I asked my good friend, Davan Johnson, to let me pick his brain recently. He's the owner and founder of Davan Enterprises Insurance Agency, as well as a integral part of his community and active member of several service organizations in and around his home town of Bristol, Tennessee. We discussed his insurance business, his thoughts on finding clients and sales in general. He offers great insight and I thought it would be helpful to know what makes us insurance agents tick.
Thanks for talking with me Davan. First off, I'm curious as to how you got into the insurance business.
I had left a career in the restaurant industry that I thought I was going to retire from but quickly realized that I didn't actually own or have control of my destiny. So I was trying to decide what was next. I knew this time I wanted to do something that created residual and passive income. I chose insurance because I had been around it all my life with my mom using it as a fall back position. She was typically always an employee though, not an agent. But I remember pretending to fill out paper applications in an empty office whenever I had to be at the office with mom. She had a whole office building to herself with multiple offices, kitchen and waiting area. Additionally, I wanted to have a business that would allow me the time and freedom to choose my own schedule, as well as spend time with family for vacation and holidays. I had given up a lot of that working in the restaurant business.
Tell me how you find your prospects.
I used to do a lot of cold calling when I started out. I'd spend my time making lists and driving to make impromptu appointments, wasting a lot of gas going back and forth. Driving ALL day and almost all week to only get one or two appointments, and possibly resulting in one case or actual sale out of that. Now a lot of people make it in the business cold calling and that's great for them, but I have come to realize how I work best. So I begun doing more networking. Joining groups and setting up one-on-one meetings to get to know each other, which present warm leads and referrals. My business is about 90% referrals now. I work smarter, not harder, and these people are actually calling me. They are the ones have need, have time and money to spend on my services. I also positioned myself to offer unique products that most insurance agents don't so I can work with other agents and not be seen as a threat or competitor.
Is there a product you think everyone should have?
Yes, I think there are several but one of the most uncommon ones is Legal Insurance. Unlike any other insurance we carry you don't have to wait for something BAD to happen before you can use it. You can be proactive. It's like an attorney on retainer with the power of a law firm in your pocket thanks to the apps and technology. When I was unemployed for a certain duration trying to figure what my next step was there were two budget items I was resolute not to cancel: My life insurance and my legal plan. People don't know this type of thing exists and yet it is so powerful giving people peace of mind so they don't have to check their checkbook before they can check their rights.
How do you prepare for a client meeting?
I actually use a worksheet to help guide me to the result of the meeting. But also, I try to review their social profiles to learn about them. I use the FOR method: Family, Occupation and Recreation to get to know them. It's all about finding out what is best for the client's needs.
Has Covid affected your practice?
Not much, because I have positioned my agency to be more of a referral business. Because of that it is important to keep the networking relationships strong. And during some of the downtime I've been able to re-evaluate systems in the my business.
What did you do with your first commission check?
Well, after I learned to reconcile a commission statement I most likely saved most of it because I didn't know when the next one would come. We got paid weekly. I do know that I finally had some gas money and recouped what I spent on insurance licenses. I honestly don't remember how much my first check was which is sad, but I do remember my "can sell date" was 9/29/2012. That was the day I was officially able to sell and write my own policies. In my first month I had earned several awards, but no one was really there to mentor me on "cycles" of insurance or that when you get the BIG checks to hold some back for the slow times. Since then I pay myself a livable income and save the rest as an "emergency fund".
Tell me about an usual or strange encounter you've had with a client.
The one encounter that comes to mind was when I was completing a life insurance application for a client. I had spoken to the client over the phone several times and the plan was that during our first in-person meeting we complete the app and submit it. This individual had the appearance of a male but when answering the questions on the application, everything was female. It was awkward for me because I had to get past some preconceptions and this was my first experience in this kind of situation. I basically decided that ultimately it was a decision for the underwriter and not me. So I filled out the application as the person responded and submitted it. It was issued! I had heard stories of people doing this before in order to get a more favorable rate, since females can get cheaper rates. Anyway, in this person's case it was legitimate and I was just unprepared for it.
Thanks for your time, Davan!
I hope you were able to get some quality information out of this interview. I always enjoy listening to successful agents and learning a thing or two. At Surf Financial we strive to grow and help our clients in the best ways possible.
If you have any questions about this interview let us know in the comment section. And as always, stay healthy
Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, as well as a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient.