The Thompson Group

 
 

"At The Thompson Group, we dedicate ourselves 110% to our customers. Keeping regular contact with them is our main priority." DAKOTA CRABTREE / CUSTOMER CONTACT SPECIALIST

 

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Angela Parton CSA of Year Article

Posted by: Dakota Crabtree on October 2, 2015

IIAI's Focus Magazine features CSA of the Year, Angela Parton in their latest edition. We are so proud of Angela; in her work, her education, and her ability to deliver excellent customer service to our clients. She is one of MANY excellent professionals on our staff.

Check out the article!


The Power of Thank You

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on December 5, 2012

The power of Thank you…

“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough”

― Oprah Winfrey

My partner and I just sent 5 of our staff to our annual convention. We even had the opportunity to spend a Saturday night with a few of them laughing and have a couple of drinks. The convention is held in Indianapolis and is a collection of vendors, classes for our industry, and a bevy of old friends.

One of our producers is very active in our association that hosts the convention, so it has been our practice to provide him a room at the Westin during the convention. We closed our office Monday so that every person in our Parker City office could attend the convention. We thought it a nice reward for their dedication and hard work since our recent merger.

My first interaction about the convention happened when I asks an employee “how was the convention”. The reply was, “it was nice, we had a nice dinner, the stuff they gave away was not as nice as last year, so and so got really drunk, but it was nice.”

Immediately following that exchange was “yeah, I wish I would have had a room like Ronn, I didn’t like driving home at 12:30 last night”. The reason for the late night was there was an optional party that a few of them, obviously decided to attend.

I then went back to my conference room and lamented on the fact that every year I spend about twenty five hundred dollars sending my staff to this convention. Never is there a thank you, it has come to be expected. I resolved that this was “just the way it was”.

Then, like a hammer to the head, an employee entered my office and stated “I just wanted to thank you and Jenny for allowing us all to go to the convention. It was nice to get out of the office and attend such a nice event. We really appreciate the gesture.”

The staff lives to attend another convention! As a business owner I get frustrated with my perceived lack of employee appreciation. I’m sure this is a two way street. I think I say thank you, you are doing a great job, and that a' boy, but my staff would probably tell a different story. I was reminded yesterday about the power of thank you and hopefully, this might remind you, the reader, as well.

Taking this thought a little farther since I’m only at 480 words and my editor really likes these snippets to land somewhere about 500 to 600 words, this concept should be taken to your clients. Think about the last time you received a hand written thank you. That thank you is probably in your desk or on a board somewhere in your office. That last “thank you” email is in your deleted bin.

Our office for years has had post cards made and we encourage our staff to use them frequently to say “thank you” or other positive messages to our clients and vendors. Over the years I’ve received many calls from vendors and clients thanking me for the thanks that they received from my staff. A hand written thank you is worth 100 thank you email. Ok, man, that got me to 563 words, I can now stop this rant on thank you'

The Big Freaking Deal or BFD

Posted by: Insurance Ninja on December 4, 2012

The BFD – Big Freaking Deal

“If these Mount Everests of the financial world are going to labor and bring forth still more pictures with people being blown to bits with bazookas and automatic assault rifles with no gory detail left unexploited, if they are going to encourage anxious, ambitious actors, directors, writers and producers to continue their assault on the English language by reducing the vocabularies of their characters to half a dozen words, with one colorful but overused Anglo-Saxon verb and one unbeautiful Anglo-Saxon noun covering just about every situation, then I would like to suggest that they stop and think about this: making millions is not the whole ball game, fellows. Pride of workmanship is worth more. Artistry is worth more.”

― Gregory Peck

Pride of workmanship, is it a lost art? I just completed an audit of a distributor of film supplies risk management program and am sorry to report in this case, there is a lack of any pride of workmanship. As insurance professionals, we strive to review current risk management programs and point out to our prospects, other’s clients, and gaps in coverage that exist. We comb through every policy, form, and declarations page to determine is this good program. Sometimes, we find excellent work with very few errors, today is a different story.

In reviewing a risk management program we usually start with the insurance policies and them move on to internal policies and procedures. In this specific case, we found four major limitations or errors that could put this company out of business.

What were these egregious felonies of risk management protocol? Well first, the policy was rewritten last year from Carrier A to Carrier B. The reason for the rewrite was that one of the owners had a major issue with how Carrier A handled a claim for his wife and in his words “was not going to give the bastards any more money”. When the coverage was rewritten, the agency moved the loss of income form from Actual Loss Sustained to a limited form only providing a limited amount of income coverage for this client. During our next review, I’ll ask the assumptive question, “When you made the decision to limit your loss of income protection, talk about how that decision was made.”

