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Episode 7: Kyle Corbridge: Running a High Powered Insurance Team with Life Balance

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Why is hiring the right person so critical? On today’s episode, Nelson Barss & Liz Sears interview the owner of Bon Agency, Kyle Corbridge. Kyle discusses his success in purchasing an established business and hiring employees that last.





Episode 8


SPEAKERS

Liz Sears, Kyle Corbridge, Nelson Barss


Liz Sears 00:01

Welcome to the Business greater than you podcast, where we dive deep into the stories of men and women who have successfully transcended the fragile solopreneur life and built prospective teams with better lifestyle and income.


Nelson Barss 00:13

I'm Nelson Barss, the founder and owner of Utah Independent Mortgage Corp.


Liz Sears 00:18

and I'm Liz Sears, founder and co-owner of My Utah Agents.


Nelson Barss 00:21

We're excited for you to listen, interact and grow with us. So please share your comments below. And let's get started. Okay, today we have an exciting episode, we've been waiting over a month to get Kyle in here, Kyle Corbridge, the owner of Bon Agency insurance, and a good friend of mine, and I just have been eager to pick your brain Kyle about your business.


Kyle Corbridge 00:48

Well, I've been waiting a month for the invitation.


Nelson Barss 00:52

So thanks for joining us. Thanks for being willing to let us- I know you're a little reluctant to come and talk about your business, but I've been so impressed with so many aspects of your business. So your business is an insurance agency started in Wyoming?


Kyle Corbridge 01:07

Correct.


Nelson Barss 01:08

You expanded into multiple states, you have an office here in Utah, you moved to Utah to bring your business here, right?


Kyle Corbridge 01:14

Yes, that's right.


Nelson Barss 01:15

Tell us a little bit more about your company.


Kyle Corbridge 01:17

So, the long story is, so I am the fourth owner of the line to this company. We've been around for about a hundred and twenty-six years. Just a little bit, right? So, we are actually technically the oldest independent agency now in the state of Wyoming, because of some of the buyouts and closures, but the name “Bon Agency” comes from the original proprietor, Cecil Bon started the company back in 1895, and so it still bears his name, just because of branding and other issues there. But it's been kind of a family business for most of that time period. My wife's grandfather took it over from the original proprietor, and then my father in law, and then I bought it- I started buying it from my father back in 2006. And then we have finalized that buyout completely a few years ago.


Nelson Barss 02:00

And before you started the buyout, you are working in the business for how long?


Kyle Corbridge 02:04

Yeah, so I started working in the insurance industry kind of fresh off an LDS mission. I was a college student at BYU and had gotten to some financial stuff, started working for my father- Well, my future father in law, he wasn't my father at the time- just as a salesperson, as a starting to sell the insurance doing the home and auto stuff, right.


Liz Sears 02:27

Oh, well, I have to interrupt. So did you meet him through your soon to be wife at the time? Or did you meet her through getting the job?


Kyle Corbridge 02:34

I've known him for my whole life, my parents and him, and my wife's parents, have been good friends for my whole life. So we've known them. That's why he invited me to come work for him. He was having some health issues, needed someone that he trusted to kind of care and come look after the business. And so I started there, in that process, and then eventually married his daughter. So that worked out really good. For me, especially. But I started just doing sales, right, and home and auto. It's a little monotonous. I didn't really care for it that much. But it was really good at it. I was good with people, good with sales, understood the concept of what I was selling very well. And then I started selling commercial insurance a couple years later. And I started selling to businesses, and corporations, and- big and small. And that's when I fell in love with the insurance world because I got to meet people who were building important things and doing things that are important.


Liz Sears 03:27

A lot like our listener base.


Kyle Corbridge 03:29

Yes, Right. And it was fun for me because I got to go in and see what they were doing, how they're doing it and what their risk assessment was, and able to protect them in their company. And so I loved getting to rub shoulders with those individuals. It was very exciting and powerful for me. And that's when I fell in love with it. So shortly thereafter, I approached the owner, my father in law, and told him I either wanted to buy the company, or I would like to step off on my own, and of course, then we made an agreement to start buying the company at that point, but he was too young to retire. So he stayed on for many, many more years, about fourteen more years, as I started that buyout process, and now he has since retired, just a few years ago and we finalized his buyout completely. So that's kind of the start of how I got into the business originally.


Liz Sears 04:13

And when you got into it, there was one location, right?


Kyle Corbridge 04:15

One location, yeah, Casper, Wyoming, it was located. And we served the state, and we did a really good job of servicing that state. You know, we didn't have computers, we had paper files when I started. We didn't have enough stuff. So yeah, it's just that one location.


Nelson Barss 04:27

And how has the business changed since you started the buyout.


Kyle Corbridge 04:31

So, a lot has changed. In the years that I started the buyout back in 2006. We have since implemented computer systems. We do everything electronically now. So we can, you know, we- a client walk into our office, we would go to a filing cabinet and pull a file out, literally, so we could see their portfolio, their policy information. Well, that has obviously long since gone away and everything's done on computer systems. But growth wise, we have really expanded. So outside of just Wyoming, we now serve many states in the Mountain West area. I think we’re at eighteen states now, we just added one more about two weeks ago. And so we are continually growing.


Liz Sears 05:11

Because most of your business, you're able to do just like on Zoom and phone calls, right?


Kyle Corbridge 05:15

Correct, yeah, and so we can service- as long as we're licensed, we can service that, we give them the service they need, wherever it may be, right. And so phone- because of the technology, phones and Zoom meeting type conference face to face conferences, we can do that anywhere we want. It's really nice. In that processes, since 2006, we've done multiple acquisitions of competing agencies, you could say, that would do the same type of thing that we do, that were either looking to retire or to change their business. And so we went in and assimilated and brought them in and brought them into the Bon Agency, fold and family. So we've done four of those in the last 10 years. And so, it's really helped us grow, but that's also allowed us to open up an office here in Utah that we have as well.


Nelson Barss 05:56

And you moved here to Utah, after you open the office, right?


Kyle Corbridge 06:00

After. So yeah, it was kind of interesting thing. So we… I bought one of my longtime associates out in 2011, is when it was, he had a great insurance office here in northern Utah. And he was getting ready to retire. I had known him for many years. And so he approached and said, I want to retire. And so we bought his business from him. But since he had a good presence in Utah, we decided instead of just running it from our Wyoming office, to actually open a physical location here in the state of Utah. So it'd be our second physical location. And at that time, we didn't have any employees here because it was just him and his daughter that were working in the office, and she didn't want to stick on. And so I was driving back and forth to Utah and Wyoming. Two weeks at a time, I’d spend two weeks in Utah, two weeks in Wyoming, two weeks- and I got a lot of reading done, well, reading, you know, audiobooks, during that time. So I learned a lot. So we had just those two offices, but, so we did get a team together. It took a little bit of time, but we got a team put together for our Utah office, it worked out really well. Two years after that acquisition in 2013, we, my wife and I, were here doing some family stuff, some of my family lived in the state of Utah at the time, so we were at a family reunion here, and we just kind of felt this pull, and this need to be here. And we sold our house in Wyoming and had a house under contract within just a matter of 24 to 48 hours, from Utah. So we moved here in 2013 and decided to keep growing the business from here and it's worked out really well for us so far.


Nelson Barss 07:33

Yeah, that's great. And you still go back to Wyoming quite often?


Kyle Corbridge 07:37

Quite often, yeah. So I go back about every six to eight weeks, I'm back there for about a week at a time, sometimes more often, sometimes less. It's easy to for me to drive out there during the summer, the winter months, I don't get out as much, because the weather in Casper is not as good as here. But yeah, I spend a lot of time out there. And of course I'm face to face with them every day with our technology, anyway.


Liz Sears 07:57

Nice, well talk to us a little bit about how you started growing the team here. Like, how you put it together, what were some of the wins that worked out nicely, and some of the struggles that you had to work through.


Kyle Corbridge 08:09

Yeah. And here's the thing with putting the team together, is that I found, is you're never going to get it right every time. Sometimes you hit the jackpot. And sometimes you miss that jackpot. you're swing and you miss, you know, big time. And I'll tell you the first hire we had was a jackpot. We were looking for a manager type personnel, knowing that I couldn't be here physically every day, traveling back and forth from Wyoming. We interviewed lots of people, found some really good individuals. And I never was really settled. And I'm actually a little ashamed to say that my father in law is one who approached me at the time because he was still in the business, and he said, “Well, what about your really good friend from high school? Brian,” he said, “What about him, what's he up to?” And I'm a little ashamed that I didn't come up with the idea. But anyway, I called Brian, he was managing Chase Bank at the time in a different state. I called him up to see if he was interested in it. And he quit his job and moved up here in 10 days.


Liz Sears 9:05

Oh, wow, that was fast.


Kyle Corbridge 9:06

And he still, to this day, is with the company. And he runs our Utah operation perfectly and seamlessly. And he's in charge there. So that was a jackpot hit, right? I wish I had come up with that idea. But it was a natural fit, because we hadn't- Brian and I have known each other since first grade, we're together, and that stuff. So that's a really good one.


Liz Sears 09:23

So a question for you, before we move on from that, is that- your father in law bringing it up and you saying, “Aw, I wish I would have thought of that,” like what were some of the traits, the personality traits that, looking back, you're like, “Yeah, that would have been exactly what I need to watch for,” because a lot of our listeners here, sometimes they're looking to hire somebody. So what are some of the specific pieces that could be a trigger for them?


