Georgia

Griffin & Company Insurance

(L-R): Nathan Griffin, Brent Griffin

“The most positive change we’ve had since joining Keystone has come from leaning on our peers and the resources that Keystone provided.  It has really helped us step up our game and be professional all the way across the board, from policies and procedures, to how we market accounts, and how we deal with underwriting.  It’s how we’ve been able to take every account to the next level and close business. One of the things that we have found most helpful is to truly get involved.  It’s one thing to go to the state meetings and catch up with other agents on a personal level.  It’s another go get on committees, run meetings, and get in the trenches to get to know so many people and really learn more to make your agency better.  Getting involved in the Emerging Leaders group at Keystone has been the best resource.  We’ve met agents from all over the country that I would’ve never had the opportunity to get to know on a personal level, learn how they do business, and how they are successful.”

 

Illinois

Olsick Insurance Group

“One small change that made a big impact on my agency is that we offered flex hours, working remotely, summer hours, the ability to work from home on Fridays.  This not only improved productivity, but it improved morale, too.

The most positive change I’ve seen in my agency since joining Keystone is that it gave us more confidence to compete in the marketplace. It puts us on a more level playing field. The number one piece of advice I would give another Keystone agent is to collaborate with other agencies in your state. We have such a great group of people, and everyone is willing and open to share on their successes, failures, literally everyone wants you to succeed.  It’s really cool!”

 

Indiana

The DeHayes Group

(L to R) Top Row: Jeffrey Pikel (CEO), Kevin Pikel, Kevin Burns, and Patrick Brazill (CFO) Bottom Row: Gregory Gerbers, Nick Groves, and John Ryan

“At DeHayes, we have striven to have strong communication with our employees. In the last 24 months after doing extensive employee surveys, we developed processes, programs, and policies to enhance communication amongst all levels of the business. This enhanced communication has not only improved employee satisfaction and morale but has had an extremely positive impact on customer service and carrier relationships.

The most positive change that we have seen in our 20+ years with Keystone is the growth in the partnership, the intellectual capital shared amongst the partners, and the ability to share ideas and successes with partners without fear of client displacement.”

 

Kentucky

Peel & Holland/Riddle Insurance

(L to R): Keith Riley, Kelly Harding, Roy Riley, Skip McGaw.

“Our number one piece of advice is: if you are not using a structured leadership program for your organization, you are missing the boat. Peel & Holland has implemented an entrepreneurial operation system. It’s been the most game-changing decision our organization made in a long time. It took us to the next level. It’s not just an operating system – it allows us to put structure into our leadership throughout the organization, not just at the ownership level. That’s one of the things agencies struggle with, including us, in the past: how do we get others to lead in the organization, verses just the few owners that are around? What this has done is allow us to find where we need leaders and some skill sets. When we can’t find that at our existing ownership level, we find places for people to fit. Then we make it known, and we give leaders a place to direct their skills and efforts in addition to the roles they already have.

We feel this award will have a huge benefit for us, having been fortunate enough to have been in this position before, in recognition with carriers. Our core carriers know when your agency has won this award, and they give us recognition not just in voice, but in their behavior and actions. When carriers know you are one of the best of Keystone, they bring their best to the table for us.”

 

Michigan

Hartland Insurance Agency

Martha Leedle, Barbara Walker, and Dave Walker

“A small change that we made in our agency has been moving our monthly company meetings in person to weekly virtual meetings with cameras on.  It has made a huge impact in getting information to everybody and has helped with continuity and talking with each other.  The change has made the meetings a lot more flexible and a lot easier to hold.

Our number one piece of advice would be to stay active and involved in your state and national associations. The resources that are available are countless. We are fortunate that we are very involved, and it has made a big impact on our agency.”

Minnesota

Cartier Insurance

“The main small change that we’ve made in our agency operations that has had a big impact has been an investment in technology. We try to invest in technology that makes our customers’ user experiences better and more efficient on their end.

Our number one piece of advice we would give to another agent is to invest in your people and your culture. In the end, that is what is going to create the best end experience for your customers. The most positive change we’ve seen in our agency since joining Keystone has been that sense of having a team and allies that have your back. We haven’t always had lots of relationships with other agencies, so being able to have strong relationships with other agencies and Keystone staff there to help, it just makes you feel like you aren’t sitting by yourself on an island in this industry.”

Missouri

Custom Insurance Services

 (L to R): Grant Bowen, Tony Becker

“I think most Keystone agents already know this, but it bears repeating anyway. Get to know the people at your fellow agencies and call on them when you need help. I have made – and taken – a lot of calls to and from my fellow Keystone agents when one of us has some expertise or experience that can help the other one out. Making relationships like that with your peers is the ‘Keystone’ that makes our agency partnership really work.

The most positive change we’ve seen since joining Keystone is a can-do attitude that we didn’t used to have. When we were on our own, many times if we were presented with something difficult, we would check with our E&S brokers. If they didn’t have a market for it, we might have told someone we just couldn’t help them. It’s not just the market access that we get through Keystone – the core carriers, and the core wholesalers – it’s the network of peers we can ask for advice.”

