Two-Way Street

Think it’s rare to find successful rookie agents in the insurance industry? It may be even harder to find veteran professionals who are enthusiastic about showing them the way.

“As much as a successful millennial in insurance is a unicorn, an older agent who’s willing to take on that role as a teacher for a younger producer – and, quite frankly, who’s capable of doing that – is a unicorn, too,” says Marc Escalona, vice president, Captive Practice at Cobbs Allen, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

“It seems like not many people want to take the time and make the effort because they don’t see the value short-term,” Escalona continues. “We have to find ways to create mentoring relationships that are mutually beneficial.”

For established agents, a mentorship relationship doesn’t have to be all give, no take. When Ronald Brunell, third-generation principal at The Signature B&B Companies in Garden City, New York, took on a mentorship role as part of the Big “I” Right Start Training Series Mentorship Program, the resulting connection felt like a two-way street.

“We went back and forth – it wasn’t like I was lecturing and Mel was listening,” Brunell says of mentee Mel Evans, who started in Knoxville, Tennessee-based agency InsureFit RM at the end of 2012. “Our conversations were beneficial for both of us, because they made me reiterate success strategies with my staff and myself.”

Cindy Webster, president & CEO of Jack Rice Insurance in Largo, Florida, was paired up with Tim Breadon, owner of The Breadon Group, LLC in Rockford, Michigan, as his mentor – and was similarly pleased to discover that the relationship became more of a “collaborative effort.”

“Right off the bat,” Webster says, Breadon connected her with a recruitment website called Ideal Traits that targets the insurance industry: “They include a personality profile and an IQ test, and they rank applicants so you don’t have to.”

Webster’s agency posted an open position, interviewed the website’s No. 1 choice out of 30 applicants, and hired him two days later. “Three months in, he’s doing great,” say says. “You’re never too old to learn.”

“For me, it was all about the ability to learn,” agrees Daniel Mercure, Jr., fifth-generation owner of Mercure Insurance Agency, Inc. in Rockwood, Michigan, who mentored three-year agency owner Janeth Ochoa of The Golden Rooster, LLC in Gainesville, Georgia.

“Talking about process and strategies with Janeth pushed me to say, ‘Hey, are we doing this at our agency? Could we be doing this better?'” Mercure explains. “Just to see how other agencies are doing it is a huge help.”

Article By: Jacquelyn Connelly