Kyle Corbridge 09:45

Yeah, so, I think all those traits that you're looking for, everyone who wants to hit these really good tricks, you know, the integrity, the honesty, the longevity, the loyalty, right? I think the loyalty is the biggest one. You know, he had been- you see that he had been with the Washington Mutual companies for many, many years, and they eventually got bought out by Chase, so that's why he was with Chase at the time. But he had worked his way up and was managing a branch, and dedicated that service to them. So I think that loyalty is really a big factor there. There's some familiarity, which you're not always going to have a familiarity with new hires, we had a very close familiar, because we've known each other for thirty years. Not everyone's going to have that. But that really hard-working dedicatory spirit that they bring with them to do that, that's probably the biggest thing that really is that- know that they're not bouncing around from job to job all the time, I think is a critical piece.


Nelson Barss 10:38

You know what else stands out to me, though, is your hit- you went for a leader first, right? You were looking for someone to run your Utah operation, someone with management experience. And I think that's almost the exact opposite of what most people visualize, right? It's like, “well, I'm gonna get a really cheap assistant, maybe an intern or, you know, a VA or a virtual assistant, I can go cheap.” And that's ten times less likely to work out than someone who you're looking for who comes in with that experience.


Kyle Corbridge 11:07

That's a good point. And so, I think part of the reason that I was wanting to hit that high level individual first is because I wasn't going to be there for- I was still traveling, I didn't live in Utah full time yet. And so I needed to have that high level person. But looking back, you hit it right on the head is, that's why it's been so successful is because we hit that high level person first, instead of trying to build up to that and start off on the lower entry level person first, hitting that high level job, I think was critical to the success of that operation.


Nelson Barss 11:34

And was he the one, then, that was interviewing and hiring and building?


Kyle Corbridge 11:38

Yep. So he helped do that process. And I ultimately had this final say, and he would, he would kind of filter him through to me, and we would do some of that. But he ultimately was involved in that process very heavily as well. And he had been doing it in previous positions anyway. So he was familiar with that process.


Liz Sears 11:52

I think is so interesting, and amazing and awesome when you hit that level where you're opening another location, or you're opening another division of your business, where the person that you put into that position is the one who does all the hiring for you. So, just finally reaching that level, myself. And it's different. It's interesting to-


Kyle Corbridge 12:10

It’s nerve racking, thought, because for me, I'm a control freak, right, and I have that death grip on some of those things, it's hard for me to let go of those. But when you find a person like Brian, who I have in place, it gives you that breath of fresh air, it's easy to let go of that a little bit. Right?


Liz Sears 12:24

So hiring the right person helps the transition.


Kyle Corbridge 12:25

Hiring the right person is so critical, it lets you loosen up that death grip just a little bit, and you’re able to let go.


Nelson Barss 12:31

I’m glad you said that, I thought for a long time I just was a terrible delegator. Until I hired the right person, right? I went through three or four or five of the wrong person that I could never trust and never did.


Liz Sears 12:44

Or when you did trust them. It came back to bite you, yeah.


Nelson Barss 12:47

Right, and the lack of trust, they could sense it, they didn't enjoy it either, right? And just a night and day, when there was finally a person that I could trust, and they felt that, and they took the trust and ran with it and built upon it.


Kyle Corbridge 12:59

And they build it- and they feel like they succeeded than to, right, because they have built, they have your trust, and they have that, and they feel like they have really grown at that position on their own. And so it's really a benefit both ways, a win-win.


Nelson Barss 13:12

So that was a win. Do you have some other stories?


Kyle Corbridge 13:16

Yes, that was a win. We had a couple sing-and-a-misses in between the- after him, right, and we had a couple that didn't work out so good that, that maybe they were good, and just maybe not the right fitted job, because this job isn't for everyone. But we had a couple of big strikeouts. We had a couple of really good ones, and just ended up getting married and moving away, out of state, and something didn't work out. But then another really good critical hire, honestly comes- a lot of our really, really good hires that we've had have come from people we know and trust and have those relationships with, that refer people to us. Funny enough, so, one of our other key critical employees in my Utah office is a daughter of a client of my Wyoming office. And so she called and said, “Hey, Are you by chance hiring in your Utah office? My daughter is looking for a job.” And because of the relationship I had with her and her husband, I said, “Yeah!” and so we brought her in and hired her and she's been with us for about nine years now in our in our Utah office. And it's just so critical to the operation, she has been a really, really good hire. But again, it can came from another familiarity, right?


Liz Sears 14:21

They say word of mouth is almost more powerful than all of the great online employment sites. Question for you on the swinging-and-a-miss people. So, on some of those, what were some of the lessons learned that, in hindsight, now, if you find yourself in a similar situation, and if you could give the, you know, terrible, awful details, so that way, you know, we can learn from it too. That would be fantastic.