Next up the current provider failed to move the retro date on both the employee benefit coverage and the employment practices coverage. Had this client had a claim with these two coverage lines that occurred before the effective date of this policy, there would have been NO coverage? There was no tail coverage sold or offered and thus, this client has been naked on all “before effective date” benefit claims.

Finally, our prospect travels the world. They have two main sales people that regularly travel over the pond to conduct business in France, the UK, and other foreign countries. At no time has the current provider ever discussed foreign exposures or repatriation. Repatriation is a key component of any foreign travel. According to Wikipedia, the simple definition of repatriation is Repatriation (from Late Latin repatriare) is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. How important is this coverage when 35% of all travel is outside the United States?

Having an audit of your companies risk management program by a Commercial Risk Manger can save your company from uncovered claims. Some firms charge for this service while we build it in to our sales process. We do charge for this service in some instances, but we are confident that the ROI is priceless.

Big Head part deux

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on December 3, 2012

Big Head part Deux

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

― Albert Einstein

This past Saturday I had the fortune of attending my son and daughters cross country banquet. After a great season, it was great to have one final dinner with a family of about 50 kids, parents, and coaches. As I sat there watching the program I could not help but continuing to turn my attention to the “big head”. You’ve have seen these big heads at various basketball and football games. In essence, it is a photo of either a player or a famous person that is held up during the game.

The man who had made that head was sitting beside me and I asked him, how much would it cost if you made me six of those heads? He said, well our cost is $25.00. I stated I would pay him $200.00 for 6 heads, he replied, done.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be stopping by our high school gym and after practice take a few high resolution photos of our top 6 players on our varsity team. I will have them wear a white headband and once the photos are downloaded, I’ll send them to my “big head making Dad”.

He will then take our logo and website address and put that information over the headband. I’ll have these 3-foot by 5-foot heads affixed to some heavy cardboard and then provide them to the student section. During our varsity basketball games, each time a kid scores, the head will be held up. At the end of the season, the heads will be given to the players.

As a business owner, I am always looking for creative marketing opportunities. I get calls every day from various marketing folks wanting to sell us billboards, TV, radio, and newspaper advertising. Over the past few years, we have moved away from those traditional media outlets and went more “gorilla” and social media type advertising.

It’s very important to keep a consistent look and feel to all of our advertising and promotional activities. One other unique and low cost marketing idea we implemented years ago was The Thompson Group Rocks. This is nothing but a small zip lock bag which we buy for $8.00 per 1000 online with a sticker of our logo and website affixed to the front. I get my kids to fill the bags with a few rocks from the parking lot and boom; you have a drop off piece that has a little more point of difference than a simple business card.

Imagine walking back in your office and having a normal business card laying on your desk and a back of 3 or 4 rocks with nothing but a logo and a website. Our experience is that the owner or decision maker is far more intrigued by our rocks and might take the time to visit our website to figure out that the heck it is we do.

Rocks, Big Heads, and other unique ideas are all part of a much larger campaign. A constant smash or our logo, web site, and brand in front of our clients and prospects. Marketing is by far the best parts of owning your own company. Get creative and start having fun today!

Customer Service

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on November 30, 2012

Customer Service 101

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

I got a call from a client last week about an automobile accident that occurred about a month ago. After some thought, he had decided to turn it in. He called and asked that since it had been some time since they had experienced an accident, he was not sure what to do. He did have the police report number and so I gleaned this information and started the claim process.

My first step was to call my customer service agent on this particular account and advise of the situation. She called the police station, gave the report number, and was faxed the report showing the other driver was at fault and the other party was insured with State Farm. She then turned in the claim to State Farm only to find that the claim was already turned in and thus she received a claim number.

She then sent an email to the client with the phone number of State Farm, the claim number, and the person that he needed to talk to. I think in most companies, that would be the norm, get the information, and forward it to the correct people. I like to think I’m empathetic and thus I put my self in my clients shoes. I thought, I think we can do one more thing.

I then personally called the number given and asked for the person listed in the email. They were out, but I did get a hold of a very professional young lady that was very helpful. Upon reviewing the information, we had sent the wrong information to our client. The claim number was incorrect and thus it took me a little time to find out exactly what needed to be done. Turns out that they were attempting to reach my client to check on the damages, but did not have any contact information. They asked that he call in and discuss the claim.

Again, I thought, can’t we do more. Since my client is on the road most of the time, I asked is it possible that they call him and collect the needed information. Although not the normal procedure, she did state she would have someone call him and collect all needed information.

