JOIN NOW
MEMBER LOGIN

HOME

AGENCIES

SPEAKING

OUR STORY

UPDATES & EVENTS

CONTACT US

UPDATES

Planning Agency Growth with Harrison Brooks of Reagan Consulting

 

This podcast episode, featuring Harrison Brooks of Reagan Consulting, discusses the exponential growth of an insurance agency and the importance of leadership in achieving such success. Harrison shares his insights on team management, emphasizing honesty and transparency. He also tackles the challenges faced by agency executives, encouraging them to face recruiters' approaches head-on and make informed decisions.

The conversation further delves into the skills of insurance producers, the significance of a good reputation, and the value proposition of a team. Harrison stresses the need for improvement in leadership among producers and the importance of being a relationship and culture-centric business. He also appreciates his team's perspective and approach, highlighting their unique values.

Later, Harrison offers advice to new producers, urging them to focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term gains.

Full Transcript

Brent Kelly (00:00):
How did one agency grow from $2 million in revenue to $35 million in revenue in only eight years? What's the significance of NUP in your insurance agency and how can you truly be creative to stand out to recruit the best talent in today's competitive marketplace? On today's Agent Leader podcast, I have Harrison Brooks, partner and consultant at Reagan Consulting. Enjoy the show. Welcome to the Agent Leader podcast. My name is Brent Kelly. I am your host, and thank you for joining me on this very special episode. Why is this a special episode you may ask? Well, if you're watching on video, you probably already know I have the man, the myth, the legend for Reagan Consulting, Harrison Brooks with me today. And Harrison's going to provide a great perspective from his vantage point in working with independent insurance agencies all over the country. And I'll let Harrison give more of a deeper background in bio, what they all do at Reagan and some of the things that he does just in a minute or so.
(00:58):
. Before I get into that and get before the interview, I always want to mention the purpose, the mission of the podcast to help you, the independent insurance agency leader, to help educate you, to empower you, equip you to become your best version possible. And if you're interested in learning more about working with us at the Sitkins Group, you can go to sitkins.com/fasttrack to learn about our 90 day FastTrack program to get your agency on the right course moving into 2024 and beyond. So with that, I want to dive into it, Harrison's a busy guy. He's got a lot of things going on, a lot of agencies, so I want to get right to the meat of the podcast. But Harrison, first of all, welcome to the Agent Leader podcast. It's great to have you.
Harrison Brooks (01:39):
Brent. Good to be here, man. It's going to be fun.
Brent Kelly (01:42):
Awesome. Well, what I first want to do is if you could Harrison, just share a little of the background of Harrison. I kind of joking before we went live that you're a young guy, you've got some young kiddos. I've been there. I guess I'm still kind of there. It feels like it goes on and on for me. But I know you're a husband, you're a dad, you're a partner at Reagan, you're a consultant. So give me the Harrison Brooks bio and maybe a little overview of Reagan as well.
Harrison Brooks (02:08):
Yeah, happy to. Well, yeah, I'm 34 years old. I've been in Reagan for eight years and a partner of the firm, but I'll rewind the journey I guess coming out of college, I'm born and raised in North Carolina, so I'm a college basketball fan, season about to start after our loss in football, the North Carolina Tar Heels to UVA last weekend. They busted our perfect season, but as any Tar Heel would tell you, we were expecting that to happen. We just didn't know when it was going to happen. So definitely big sports fan personally. Yeah, I've got two kids, two boys, a three and one year old, a wonderful wife. We've been married for about five years and lived here in Atlanta, Georgia. My story is really one of, I graduated business school at North Carolina Chapel Hill and I went to work in finance. So I entered, as you think about traditional classic Wall Street investment banking, working a hundred hours a week, did that for a couple of years and very quickly learned that that wasn't quite the pace that I wanted to have for the rest of my career.
(03:13):
And I went to work in private equity. So we actually were investors in businesses. So my first kind of four years out of school, two different stops, invested in everything from a trucking company to a chemical company to a staffing company, all different types of businesses. And then I got a friend that called me when I was at my private equity firm, he called me and said, Hey, I think you need to come down to Atlanta, Georgia and meet these folks at Reagan Consulting. And by the way, they specialize in insurance, insurance distribution, and of course your mind goes to what everyone thinks about when you think about insurance, right? It's the commercials on tv that's kind of a boring industry. I'm not sure I want to be a part of that, but like I did, anytime I was looking at any business to either sell or help invest in, I started to study the fundamentals of the insurance brokerage industry and honestly fell in love with it and I bet my career on it. Fast forward the clock, I've been here at Reagan for the past eight years. We're truly trusted advisors to agents and brokers all across the company. Our target kind of client is an owner of an agency that's looking to grow and take their business to the next level. And we don't push agendas or certain programs it's truly customized around the client, and look forward to unpacking that today. But yeah, that's a quick background on myself.
