How One of the Biggest Brokerage Firms in the Country used PerfectQuote to Gain Efficiency and Improve the Renewal Process for its Teams
PerfectQuote recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dana Wilcox, Operations Manager for HUB International Gulf South, and Emily Richmond, a former HUB GUS Consultant Specialist, for a question and answer session where we learned a lot about how PerfectQuote improved operations and sales activities for HUB GUS. Editor’s note: Emily Richmond is now the customer success manager for PerfectQuote.
PerfectQuote: Tell us about your firm – how long has it been around, how big is it, how many locations, what’s your typical customer base / group size?
Dana Wilcox: HUB Gulf South’s roots can be traced all the way back to 1965, but we became a part of HUB International in 2007. We currently have 11 offices in five states and serve over 2,300 clients with group sizes that range anywhere from two to 100,000 employees.
PQ: What is/was your role at the company, and what were some of the problems that you encountered in your role (inefficiencies, errors, highly qualified people doing data entry)?
Dana: As Operations Manager, the biggest thing was just how non-stop the industry is and how much industry knowledge is needed to do the job well. There are so many little details, different carriers and contacts. You’re drinking from a firehose for at least a year before you even know what you’re doing, and there’s no time for training. These roles have pretty high turnover.
Emily Richmond: In my role as a Consultant Specialist in Marketing, I was responsible for preparing client presentations. 98% of the job was working in spreadsheets, and pretty much we would spend all of the rest of the year preparing for Q4 renewals. That means getting census data from the employer groups (which was a nightmare), getting carrier proposals, and then manually entering all of that into spreadsheets which are bound and printed. Any sort of error at any step in that process and we have to re-check everything to make sure the analysis is still good and we’re presenting the right plans.
PQ: What was life like before you started using PerfectQuote? What were the biggest issues?
Dana: While we make the effort to triple check work for errors before the renewal deadline, because of how many people can touch a renewal, miscommunications would happen and have to be resolved. Unfortunately, even though we tried to make the jobs enriching, there was very little time to learn anything outside of your role because of how time-intensive the job was. Worse, because of the intensity of the job, you might be depending on someone relatively new to the business with important client data that they need to get 100% accurate. And, I hate to say it, but the work is heavily dependent on paper presentations, so we see multiple drafts – which adds up to reams of paper, ink cartridges, and binding supplies, either on drafts or on reworked presentations if an error was found.
Emily: The problem was just how busy we were. It meant that we had to spend a significant amount of time making sure that errors didn’t make their way into the final presentations. It felt like we never had enough time to give the client presentations as much focus as we should, which was why Q4 consisted of 60+ hour work weeks. The census the employer group sent always had incomplete data. If a carrier proposal came back with errors, it just meant more time working with the carriers to get it right – time we didn’t necessarily have given the volume of clients that required our attention.
PQ: Were you tracking time spend / efficiency metrics? What was the impetus for looking for a solution for these problems?
Dana: It sounds like a huge problem when we say it now, but when you’re in it, that’s just the way it is. We weren’t tracking metrics for Marketing, and we honestly weren’t really looking for a technology solution when we heard about PerfectQuote. Before that the answer was just staffing increases. But when we saw the platform, we immediately saw the potential.
PQ: What level of PerfectQuote (ACA, ACA+, flagship, Enterprise) did you decide was right for you? What was it about PerfectQuote that made it the best solution for you?
Dana: Because we have such a broad range of business, we ended up going with the Enterprise subscription of PerfectQuote. We knew we needed to be able to handle any size group, though we also have a team dedicated to small business.
PQ: Was there anything you did internally to maximize your return on investment with PerfectQuote (investing in sales presentation tools, utilizing consultants better)?
Dana: We knew that this could be powerful, but we’d have to make some changes to take advantage of the benefits. So we leaned all the way into it and decided we were going to make this work. At first we got 100% push back – it was just not how things were done. But from a management perspective it made sense, and once the consultants and producers got used to the app, they saw the value.
We invested in tools like tablets and monitors to make digital presenting easier, changed internal workflows. A consultant would normally see paper draft after paper draft to choose what they wanted to present. Now they open PerfectQuote and make decisions before a draft needs to be printed.
Emily: The turning point for the consultant I was working under was a client in western Louisiana. It was a four-hour drive and right as they were about to leave, a new quote came in. If we were still on the old system, it would have been impossible. Instead we just imported the quote, added it into the presentation, and re-printed the presentation right there. He made the client meeting and didn’t have to reschedule.
PQ: What was the ultimate impact of PerfectQuote, both for the company and your role in particular?
Dana: There’s been bottom-line impact, for sure. We no longer have to hire seasonal staff to get through Q4. Previously we were taking on no less than three temp workers every season, in addition to overtime, just to get everything done in time for renewals. Proposals go out quicker. But the bigger thing honestly has been the culture change. It’s really changed the roles in our office. The consultant specialist role now is much more active and additive – it’s no longer just a data entry job, it’s more of a true consultant role.
Emily: For me, I feel like the added efficiency has just given everyone more time, and that’s allowed us to perform better. PerfectQuote allowed me to focus more of my time on serving clients, and even negotiate better rates for some of our larger groups.
PQ: What’s the company culture like now?
Dana: There’s no delay anymore. Information is accessible at a moment’s notice. It’s really helped to create a more dynamic work environment. Our processes are so much more streamlined now. Having all the information at our fingertips has given us the ability to make decisions quickly.
Emily: It completely changed the culture. I’d say PerfectQuote has had a positive impact on everyone that touches a quote or interfaces with a client.
PQ: If you had to sum up PerfectQuote, what would you say?
Emily: It’s absolutely a necessary tool for Marketing. Having seen the difference it makes, I wouldn’t want to work somewhere without software like this.
Dana: It has improved the efficiency of the marketing process and the people in those roles, enabling us to spend more time with clients.
PQ: What’s in the future for HUB? Are there any changes in the pipeline that PerfectQuote has allowed?
Dana: Everyone who’s seen the program and learned it has loved it. I’m starting to get requests for access. People are talking. Right now we’re presenting what we’ve done here to other offices.
We’re hoping to eventually move to presenting digitally, doing away with the spreadsheets entirely and using the presentation tools to present virtually. That would really be getting the most out of the system. But we’ll see.
PerfectQuote: Thank you both for your time and feedback – and as a long time client, your continued communication and partnership have helped us introduce greater functionality and continuous releases based on your input. Thank you for your partnership and best wishes for continued success!