I discussed this with my partner and she agreed that what our customer service agent did was the normal procedure. I challenged that normal and with a phone call made the customer claim experience painless. In every situation, there is usually one little thing you can do, one more little step that if you do it changes the customer experience from average to amazing.

We all get busy doing our jobs, answering email, phone calls, requests for information, but if we stop and think about what the task is were are doing and think, what’s one more thing I can do to help eliminate the pain, you can take an average experience and turn it into an amazing one for your client.

Set the damn appointment

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on November 29, 2012

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

— Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a wizard. This man became one of my true confidents, friends, and taught me many lessons in life. For over 5 years I met with this man monthly and he helped guide me, hold me accountable, and introduce me to some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

I heard about this “wizard” from a friend that was a little upset. It seemed that her client was in a group and the group had recommended to their members that they all get prices on the product that she offered. She called me and asked if I was aware of this type of group and I advised I was not, but it did sound intriguing.

I later got online to research this “group” which later unveiled it to be named CEO Partners; its leader was the wizard, Mr. David Clegg. I reached out to David and advised I’d like to learn more about this group and find out if I was maybe a good candidate for this type of professional “help”.

He agreed to meet me at a local restaurant for a cup of coffee and after a few minutes we were both intrigued by each other’s past and current positions. I invited David to my office where we would determine if I was a good fit for his mentoring group.

The morning David entered my office; he had to wait in that my current appointment was running a little late. As I greeted him he smiled and asked, “How did you get quoted in the Wall Street Journal”? I told him the story and I think I gained a little credibility. The next hour we discussed my company, my hopes and dreams and how I might join his group.

We mutually decided I would come for a visit and see if I might be able to learn, but also add to the discussion. About 3 weeks later I was sitting in an office with ten very smart people, people much smarter than I and it was game on. For the next 4 hours business strategy, financial implications of the recent downturn in the economy, and human resource issues various members were facing were discussed. I was hooked and committed to join that day.

For the next 5 years, I met with this group monthly for 4 hours. In addition, I would meet with David for 2 hours for a personal accountability session. He would have the notes from our last meeting, review them, ask me updates, and then ask probing questions that made me think about the current thought process and goings on of our company.

The greatest gift David Clegg gave to me was that you never leave a meeting without setting up another meeting. At the end of your meeting, you always agree to a date and time of the next meeting, even if it’s 6 months away. This forces you constant contact with your clients has personally caused me to become much more proactive and a better manager of my relationships.

As with all things in life, this group came to an end. The owners went their separate ways and although we still keep in touch, it’s not the same. I’m at a different season of my life and I’m not so sure that this group would be as effective today as they were during our time of meetings, but joining my personal wizards group made me who I am today and for that, I will always be grateful.

It's Your Fault!

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on November 28, 2012

It is your fault

“The longer I love, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church.... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”

― Charles R. Swindoll

Having a bad day, too bad, it’s your fault. If things are not going your way, understand things will always not go your way. If they did, life would be boring and challenge free. Embrace the small and large challenges for they allow you to enjoy the successes.

Yesterday the country voted to retain President Barrack Obama. Half the country is elated and half the country is upset. There were thousands of other races that were decided as well with various parties and candidates winning and losing. If you were a fan of the current president, celebrate. If you were not, focus on the other races that went your way.

In Colorado and Washington they voted to legalize marijuana. My Dead Head friends are already organizing trips to these states to celebrate, but if they chose to focus on the other 48 states that still outlaw this weed, there would be little cause for celebration.

Did I mention that you are going to die? Oh my, forgot about this little fact. Think about it, know your time is limited and enjoy, embrace, and laugh every minute of every day. We just lost 2 teenagers at our local school. At 2:30 am one Saturday night, they decided it was a great idea to race a train. They lost and now there are several family members suffering for this loss. Theses same family members at one time or another were so angry at these same kids for various indiscretions that if asked, at the time of their anger, they would have disowned their own children. Talk to these parents now and see if those angry feelings, attitudes, and feelings of hate were warranted. I think we might find that no matter what these children did, nothing should cause any emotion, but love and understanding. We were all kids once; I’m not sure how I didn’t lose a few of those races.

You have a choice; bitch, moan, and complain about your situation or embrace the good. Bad things will happen and yes, it’s not fun, but looks past the moment and look down the road. There is a circus coming to town and there will always be clowns to make you smile. If you are not having a great day, it’s your fault. 

You are a failure.....

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on November 27, 2012

Keeping Busy Doing Nothing

“There is nothing that teaches you more than regrouping after failure and moving on. Yet most people are stricken with fear. They fear failure so much that they fail. They are too conditioned, too used to being told what to do. It begins with the family, runs through school and goes into the business

world.”

