video. And when my oldest says, oh, that is so satisfying to watch, it's cringy. 

JK: There's something about the experience. The content might be different by age, but the experience, the constant changing of information, new information, and new content - it's addictive, which is dangerous. I think you guys are smart to lead with cyber as a conversation. There's a lot going on in the news about breaches around that. I think that's clever. It raises an interesting question about who your clients are. This is getting to know you a little bit more, because like you said, some of your clients are probably saying, why do I need cyber? What's an example of the types of companies you work with? You're on the commercial side, is that correct?

SH: I've primarily focused on new business on the commercial side of things, although our agency has built itself up on the backs of home and auto, just like a lot of retail-independent agencies. The commercial space offers so much opportunity for education and, as a CIC, being able to share that knowledge. With certain clients, there isn't one specific type of commercial client that cyber is for. It's a broad path. The kinds of clients that we find the most success with are restaurant owners. We focus on concrete floor finishers and polishers. That's actually a new niche in the concrete world.

Those folks have technology that travels outside or have the payment processing where they collect data or share data at some point in time. That data is worth so much to so many people - credit cards, date of birth, address, all that stuff. 

JK: It's gold. 

SH: It is. It's plastic gold. 

JK: Digital gold now. 

SH: Yeah, digital gold now. These guys come in with the idea of, 'yeah, you can quote my stuff. Thanks for calling. I need to save some money - I'm paying too much for insurance.' That's how every conversation goes. It drives down into how they expect that conversation to go and by leveraging not just the knowledge but also the technology behind it. How do we present that to them in a meaningful way? But also in that tech-addictive way. People are craving to be able to do more and more on their personal devices, whether it's a phone, a tablet, an iPad, whatever. How can we maintain the authenticity of our relationship and our role and set the right expectations initially? We need to get over that hump of 'I hear what you're saying. You want to save money. I'm here to tell you, you shouldn't pay more than you have to, but let's take a look at what you're choosing to pay for.' 

JK: I know that feeling of walking into a conversation, saying I want to pay as little as possible and want the most protection, and I don't want all the extra bells and whistles. Then slowly, you start to realize. Let's be a little bit more thoughtful about how we go about this and get the coverage we need. Thanks for sharing that about you, the work you do, and the way you approach it. I think that's super interesting. 

One of the things I like to talk about with guests on the show is their evolution in the space. Everybody's got a 'how did I get into insurance' story. It's not my favorite question. My favorite question about your insurance career is about the most significant event you had in your career in insurance. Was there something that happened somewhere along the way that really changed things for you? I think that'd be an interesting part of your story to tell. 

SH: Yeah, you're right. It is. Every superhero has their origin story. I still remember I was about to graduate from Michigan State. I didn't have a business degree, but I wanted to get a job in business, and everybody was telling me no. It was in the middle of April that I showed up at a job fair. I was rolling down the list of everybody that was there. Oh, Disney's here, and so are Cedar Point because they're local to Michigan. The FBI - great. I speak Spanish. They want me to translate for them, but I don't want to sit in the cubicle all day long.

All right, here we go - Aflac. I look up, and literally right there is this guy with a chuckle-headed grin on his face. I'm going to send this to him, and he's going to listen to it and say, 'Yep, that's me' because he calls me the chucklehead. He's motioning for me to come over. I said, 'Who? Me?' 'Yeah, you.' He looks at my resume, printed on a nice ivory cotton paper - it's all fancy. He looks and says the words that I've been wanting to hear forever, 'This is exactly what I'm looking for.' 

I was in shock, and I said, 'To do what?' He said, 'To sell insurance,' and I thought, no, you're kidding. All right, I'll talk to you for a few more minutes. I got licensed within two weeks, and I walked into the office in Southfield, Michigan. Two days after, I walked across the stage at Michigan State to get my diploma. Mike Ritter - he was an amazing fellow. He's a fantastic mentor. He was able to help me understand how to talk to business owners that didn't want to talk to me. He was able to help me understand my value. Something about Mike is - and I talk about authenticity so much - he was never anybody else but himself. That lesson right there has stuck with me the entire time.

Whenever we're talking to a customer, salespeople talk about sales chameleons, or we talk about mirroring in the sales process. It's almost a silver bullet because that's not just customers, but people like to do business with those who appear similar to them, whether it's a tone of voice inflection, accent, appearance, or body language. This guy was always the same and treated everybody with the same level of respect, and I still cannot get over that. 