Brent Kelly (04:38):
Awesome. I love it. There's some stuff you shared that I didn't ask you for. I didn't know some of those things, so it was fascinating. And I will say this too, from my perspective, obviously I've had the fortune of getting to know Harrison and your team at Reagan the last couple of years with the Agency Leadership Institute that I've been part of with you all. Listen, Harrison, obviously you're a bright guy in your background. Yes, you're younger than me considerably. But I will say this too, it's always interesting. I always find it really uplifting when I hear someone who's in financing or that kind of mind that's also very entertaining and very engaging. And I mean that truly as a compliment when you as a team at Reagan, you are great consultants with your agency, but you have a good time doing it too, right?
(05:22):
You're real people, you're authentic, you care about others and it shines through in the work you do in getting to know you. So I know we'll have some fun in this interview and I also know we're going to tackle some really important stuff that you all do with agencies. So excited to do that. I want to start off with this, I'm guessing Harrison, that there's probably a time or two when you have a conversation with an agency leader that they express frustrations. I've got a challenge here, I've got a frustration here. And obviously we wouldn't have time to hit them all because we'd be here for the rest of the day and I promise you not a five hour podcast, so we're not going to do that. But if you could say maybe take one or two of some of the top challenges or frustrations that you hear from agencies that you work with and maybe some of the ways you or they have addressed those, I think it would be really fascinating for the audience to hear.
Harrison Brooks (06:16):
For sure. I think insurance agents, brokers, it's a people business, so frustrations, those can thematically, we can hit on a few of those, but it's really customized to the agency. So it starts with just listening and candidly, it's as easy as a conversation with this, "Hey Brent, what do you do today in your agency that you would love to not have to do anymore? That kind of sucks life out more than it gives life, right?" I was on the phone this morning with an agency owner and he is like, "Hey, we're $15 million in revenue and we want to go to 30, we want to take it to the next level, but I don't have the team around me to do that. How do we build it?" We just started brainstorming about that. So you're looking at what's below the top line. First off, you have to grow revenue and then beneath that, you have to make sure the infrastructure is set up to actually do that in a sustainable and thoughtful way.
(07:04):
What does your business look like when you double the size of your business? But I'd say right now if we just said the challenges that agents and brokers are facing, I think it depends on what lens you answer that question. So I'm going to answer that question from the majority of where our clients sit that are founder owned and operated, privately held in locally owned agencies that are looking to go from $5 million revenue to $10 million or $10 million to $100 million. I'd say the biggest single thing right now because of what's happened over the past eight years and the consolidation of our industry, and you read any headlines of mergers and acquisitions, firms are getting bigger. It's a consolidation of the brokerage space and it's this dynamic of scale and the ability of that. There's 18 firms now, I looked at it the other day, that are over a billion dollars in revenue.
(07:53):
A billion. 20 years ago, there were three. In the past year, there's been 5 billion brokers that are created. Now it's easy to pick one or two of those 18 firms and poke fun at them and say, Hey, well they, they're worse organization today than they were when they were 10 times smaller. And I agree with that. I think there's definitely some that you could poke holes in. But the privately held, locally owned agency that's got the founder leading it, he's having to try to figure out and compete with these larger organizations of which many are trying to recruit and take their people. You grow up and you invest in your employees and then all of a sudden X, Y, Z national broker comes in and offers to hire that person at a 50% raise in compensation and they can't compete with that. So agents and brokers are doing the hard work of taking someone that's green or doesn't know the industry and investing in them, pouring into them.
(08:48):
And then there's this little thing called economics that gets in the way. And so it is helping firms compete on the ground from a scale perspective, and then it's retaining that talent that's ultimately going to unlock future growth for their firm. And so I think it's that balance of making sure your firm has the resources you need to compete and win on the street, but then you also have to have the people that do it. And we can talk about, do you partner with other firms to do that? There's a lot of ways in which you can do that. You don't have to build it yourself or in there's some cases where there's not a solution that exists today outside of selling your firm and joining a larger player. How can you do that on your own and kind of compete, play in the market? So I think that the pressure that firms are feeling from a scale perspective, the heightening in terms of the battle for talent is what we're going to see continue to be a challenge and a frustration for leaders. And there's always the age old frustration of many leaders of agents and brokers are terrific producers and sales individuals,
