Tenacity to Become an Independent Agent

May 24, 2022

Two independent insurance agents reviewing policies on a computer in a dark office at night.When Gulraiz Sultan was ready to start his own agency, he looked at a few agency networks. Some wanted large sums of money up front plus a percent of commissions. Others wanted him to buy into a franchise. He wondered, “If I have to still do all the struggling on my own, what am I paying you for?”

Gulraiz brought a lot to the table. He had experience as a claims adjuster and analyst. He spoke six languages and had done a lot to establish himself. So, he was looking for a place where he could use all his acquired skills and knowledge. When he heard Smart Choice® could help him set up his own agency, get his foot in the door with the carriers, and he didn’t have to pay anything, he said, “Great!”

Mark DiVincenzo, long-time Smart Choice® Pennsylvania state director, knows that when an agent is just starting out, they need to be tenacious. Because if they’re going to give up, it’s not going to work.

Gulraiz had just rented an office space when Mark and he sat down to talk. “It was the first week he was there. It was raining and the roof was leaking into a bucket on the floor. He was telling me about his goals and plans to build his agency,” Mark remembers. “It’s not a guarantee, but I just know from experience and can pretty much tell when somebody has the drive to make it happen. Gulraiz had the drive.”

 

I tell the agent this is a 50-50 proposition. I’ll bring you the markets and the tools you need to succeed. You bring the drive and get in front of the people. If you have those two things, then your agency will be successful. —Mark DiVincenzo, State Marketing Director Pennsylvania, Smart Choice®

“I understand when an agent’s going to be successful if he or she is just given a chance,” Mark continues. “The relationship we have with our carrier partner is that they’ll rely on our expertise when bringing them an agent, because they know we won’t bring them someone we don’t think will be successful. It would be pointless for all parties and ruin the partnership. Gulraiz fit the success model perfectly.”


Cover of a whitepaper titled "The Power of a Network Partnership for Independent Agents."How do you choose the right agency network partner?

It's not a one-size-fits-all decision. 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. 


Gulraiz started out in the Smart Start™ program with zero commissions and made himself successful enough to hit the “leadership level” in just three years. Agents can obtain leadership level by writing a certain amount of business in a 12 month time frame. All commission earned and written after that is no longer subject to a commission split with Smart Choice. So the network offers all agents the ability to keep 100% of their commissions. That’s a high level of success for any agent.

We asked Gulraiz what he would say to anyone else out there who may be just starting out or is unsure. He said, “When I started this, nobody had any type of faith in me, except for myself. I remember there was a point where I couldn’t afford to buy flyers. So, I bought a printer for $25 and paper for $10 and $5 for the cutter. And I stayed up all night, printing out 500 flyers and cut them into a flyer size. I stuck to it, because I knew sometimes in life only you can see your vision, not everybody else around you can. We say that when the sun rises, everybody can see the sun.

“So, it’s up to an individual how bad they want something. It’s not up to anyone else. If you have the right intention, if you have your heart in the right place, you will find the right people who will work with you. Just like I did.”

How do you choose the right agency network partner?

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. 

Download the Whitepaper