Kyle Corbridge 14:43

Well, I think the biggest thing that I've learned in those mistakes, is, when you- as soon as you know what's wrong, make a change. I have, in many occasions- because you want to be the nice guy. You don't want to hurt people's feelings, you know, whatever. Maybe you hold on to them too long. And I think if I've learned anything, and I have tried to implement, even sometimes when we still make the mistakes, is, when you figure out that it's wrong, don't wait to make the change, get rid of them, they're going to be grateful for it. Because if you're not happy, most likely, the chances are, they're not happy with what's going on either. And they're frustrated, they're unhappy with whatever may be going on. And so, when you figure that out, it's easier just to make the change sooner rather than later. That's probably my biggest thing I've learned. It's hard, because you don't want to be the bad guy, you know, but I think it's-


Nelson Barss 15:31

Well, and you want to coach them up, and you want to help. And I've been through that, too. It's, it's always- I mean, I have yet to see where there was somebody that was kind of heading down the wrong path that I was able to somehow miraculously turn around, right, or change the relationship, it always ended bad. And the fact that I tried so hard, made it worse. Right?


Kyle Corbridge 15:51

Right. And some people are natural fit for the job. And the people who don't work out, they're a natural fit for another job. And so by letting them move on to something else, you're truly benefiting them just as much as you're benefiting your company by making that change soon.


Liz Sears 16:04

Yeah, we have one right now that the conversation actually was that we really did realize the job description we had given her was not in alignment with her strengths. It was like in alignment with somewhere she really struggles. And as we had her doing that job, we realized, oh, my gosh, this is not working the way we want it to. And so how to have that conversation, to say, “look, we want to transition your job description, not because you suck at this, but because- well, you do- but it's also because your strength is here, and you're not enjoying your job, we're not getting our money's worth.” And it was funny because I did use that term, and it kind of hurt her feelings. But later when we were talking about it, I'm like, “when you can have that empowerment feeling of you don't have to be good at everything. And it's fine, that that's not your strength that's maximize where your strength is,” because that's what we need. Have you ever had that?


Kyle Corbridge 16:55

Well if you have an organization large enough where you when you were you find someone whose strengths aren't right in the position they have, and you can then transition them into a position that is their strength, that's really, really amazing. And sometimes not every organization is going to have that opportunity to transition into a different department.


Liz Sears 17:10

Or even, there’s just not an opening.


Kyle Corbridge 17:12

Or there's not an opening, right, or something, but if you have that ability, and you recognize the strength and you need it in your company somewhere, that's a great ability to have to do that. Recognizing that is huge. I think, as a boss, if you want to say you're an entrepreneur, or a business owner, be able to recognize their strengths and be able to tap into those is critical, I think in having your organization be successful.


Liz Sears 17:33

Yeah, exactly.


Nelson Barss 17:35

Well, I have for a long time, I've really admired your work-life balance. It's one of the reasons I wanted to have you here, I know your family, you have a wonderful family, and you have a wonderful business as well. And they don't rob each other, right? I've seen how you-


Liz Sears 17:51

And he talks about how he sees you going on vacations, going on family things, and he's like, “wait, I want that!”


Nelson Barss 17:55

Travel. I’ll call you on like a Friday afternoon, I'm just drowning, and he's like, “Yeah, I'm on the way home for the week. You know.”


Liz Sears 18:01

I'm voting.


Nelson Barss 18:03

And I just, I'd love to just get into the nuts and bolts of how your operation runs. And if I could use an analogy, this comes from a book I read, clockwork business by Mike Michalowicz, have you heard of that? He talks about the difference between a player on the field, a coach on the sideline, and an owner in the owner’s box. And I feel like you may be one of our guests who's more living the life of a business owner, and you have coaches, and you have players, but I'd love to just hear the organization. How does it work? And what advice you have for someone who struggles with work life balance?


Kyle Corbridge 18:40

Yeah, so this is- people, when they start a business- we got to start off from the beginning, I think- is they start a business, they want to do a business because of the benefits it brings, eventually. And I think they forget that “eventually” sometime, right. And so, there's a lot of work that goes into getting to the point where even I’m at, I don't think I've made it all the way for sure, because I still put a lot of work in, but I definitely have the ability to take some of those leisures that business owners enjoy. But it doesn't start off that way immediately. So I have a great team, I have fifteen employees that work underneath me, in some way, shape, or form. And because we take the time and opportunity to make sure we hire the right people at the right time, and they're very good at what they do, it frees up so much of my time and my ability, they're a lot better at their job than I am at their job. I can't do what they do. I don't want to do what they do. That's why they're doing it. And so, I have the opportunity to watch them succeed and grow and do their things. But by them being so good at what they're doing. It does free up so much of my time to be outside looking in and kind of running the business, like you said, maybe up in the owner’s box a little bit, right, and so the work-life balance is nice. So, I do enjoy to travel. That's probably one of my favorite things in life to do is to see different places in the country and different places in the world, but allow my kids to enjoy those experiences as well. And so there are opportunities that we do take, on occasion, to leave the office, go places for three, four or five days at a time. And do I stay connected the office long way, of course, I mean, as a business owner, it's hard to really completely disconnect. But, instead of being right in their face in my employees background for eight to ten hours a day, I'm on the phone with them or an email thirty minutes a day, while I’m away. And so I'm able to do that, because they know that I trust them to do their job, they know that they're better at the job than I am anyway. And so, they know what their duties and responsibilities are to do that.


