Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Big Difference

As I'm working today, I realize what a difference from each office I've ever worked at. When I first started working insurance back in '93, I began with a Farmers agency which was a Husband and Wife "partnership". That agency taught me alot about insurance and basic office skills. I had no experience at anything to do with an office much less insurance. All applications were processed via regular mail service, fax, speed memos. I took a leave when Vica was born and returned in '96 to the second agent working in that same office. He was a smaller agency and again I began to learn, however this time I learned to talk to people over the phone and expalin policies as well. In late '97 I began to look for new employment because he could no longer afford my salary, well I interviewed with one of my favorite agents that I could have worked for, Bernie Garcia. He interview me and doubled my salary and hired me on the spot. This was pretty much a husband/wife team as well. However, she wasn't in the office quite as much. At this point in my 'career' I had learned quite a bit. This is when Farmer's started using computers to complete apps, memos, underwriting issues, etc. At Bernie's I felt at home. I could talk openly with him, we treated each other like best friends, and we could joke with each other and not think about 'oh no i'm being harassed'. I left that agency due to differences between me and his wife who was not in agreement with my new pay. They switched me from salary to hourly and she wanted to do away with the bonuses that Bernie had been giving me for Life policies and the extra time I would put in early or late for clients to come in. So moving forward, I worked basically on a contract basis with other agents and during all this I learned that I like to be a very organized person in my office so that I can give people the time of day to explain their policies and make sure they understand exactly what they are signing.

So back in 2004, when mom had her leg amputated, I worked for my last Farmer's agent in Richardson. He was a great guy and tried to really give me the flexiblity I needed but then my situation changed and I had to leave that agency. I was unemployed from office work for 6 months however, I had a bit of income with Martin Masonry. Not much, went thru very hard times those few months. Then in May of 2005, I began my very first independent agency, this also was a husband/wife 'partnership' WOW! The difference of having to learn, retain info. I had to hold in underwriting guidelines for 40 companies vs 1 company. Forty different applications vs one, and so forth. Well, I did it! In the first two weeks, my boss made me the office manager. Now according to her, in her 17 years of having her agency, she had never had an office manager. Well, I guess I did good. :)

This office was no where near organized or running efficiently. The staff hardly knew the ins and outs of policies. So my venture began. I decided to change how things were done and my boss was in agreement with me. Everytime I showed her how I thought something should be done, she liked my ideas. So I ended up changing the filing system, the handling of clients payments, the way we process change requests, I made sure we didn't leave ourselves open for E&O exposures. I recently left that agency after 3 1/2 years. When you look at it today, according to several clients of theirs, you can hardly recognize it's the same agency. Now I start with another agency. This one too is an independent agency and it too can be called a husband/wife team, she is licensed, however, she is a full-time teacher and she doesn't deal with the agency unless it's an emergency. For the past two weeks that I have been here, I find that we are extremely busy quoting and selling. We have sold 15 policies just in two weeks for both auto and home with 90 of the auto on electronic funding. However, the agent is not stressed nor is our producer and I come to realize that none of the past employers were stress free and I believe that part of that may be from having the 'wife' or the 'husband' there too. I have reorganized this office as well with open arms from both the agent/owner and the producer and they really like it and see that things are running smoother for them and not so hectic as before. We moved the producer's office around so that she can work with less work, LOL. I don't have my own office as before with a window and my name on the door BUT I find that I missed working at the front of the office because I make sure everything gets done right and I get to greet each and every one of our policyholders. I still have a huge window to look out and every day I see the best view anyone coulde have, the American Flag.

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