February 28, 2018 07:00
Photo : Freepik
Several factors explain the success of a brokerage firm that goes into business and lasts in time. One constant remains, however : to know good people around you is paramount.
Several young entrepreneurs solicited by the Journal of insurance indicate that they have used a mentor from the start of their adventure. This is the case of Patrick Bouchard, president of Bouchard & Associés, Solutions d’assurances.
«When I launched my firm, I had 12 years of experience in the insurance industry. Despite this, I encourage everyone to go seek help from a mentor. Since day one, I am in contact weekly with Christopher Johnson. I owe part of my success, » he says.
Patrick began his studies in damage insurance in 1997. Founding his own firm has always been a goal of personal development from the beginning, » he says.
«It has been a work of many years. It is necessary to invest to 100 % both financially and emotionally. As I was in the business for a long time, people knew me already. It went fast in my case, » says the broker. Mr. Bouchard has been president of the board of directors of the Regroupement des cabinets de courtage d’assurance du Québec (RCCAQ) from 2015 to 2016.
A mentor has also been essential for Marjoram Moses, who is associated with two other colleagues to start his firm. Thus, the three founders of Plural Insurance have relied on the help of Pierre-Yves Billette, their former boss.
«Our mentor, we has greatly helped us frame. We realized that we had a lot of questions. It has pushed us to surpass ourselves, » she said.
Marjoram adds that the industry has changed a lot lately. Mr. Billet has opened doors in this context.
«He has shown to his own friends in the middle. It has helped us to let us know and well we start «, she adds.
Networking is important
Matthew Prefontaine grew up in the insurance community, thanks to his father who was in the area. He founded his most recent cabinet M2 Insurance five years ago.
«I strongly encourage involvement in the industry. There is always someone somewhere who’s going to teach me something. The more we meet our competitors, the more you learn. The complicity is really good in the middle of the insurance. You should not hesitate to meet people, ask questions, and make contacts, » advises the broker.
Benoit Campeau has been working in insurance since 1998. He quickly discovered that he was an entrepreneur at heart and has founded the firm of Assurancia Campeau and Atif in 2016.
According to him, the best way to make themselves known in the middle is to foster partnerships. «The growth of my clientele is based on networking. It is important to participate in events of business people. You have to ask for our entourage. At the beginning, 50 % of my time was devoted to being on the field and to meet people to develop partnerships, » he says.
With bill 150, which would ensure that a broker should submit four bids from insurers to clients, Benoit believes that partnerships will be essential if it is adopted as is, since it could be difficult for a firm that begins to respect the rule of four bids, according to him.
The brokers we interviewed are satisfied with the progress made. If he could go back in time, few of them would change drastically in their approaches.
«There has to be a good broker knows that by opening a cabinet, he must not only know how to make people. It is necessary to have a good mind manager. You need to know accounting. We eventually realize that we are doing more billing than anything else. It is important not to overlook this aspect, » says Matthew Prefontaine. The business man reminds us of the importance to seek external resources, and suggests the same to have knowledge in administration.
For the three business women of Plural Insurance, two priorities have been to obtain funding and learn more about computer systems. «It is important to equip from the start at the it level. A good server, good equipment… It really makes difference to the growth of the company, » explains Marjolaine Moses.
Choose the right people
Shawn Turcotte, president ofCVB Insurance, has given special importance to the hiring process of its employees. He suggests new entrepreneurs to do the same.
The broker chooses to recruit employees who are not necessarily from the insurance industry, but people who have qualities and an attitude focused on customer service. «We value the personal qualities, prior work experience. We will train them in our way. It is easier to train someone to learn about the insurance than to train someone to provide a good service to the customer «, he explains.
He said, as well as see a dim view of the request of some to enhance the criteria for admission to the profession, while the industry is in skills shortage. «If the regulations change, it may hurt «, he afraid.
Take your time
For Christopher Johnson, who founded AMR Assurances Multi-risques, taking one’s time is crucial when it comes time to launch his firm. «Get a contract with an agency can be complicated. This is even more so in 2018, » says the one who also occupies the chair of president of the board of directors of the RCCAQ.
He himself chose to pass by a banner at the start. It indicates that even though he has made less money at the beginning, the decision has paid off in the long term.
«The best advice I can give is to be patient. The selling pressure is short-term. In the business world, you get to choose if you are a farmer or a hunter. If you sow to reap, or if you kill and it is finished, » he says.