Liz Sears 20:45

So part of it, like you just said, is getting to the point where the job description that you expect them to do has been very thoroughly documented. It's been very thoroughly trained. And then now you're supervising to make sure that it happened.


Kyle Corbridge 20:57

Yeah. And so that does start at the very beginning. So we have an employee manual that we have that they've got to understand. And we have a procedure manual that helps them identify their job duties and responsibilities for that particular position. And sometimes it's even a shared position, because we have three people doing the exact same thing.


Liz Sears 21:13

Which is nice, because then when one's gone, the others cover.


Kyle Corbridge 21:17

The others can do it, right, and so they all have a very clear and good understanding of that. But then having it documented, you mentioned that were documented, so that it's clear. So they have a reference go back to if they're not sure what to be done. They don't have to come to me every single time like, “what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do this?” It's a written document, a procedure that they can refer back to.


Liz Sears 21:35

So is it in a physical book? Or how do you have that done?


Kyle Corbridge 21:38

Well, we do print it, but it is a digital format, we have it online on our shared file on our computer system, but it is printed, most of them keep it in a drawer in their desk, and pull it out and refer to it, some people pull it up right on their PDF on their computer to refer to it when they need to. But having that is really helpful to them because they know what their duties responsibilities are. And if we add and take away sometimes their duties, but not just knowing their duties, but how to do their duties too. And so that they're performing it efficiently and well.


Nelson Barss 22:04

So tell us some of the roles, some of the different jobs in your office, what are the different…


Kyle Corbridge 22:09

Yeah, so we have two full departments. So we have what's called a personalized division, they handle you know, the home and auto, the boats, and the toys, that's what they handle, they intake that from beginning all the way through to the end, and then continue to service it throughout time. We have a commercial lines division, which is all your business owners, which are kind of your audience today, right? And so they handle all the servicing of the commercial insurances that there are. So in each division, they kind of have a lot of the same levels of people. So we have customer service reps, they handle the incoming phone calls, they handle some of the smaller service needs that they may have, then we have account executives that kind of a little bit higher, where they're really dealing face to face with the intricate details of their policies, servicing them, what's covered what's not maybe making some of the important visits to and from the office. And with those individuals, they're kind of the face of my company with that client. So Client A, they know that they have an assigned account executive, and they know that instead of reaching me and contacting me, they work directly with that account executive to handle all their business needs. And sometimes that account executive will hand it off to one of the CSR’s for one of those things, too, to handle some of that processing. And then you have producers, like myself, who actually bring in the business who helped sell and bring those in. And they're kind of the initial salesman, if you will, to bring the business in and kind of help the marketing of the of the company. So those are kind of the levels of individuals we have and they each kind of work harmoniously with each other to make sure that it all is handled seamlessly in each of their divisions, commercial and personalized departments.


Nelson Barss 23:43

So your producers, the salespeople, do they have assistants and teams, or do the team's not step in until after the deal is done?


Kyle Corbridge 23:50

Yeah. So they don't really step in until after the deal’s done. So they'll sell the business, they may have some help in the office, getting those quotes and policies and everything put together, but once that business is sold and brought into the office, it's handed off to one of those account executives, they help service in there so that the salesman producer can go out and continue to work on another new business.


Liz Sears 24:11

So that’s a very clean handoff Very clean handoff.


Kyle Corbridge 24:13

Very clean handoff, yeah. And is that salesman still involved? Sure, but not on the day to day operations that the account executives are, their job is to bring in the new business and account executives and CSR’s is to maintain that and service that business that they're bringing in.


Liz Sears 24:27

So how- give an example of how the conversation looks to a client for that handoff.


Kyle Corbridge 24:33

Yeah, so it's simple. As they sell the business, they say “Hey, so you have a point of contact day to day so you know, who you're going to deal with. I am going to hand you off to the Account Executive A,” and they- we have a name, we have a picture. You know, sometimes we even have a video now to do some marketing companies that we work with that we can email for a a video introduction. So they have a face and name, a little bit of personal info about that account executive that that salesperson is handing them off to. So they know who they're dealing with, and has all their contact information right there. So it's done, a lot of it, virtually, of course, and they make that handoff virtually. And then that account executive then reaches out to them proactively and sees what they need from there on. And so, that person, that client, knows from day one who they're supposed to deal with, there's no ambiguity, it makes it a little bit easier for them to know, a contact directly who they need.