North Carolina

Mountcastle Insurance

“One change we made was an update to our producer compensation program, which allowed us to attract a talented producer.  We have been quicker to identify poor performance and define expectations.  We’ve also got a lot more clarity around perpetuation and how that motivates partners and others.

Our number one piece of advice is to allow perpetuation to take place and let the new guys put some ideas in place and make mistakes.  We’ve really tried to empower staff to own roles and responsibilities that they may not have before and let them implement their own ideas.  A lot of the great ideas we have working right now have come from our staff.  Sometimes it’s hard to let go of control, but I think we’ve seen a great impact on our agency by empowering them to help in the decision-making process.”

Ohio

Huesman-Schmid Insurance Agency

(L-R): Amy Roberts, A.J. Schmid, Amy Meyer

“A small change that we made as an agency that made a big impact on our operations was implementing hybrid schedules. We were reluctant at first for this change, but we have a new work from home policy that is beneficial for the employee and the agency. When we came back to the office during Covid, 90% of our employees requested remote flexibility. We understood the job market is competitive; and to retain good employees, we needed to change our mindset and jump on board with the new remote world. We feel our employees are productive and appreciative of the changes we have made. Now that we are comfortable with remote employees, we have hired a full time Account Manager in a different city.

Our number one piece of advice for other agents is to culture relationships with fellow Keystone agencies so you can share your intellectual capital with them as they will with you. Developing such a partnership will allow you to emulate the best practices that make each of the agencies successful. We will be better together.”

Pennsylvania

RWR Insurance

L-R: Brian Pachtman, Bob Huxta, Tim Weaverling, Nate Roadman

“RWR is extremely fortunate to have been one of the first agencies in Keystone.  We joined in 1995.  The current partners were all pretty young at that time.  However, in the years we have been a part of the agency, it is clear that the relationships formed are the most positive part of Keystone.  Knowing that you can share information and never have to worry if that agent is trying to steal your client is, and will always be, invaluable. This knowledge sharing is what helps elevate and drive all of us forward.  We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the school bus program as well.  Keystone worked with Todd to initially set up the program, and it has been one of the lines of business that sets our agency apart from all our competitors.

Our number one piece of advice is simple.  In the words of Peter Drucker, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure.’ Utilize the resources that are available. They are what will help set you apart from the competition. For example, we use some form of the Risk Management services to sell almost every new commercial account that comes in the door now.”

Tennessee

Heritage Insurance Group

Row one (L-R): Brandon Thompson, Jeremy Stiltner, Jason Stiltner Row two (L-R): Kristin Weathers, Jennifer Hensley, Ginger Kirkpatrick, Sandy Dodson Row three (L-R): Elizabeth Stiltner, Kim Carberry, Elizabeth Quillen

 “There have been many changes in our agency in the last year, but a small one that’s had a big impact is that we’ve brought in higher-end talent from other industries and taught them the insurance business. These folks were very successful in their respective previous careers, so we felt that they could be equally successful in our industry, too.  We had to pay 30-40% more for these folks than we’ve historically paid, but it’s paying dividends at this point!  One new employee is currently managing the job duties previously held by two employees! There’s obviously a learning curve and we’ve had challenges, but after 6 months, we can see a huge difference in the agency.

I would say to try to stay involved as much as possible. Time is my most precious commodity, and it’s even more valuable since I took full ownership of the agency, but I’ve always found the Keystone meetings to be very beneficial. We are in the eastern part of the state, so traveling to Nashville or attending the Emerging Leaders conference requires me to be out of the office for at least 2 days. I know that when I return, I’ll be playing catch-up for a few days, but I’ve always benefited from these meetings. I find that upon my return, I’m fired up and inspired by what was shared.”

Virginia

Coverage Inc

Row one (L-R): John Mann, Marcela Rivera, Daniel Joe Stopski, Connie Witoski Keith Row two (L-R): Matthew Sweeney, William Michael Welch, Rosa Bonilla-Vargas, Maria Maxey

 “A small change we made within our agency is rather than having all decisions flow through me [John Mann], more of the decision making is now handled by Connie Keith, Joe Stopski, and Marcela Rivera.

The number one piece of advice I’d give to another agency is whatever they are looking for, they will be able to find it within Keystone. With all the vendors, different services Keystone offers, plus the agents who have so much knowledge, you are going to find what you need if you look hard enough. The most positive change I’ve seen in my agency since joining Keystone has been a shift from being a typical, writing small-to-medium size commercial agency, to focusing on middle market. [John’s] son was a producer at the agency; it became his thing, and he pulled us into that.”

 

Wisconsin

Walker Agency

“Joining Keystone wasn’t a small change, but by far has made the largest impact on our smaller family-owned agency.  We didn’t have some of the resources that Keystone has brought to the table. For our agency, utilizing the great network of people has been outstanding. Don’t be afraid to utilize the multiple resources Keystone has to offer. They want your agency, large or small, to grow and succeed as much as you want it to. They have the resources or know where to help find the resources you’re looking for to enhance your business.”