In 2008, Lee Ann Pridgeon became a first-time agency owner when she purchased the Smart Choice® agency she’d worked at for 15 years. She now owns eight agencies across the state, and six of them came to her through her local network of Smart Choice® agents.
When Lee Ann first purchased her agencies, she had very little in the way of commercial business — $100,000 or less. Now she has almost $3 million in commercial alone. “I could not have done that without the ability to get on the phone and call somebody who’s experienced in the commercial department to help walk me through it,” Lee Ann shares. “That’s a big deal because you don’t know what you don’t know, and you can only learn these things through people that are willing to work with you and educate you on a lot of levels.”
Through Smart Choice®, Lee Ann has the opportunity to write a policy for a customer, even if it requires a small, niche market. She doesn’t have to turn that customer away or compromise on quality.
“I’ve seen that a lot of people who will put business with a particular company because they only have two carriers,” says Lee Ann. “Well, I’m very fortunate to say that because of Smart Choice®, I don’t have just two carriers, and I can do what’s best for my clients.”
Lee Ann can call Ann Bartell, her Smart Choice® territory manager and say, “Ann, I can’t seem to locate a market for X, Y or Z. What do you guys have?” And Ann helps her find it.
I just love the support I have from Smart Choice®, and I can’t say enough about my marketing rep, Ann Bartell, who is absolutely fabulous. I’ve known her forever. When a relationship goes from being business to being what you’d call a friend, that’s success. And that woman is just so special to my heart. —Lee Ann Pridgeon, owner of AllCare Insurance Service
She has even helped her with out-of-state business. “Again, if I’m not familiar with out-of-state rates, guidelines, etc., I know I can just contact Smart Choice® and say, can you help me with that? It’s invaluable to have that connection and not have to worry about whether I am writing it correctly.” Smart Choice can use their network of knowledgeable territory managers and field staff to answer nearly any questions an agent may have.
We asked Lee Ann, what are some benefits of working with Smart Choice®. She shared her top three!
- First, they get you the markets you’d otherwise not be able to obtain
- Second, they support you with the resources you need
- Third, they don’t make you feel dumb if you call to ask a question!
“I tell my employees all the time, don’t look to me to have all the answers, ‘cuz, good Lord, I don’t know!” Lee Ann tells them, “Don’t ever be afraid to pick up the phone and ask a question. Anytime we’ve had to call and ask anyone at Smart Choice® for help with anything, we always get help.
It's not a one-size-fits-all decision.
Each agent’s business model is unique, so your network partner needs to be flexible, and provide the solutions unique to your agency’s needs. Download this whitepaper for more on the questions agencies should ask, what to look out for in your contract, and how to know if a network’s business model is right for you — as you are now and as you grow.