JK: That's interesting. You've got different strategies. You've got the mirroring strategy, to your point, which is you want to portray to somebody else something that's similar and familiar. Then you've got the principle, 'This is who I am, and I'm never going to change view' Both can be inviting. For me, it's like when I meet somebody who seems a lot like me; I feel comfortable. On the other hand, when I meet somebody who has got clear, strong principles and they're going to stick behind them, I feel very safe and secure with that person. Do you lean towards one or the other? What's your approach to that when you're working with clients? 

SH: As I went through from Aflac to Allstate, then to the independent agency model, I realized that you can blend the two because we are a pastiche personality. Who I am today and who you are today, Jason, is a makeup of all the other experiences that we've had. When you ask yourself the question, what is your true authentic self? You are a collaboration of other experiences and other people that have touched you or you'd been a part of their lives forever.

When you take a moment to think about who your customer is, and take a moment to ask them some questions, you can then take those best parts of you and find a match, hopefully with those best parts or the necessary parts of the other individual. Are you actually taking away from the authenticity by being a little bit of what that other person needs you to be? Absolutely not, because that is part of your authentic self.  

JK: You're just identifying the part of your authentic self that happens to match with theirs as a way of building a connection.

SH: Correct, and sometimes it doesn't work. 

JK: Sometimes you're talking to a jerk, and you don't want to do business with them! You have to make that choice.

SH: We talk about bias a lot in our sales training. We talk about how that customer has an idea of how this conversation or process is going to go. But then, with our commercial accounts, when we say 'Here's what we need to get started.' you hear the sigh, 'Yeah. I'll have my assistant scan and fax or email everything over to you'. I say 'No, no, no. You know what, that's great that you have that capability, but if it's all right, I'd like to give you our assistant access to your own customer portal. Yeah. Your customer portal. We're actually going to create one for you so that we can gather the data when it's timely for you when your assistant has the time to do it.'

Because if you give someone a deadline and a task, if there are other more pressing things for the business, then it becomes something that's unmanageable or unwanted - it's not a desired activity. It becomes a friction point. If you've got to work with that administrative person later to say, 'Can you help me get a driver list? Can you help me do this?' 

'No, I'm just going to send you a link, and you're going to upload the schedule of units and drivers at your business.' 'Really? That's amazing.' 

JK: Much easier.

SH: All of a sudden, that disruption and that use of technology, it's not how they've expected it to go, where they could have a 10-minute call, tell you their payroll numbers, revenue, and tax ID, and then you get a call back up in a week with some more questions before you get a quote. Then they expect the numbers. When you take it off the immediacy of the numbers, and you say, this is our process. This is new for you; I understand that. They're more likely to buy into the whole process.

JK: Good. Smart. I like that approach. I happened to be a big fan of the technology piece of it. As you might imagine, we'll come back to that in a few minutes. You talked about your origin story for the Scott Henman superhero. It sounds like that was at the beginning of your career, which is awesome. Not everybody has that right at the beginning, but it's good to hear that's when yours took place. Change is a big topic in the industry - you mentioned disruption. I'm curious about what you've seen that's changed in the industry since you started  - since your superhero moment - and what else you think needs to change?

SH: Well, we are going to come back to Broker Buddha and the technology piece of it. Honestly, paper applications have gone the way of the Dodo bird for most companies, and those that are still utilizing them, they're behind the eight ball, truly. You can get a quote from Rocket Mortgage on your phone, you can scan your W2 or your pay stub, and it uploads everything. We have seen customers find ways to avoid interaction with us. This is actually a good thing because customers want to interact, but they want to do it on their own time. 

Previously, as little as two years ago, I would talk to customers and say, 'Listen, insurance to a lot of folks is like going to the dentist twice a year for your cleaning. It stinks; you have to spend half an hour, every six months on it. But at the end of the day, you do feel better about it.' It doesn't always have to feel that way. As we've seen, social media advertising for insurance has absolutely been insane. We talked about social media accounts, TikTok. I really wished that I could find a way to make insurance funny and do it on TikTok.