(09:53):
Some of them are not great at running a business. And I mean, no offense at that, it's that's not what they get up to do every day and they're passionate about. And so how can you as a leader, if that's truly your goal and your natural goal, empower and equip those people beneath you to take on some of those roles and get back to doing what you love to do. And so those are just some of some recent conversations that I've had with agency principals and some of those challenges.
Brent Kelly (10:19):
Yeah, that's fascinating. And I mean, not surprising, but it is interesting in the sense of a couple things and I want to go unpack a couple of those, maybe go a little bit deeper with you. The last thing you said was made me smile, because something we kind of joke about is how many of you ever started off as a great sales producer, ended up running an agency and it's like it's different. I love to go out and sell. I love those and I don't really want deal with this, but I guess I have to. And part of what you're saying is maybe not right, and we talk about that too, maybe not. There's some different things you could do. So I think that's interesting. And I think the other thing too, you mentioned college sports, this is my analogy, I dunno if you agree or disagree, but I think we see in college sports with NIL, with the transfer portal, I think there are a lot of similarities in the sense of, especially you think about mid-size colleges or maybe not the blue blood so to speak.
(11:10):
How do we compete? We got people taking, they're transferring away, they're trying to recruit our players away from us, plus we're out trying to bring in new talent and they're recruiting us against us there. What do we do? So I know this is a really broad question, Harrison, so I don't want to, but I guess you mentioned how do we compete, and maybe this will get to the success stories of things. How have you seen agencies being able to compete? They go, we don't have the economics, the resource that some of these people have, but there are a few things that we can do. So what are some things maybe you've seen from that perspective?
Harrison Brooks (11:42):
Yeah, I think it starts with being really honest in the sense of you know your account executives and your producers are getting called on every day. They're getting reached out on a message on LinkedIn. And you can either choose not to accept that or you can lean into it and address the issue head on and give them the questions to ask. When that person does, reach out from a recruiter perspective and ask them what is it like to actually work there? Okay, you're going to give me stock in the agency or this incentive plan. Well tell me about how your company's actually valued if this happened, what would that equity be worth? Equipping those producers as an example that are being promised the world. And then you actually start to ask a few questions and the grass is not always greener. And unfortunately, a lot of producers, and hopefully a lot of them are listening to this podcast.
(12:36):
They're terrific at what they do in terms of selling and producing insurance brokerage. But when you actually get into the corporate finance behind the corporate structure of a lot of these firms that are taking and poaching that talent buyer beware, be really careful in terms of the organizations you're joining. The grass is not always greener. So that's one equipping your people. So you have to equip them with the questions to ask. Number two, you've got to offer more than just economics. Okay, I pay my people more. Well, guess what, you're not going to win. That's a zero sum game. So we work with a lot of our clients in terms of equity incentive programs. It doesn't mean you have to make every single person in your company an owner, but what time of, is it deferred compensation, phantom equity? Is it for producer or some equity in their book?
(13:27):
Something more than just the cash you pay them today to get them thinking like an owner, thinking about the top line and the bottom line. So you've got to build something in that they think twice about it from an economic perspective. There's a pain point there. The third thing is institutionalizing business. Make your agency a place that a producer or an account executive never wants to leave because they wouldn't get the same client service, the same client experience at another firm. People forget that the folks that are working in our industry are highly relational and their clients are their friends. It's in the community. And that's too often overlooked. And the disruption that someone would face in terms of leaving the agency and the impact that would have on their friends and their clients is not insignificant. And so that's where I've seen a lot of the success stories just you have to pay people well, you have to have a culture that people want to be in. You have to preach that culture. You have to be willing to face those kind of hard conversations that exist. And then ultimately you have to be delivering and institutionalizing the business beyond just the individual because the individual that's not sustainable over time to really build repeatable programs. So can get into some specific examples of success stories, but those are just kind of three quick action items that when we talk to clients that we're always encouraging them to think about.
Brent Kelly (14:51):
