Insurance sector veteran with over 28 years of experience and the COO of the Big I- Minnesota; April Goodin, possesses leadership skills that are truly extraordinary.
April enlightens us on her journey which she started with the PIA in 1989, which then merged with the Big I in 1991. She took on her first role as a receptionist and worked her way to the top of the proverbial ladder.
While dealing with the current market where the majority is facing heaps of challenges – from a hardening market, rise in homeowner rates, roof replacement costs, and a host of other issues, April talks about how an agency can benefit while being associated with the Big I. She emphasizes the importance of how independent agency owners are a member of a national organization. This means that they have access to a huge staff, filled with highly trained professionals. In turn. this allows them to tackle a lot more tasks and get a lot more done altogether, as compared to what an independent agency can do single-handedly.
The Big I also compromises of a dedicated contracted lobbyist; someone who has a dedicated role to make sure you are knocking on the right doors and talking to the right people. A lobbyist has connections with the legislative representatives and the department of commerce. Therefore, if bad legislation ever comes down the pipeline, the Big I and the lobbyist help take care of anything that could impede the independent agency owners.
Undoubtedly, every single carrier has different policies. The Big I is always there for their customers, especially when they have people asking their clients to sign things for damage where they don’t necessarily know what they are agreeing to and they eventually get stuck. The Big I aims to face these challenging situations head-on and ensuring sure they are prepared in due time.
For the past 50 years Big I has been offering a designation through the national alliance and are currently the only organization to do so, in the state of Minnesota. This is primarily the reason that agents in Minnesota are well versed in their fields, so much so, that all the carriers want to work with them. The classes offered by the Big I are considered to be high caliber and are recognized all over the USA by the CSRM, CRM, CIC – and other distinguished bodies. Outside the designation, there is a free ethics program offered each month alongside errors and omissions prevention courses. April asserts that even though these designations are as important as they were held to be in the past, the information and knowledge taken from these classes are indeed invaluable. Agents have the option of learning via physical or virtual classrooms, which makes these classes heavily accessible and cost-effective.
While talking about the challenges faced with respect to acquiring and hiring new employees, April highlights the significance of Careerplug. Careeplug is a service where you can post job openings and availabilities and it will reach out to potential vendors for you. April shares the benefits she has received from being able to use this tool to navigate the hiring crisis and make it easier for people to get access to the professionals they need.
Careerplug is not only an extremely easy tool to use but also particularly useful in terms of accessibility of tutorial videos that may assist individuals seeking various job opportunities. The ability to have access to premade and customizable job descriptions is another advantage. With their application progress tracking and the ability to attach assessment tests; they have taken the meat out of the mundane day to daytime consuming tasks and found an innovative route to help save time. They also have experts on the site that companies can reach out to in case there are questions over policies and legalities. These experts are based all around the USA and get back to the queries within 24 hours.
April has been associated with Savvital for over a year. She refers to her Virtual Professional as her ‘rockstar’ at the office. Aleena has been assigned to the Education Director at the Big I and is tasked with supporting April with all the backroom education processing. Aleena handles the “necessary evil” of social media, as April puts it. Helping the agency to keep on track, generating ideas for their social media. With this collaborative effort, they have been able to work things through to remarkable success, even impressing the Savvital President, Troy Thompson himself.
“I’d see these great posts and I’d be like, is Aleena doing that?”
While talking about the outstanding performance of Virtual Professionals April remarks, “The word is getting out.” The biggest challenge they seem to face is being able to provide information, on what tasks they can do and what tools they have at their disposal. Thanks to Aleena, April can get the word out through social media since “no one reads their email like they used to.”
However, since independent agencies might be reluctant to sign on with a virtual professional who isn’t necessarily licensed, it’s not always smooth sailing. April believes that these agencies do not realize how easy it is, and how much time they could be saving if they hired a virtual professional. 70% of these tasks inside the industry aren’t in need of a license for them to be taken care of. There is finally time to focus on things that you need to focus on, instead of being consumed by the day-to-day tasks that seem to take away a lot more time than people tend to believe. With a virtual professional, who is trained and a college graduate; you have someone who can take care of those repetitive daily tasks which in turn opens your day to get to work with the important things; like growing your business. April had already done research on the implications of hiring a virtual professional and commends Savvital on the list they provided that helped the agency be aware of tasks that can be taken care of by the virtual professional safely.