But all I can think about is putting a picture up of a giraffe and putting a picture up of a pit bull. One caption says, no, this isn't a pit bull at all, then it's no, THIS is not a pit bull, it's a giraffe. Customers never want to believe that their dog could cost them more money on their homeowner's insurance. That's about the extent of my creative drive - creative abilities, I should say - my drive is much greater than my abilities. When we see the advertising and search engine optimization, we see the amount that, as an independent agency, we compete with major carriers for accounts on Facebook or Google. It's costly.

How do you drive down your costs and increase your return on those investments? What does your Facebook page look like? Are you doing the nine and one, or the eight and two? Five memes, three jokes, and one article about insurance, plus the weather that weekend? 

JK: You've got your social media language down. I like that. I think you've clearly spent a lot of time there. 

SH: We have. We know that we can drive customer engagement in those ways, but we still have to be able to convert those opportunities, and it's gotta be quick. It's gotta be easy for all these clients. How can we utilize data aggregation? We have been developing at the agency level, the headquarters level, an AI program that helps get instant proof of insurance. It syncs up with our text messaging software and our agency management system. If you're a client of our office and you text the word policy to our phone number or whichever agency phone number you have, it's going to kick back instantly (within 10 seconds) with ID cards for all the vehicles on your account.

JK: What? Did you guys build that in-house? 

SH: Yes. 

JK: That's pretty cool. Are you a programmer? Where did this come from?  

SH: No, no! Our agency principal, Brian, he's an amazingly intuitive individual, and our VP of operations, Mick McNeil, has done such a great job. He's the organizational planner, and he's our spreadsheet guy for every piece of data. When we have the VoIP phone system, we can drill down and find out. The first step was building out the phone system where we could identify what customers were asking for. When they call in, no longer does it go right to our phones, but it goes through a little bit of an IVR. What are you looking to do today? We have it so that the mortgage companies don't even get in touch with us anymore. They're directed to email. 

JK: You screened them out? 

SH: Oh, absolutely. We don't want to waste time with that. That's not good timely work for us, but we still handle it for the clients. That was the first step. Once we had about six months of data, the next step was to develop the processes that we could then tree it out - the phone tree. We found that a lot of customers were calling in for simple things like paying their bill or proof of insurance. The proof of insurance was easy to integrate with APIs and things like that. 

With other things like adding a car, we haven't gotten to that level yet, but we have a data collection point where, if you're adding a car, there's a link. Enter in the year, make, model, and VIN. Here's a temporary ID card. If it's on the weekend, we've got four days to get it added on to your policy. You can get it done even when you can't get hold of us. The speed is changing.

JK: Yeah. Schedule management is a nontrivial complexity of this space. We deal a lot with applications and renewals, but the whole servicing of the account is still very time-consuming. There's a lot of missing tech in that area and a lot of opportunity. Good to hear that smart people have identified that as a need as well. Insurtech is a hot topic. You've already started to talk about that a little bit. Is there anything else that you've seen out there? You guys have built some stuff in-house, but what else have you seen? What else do you love? What can you share with our listeners about good insurtech? 

SH: Good insurtech is only as good as the people that decide to opt into it. If there's not a huge buy-in at your agency, you're going to have struggles implementing it. Every agency has a culture that's defined there. If you can create that culture of education and process and do it consistently, you're going to sell billions of billions of burgers just like McDonald's did. You know that when you get a Big Mac, in the United States at least, you're going to get the same Big Mac anywhere else. If you can create that, then you can grow and scale.

That's the idea - to grow and to scale. How do you do that? First, you have to figure out your customer acquisition. There are plenty of CRM tools out there for you - bots on your Facebook page, chatbots, all sorts of features that, when you ask people to engage with you when they do, you can speed that process along. But if you don't have buy-in from every member of your team, or you don't fully know how to utilize it, you are truly only as strong as your weakest link in that regard. 

When it comes to insurtech, we found, and I found that you can have as many different resources as you want, but you will get overloaded. It's very similar to a customer with a policy. They have more need for coverage to buy than they have dollars to buy it with. I'll always have more coverage to sell, but what are they going to do with it? I'm not going to sell D&O to a client that works sitting at home and does data entry. They are required to have a BOP and a million dollars liability because they contract with somebody, but that's not their need. 

JK: I just did a presentation on change management, and a big part of that is getting that early buy-in and helping people through the journey. Make sure that people understand why you're adopting technology, how it's going to help them, that it's going to be a process. Unlike mobile apps and Amazon, any B2B technology is going to require some level of familiarization, understanding, and figuring out how it fits with your operations and workflows. It's not just as simple as buying and installing it. There's a process you have to go through with that. 