Nelson Barss 25:27

I can imagine. I mean, if I think about my own life, and what took me so long to actually build a team, it was fear of that handoff, right? It was like, “Okay, I don't want someone to feel cheated, because I'm the one that sold them. And now they get someone else.”


Kyle Corbridge 25:43

Right, yeah, so I have that same fear, even still to this day, right? But by putting the right people in place, it does make it a little bit easier. But I think as a business owner, and as a salesperson, as a leader, you're always going to want to have that connection with that person that you dealt with initially, right? But by having the right people in place, it makes it easier, because I know that my team is going to service them faster, more efficiently, and way better than I can. Now there might be some coverage questions and some things that come up that they come back to me with, but overall, the connection with that person is so much easier with my team than it is with me.


Nelson Barss 26:23

And what I’ve found now is that, if I have a team who's handling well all the all of the hard parts, when I make a contact with the client, it's more of a relationship call, right? It's, “how was my team doing? How are we taking care of you? What else can I help you with?” It's a different kind of call, it's still a relationship, but I would never have had that call if I was buried in the weeds of a whole new process. Whatever it were.


Kyle Corbridge 26:46

Yeah, so that's what I do like, is because I get to manage those relationships a little bit differently than my than my team does. I get to reach out and say, “Hey, I'm just checking in, want to see if you've made any changes, how are things going,” instead of like, “oh, there's a problem, let me reach out to you.” I can leave that to maybe some of them. And on some of those, but-


Nelson Barss 27:03

“Why haven't you signed this page?”


Kyle Corbridge 27:05

Yeah, “why- I'm still waiting for this,” Like, “why haven't I got it.” My team can take care of that. So I get to do a little bit more of the building and maintaining the relationship on a good friendly basis. Because, as most business is, it's about relationships. And I can't contact every single person every single day. But having a team to be able to handle that stuff really makes a big difference.


Liz Sears 27:25

Nice. Alright, so next question I have for you, Kyle, is I know that your company has a significantly lower turnover than a lot of insurance companies I know. And so I'd love for you to share with us, what are some of your ways that you do that?


Kyle Corbridge 27:37

Yeah. So that's, that's important to us, really is important. Our team members, we actually call them family members, we are a family-owned business. And we have been, and we maintain the family status, even inside the walls of our office, we treat them as family. And so, we try to create that atmosphere, even during work hours where people can feel comfortable broaching any subject, they come into my office, closed door, and they can feel comfortable knowing that whatever we talked about can be private in there. But, we also create an atmosphere where we feel- our employees are our best asset we have as a company. And so we feel by taking care of them, they will in turn-


Liz Sears 28:17

They will set the example taking care of-


Kyle Corbridge 28:20

Yeah, they'll take care back of us and also turn that around and take care of our clients, as family, because we want to create that atmosphere. And so we tried to create a benefit structure for them to feel like they can stay and make a career out of working for our agency. A lot of agencies-


Liz Sears 28:36

Was that in place when you bought the business?


Kyle Corbridge 28:39

Mostly, yes, it was. And I think I've inherited that desire because of buying it from the previous owner, his desire to make it make it that way. And so most everything was in place that way, and has been really ingrained in me as I've grown in the business. I've seen how that's benefited our business atmosphere, our culture.


Liz Sears 28:55

No pun intended there?


Kyle Corbridge 28:59

Yeah, exactly. And so it really has benefited our business atmosphere, right? And so we make sure that they have their emotional, their, especially their financial needs met. Because it's important. We want them to be taken care of we want them to feel like they can be part there for a long time. We want them to be along- because it's expensive to get someone in, it's expensive to get them trained. And to risk the wrong hire and so when you get the right ones, you want to make sure that they are there for a long time because that- it takes, in in our in our business, when you get someone brand new who doesn't have the training and licensing, it takes them six to twelve months to really be a profitable employee. And so you're spending a lot of time and energy and money to get them to be profitable.


Liz Sears 29:40

So what are some of the culture building things that you do that help have that feeling?


Kyle Corbridge 29:45

So we- Well we do have this family atmosphere so we find every occasion we can to have food at the office right and so but we all participate in that, everyone gets to bring stuff and we have it in the break room and we all kind of take a break and we go potluck type things on A regular occasion, we celebrate family occasions, whether it's a birth or a wedding or a baptism, whatever it may be in any of our employees, we celebrate together as an office. And it's even during office hours, we participate in those things. And so we find it very opportunistic that we get to celebrate these things. And we all know the names of their kids and, you know, their boyfriends or girlfriends, you know, we get to know those individuals, and they're like that family with us.