Those are fantastic. Harrison, one of the things I wrote down just kind of overall, so as you said is you got to be creative, right? I mean, part of this is, well, we just kind of always do it this way and I don't know why we can't compete. Well, I think one of my things that I always say, I probably said in this podcast, I said the best part about being independent is you're independent. The biggest challenge of being independent is you're independent. But the advantage side of things is you can be creative, you can find ways to be unique, the old cliche of thinking outside the box so to speak, but it's true. So I think that's important. I think you said Harrison, I want to dive deep and that was just a fantastic response is you mentioned, we talked about how many really good insurance producers, great insurance producers, may be average leaders or feel that way or that's not where they want to be doing, but really they're really good at a sales process for the client.
(15:42):
A lot of it's very similar with their team. If they could just understand the relationship of that. I mean, you think about a hard market right now and some of the difficult conversations. If you were out with a piece of business or an account that you write, would you just hope that problem goes away or would you be proactive and educate? Well, you'd be proactive and educate. That's what you're talking about with your team members. You're probably going to get this call. This is what's going to happen. How are we going to react to this versus you got what? And you're surprised. So you're nodding your head, you want to comment on that. I mean, you agree with some of those statements as far as being creative and also even though you're an insurance producer by heart, you can use some of those skills on your team.
Harrison Brooks (16:24):
The world right now we all feel it is shifting and moving at an insanely fast pace, look at what happened, which I mean take interest rates. If you're looking to buy a home that feels a lot different than it did 12, 16, 20 months ago, well guess what? For a young producer looking to buy stock in an agency, that feels a lot different. The mechanisms that were used two years ago are not the same mechanisms that are used today. I recently wrote an article about this in our ReaganView distribution list about solving for the affordability of stock. And so that's an example of your perpetuation program. Do you need to refresh it? It doesn't mean you have to redo it or put something else completely new in. And it starts with a conversation, just like you talked about that producer working with their staff and educating them.
(17:11):
It is talking to people inside of your organization, hearing the pain points and then looking to solve them as opposed to just hoping that they go away because that just hoping obviously is not a strategy. And so I think especially in the market we're in right now, producers that are finding themselves to be very successful thematically I've found are embracing things like team selling. When you go and you're introducing your service staff, you're introducing your team, you're introducing the resources, you're thinking way far in advance of the policy renewal. And that changes the whole dynamic. It actually creates producers to move from producers to consultants. I actually don't love the term producers. If you're the client, you're like, I just want to be produced. I mean it really that consultancy nature, that's an example for me at Reagan. I'm not a producer. I don't have a quote over my head on how much business I have to produce.
(18:06):
I listen to clients' problems, we customize solutions and we solve them. And that creates referrals and that creates, you do right by someone. And that's replicated outside of the agency for a producer trying to sell a new policy inside of the agency in terms of building teams. And so I think that is, especially right now in this market dynamic, so important to be thinking about just different ways to approach the problem because everyone's feeling pressure right now. And if you're not, you're probably not in the office and you probably aren't working that hard if you're not feeling the pressure.
Brent Kelly (18:36):
Yeah, no, there's definite pressure out there. I think that's again, fantastic perspective on that. And of course you've heard me talk in different sessions too. I'm a hundred percent aligned with those things you mentioned and whether it's joint selling or team selling or different perspective and certainly be involved in niches. I mean, I'm a big believer if it's me versus the world, you're going to have a problem. And there's a reason why there's a team, and I always say there's the producer, which by the way makes them really good, and I'm with you by the way. I wouldn't go out to a client and go, I'm a producer, so my job is to sell business to you. But obviously their job is to bring in business for the agency. But it's just to go out there and to be able to introduce your team and understand this.
(19:20):
But there's this rugged individualist that makes producers really good but also limits them, right? And part of what got you here is probably not going to get you there. And what's that next step? So maybe this is part of some success stories you want to share, Harrison, or whatever it's you want to share, but obviously you as an organization at Reagan, you work with lots of agencies, you've been very successful, obviously you do all kinds of different services. You said earlier a lot of them, they're customized to what the client's looking for and what they need. But just for the audience, what are some success stories that you've either had personally or Reagan has had and working with clients and why did it work? What are some things you're doing? They go, this really works. So take notes everybody at home.