SH: Are you duplicating processes? Do you have the right technology in place? Zapier is a fantastic integrative tool, but not a lot of people know how to use it and set that up. A lot of agencies almost need to have somebody either paid off-site in order to help them do that or have somebody specifically to do that for them. We've played around with that. We are still in the nascent stages - will this be a thing? That's specific to my location where I'm at. If I receive a text message from someone that says, 'Hey, I'm looking for a quote,' does that trigger a Zapier to schedule my Calendly? 

JK: It's smart. Zapier is a super powerful tool. I've got a tech background, so it was very familiar to me to pick it up, and I found it very powerful. Not everybody out there understands the way technology works, the processes, and the workflow. I think Zapier has done a really good job of making tech accessible, if you will, for non-technical people. However, it still requires some really good logical thinking, workflow planning, and technology evaluation.

I'm glad you mentioned that. We are big users of Zapier, both internally and also in the way our platform works. I'm glad to hear that you guys have discovered it as well. What have you set it up for? Any specific flows that work? Are you using it for scheduling and using it for data transfer? 

SH: Google ads and scheduling. If we have somebody interact with our website, who does not call in, but who clicks on the ads, we have that information, whether it was on safari on an iPhone or Chrome on an Android or Chrome on an iPhone or wherever they're at. Oftentimes, there's contact information or at least geographical things. We can consistently remarket to that individual. But also, it'll set follow-up things like, 'Hey, we'd like to chat with you. We saw you were on our site. How can we help?' A lot of times, it's just simply opening up that door that allows them to say, 'Oh yeah. Okay, I'll bite.' 

Yep. Good. Well, they were interested. Maybe they were busy at the time. They didn't want to invest in it, but clearly, they're demonstrating some curiosity and interest. That's important to recognize. Then you have just got to find them at the right time when they might be open to a conversation. I like that - it's very cool. I could talk all day about insurtech. There's no shortage of new solutions coming out, which are really interesting ones that we partner with, connect into, some that we deliver ourselves. It's always fun to connect with people who love the space. 

I'm curious to learn more about what you guys have done internally. That kind of innovation is, I wouldn't say it's rare, but it's definitely uncommon. To hear agencies doing that stuff on their own. Good for you. 

SH: Thank you. 

JK: Scott, one of the things I love to hear from all of our guests is a little bit about what makes them special. I know that's not an easy conversation for everybody to have, but the title of the podcast is The Enlightened Agent, and enlightenment is defined as the state of having knowledge or understanding. I'm curious what it is about you or your team that sets you apart? Is there anything that you guys are doing or that you are doing in particular that makes you enlightened, and any stories or examples to share? 

SH: Sure. The first one is really reading. Reading has been undervalued by a lot of folks in my age group or peer-level group. There's a lot of great opportunities to really expand your own set of knowledge - even with 10 minutes a day. It's hard to find 10 minutes a day when you've got kid pressures, after-school stuff, family pressures, work stuff, client things that are all going on around you at different times. How do you make time for yourself? I was recognized within our agency group as having a little bit more of a nerdy way about me, so to speak. I was in the marching band for eight years. I'm proud of that. 

I was part of Michigan State Spartan marching band alumni. I'm going to be marching this weekend in the alumni band program fall reunion. But the insurance nerd part of me really started when I took my CIC classes. I wanted to be a little bit more. I wanted to be able to differentiate myself, but I wasn't quite there yet.

Who was me? Who am I? Who are you? Who is me? It was difficult. But once I started deep-sea diving into the insurance policies and got a greater understanding of my own lack of knowledge, I was able to say, 'Wow, does everybody else not know this?' So, at our agency group, when I finished the CIC, I was voted, or I suppose, selected, nominated, volunteered for-

JK: Invited, maybe?

SH: Invited, sure - told what to do - to be the education chair. I've come up with this training program for our agents. We touch on sales training, the personal lines, the market direction of our carriers, and we talk about processes. What gives me the greatest satisfaction is when I see the light bulbs turn on for some of our team members. They say, 'Oh, that's what that means. Additional insured blanket by contract. Wow. That's a completely foreign concept. I thought that was only for property blanket. Wow.' 