Liz Sears 30:29

Do you ever have dog day at the office?


Kyle Corbridge 30:31

No, but that's a good thought.


Liz Sears 30:32

I just popped in my head. I've never done that, either. Yeah, I mean, we've had a couple of impromptu’s where people will bring their dogs to the office. And it turns into a like a party, but not on regular plan.


Nelson Barss 30:45

Actually, yeah, we’ve had a couple dogs visit too, it really does brighten up the day.


Kyle Corbridge 30:47

We've had a couple dogs, but I've never had a dog day. But that might be fun to do, because we all have our dogs and those things. But we do feel like it's really nice, because people feel very comfortable when they need to take some time for family things. They aren't hesitant to make sure they ask for those things. They feel like their family is protected in our office. They know that family is number one, they know that family comes first. And we know that we have a business to run, we know that we have to run a business, we have to take good care of those things. But family’s always first. And that includes our employees’ families, their families are always first.


Nelson Barss 31:21

You know, the word that comes to mind with all that is commitment. I remember talking to a business owner who was so frustrated because of turnover. And he had an employee that left because all this other company offered full time fotry hours a week and benefits. And he said, “we'll never have that for our employees,” and he happens to be in the same industry as you. And I remember thinking, “if you want them to be committed to you, you have to be committed to them as well. Right?” And what do you say? I mean, I think the struggle, knowing his business and many businesses is the cost, like what does it really cost to provide that level of commitment to your employees?


Kyle Corbridge 32:02

A lot. So our our benefit package, it far exceeds any of our expenses and our office. When you mentioned that benefits, offices, my size and in my industry don't normally offer the benefits that we do. We're one of the very few of the insurance brokerages our size that offer full benefits. So we pay one-hundred percent of our employees’ health insurance, we have a retirement plan, that is one-hundred percent employer contribution, it's not a match, we contribute one-hundred percent of their retirement. And it's a profit-sharing plan. So, some years it's seven percent, some years, it's thirteen percent. But we've never been lower than five percent. And usually, people are getting-


Liz Sears 32:42

Five percent of their annual salary?


Kyle Corbridge 32:43

Of their annual salary. And usually employers are doing a three to five percent match. If they participate. Well, it's hard to participate sometimes in those. And so we want to make sure that they're taken care of, so we give a hundred percent of the contribution, depending on what that level is, but we've never been under five percent. And we pay a hundred percent of their health insurance.


Nelson Barss 33:02

Which is big. I mean, we do health insurance in our office, and it is a huge expense, and it is we do not pay a hundred percent. I can't imagine it would-


Kyle Corbridge 33:10

And with an office our size, I mean, it's literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, between the all the benefits. But do you want your employees to stick around? Is it easier for me to have an employee where I spend a little bit extra time and money on every single month or over the years, and I have them stick around for seven, eight, nine, ten years, or to have a turnover wherever eighteen months I'm trying to get someone new and a hassle training? Does it cost us money? Absolutely. But it makes it so much easier in the long run, for them and for us, because they feel like they're taken care of and they are dedicated to the business just as much as we're trying to dedicate to them.


Liz Sears 33:47

That's amazing. I feel like I haven't grown up yet. Because we don't really have a benefits package. And Nelson was telling me about, you know, kind of the starting one with the dental, vision, life insurance, things like that. And then also medical whether, you know, you give them a stipend that they can use towards whatever or offering like- so you have in your own company, you have the medical like group plan, basically.


Kyle Corbridge 34:10

We do. Yeah, so we provide it and it's a group plan for all our employees that they participate in.


Nelson Barss 34:16

Group plans are not- I mean, I have a very small team, I think we did our group plan when we had less than ten people, right? It's not, it's really not impossible to get it if you want to offer it and you don't have to start by paying a hundred percent. But I think that the key- I keep thinking of your assistant who's nine years with you. Can you imagine how much easier your life would be if you had someone who's nine years in and knew that much about your business, about your clients, and their property.


Kyle Corbridge 34:47

Well, the nuances of how I work, I mean, so that person understands how I work and my workflows and they're ahead of things faster than I can be ahead of things, right, I get a phone call, and she's typing me all the information on my little chat screen. And so by the time I even get the phone call answered, she's got all the information of what she already knows I need up on my screen. And so there's nuances by having someone long term there with you that make it make it worth that extra time and money.


Nelson Barss 35:12

Yeah, definitely worth it, I think, like I said, you just got to show some commitment, it doesn't have to be, you know, all the way there. But if those who are listening, if you're struggling, because that intern just went back to school and quit, right, I gotta get another intern because I can't afford- Well, I think, I think you can't afford to keep doing this on the cheap. At some point, you have to commit to some people, so they can commit back to you. And you can build a true team.


