From left to right, Aaron, David and Goldie Gordon run this family-run insurance agency in New York City.
Editor’s note: Conventional wisdom has it that independent agencies will disappear because today’s policyholders want self-service. However, as we see at NUPC, people are still looking for trusted advisor agencies, especially when they are making significant life changes, whether it be starting a new business, buying property, or reuniting family – because no insurance goes Nothing.
The most successful agencies look back on what they have done before that adds value to their clients and then continue these best practices. They also look ahead and access what needs to change so they can continue to add value to their customers and grow their business in the future.
Today we are happy to announce the third and final winner of the Agency of the Year Awards 2019. The following agency profile contains insightful stories and strategies.
– Editor-in-chief Rosalie Donlon
Not many professionals can look back on 60 years in an industry.
David Gordon can.
Gordon, now 78, began his insurance career at the age of 18 when he first received his insurance agent license. A few years later, in December 1968, Gordon started his own company. Gordon Companies is a family-run agency based in New York City serving private and business customers with property, casualty, life and health insurance.
Gordon Companies remains family-run after more than 50 years in the business. It is operated by three directors who manage $ 15 million in awards.
At the top, President David Gordon works with his wife, Vice President Goldie Gordon, and their son, Aaron Gordon, who also serves as Vice President. Aaron started working for the family business in high school and joined full-time a week after graduating from college.
Gordon Companies celebrated its 50th anniversary by signing a client who was with the agency from the start and whose five generations of family members are also Gordon clients.
The key to longevity
Aaron Gordon says great service is key to keeping the same customer for five decades. Therefore, he is a top priority in every interaction and at every stage of the agency-client relationship at Gordon Companies.
“We’re mixed up with old school and new school,” says Aaron Gordon. “We manage risk the way agents have done for the last 50-60 years … One of us knows each and every one of our customers on both the personal and the commercial side and we are available around the clock.”
The company uses this personal approach to understand and manage customers’ risk profiles. “We believe in structuring our clients’ risk and profile strategically according to them and not according to what will benefit us or our market,” says Aaron Gordon.
He attributes the agency’s decades of success to this customer-oriented way of thinking.
“While many say the independent agency is ‘dying’, we’ve seen 15% year-over-year growth, testament to the success of our personal marketing strategy,” says the youngest of the Gordons. “Since other independent agencies are taking the quick buck and selling to larger companies and rollups, we have marketed ourselves specifically to insured persons who appreciate the family feeling of a real family-run agency.”
After 60 years in the insurance business, David Gordon says the key to agency success is simple; it all comes down to being human. “Pick up the phone. Call your customers. Ask them how they are,” he says.
Don’t just apply that personal touch to conversations and basic customer interactions, he adds.
“When you sign a policy, you take the side of your customers,” says David Gordon. “Physically sit next to your customers and show (them) that you are with them. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers so that you can better understand their needs, which in turn enables you to better serve them.
Digital age, personal touch
“We manage risk like the agents have done for the past 50-60 years,” says Aaron Gordon on the left. “One of us knows each and every one of our customers on the personal as well as the commercial side and we are always at your disposal
Hours of the day. ”
Gordon Companies has largely opposed the rapid digitization trends that have infiltrated independent agencies of late. The agency didn’t even use voicemail until five years ago. “The last person to leave the office each day forwarded the messages to my parents’ house and my cell phone,” recalls Gordon.
It’s not that Gordon Companies doesn’t believe in the power of technology. It just so happens that customer service at this agency requires a personal touch and the owners believe that the efficiency of digital services cannot match the value of real, human interaction with customers.
If a customer has an emergency call outside of business hours, their call goes directly to Aaron’s cell phone.
“We basically don’t believe in self-service,” he says. “When a customer needs a service, we see it as an opportunity for a point of contact. We do not shy away from the opportunity to speak directly to our customers. We take this as an opportunity to further expand and deepen our relationship. “
Close customer relationships are essential at Gordon Companies.
“That means we listen to customers every time we renew, every policy change,” says Gordon. “We try to find out the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind your service needs so that we can best serve you.”
But the only inevitability is change. Gordon Companies has recently made some technological adjustments to make customers’ lives easier. To this end, customers are now benefiting from e-signature technology and online payment methods. The agency has also redesigned their website and added an instant messaging chat tool that connects clients and prospects directly with a human agent.
Save customers time and money
Gordon Companies’ customer base is primarily in the three-state New York area, but includes policyholders in all 50 states as well as some international customers. The majority of the agency’s clients are on the P&C side and in the commercial sector. Many are wealthy individuals.
In the past six months, Gordon Companies has successfully saved several commercial customers over six figures in premiums. How was the agency able to make such significant savings? Gordon explains that he did this by focusing on each individual customer and listening to their needs in order to refer them to the right carrier – even if it was at their expense.
“If the needs and interests of our customers are causing us to lose commissions, which means we are losing rewards, then we do,” says Gordon. He added that the company’s deeply rooted relationships with freight forwarders enable them to capitalize on those relationships and partners.
“We’re motivated by long-term relationships,” says Gordon. “That is the value of the independent P&C agent.”
Aaron Gordon also knows that he represents the future of Gordon Companies.
“My parents raised me to be there for our customers,” he says. “If one of our personal customers in the New York area is damaged, I’ll be there with a forwarding agent’s computer. I’m there as your advocate, and I’m there to hold your hand throughout the process, be it to find a new place to stay or to get your business off the ground. “