Spend an amount of time looking at what is available, find the gap for yourself, and then share it with others and how it's meaningful. If we don't walk away from a class, professional development, or seminar with one client in mind that we should go back to and say, 'Hey, guess what? We need to make a change;' we haven't paid enough attention to either our own faults or the content presented because there's always something to be learned. There's always something changing. I loved seeing our agency grow into commercial and focus more on that. The reason we did that was because Michigan Automobile No-Fault Reform was right upon us within the last 18 to 24 months.

It was a huge issue with our customers going to shop. How do we balance our book and make sure that we've got a blend of commercial accounts versus personal so that we don't see a mass exodus? The mass exodus never materialized with what was anticipated to be a huge shopping event for clients in Michigan.

But because we had that focus for commercial, we were actually able to retain an extraordinarily large amount of our personal lines customers and continue to grow because of how we handled that change and those expectations with customers and communicated with them. Then how we also focused on the commercial side of things.

Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse. Do you learn the policy coverage before you talk to the client or you talk to the client then realize, I don't know what this is or how to protect it? Or, I did the quote, and the underwriter's asking me if I need a products-completed and ongoing product or ongoing operations. I don't know what that means. I've never heard of that before. So all of a sudden, you rush at it, you have success with it, but then you start to bloody your nose a little bit because you're not quite there. 

Seeing folks be able to walk away from bloodying their nose and say, okay, we've got this. Here's what we do. We've got this process, this part of growth, education, and understanding. That's the investment in our client's experience, our experience, and, at the end of the day, on the agency side, the impact on our bottom line. 

JK: Scott, commercial insurance is complicated. There are a lot of people trying to simplify it, but it's complicated. It's part of the industry and part of the product. It's part of the complexity of it. Businesses out there all have different needs by industry, size, and location. The amount of intellectual capital that you have in the agency or that you're able to capture and reshare is a huge driver for the success and effectiveness of the agency.

I did not realize that you had that role in the company. It's a very powerful role - knowledge sharing and training. Do you do that across the network of agencies, sorry, I don't know what you call it, but across the partners? Is that right?

SH: It's open to everybody and on the last Wednesday of every month. We have a schedule of what we are going to talk about. A lot of times, it'll be half an hour of work comp, and in November or October, we're going to talk about ATVs, ORVs, and snowmobiles because that's coming up. In May, we talk about boats, and in March we talked about motorcycles and RVs in April. These are the things that, in Michigan, are important to our personal lines clients, but there's always going to be that commercial lines component of it.

Oftentimes we'll lean on some of our underwriters to pop on the call. One of my favorite partners with that is the Hartford. I love Alfonso, our underwriter, to pieces. He's been able to answer so many questions. Progressive was one where we found out one piece of information could actually impact the quote more than anything else - none of us had ever heard of it before. A lot of times, that collaboration - bringing the other knowledge that we don't have, but we could have - how do we share all that and synthesize it into something that's relevant? We can all walk away saying that was-

JK: What was that one piece of information? I'm very curious. Do you remember what that was?

SH: Oh, absolutely, I do. Plugging in the owner, on a trucking company, or any business auto, the owner's social security number. We'll run the insurance scoring for that, and, in many cases, it has helped win the deal. A lot of folks don't want to give that information up - it's not required for most quotes, but that was an absolutely integral piece for a couple of our commercial auto clients this year. 

JK: So, the owner's social security number for a commercial auto policy or a trip with Progressive makes a big difference. Got it. Perfect. 

SH: It can, it can. 

JK: Hey, you know what? Hopefully, there's a variety of things, but you've got to find those little nuggets to help you win the business and help the company, more importantly. Scott, this has been an enlightening conversation. I've enjoyed having you on the show. Before we wrap up, is there anything you'd like to say or share with our listeners? 

SH: Yeah. If I repeat anything over and over, it's going to be that authenticity. How can you create a client experience that is maybe not necessarily enjoyable but understandable and easy to do business with? Are you being yourself, or are you trying to find a way to relate to a customer that just isn't working? Clients or prospects will often figure that out.

It's just going to sour the pool. You're not going to get any traction with that. If there's anything I can say is find out who you are. Like you asked me, what makes you, you? Who am I? Who are you? That is the first question that you can answer. If you're trying to find a way to expand your own knowledge set without reading or doing anything, I highly recommend taking any of the CICs, except for commercial casualty, if you're new to commercial, because that one will tear you apart in a heartbeat. If you've never touched commercial, I can say that with certainty. It's a great opportunity there. 

