Lutz, Fla. Renaissance Alliance member Nathan Jensen shares his thoughts on diversifying his book of business, finding new talent, working with family, and the core value proposition of successful independent agents.
Your agency’s clientele spans a variety of commercial accounts, from hospitality and construction accounts to an actual island in Tampa Bay. How do you maintain specialization that’s both wide and deep when it comes to commercial clients, and how does that in turn generate more referrals?
The crash in 2008 taught us that we can’t have all our eggs piled in one basket. So being a “generalist” doesn’t put us in a box with current customers and referrals. The diversity of our clients and our ability to assist them with their risk management needs has tended to snowball our name being referred as an agency that can place both Main Street business, but also risks that tend to be on the fringe.
You’ve mentioned how the diversity of clients that you serve helps to make you a better business owner. Tell us about that.
This is one of the things that really keeps me motivated. When you’re talking to business owners about their business and asking questions, they really open up and share what’s worked and hasn’t worked with their operations. I then get to take and apply some of that to our agency as it relates to financial management or employment issues. It feels like an ongoing MasterClass.
How difficult is it to hire new talent these days, and what are some of the strategies that you’ve found effective in doing so?
Certainly, it’s tougher in our current environment with the Great Resignation and employees having quite a bit of leverage. Agencies are having to really look at the hiring process as an ongoing investment rather than a one-time process. Internships play a large role in allowing us to bring in younger talent and find out if they fit our culture and have the desired traits we look for in our employees.
Jeff Hanneken, another of One Source’s managing partners, is also your brother-in-law. How do you approach the process of working together with a close relative?
It’s really worked out well. We think and process information the same way, so it’s almost like having a clone of each other in the office. We’ve worked together for almost 15 years now and it just makes our work lives a bit less stressful knowing we each have a backstop we can trust.
What do you find are the two biggest differentiators for successful independent agencies?
Independent agencies have always faced competition from direct writers. Now you add in these B2B tech insurance companies wanting to simplify processes through AI and data science. Businesses still ultimately feel better with a trusted partner on the other end of the line. We can have a conversation and immediately provide solutions based on our experience and knowledge of products – and we can provide service in a timely manner, rather than dropping a request in a queue and waiting for the next random CSR to handle it. That still matters.