(Photo above: Founder Michael Jans and CEO Maggie Hubbell expect to have more than 300 insurance brokerages as clients by the end of 2017)
Agency Revolution Streamlining Internal Workflows with Software
A Bend software firm is enjoying so much success with its latest product for independent insurance agents and brokers that it anticipates significant growth in 2017.
Agency Revolution (AR) unveiled its latest platform — AR Connect — last year and is already seeing positive results, said Company Founder and Executive Chair Michael Jans. AR Connect automates communication between insurance professionals and their clients by streamlining internal workflows and strengthening engagement between agencies and customers.
AR’s CEO Maggie Hubbell said the firm has more than 230 client agencies and brokerages and, given the current pace of growth, expects to add another 100 agencies this year. Clients are located throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Bancorp Insurance in La Pine.
“We went into beta last March with our new product and began a soft launch in August,” Hubbell said. “Last year we grew our client base by 42 percent and through the transition we had an 85 percent renewal rate. We bring three things to the table better than anyone else — industry knowledge, marketing expertise and cutting edge technology.”
AR’s software is designed to increase communication between insurance agents and their clientele without a series of phone calls that are time-consuming for agents and customers alike. It can be as simple as a birthday greeting, sent electronically, to dashboard analytics such as policies per client, new business, premiums per client and more.
The company currently has 27 employees, which AR hopes to increase by adding development team members and sales personnel in the coming year, Hubbell said.
Some of AR’s employees work at the Bend site at 63026 Lower Meadow Drive while others work remotely at locations such as Maine, Utah, Florida, Nova Scotia and Vietnam.
Hubbell says remote employment fits people’s working style. Jans added that good talent is found all over the map, saying, “Tech companies almost need to be remote these days.”
Hubbell recently took over day-to-day CEO duties from Jans, who previously held that position. Hubbell has spent the last 13 years in insurance marketing, sales, technology and business leadership. She began her career in insurance and technology in 2003 as operations manager of the Insurance Communicator, which was the industry’s largest email marketing company at that time.
Her change to CEO frees Jans to focus on industry and external relations, thought leadership and strategic alignment. He reads trade journals and does other research to stay abreast of trends in the insurance world.
“I interview one thought leader in the industry each week,” Jans said, with the conversations recorded and saved as podcasts for clients.
The goal is to build more meaningful relationships between agents and clients or prospects. The company’s easy-to-use software allows AR clients to receive regular training sessions to help them get more policies, more referrals and maintain a high level of client retention.
The company’s success is evidenced by more than the fast-growing list of independent agents using its products. Recently, the Iroquois Group added AR as a preferred vendor for marketing automation for its member agencies. The Iroquois Group has more than 2,200 members in 41 states.
“We’re committed to support the growth and profitability of our member agencies,” Iroquois managing partner David Ward wrote in a news release. “We all know the insurance consumer has changed, and we think Agency Revolution’s latest marketing automation software can help our agencies bridge the gap with today’s consumer.”
In addition, AR partnered with Safeco beginning last year. Safeco has endorsed the AR product to all of its agents and has enrolled 10 of its agencies in a pilot program, which it is helping to subsidize. AR also is on the preferred vendor list for Travelers Insurance.
The AR website has several testimonials. Jenna Royall of Ellis Insurance Agency lauded the “great content” of AR’s software.
“Agency Revolution makes it easy for marketers to engage the modern insurance consumer,” she said. “I’m a huge fan.”
Cam Clay of Alpine Insurance agreed. He said, “The window on change is closing fast. The brokers who figure it out now will have great opportunities. The others will suffer a slow, painful death. Agency Revolution has helped us sell millions of dollars of business.”
Eric Most of Most Insurance added of AR: “They crush the competition. They know insurance, marketing and technology — and it shows.”
The 20-year-old software business originated in Vancouver, Wash., where Jans previously lived and ran a niche insurance company. He has long been attracted to the insurance industry.
“It is fascinating and complex,” Jans said. “Nobody takes a risk without insurance — it’s central to what makes a society work.”
Today, consumers have tossed out the Yellow Pages in favor of shopping online, he noted. Consumers and independent insurance agents are simply too busy to communicate by telephone and other outdated methods, said Jans, who believes the insurance industry hasn’t kept up with the changes.
Electronic newsletters and news updates are part of AR’s regular contribution to its customer agents. For example, Hubbell said they can electrically contact clients in Florida if a severe storm is headed that way.
Both Jans and Hubbell see good things ahead for AR.
“I believe we have the best team in Central Oregon,” Hubbell said. “We are constantly exploring and anticipating what our clients need before they even know they need it. We are currently evaluating the role of machine learning and chatbots in insurance agencies.
Jans agreed, adding, “We’re really bullish about our future. We can easily transform an agent’s relationship with their client base.”
63026 Lower Meadow Drive, Bend, OR 97701.
FOUNDER: Michael Jans.
CEO: Maggie Hubbell.
Number of employees: 27
Product/Service: Software to streamline communication between insurance agents and their clients.
Hot News: Release of the company’s latest platform, AR Connect.
Outlook for Growth: Excellent, with plans to add staff in 2017.