Harrison Brooks (20:06):
Yeah, it works if the firm wants to execute, right? We can give ideas or suggestions, but ultimately there's one common theme that I think a lot of our clients share that are super successful and they have dynamic leaders that are truly passionate about growing the organization and putting in the hard work like full stop, you have to put in the work. But I'll give a story of this will be my kind of organic growth story and then I'll give a couple other success stories we've seen. When I got to the firm eight years ago, I remember a firm came into our office. It was a son perpetuating the business from his mother and his father and his best friend. And they came in, there were a couple million dollars in revenue today, they're $35 million in revenue eight years later. How they do it, well, we sat around a room and they recognize, hey, I'd rather have a smaller piece of a bigger pie.
(20:52):
And so we helped them create and build a producer book equity incentive program. So as producers grew their books of business, they got equity in the agency, by the way, that equity is not voting equity. They didn't give up operational control or they're passionately independent, they don't want to sell the firm. But those producers have the same class of stock and the same economics as the owners and they hire and consistently invest in new unvalidated producers. So we have a metric at Reagan called NUPP your net investment of unvalidated producer payroll. How much are you investing in those unvalidated producers? Basically, right? You're floating them salary before they become validated, their commissions support their actual compensation. They are always two or three times industry average. Top quartile investment metric, 2.8% of revenue in our best practice study is what firms are spending on unvalidated producers.
(21:53):
They're constantly 2x that at least over the history of their firm. Meanwhile, they've also recognized, hey, there's a lot of other ways to grow as well. And so they went into their local market, but some of these agencies that maybe did not have a track record of growth, high profitability, good names in the industry and said, Hey, come join us. We're really good at the growth thing, but we don't have the track record in the history and the name that your firm has. And they kind of infused growth and broaden new life. So they've done some opportunistic acquisitions of those firms, used debt capital to do that. They didn't sell their equity in the firm, so they have full control. And then lo and behold, 7, 8 years later, their 35 million in revenue and a top quartile growth performer. So that's one example of kind of a success story.
(22:45):
The other I would say is I was meeting with a firm in the Midwest and this firm is about $5 million bucks in revenue, and we did a valuation for as part of what we do, we set the stock price of the agency and they had a lot of good stuff going on and they had a lot of great ideas, but they just needed the permission to go for it. They needed the outside perspective to say, yeah, make that investment. Go hire that producer. It set up a personalized department with a leader in it and hire two more service staff. This business has great margins in it. Why wouldn't you invest in it? And it's going to be okay. It's going to pay off. It's going to be a short-term investment for kind of a long-term gain. And so I think kind of having the courage to make investments in the business, but also making thoughtful and wise investments in the business is a key thing too. So those are a couple success stories and happy to give others, but I think organic growth in this market is absolutely vital, but also running a profitable business is important too. That's a very important dynamic.
Brent Kelly (23:55):
Yeah, great. Both examples are great. That first one, I mean I'm sure people go on, they went to what, what in eight years? Pretty substantial. And certainly we have agencies we see great growth. That's incredible to see that. One thing, just a couple of comments on that. It's interesting. The last part that you said, again, not surprising, but it's one of those things that we miss, and heck, I miss this a lot too, is just our mind plays funny games if we're not careful. And one of the things we talk about is beliefs, behaviors, results, and it really does start with belief. Like this idea, oh, well, that's easy. It's like the Ted Lasso, Believe! But truly is what do you believe about your agency? I mean, do you believe you're a sales organization? Do you believe you're worth this amount of money? Do you believe in growth?
(24:43):
I mean, it sounds very simple, but a lot of agencies are like, well, I guess I've never really thought about that or didn't really think we could do it. And I'm with you. It's the outside voice. It's interesting. It's funny because I'm sure there's times, and I don't want to speak for you, so if I'm wrong here, correct me. But there are times that maybe you make a suggestion or idea or two that's kind of obvious and they go, oh, Harrison, thank you so much. I was wondering about that. And you're right, we're going to go do that. And you're like, I don't think that was anything incredible. But what they're really saying is, I kind of knew it all along. I just wasn't able to take the leap and now I'm going to, right now I'm going to do that. So I think that's a really powerful thing you shared.
(25:24):
