We started the Mission Matters series about 10 weeks ago, and what has time and time again impressed me is the undeniable legacy that each one of our Independent Agents is creating in their community and our industry!
Keeping with the theme of legacy is Tim Stolly, of Stolly Insurance. Founded in 1904, they have over 100 years of service in the insurance industry. With 5 generations of Stolly’s operating the agency over the years, there are currently 2 generations running today’s 5 agencies that are located across Ohio.
Family and community is at the forefront for Stolly Insurance and that is clear when you talk with Tim and visit Stolly Insurance website. They have 3 active initiatives, including Operation Giveback, Succeed Scholarship and the Stolly Hustle Award. Their awards evolve around their agency’s philosophy of always going above and beyond what is expected.
Operation Giveback provides the opportunity for each of their agency locations to rally and select a charity that is close to their hearts and supports the local community. The charity that receives the most votes is awarded a cash prize.
Stolly Insurance, is extremely supportive of local schools and helps elevate students and athletes through their agency’s scholarship programs: Succeed Scholarship and the Stolly Hustle Award. The Succeed Scholarship awards 2 students a year on the premise of their personal achievement and leadership. The Stolly Hustle Award supports the agency’s philosophy of going above and beyond and recognizes the youth in their community that have shown special character, leadership and the desire to show their very best in athletics.
Stolly Insurance Agency lives by their core values, in fact it guides everything they do inside and outside of their agency; from decision making to recruiting and hiring. These are the things that hold their agency together, which include:
Ethics • Professionalism • Education • Fun • Family • Hard Work • Humility • Service
Inevitability in this industry, you come across gray areas, but they always reflect on their core values to help guide them through the uncertain times.
One of Tim’s prouder moments happen during difficult claims experiences and ensuring his clients have the best claims process. Tim will go to no end to ensure this is an exceptional experience, as he knows, it is already a difficult time so he tries to alleviate any other stress that could arise during the claim.
A great example of this was when a client had a claim at his seasonal cabin that he also uses as a rental property during off season. A skunk family infested the crawl space and literally “skunked” up the place. When Tim checked the policy, it excluded damage due to vermin. Tim knowing this was not the type of service he wanted to provide his client, started researching and found a legal case that was won where skunk scent was not considered vermin and or pollution. Tim describes a complicated process, but in the end the insurance company overturned their original decision and paid the $28,000 claim. Tim shared that they celebrated by “popping the bottle and throwing away the cork”!
Knowing his clients, forming friendships, and establishing that trust is imperative to their agency. Having these strong relationships makes complicated claims, like the skunk, run smoothly because Tim wants to work hard for his friends, and the client trusts that Tim will do everything in his power to take care of them.
The way Tim stays connected with his clients is to try to be out of the office and visiting his clients as much as possible in-person. Of course, COVID has complicated this approach, but Tim continues to stay connected with his clients through technology. He has found this allows him to maintain the friendship that he has established with all his clients and can remain being that trusted advisor they have all come to expect with Tim.
Being a generational insurance leader, Tim has learned a lot over the years from his mentors and gained a lot of hands-on experience. He offers 5 guiding principles to not only the next generation of leaders but all agents:
- Let God be your guide, it makes life so much easier
- Family always comes first (great advice from a family-ran business)
- To producers/owners – pay yourself based on “you eat what you kill”. Your salary should be based on what you sell. If you want to make more money, then you need to sell more. This will help tremendously with the business and family dynamics.
- Proper capitalization is a must! As your agency makes money, you need to invest back into the office. Do not overpay yourselves as principals. This will allow the agency to invest in the latest automation, hiring of new producers, set up possible M & A possibilities as well as pay better salaries to attract and maintain your service staff.
- To partners, you must live within your means. If agency principals need to withdraw capital funds to support their lifestyle it can cause problems and resentment from other owners. An agency partner cannot take extra money out of the agency. If this rule becomes loose, it can create challenging family dynamics.
Finally, for the next generation of leaders starting out, Tim stresses the importance of getting involved in your community. Show your commitment, your drive, your ethics, and morals. You will demonstrate your worth through your commitment to the community. It is the right thing to do.