― Charles Bukowski, The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

Look at yourself; you are a complete and utter failure. You are a cow’s teat, you are a nothing. You get up every day to log into your email to delete the junk, but respond to the “important”, but what are you doing. You are doing nothing. You are keeping busy to keep busy. Stop this today, realize you are a failure and start over.

Define success. What is it? Success to me is waking up every day and being able to do exactly that you want to do. I hate to piss you off, but this is my life. I awake, drink my 16 oz of ice-cold water to start my metabolism, a quick cup of coffee, and then I begin to write. Once done writing, I shower, and start my day of amazing human interactions, laughter, and a few challenges. I’ve followed this same routine now for sometime and I look back at that first day when I decided what my new life would be and officially announced, “I am retired.”

I am 6 foot tall, weigh 175 pounds, exercise 5 times a week with short runs, swims, or quick weight training. According to most BMI charts, I’m in pretty good shape. I travel at least a week a month if not more and am paid very well to live this life. I have a beautiful-amazing-smart-engaging business partner that I also spend a lot of quality time with. I have two of the best kids ever birthed and my immediate and extended family is tighter than an Eagle Scouts best-tied knot. This is my definition of success.

Success to you might be something completely different, but do you know what it is? Is it retiring at 65 so you can live 2 months only to find you have cancer and die 2 weeks later in a hospital bed whilst the nurses and doctors clean your bed pan’s and your friends and family visit you with tears in their eyes and lament “how sad…” You’ll be in a better place soon. Determine your definition of success and start living it, no one but you can do this, you must hit the pause button and figure this key point of life out and then… start over.

I’ve watched too many people work their entire lives only to have their “retirement” cut short by disease, age, or worse indifference. These people live to die while some of us live to live. When I die, I’ll laugh and my last words will be “thank you”. Because when I die, no matter the day, I’ll have lived the life that I wanted to live. I’ve not always been this way, but I am this way now and that has made all the difference.

So are you busy doing nothing? I just returned from a paradise where I would get up every morning and walk to breakfast passing the same man, with the same laptop, and the same old man glasses working away doing something, but damn he was busy. Same chair, same face, same work, man was he busy. Every day I walked by I thought, you sad ass. You are a miserable human being. You work at home to come to a tropical environment where all the food and drink are “FREE” and you sit there with your laptop and work. I have no idea what that man does, but in my mind he is a complete failure. Going on vacation and working is flat ass ridiculous.

Email is cancer. Your smart phone is cancer. It’s time to get some chemo and kill the cancer. Check your email twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Go to your smart phone settings and delete your email account. Write down 2 major tasks that you must complete every day and get them done. Quit being busy and start living the life that you have always wanted but were too busy to create.

“There is nothing that teaches you more than regrouping after failure and moving on. Yet most people are stricken with fear. They fear failure so much that they fail. They are too conditioned, too used to being told what to do. It begins with the family, runs through school and goes into the business

world.”

― Charles Bukowski, The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

Log Ride or Roller Coaster?

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on November 26, 2012

Log Ride or Roller Coaster?

“The roller-coaster is my life; life is a fast, dizzying game; life is a parachute jump; it’s taking chances, falling over and getting up again; it’s mountaineering; it’s wanting to get to the very top of yourself and feeling angry and dissatisfied when you don’t manage it”

― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

As a small child my family would make an annual trek over to Kings Island Theme park in Cincinnati Ohio. We would visit the Eiffel tower, eat that great pizza, and ride the many rides in Hanna Barbara Land. If my memory serves me correctly, the Brady Bunch also visited Kings Island, but that’s a story for another day. As a youngster I stuck with the kids rides letting my older sister and her friends ride the bigger rides, but there was a day where I decided that I would ride “The Racers”.

The Racers was a combination of 2 roller coasters. One was red and one was blue. The coasters were mounted sided by side and depending on the day the blue or red coaster would win “the race” and you would either earn bragging rights or be faced with the big L on the top of your head for the rest of the day.

As I aged, I moved up to the larger coasters. The Cobra was great, but the grand daddy of them all is and will always be “The Beast”. The Beast was at one time the largest wooden roller coaster in the world. It was fast, it jarred your brain like you just had just been shaken really hard by a high school principal (again, yet another story), but at the end of the ride you were left breathless. It was an amazing ride of ups, downs, tunnels, and a sudden stop at the end that made some folks vomit that oh so delicious pizza.

About age 13 they opened a new ride, called the log ride. This ride was calming. A long ride thought the words in a log made of plastic made to look like wood that would seat up to 6 regular sized individual’s and 3 morbidly obese folks. At end of the log ride there was a steep drop and then a splash. Depending upon your seat, you would either get really wet or wetter than really wet. The weight of the folks in the plastic log also had an impact on your level of “soaked ness”.