And then of course, just this idea of the strategy behind some of those things, like thinking long-term on that. So fantastic. Harrison, I appreciate you sharing that. Maybe I'll ask one more thing on this just to go deeper, because you talked about NUPP and it is an important thing just in general, my curiosity. I mean, obviously you guys put the best practice to study out there with the big eye, and you look at this and some of these things are looked at how many agencies or what percentage maybe? And if you don't have an answer, give me an idea. How many agencies actually look at that, make that as part of something they consider?
Harrison Brooks (25:59):
Well, most of the agencies we're working with do because that's where their mindset is. I think that kind of growth-minded attracted to like, Hey, let's invest in our business and hire a consultant or call you Brent or call me and how do we grow? But I'd say the majority don't. I mean, if there's 35,000 agents and brokers out there, there's a lot of lifestyle businesses that are out there, and you've got the average age of agency owners at 58 years old. And lifestyle businesses are businesses that are not growing. They're doing business the same way they did 20, 30 years ago. And they're more focused on how much cash can I take out of the business this year than they are, "What investments can we make?" The conversation is about how much money I pull out versus the investments I can make. It's a lifestyle business.
(26:46):
So those firms I don't think are focused on enough. But that is, if there's one thing, if you're listening to this podcast, I really encourage folks to say, what is our investment on a validated producers? Because there's a little staggering statistic here. I think the industry's a little bit of sleep with this. When we track organic growth of the industry of agents and brokers every quarter, it's free to participate in our growth and profitability survey. If people want to do it, it takes 10 or 15 minutes to complete, shoot me a note or our team here at Reagan, we can get you hooked up with that. But we are hitting double digit organic growth right now for an industry historical context that was around 4 to 6%. A lot of that, most of it's being driven by inflation and a hard market. So if inflation slows down and the market slows down, agencies could see black line growth or negative growth.
(27:39):
And what's happened is because they're growing at double digits, its life is better than it's ever been from a metric perspective. But if you actually, I did this, I ran this the other day. If you actually look at the investment of unvalidated producers, even for the Best Practices Agencies in certain size categories, it's actually going down over the past three years, it's been going down. So while we've had this incredible run through covid, everyone's feeling great, we're kind of taking our foot off the gas in terms of investing in unvalidated producers. And we all know it takes a long time to get an Unvalidated producer ramped up. So if you take three years off, it's going to be a long time to get the engine kind of restarted. Not to mention just the muscle that you build internally. And so that's just a big encouragement for folks. Don't be satisfied with just, oh, we're double digit. We're going to good. I would encourage everyone to benchmark yourselves against the industry and always strive to be a top quartile performer. So it's less about a percentage and it's more about how do I be a top quartile performer? If you're doing that, you're going to be one of the agencies that wins and thrives over the long run.
Brent Kelly (28:42):
That's fantastic perspective. I mean, hopefully everyone was listening and writing some of that down because first of all, I was going to ask you about lifestyle agencies and you nailed it, right? And it's not that even I personally was like, Hey, I don't begrudge you. If you want to be a lifestyle agency, we're just probably not going to work well together.
Harrison Brooks (28:57):
No, it's great if you can make a million bucks in cash a year and work 20 hours a week, I don't fault you for it.
(29:03):
Just name it. I mean, that's cool. That's great. Just name it.
Brent Kelly (29:08):
I don't want to invest anything. I don't want to work harder, but we want to grow to X. Like no, it doesn't quite work that way, but go ahead and enjoy your money. Good for you. I'm okay with that. One of my favorite quotes, Harrison, as you said that, and I'm really glad you mentioned that. I was going to bring it up anyway, but you see these growth rates and people are like, "look at us go," right? And I get it, but the Warren Buffett quote, I love it says, "when the tide rolls out, we'll know who's been swimming naked", right? I mean, it is one of those where it's like, we're great. But you're right. Not only when changes and it will shift, it's not, oh, I wonder. It's when it will shift. And then like you said, not only which, by the way, I hadn't heard you say that before about going the other direction, which is pretty scary. But then how long is it going to take to even get momentum back because we haven't been doing that today. Really interesting and powerful. So you mentioned a few ways that things you do, some of the agency valuations, the articles that you publish for our audience, Harrison, how can people learn more about Reagan, connect to some of the things that you do? I know you've got some great services. How can they get some free stuff and how can they pay you a lot of money and work with you that way too?
Harrison Brooks (30:24):
