There are several ways to shop for insurance, and most consumers would prefer to spend their time doing something else. Understanding coverages can be complicated and stressful, and selecting the wrong coverage can leave consumers devastated in the event of an uncovered loss.
Insurance doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful, though. Brightway Insurance is a national property/casualty insurance distribution company that sells through local insurance experts who leave no stone unturned when advising their customers. With access to more insurance companies, Brightway Agents are able to build a package of policies customized to meet every customer’s unique needs. What’s more, customers need only one telephone number to reach Brightway’s awardwinning Customer Service Center.
Michael Miller, Brightway President and CEO, who co-founded the company with his brother, David Miller, Executive Chairman, sheds some light on the importance of selecting the right insurance policy and how the company is helping consumers choose the right package of policies, through an interview conducted with The Franchise Universe.
“Brightway provides everything you need to grow your Agency as fast as possible, including award-winning after-the-sale service.”
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of Brightway Insurance, and its journey since inception.
After running an independent insurance agency in Jacksonville, Florida, for five years, my brother, David, and I looked at what the insurance market offered consumers and asked the question, “What should be?” We determined that consumers would benefit from having a local agent who could provide expert counsel and choice from many different insurance brands and products.
We also determined that Agents could sell more policies if a dedicated Customer Service team handled customer service needs, so we invented the “You sell, we service” business model and began franchising in 2008. Since then, the business has evolved to provide holistic business support to franchisees, and we have grown to more than 300 locations in 25 states in the U.S. supporting the insurance needs of more than 300,000 customers coast-to-coast.
As a business leader, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Insurance and franchise industry?
We are a recession-proof business, so while many other businesses suffered during the pandemic, we were able to grow and prosper. In fact, the average pre-tax operating profit for the top 25% of Brightway Agencies open for at least five years grew by more than 25% in 2020, and these top 25% Brightway Agencies averaged over $1 million in revenue in 2020. *
Insurance is an essential product that everyone needs regardless of economic conditions. Like many businesses, the pandemic certainly changed the way we work. Many of us who previously worked in the office every day are now working remotely on a full-time or part-time basis.
Because of the technology we had in place when the pandemic sent everyone to their homes, we were able to quickly adapt and have the more than 900 people in our system working remotely in a matter of four days. It was a remarkable feat, and we’re so proud of the work of our people for adapting quickly while continuing to serve our Agents and customers.
As we grew more efficient and comfortable with operating in a virtual environment, we saw new ways and opportunities to connect. We moved our Day of Discovery in-person event for franchise candidates to a completely virtual experience, transitioned training for new hires and new franchisees to a virtual format and introduced new franchise models and opportunities to start a franchise from home.
Being flexible and open to new ways of doing business helped us grow during the recession.
What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes Digital Transformation?
As more and more consumers come to rely on technology to meet their everyday needs, it makes sense that businesses adapt to provide not only what customers already expect, but more importantly that we work aggressively to lean forward and get ahead of them so we can exceed their expectations.
In 2020, we introduced a new powerful, easy-to-use program that provides franchisees with a graphical display of their business results and lets them filter for specific information.
We also continue to provide our franchisees with Predictive Index, a world-class candidate assessment tool that we’ve benchmarked with the best Producers in the Brightway system to help franchisees select the best candidates for hire.
One of the technology advancements we’re currently developing for our agents is a new online intake form to make quoting and selling policies easier.
David and I built our company around our vision for what should be, and because of the successful model along with a great team and fantastic business partners in our franchisees, we’ve built a company that far exceeds the expectations we had in 2008 when we started.
Please list the popular services that make your company standout from the competition.
For consumers, we offer more choice of insurance brands than most independent agencies and expert counsel from local agents supported by a national brand.
Brightway franchisees sell Home, Flood, Condo, Renters, Personal Articles, Auto, Umbrella, Motorcycle, Boat, RV, Life and Business insurance.
For franchisees, we provide a holistic business platform that empowers them to build a successful business regardless of whether they have insurance experience. We have a team of more than 400 professionals dedicated to providing expertise and support in areas including Customer Service, Accounting, Marketing, Distribution, Business Analytics, Technology, Carrier Appointments, Licensing, Training, Hiring and Retaining personnel. Our signature after-the-sale service empowers franchisees to focus on their customers and growing their business and their sales teams.
Another important part of our model and a chief differentiator of Brightway as a franchise opportunity is our franchisees’ ability to earn residual income as policies renew year after year. Very simply, a Brightway franchisee earns insurance commission every single time a policy renews.
How do you turn Insurance solutions into a franchise with Brightway’s easier, faster, and more cost-effective services?
We understand how to operate a successful insurance agency and have built a model to support people who want to leverage this to build their own Brightway enterprise. We use our size to get the best price for products for our franchisees, such as office equipment and technology, and pass that savings on to our franchisees. Unlike a lot of franchise companies, we don’t profit off the materials our franchisees need to run their business.
As a matter of fact, we operate using a Win, Win, 3 Win (Win) mandate, meaning everything we do must be a win for our franchisees, a win for our customers and a win for the company. Brightway’s success is defined in only one way: By the success of our partners.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into Insurance Industry?
Insurance is a recession-proof business, and the best part is you earn residual income when a policy renews. We work hard to maintain industry leading retention rates because everyone in the business benefits when our customers renew their policies.
So, if you have a knack for sales, whether it be in insurance or another industry, Brightway provides the support of a national brand to help you achieve success as a Brightway franchise owner. And we are an aligned business partner; we only grow when our franchisees grow.
How do you envision on sustaining your company’s competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?
We focus on building the best system possible for our franchisees because when they are successful, we’re successful.
We’re working to leverage technology to the fullest to offer a better customer experience, providing customers with service when, where and how they want it. We’re also working to provide a better sales experience for our Agents. Our goal is to help them sell, so we focus on systems and processes that will help them do that more easily and with more efficiency.
As a family owned business, we aim to help everyone associated with the business reach their potential.
*This representation is based on performance during the 2019 and 2020 calendar years, and can be found in Table 3 of Item 19 of Brightway Insurance Inc.’s Franchise Disclosure Document issued April 20, 2021, which includes 2020 results for the 56 franchisees open and operating for at least five years as of December 31, 2020. The average Pre-Tax Operating Profit for the Top 25% Brightway Locations increased from $425,577 in 2019 to $535,027 in 2020. Of the 14 Top 25% Brightway Locations presented in Table 3, 6 (42%) exceeded the Top 25% Average Pre-Tax Operating Profit. Your individual results may differ. There is no assurance that you will earn as much.