Thursday, August 30 2018
Bellwether Insurance is based in LaGrange, Ohio and is owned by Sandra and Aaron McElwain.
What’s the biggest challenge your agency faced in the past year?
We have faced many challenges over the last 12 months, however the finance and purchase of an existing book of business was by far the most challenging. It felt like a thousand-step process! From the initial talks that began last spring, through closing last October and now servicing those new clients, it has been quite the experience. Thinking back, we learned a ton of lessons in short order. Going through this process helped us grow fast and evolve our business practices. It was very helpful to have a resource like SIANO to help walk us through this complicated process.
Do you have a new tip or best practice you’ve learned and want to share?
One of the biggest things we’ve learned is that it’s very important to be open to change and the evolution of the insurance business. Dealing with a variety of carriers and having clients with varying needs requires you to be able to roll with the punches without letting it stress you out. It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose focus when something comes at you from left field. Today’s customers require a quick response, so keeping on top of technology is also key. So many of our clients are truly impressed with the ease in which we can issue a policy without them having to take the time to meet with us personally. Of course, we always offer the option of meeting in person if the client prefers doing business that way. Again, flexibility and being able to adapt to different needs is a big key to being successful.
Why are you an SIANO member?
Before we established our agency, we talked with other insurance agents who recommended we check out SIANO. From our first contact with the group, it was clear that joining SIANO would be beneficial for us in many ways. It’s reassuring to know that whenever a unique situation comes up and we have questions, help is just a phone call away. And the support doesn’t end at five o’clock, which is great. Heather and Michelle always respond quickly and positively no matter when we call or what question we ask. In short, SIANO’s resources and support have been invaluable in helping us establish and grow our business.
What makes your agency unique?
What makes us most unique is our approach to the business. We focus on building relationships with our clients and while that is not unique, the way we go about it is. We fight hard to keep our business as non-transactional as possible. We emphasize the value of good coverage and the luxury of having an insurance agent that handles all your insurance needs. When our clients tell other people, “I have an agent that handles everything for us,” it is music to our ears. We meet our clients on their terms and communicate with them as they desire. Everyone is unique with different expectations and needs. We feel it is imperative to provide that one-on-one touch no matter how big we become. We are building our business accordingly.
What causes does your agency actively support?
Community involvement is very important to us. We are members of the Lions Club of LaGrange. The Lions provide services for the local school district and community including eyeglass and hearing aid programs, monthly community food pantry and a student scholarship program. We are also members of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Library. The group promotes public awareness of the library through a variety of events including an annual book sale and Books and Brunch, an event that includes presentations by Ohio authors. Last Fall the group was instrumental in passing a levy to build a new library in LaGrange. Lastly, we support Mastiffs to Mutts, a rescue organization for large dog breeds. We adopted two dogs from the group and we do home visits with prospective adopters who live near us, to help find homes for other rescued pups.