Yeah, either one. Well, I prefer the latter. Spend a lot of money to work with, of course. No, truly, we love this industry. We're in it for the long run. Most of our client relationships are 15, 20 year client relationships, of which I've significantly benefited from. I have a big thanks to Bobby Reagan and Kevin Stipe and the work they've done. It's like the proverb says, "a good name is worth an immense amount of riches," and I've been blessed to be part of the Reagan Consulting team. And what we do is really pretty simple. I mean, there's a few things we do and we're focused on what we do. We're not all things to all people. We help from a consulting perspective, so strategic planning, industry benchmarking, "Hey, how's my firm performing on a metrics perspective," using the facts and figures to chart a strategic pathway.
(31:13):
We're not getting into, I would say the operational consulting of what agency management systems. You start to get to that level. That's not what we do. But helping firms say, Hey, I want to double the size of my business. How do I do that? And it's not just our opinion, but I'm pulling from the wisdom and the knowledge of those folks that have done it before that I've just been blessed to be able to work with. So that's number one. Number two is valuation. So hey, what's my firm worth? And one, why does it matter? Well, it's all pretty much under the lens of perpetuation. Like I said, the average age of an industry owner is 58 years old. They have to sell their stock and get it to the next generation. There's a lot of family businesses that exist. What's the most tax efficient way to do that?
(31:58):
If this industry truly we're in this transfer portal world with talent, how do you lock down that talent using your equity as a tool and actually weaponizing it to incentivize and enhance your growth? So we'll help agencies set their stock wise, stock price, build perpetuation plans, and that's customized to the agency because as you can imagine, you have different corporate structures. There's a lot of dynamics. Some firms are high profit, low growth, high growth, low profits. There's a lot that goes into that. And then the third piece of what we do that we've actually evolved as a business, we started as a consulting firm, and then we've morphed into also a hybrid like investment bank. So mergers and acquisitions, right? Over the past nine years, we've continually hit record levels of acquisition. There's some firms that don't have that perpetuation plan in place or say, Hey, I don't have the energy, or I want to join X, Y, Z firm.
(32:50):
I can get those resources as opposed to building them myself. And this is their biggest single biggest asset, and they want to make sure they get the highest price possible. We'll help them do that. The contrary side of that is that firm that's like, man, we see acquisitions as part of our strategy. Like that firm that I said that opportunistic M&A, we'll help them do those deals and make sure they don't stub their toe while they're doing it. We'll help them raise the capital to do it, debt capital, equity capital, putting a facility in place with a bank to be able to do that. And just recently, we just put out a press release on it. I think this speaks to a lot of how we work. Lawley Insurance is a big firm in the northeast. If you look at the business insurance top 100, it's a hundred plus million in revenue.
(33:34):
They just took a minority investment from a family office and we helped them raise that capital so they could continue to invest in organic growth, do a little bit more mergers and acquisitions, but still remain privately held, but they needed a different source of capital to do that. But again, it's not the capital, it's not that. It's the firm's strategy. And then we figure out what tools that firm needs to do it. We're building a producer and equity incentive plan as an example, and so all centered around the client. And so how can you engage with us? There's a lot of things we have for free. If you look at our website, we've got a lot of industry research on a lot of these topics that we publish get on our ReaganView list, or we have articles and publications if you follow us on LinkedIn. And then we have that growth and profitability survey, which is free. It has industry commentary every quarter that we write, talking about the different lines kind of growth rates, whether it's employee benefits, commercial lines and personal lines. And then always just open for a conversation. So my email address is [email protected]. Shoot me a note and be happy to connect.
Brent Kelly (34:40):
That's awesome. Yeah, thank you, Harrison. I think, again, part of this is like, I know they're really good. I know there's lots of stuff. What is it? And I think you encapsulated that really well. And I said this before and I know we were having some fun, but I do mean it. I just, the last couple of years getting the chance to know you obviously Harrison, but your team better. You're obviously really good at what you do, which is great, but there's a value prop of who you are as human beings. And you said it's a relationship business, it's a culture business. It's true. It matters. And I just appreciate and applaud what you all do from that perspective as well, because let's face it, not everybody in the business world has that same perspective. So we appreciate that. And again, there's a lot of things I know that we talk about the best practice study.
(35:25):
We talk about some of the stuff that you put out, Harrison and your team on the Reagan view all the time because it's really good stuff. And I will say self-serving wise things that we do is we look at trying to change the, culture and behaviors and actions of what people do and accountability, all the things that you talk about. It's like, yeah, that's great. Now how do we do it right? And so I think there's a great blend of that as well. So I appreciate you sharing that. I have one more question. Are you ready?