JK: Awesome. Knowing who you are is not a trivial question but a very valuable exercise to try and figure out and revisit every couple of years. People change and evolve, and you learn a lot of things along the way. Scott, thanks a ton for coming on the show. Best of luck with the business for the rest of the year and all of your endeavors around training and education. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks and months. 

SH: Sounds good. Thank you so much, Jason.

Goodbye time wasted.
Hello optimization with Broker Buddha

blue check mark
Online forms
blue check mark
Efficient use of time
blue check mark
Automated Reminders

Never miss an episode

Subscribe here to be notified when a new podcast episode goes live.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Broker Buddha logo
Replaces email, paper,fax, spreadsheets and PDFs, simplifying the submission process
Featured Articles

You might also like

Mar 3, 2022
Caribou Honig

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by Caribou Honig, Co-Founder of InsureTech Connect and Partner at SemperVirens

read now
Dec 17, 2021
Mike Volk

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck is joined by Mike Volk, Sr. Manager of Cyber Insurance at Optiv

read now
Dec 7, 2021
John Darr

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by John Darr, CEO and Agent at Darr Schackow Insurance

read now
Nov 29, 2021
Andrew Krantz

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by Sr. Vice President and Principal at York International, Andrew Krantz

read now
Nov 16, 2021
Tim Gaspar

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by Tim Gaspar, Founder and CEO of Gaspar Insurance Services

read now
Sep 3, 2021
Bill Pieroni

Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by Bill Pieroni, President & CEO of ACORD. In this episode, Bill talks about how ACORD, after 50 years, is more relevant than ever in the Insurance industry.

read now
Aug 9, 2021
Toan Huynh

In this Podcast Episode, Toan Huynh talks about building and scaling companies

read now
Jul 5, 2021
Ed Page

Ed Page is an agency president who prioritized culture above all else.

read now
Jun 21, 2021
Jeremy Perlman

Jeremy Perlman is a Vice President at CBIZ Borden Perlman and talks on this podcast about how he used a layup endorsement to help a transportation company stay in business during the pandemic.

read now
May 24, 2021
Brad Hosket

Brad Hosket of Columbus-based Hosket Ulen talks about entering the insurance industry after a career in real estate and why the pandemic offered an opportunity to upgrade agency operations.

read now
May 18, 2021
Jason Angus

Jason Angus of VA-based The Hilb Group believes that when people grow, companies grow. Providing the resources that help teams do great work leads to success, and using technology to reduce the administrative workload is essential.

read now
May 9, 2021
Christina Kelley

Christina Kelley is a process improvement guru who unabashedly believes there is always a better way to do things. With a professional career that includes previous roles with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and KPMG, she wants to keep improving the customer experience for G&A clients.

read now
May 3, 2021
Greg Gamble

Greg Gamble is the Vice President for Client, Brokerage & Data Operations at Alliant Insurance Services. During his time in the industry, he has worked across the entire spectrum—agency, underwriter, carrier—and gives us his candid New Yorker take on all of it.

read now
Apr 25, 2021
Mike Shanahan

Mike Shanahan is the Chairman, President and CEO of St. Louis-based HM Risk. An industry veteran with an entrepreneurial streak, Mike shares his thoughts on how the business has changed and some of the critical moments in his career.

read now
Apr 19, 2021
Patrick Kinney

Patrick Kinney is the Executive Vice President, Enterprise Distribution Management, at Travelers. He combines decades of experience with a passion for finding ways to make the insurance process seamless for agents, customers, and carriers.

read now
Apr 12, 2021
Jeffrey Gallimore

Jeff Gallimore is the Chief Operating Officer, US National Accounts, at Zurich North America. He has a track record of building successful teams by empowering people and providing the tools that help them succeed. He shares his thoughts on how the industry has changed, and what changes still need to happen.

read now
Apr 5, 2021
David Carpentier

Enlightened agents are innovative. In this episode, we talk to David Carpentier of Assurely. His company is introducing new insurance products to meet the challenges of emerging and next-gen business models.

read now
Mar 25, 2021
Benji Markoff

In the debut episode of The Enlightened Agent podcast, Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by the CEO of Founder Shield, Benji Markoff. Listen to find out why Markoff and his company try to make insurance fun—seriously—and how they leverage technology to improve the customer experience.

read now
A buddha linear icon


Book a demo