Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Changing the insurance game in the SBC

by BIZ Magazine

Mark Squire worked for large insurance corporations for 17 years and he wasn’t impressed.

“You know, over the years, I’ve realized a lot of things that I didn’t like about them, and I wanted to end up doing my own thing with doing insurance the right way; educating people the right way,” he said. 

That is why he chose to start his own insurance company- Squire Agency.

“We’re an independent agency. We’ve partnered with a lot of different insurance companies out there that we feel are the best of the best in any particular given area,” Squire said.

Squire said he started his agency in February 2020, “about a month before the world shut down with COVID.”

“It’s been such an amazing journey. It’s been a lot of new things, finding ways to try to navigate talking to people about what we do with Zoom calls and things, but it’s been a pleasant experience for not only us, but our clients,” he said. “They appreciate what we are doing, so it’s been a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to taking off even more.”

Richard Wheeler, the Squire Agency sales manager, like Squire, worked for other insurance agencies and “did not like what they represented.”

“Not from a company standpoint, but as far as how they dealt with people. I’m more of an educator, and I just didn’t feel like that matched my heart for what I was doing,” he said.

During the pandemic, Wheeler said he reevaluated everything.

“Why am I doing this? Do I even want to still do this? I was just kind of hating life at the time,” he said. That is when he decided to post his resume, and he received a call from Squire who told him “don’t give up on everything. Just come talk to me.” 

Wheeler did just that, and he liked what he heard. 

“He was telling me about what is represented through his agency, and the way it works for individuals, the way that you’re able to not just sell someone, but educate them… it just really rang true with me,” he said. “And so I went home and I told my wife ‘I’m going to give this guy a

shot’ and I’ve been with him ever since.”

Wheeler said that Squire Agency has had its ups and downs, like most small businesses the last year, but they have found the right tools to help the business succeed- and they have the motivation. 

“We really believe that what we’re doing is helping people. I want to be different than what’s out there. I want to be there for people, and so those are the founding principles that we have with the Squire Agency,” Wheeler said.

Squire said the process to become an insurance agent is “actually very simple.” A prospective agent takes a pre-licensing course online, which usually “takes people a week or less to get through. Then they typically study for about another week, and then they take a final exam within the course,” he said. “When they pass that, they have to go take a state exam at the testing facility.”

After they pass that, the agent does a state background check and they’re usually licensed a week later. Squire said. This is the same process for all agents, no matter what agency they work for. 

“As far as the course goes, it’s a pretty straightforward process, but you never stop learning. That’s the key here. You never stop learning,” he said. 

Racheal Lindley is one of the newest members of the team. She recently obtained her insurance license.

“I have to agree about the licensing process. It was very straightforward. The course was super easy to navigate. It was informative and very in depth,” she said. 

Before joining the Squire Agency, Lindley was a business owner. 

“I’ve been in a lot of network marketing prior to this, but I just hadn’t found anything that really coincided with my core beliefs. And so, hearing about this kind of insurance agency, and what they stand for, I was like ‘Wow, I really do want to make a difference. I want to change the lives of those around me and make waves.’ So I couldn’t believe what kind of opportunity I was being presented with.”

One of the main hurdles that the agency has encountered, Squire said, was “people that have had bad experiences with other similar insurance companies.” 

“They’re very standoffish and they don’t even want to talk to us. So one of the biggest hurdles, I guess, is actually getting people to have an open mind to even listen to us,” Squire said. “When they do, they realize how much different we are and they appreciate it.”

Wheeler agreed. 

“It’d be like someone who’s been in a bad relationship and they’re guarded and protected, and, I guess, just trying to get past those barriers. But once you do, it totally changes the experience with the person,” he said. 

Wheeler said one of the biggest problems with the insurance industry is that there’s never really been an educational process for the client.

“Most people don’t know what they have, they don’t know what’s in it, they don’t know what it can even do. They just know that they’re paying for something,” he said. “So, what we bring to this area is a fresh approach. We are both men of our word. I’m going to spend as much time with you as you need to get the full understanding of what it is. We will be there for you when you need us.”

The second biggest hurdle was having the right people and tools in place to succeed, which was made harder by COVID. 

“Back in February, we had so many things lined up, a lot of big deals, and everything just stopped. Everything was at a standstill, and now, all of a sudden, people weren’t having staff meetings anymore because of COVID, and that’s where we do a lot of our education,” Squire said. “So we did try to transition, and we did it somewhat successfully into Zoom meetings and things like that, but some people just didn’t understand how to do

It. So that was quite a bit of an adjustment.” 

Squire said that his goal for Squire Agency is to expand to other cities, but to remain small within communities. 

“We want to make sure that our entire process is done the right way, the way that we want it to, as far as education, as far as the proper customer service, as far as being there for people. If we get too big, and we have 20-30 agents in the Shreveport-Bossier area, it’s

kind of tough to monitor what’s really going on and making sure that we don’t become another

one of those big corporate-type places, which aren’t doing the job properly,” he said.

But even within a small business, there is room for growth and plenty of room for hopes and dreams. 

“I’m looking forward to just becoming a bigger part of the community, which is why we

partnered with the Chamber of Commerce,” Squire said. “We’re going to set up events where people can come in and we can educate them… Just building a brand within our community and having an agency who does these types of things that they can rely on, that they can trust, that they can really have a resource to get the proper coverage and the proper education in a non-traditional way.”

Squire said his biggest goal is to make Squire Agency “a longevity agency” that will be around for decades to serve the people it has come to see as family. 

“I certainly don’t want to do anything else. I love what I do. The biggest thing with our agency is

transparency, honesty and trust- and family,” he said. 

— BIZ. Magazine

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