Technology and the Small Agency

What’s a typical day like in a small agency?  If you asked most small agency owners, they would tell you there is no “typical” day.  As principal of Cullifer and Associates Inc. in Birmingham, AL, deNise Cowley often describes herself as Chief Cook and Bottle Washer.  She has spent the last 13 years at this 30 year-old agency doing everything from writing large Builder Risk policies to dealing with IT issues to watering plants.  With only three people in the agency, no job is too large or too small. 

As a small agency, it’s often challenging to do everything you need to in a day, much less keep up with new technology.  But deNise would tell you that you don’t have time not to embrace technology.  Cullifer and Associates is proud to be a paperless office. Embracing technology and electronic communications saves the agency, their carriers and, most importantly, the customers a great deal of time.  If anyone understands the truth of “time is money,” it’s the multi-hat wearing small agency principal!

A long-time Prime user, deNise and team made the leap to AMS360 Online last year.  She is the first to admit that making the change was not easy.  When you were one of the national go-to people on Prime, it is difficult to throw something you know so well away in favor of a new system you know very little about. 

In an agency that can’t afford any downtime because there is a direct writer on every corner waiting to scoop up business, transitioning systems requires a level of agility larger agencies might not face. Dealing with 80% Commercial Lines, many of whom are artisans – builders, plumbers, etc. – Cullifer and Associates is an agency known for turning policies quickly.  deNise knew her team would have to be well-prepared to make the change as seamless as possible for her customers. 

How does an agency face a great system change?  With a little help from their friends!  deNise, a NetVU board member and long-time volunteer reached out to her Network of Vertafore Users.  Along with fellow Prime users, she formed an email group which exchange ideas, tips, tricks and support for surviving the transition.

This small group has grown into Transition Champions.  These champions held a HUB Hangout session at NetVU Conference and will be expanding. 

The 2014 NetVU Conference provided deNise and others who are on a new Vertafore management system the opportunity to immerse themselves in the technology, and pick up tips and tricks from the experts. Cullifer sent 2/3 of their staff this year, and they both saw the pieces of AMS360 coming together. With one tip deNise picked up, she will be taking the 2-3 hours it was taking her to process a submission on her new system down to 30 minutes.

Principals of small agencies, deNise would encourage you to not limit yourselves.  Expand your network outside your agency walls, and you will be amazed at what your agency can achieve!

Is your agency considering a transition or contemplating your migration strategy?  Be sure to join the NCOM Community just for agencies like yours.  Attend one of the two kick off webinars:

Thursday,March 27, 12:00 Pacific/2:00 Central/3:00 Eastern 

Thursday,April 3, 12:00 Pacific/2:00 Central/3:00 Eastern 

Learn from your peers who have been through the transition.  Get the tips and tricks that will make your transition successful!