In business, there are roller coasters and log rides. There are the fast paced accounts that have a high risk and high reward and then there are the steady, low risks, low reward clients that pay you less, but are usually less dynamic. As a company we have opted for the long ride vs. the roller coaster. We grow organically, being very careful when adding new clients not wanting to add a large hill to our smooth ride.

As a business owner, you need to figure out if you want to be a roller coaster or a log ride. Very few companies can be both, although it is possible, it’s rare. There are different cultures associated with each approach and the mixing of a log ride carrier on a roller coaster track will spell sure disaster. Someone will always be thrown from the log.

Pick your ride, set the culture, and get some of that good pizza. 

It's so small...that's what she said

Posted by: Insurance Ninja - @ on November 23, 2012

It’s so small…. that’s what she said.

“No matter how big you think your problems are, someone else's problems could always be bigger, which makes yours relatively small!”

― Brenda Jackson, Perfect Timing

Everything is small if you think about it. I just returned from a trip to Mexico, an all-inclusive resort, all the food and drink I could put in my stomach for 4 days. Although bloated like a whale, I must say I had an amazing time. On the plane ride home, my partner and I were talking and she stated, “You know, we can make anything small”. Perplexed, I said, “Go on…”. She said, “well, here we are at this amazing resort for 4 days and we really only checked out about 10000 square feet, our room, OUR spot at the pool, 2 restaurants, and a couple of hallways to get to and from our room. “ I stated thinking and when we travel to Chicago we do the very same thing. No matter where we stay, we can condense the Second City to a matter of a few blocks. We love to walk and thus grabbing a cab is not in our wheelhouse, so we spend our time usually within a 10 or 12 block area.

For most of us, our daily lives are so big, so important, so stressful, but if we take a step back, there is very little that cannot be condensed to a manageable event. Think about the biggest struggle you are facing right now, job, marriage, and financial issues. No matter the problem, if you look at it big picture, it looms large and most times unmanageable. But if you talk the “it’s so small, that’s what she said view”, you simply figure out the first small step that will make that problem a little less of a problem and take that action.

Let’s say your marriage stinks. (Editors note, I’m divorced, so I can only give relationship advice, not marriage advice, I failed miserably, but was married for 17 years, so I can talk about this topic.) Let’s assume your biggest issue is the person you told forever meant until death do you part. That person is really dragging you down, making you feel less than you are, not allowing you to be you. If you look at the whole of that issue, it is unmanageable, the problems after all these years are too big to surmount, so you get divorced or worse live in a miserable environment until you die. If you look at your marriage as that you are also in a relationship, you look at the issues, and take a small step that force things to change. You might surprise your partner with flowers, a positive attitude, or an unexpected night out. Start a conversation that you are not happy and that you want a positive relationship in the next 6 months. If you are not happy, there is a great chance they are not happy either and your sudden interest might be a shock. Shocked or not, this can usually start you on your way to a better existence and in a few months, your life will improve.

Take the same steps with your job or your financial issues. Figure out one small step that you can take today that can start the tide turning on pain that you are experiencing. If it’s your job, figure out why you are not happy and take one small step to fix it. Financially, chances are you are living outside of your means and pulling back the reigns just a little and doing a little expense management can make your financial picture look amazingly better.

Another great example of the “it’s so small, that’s what she said” is the issue of weight. As you look around this is not just a problem, it is an epidemic. Most people get on the scale when they “start a program” and weigh daily proclaiming after day three that “I’ve lost 7 pounds!”. Do you check your stock portfolio on a daily basis? If you do, you shouldn’t. If a person needs to lose weight, many times we take the fast approach of quick weight loss that NEVER works. If you want to lose 50 pounds, go see a dietician, and lose 8 pounds a month for 6 months. That’s roughly 2 pounds a week and will get you very close to your goal. A person can lose 2 pounds a week easily with small changes, but the concept of focusing on the 50-pound goal seems insurmountable to most.

No matter the situation, the issue, the goal, begins using the “it’s so small, that’s what she said” approach. Break everything down into small steps, take action today, don’t deviate, and improve your life. Never forget what Miss Jackson stated above: “No matter how big you think your problems are, someone else's problems could always be bigger, which makes yours relatively small!” (That’s what she said…)


  • Image for New Website Launches!

    New Website Launches!

    Posted by: Dakota    |    June 13, 2011

    Welcome to our brand spankin' new home on the web! This new website has been in the making for nearly...... more »