Harrison Brooks (35:52):
I'm ready.
Brent Kelly (35:53):
This is the big one. This is the big one. All right. And by the way, you don't have to go back very far. I didn't even know how far you need to go back. You said you're 34, you're young when you say your age right away too, by the way.
Harrison Brooks (36:04):
Well, you said it. Everyone's wondering. They're like, if they're looking at the video, they're like, man, who's this intern at Reagan? So you've got the intern on the podcast.
Brent Kelly (36:13):
Hey, I'm going to give you a little perspective here though. It hasn't been that long. Well, maybe a little bit since I was 34, but boy, it does start to change quickly, especially with those young kids, Harrison, they'll age you, but alright, anyway, here's my question. If you were having a conversation with the younger version of you and let's just say getting out of college, Harrison, kind of that age, maybe early twenties, and that little younger Harrison ran into the current bright, sharp, knowledgeable Harrison at 34 and he said older Harrison, I need one piece of advice from you, what would it be? What would you tell your younger self?
Harrison Brooks (36:48):
Yeah, I think I was more just, I had a thesis back then that was like, Hey, do what you like and don't worry too much about the exact path that everyone says you have to go down. And I would just encourage myself to do that. And I would focus on, I think the biggest thing is if you're a producer listening to this or something like, and I've seen this over and over in my career of don't focus on the biggest economics in the short term. Focus on the place that you're going to be successful and you're going to, the environment still has to line up with those things. It has to be close, but if you put yourself in the right environment, then you'll be successful. And that's candidly, that's my story at Raegan. It is just, it's the right environment and it's a company and it's a culture that wants to see us develop in a professional sense and a personal sense. And so that would just be my encouragement of, I know there's so much pressure, especially even with folks coming out of school and having young kids of like, this is the exact path you have to go down. I remember a lot of people when I came to Reagan said, wait, you're not going back and getting your MBA. And I'm like, no, I want to go and actually work. And that's what I enjoy doing. And oh, by the way, I'd love to make money and get paid for it as opposed to going into debt.
(38:08):
And that's been, at the time, it was kind of a, I don't know if I was making the right decision. And now in hindsight, man, it's been so fun because I just, you get to work with folks you enjoy and doing what you love, but at the same time, that doesn't come at the expense of, I think it needs to be said of hard work. People are always like, do what you love. It's also a job and it's also work. Being an insurance producer or that service to that person is not always great. But when you see the end result of how you help that client or protect that company, when they have that issue or that claim that popped up, it's super gratifying. And so that's what I would just encourage myself on, follow what you love and not necessarily the initial price act.
Brent Kelly (38:51):
He's wise, he's young, but he's wise. Listen, I love it. I mean, I always try to take what people say and make a quick note of it, but it's like kind of like, don't fight your gut, right? There's the internal thing we've got in there and it's like, you should do this, or this is the path. This is what everybody does. And somewhere you're like, again, maybe that's right for you, but you may go, I don't know, there's something different there and this is what I want. And it is amazing. Certainly as a younger person, you don't know, so you fight some of that. So great advice, Harrison. We could all learn from that. Well, thank you very much. I want to respect your time. I promise we'd be done here. I'm a little later than I said, but I think, I don't think I know the audience is going to get great insight from what you shared. A lot of great perspective there. And I do mean this, that if Reagan, Harrison, and their team can help you out, reach out to them and use them as a resource and a guide. And we certainly at Sitkins appreciate what you offer to the marketplace. So thanks Harrison for being a guest. We appreciate you.
Harrison Brooks (39:50):
Absolutely. Likewise, brother.
Brent Kelly (39:52):
Awesome. Well, again, my final call to action, me being a producer here, Harrison, somewhere deep in my gut, please listen. If you're an agency and you are looking to get on a great path of success about behaviors and accountability, go check out the Sitkins FastTrack. It's sitkins.com/fasttrack. It's a 90 day live, interactive, engaging process. We're going to help your agency install the right behaviors to get you to where you want to be. And of course, talk to Reagan too. All right, so thank you Harrison, very much to the podcast listeners, I wish you all the best in your success. And guess what? We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks.

 

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

Helping independent insurance agencies achieve their dreams for over 40 years.

BOOK A CALL

QUICK LINKS

MEMBERSHIP | SPEAKING | BOOK
SALES | SERVICE | LEADERSHIP
AGENT LEADER PODCAST
ASSOCIATIONS | CARRIERS
CONTACT US

CONTACT

5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd
Suite 107
Fort Myers, FL 33907
239.337.2555 | 877.SIT.KINS