Liz Sears 35:38

And you know, let me actually just pause here, too, because you were talking about the hierarchy, the breakdown of the structure of your company that you have those that are salespeople who go find the clients and things in that group. And then you have your account managers who are like the ones who own the client portfolio or whatever it is for each client. And then you have the customer service representatives, who kind of take care of just all the busy work type pieces to assess to them. And so when somebody feels like they can't hire somebody, in your opinion, you know, getting those people below so that you can focus your time and effort on finding new clients. That's where the money comes.


Kyle Corbridge 36:17

That’s where the money- and that's where you see your company growth, right, you get to a point where, before you're hiring people, you're trying to do all those jobs, and you can't grow anymore, you've reached a limit. And by being able to get these people put in place, you're able to focus on that growth. And it really makes that growth come exponentially once you get the right people in place on that.


Nelson Barss 36:39

And I would say living at that limit is miserable.


Liz Sears 36:42

Oh my gosh, yeah.


Kyle Corbridge 36:44

That’s a hard limit to be at.


Nelson Barss 36:45

It’s usually not a real good profitable place to be, you're not really flying high enough above the ground to avoid those occasional crash months. And those crash months come because you have nobody to take care of the busy work, the business, so you can prospect, right? It's just, it's a horrible lifestyle, I probably spent fifteen years on that personal limit of what I can do all by myself and never trusting the team members that I had. And so I just want to encourage anybody who's living at that limit to really consider- the minute I hired a person who could take over the loans that were locked for me and I trusted her, it was like, it was like taking the lid off the top of the jar. And there's just so much more business to be had that I was missing, because I just didn't have the time to do anymore.


Kyle Corbridge 37:38

That makes a big difference for sure. I want to- if I can- I want to go back just briefly, I want to go back briefly talking about the employee benefits for just a second. I want to mention that there's a lot of gratification as a business owner, to be able to provide those benefits to an employee at that gratification makes a lot of it worth it, too, because they really are making- well in case of my employees, they make me look a lot better than I really am. They do so much, they really have earned the ability to have those benefits. And so, it's a lot of gratification in being able to say, we're going to provide this for you. Because they do so much for the company. And like I said they make us look so much better than we really are. And so, for anyone who does listen to this, is it a is it a leap of faith is a leap of money? It is, and when you're able to get there, I mean, you got to make sure you're financially stable to do it. But push yourself, because it's worth it, because the employees do and know and recognize that as the benefit. And it really binds that loyalty to you. I think that's why, to your case, that we've had so little turnover out of the last twenty years of business.


Nelson Barss 38:59

Yeah, that's a great story. Well, are you ready for a fire round? For rapid fire Questions?


Kyle Corbridge 39:06

Yeah, let's do it.


Nelson Barss 39:07

We'll wrap it up, these are questions we ask every guest, and we want you to answer them in one minute or less.


Kyle Corbridge 39:13

All right, I’ll be fast.


Nelson Barss 39:15

What is your favorite podcast?


Liz Sears 39:17

Besides ours, of course.


Kyle Corbridge 39:18

Well, since you put that caveat, I was gonna say that, but with that caveat, I will say; Increase Your Impact with Justin Su’a.


Nelson Barss 39:25

Justin Su’a.


Kyle Corbridge 39:26

Yeah, awesome. It's just a very short podcast, daily things, but it's super powerful and I really like it.


Nelson Barss 39:31

Cool, I will check it out. What's your favorite business book?


Kyle Corbridge 39:35

There's lots. I'm gonna say like 21 irrefutable…


Nelson Barss 39:44

Laws? 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership?


Kyle Corbridge 39:46

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell. Yeah.


Nelson Barss 39:48

Okay, I have that, I've like read twelve of them.


Kyle Corbridge 39:50

Yeah, it’s a good book.


Nelson Barss 39:52

How many hours a day do you work?


Kyle Corbridge 39:54

About six to ten.


Nelson Barss 39:57

How many hours a day do you want to work?


Kyle Corbridge 39:58

Right now, six to ten, because I love what I do. I like doing what I do. So right now, I do want to work six to ten hours. Ten, twelve years from now, two to five.


Nelson Barss 40:08

Who do you really look up to in the business world as a role model? And why?


Kyle Corbridge 40:14

This is a loaded question, but I'm gonna go with something that maybe a lot of people don't know, but probably my brother. He really is the epitome of an entrepreneur. He’s started many businesses. He's seen the height of success in his businesses, and he's lost his businesses and had to do bankruptcy. And so, he right now, does have a very, very successful business. He's built an amazing team. And I run things by him all the time. He is a great, great leader, a great business mind, and he would probably be probably the business leader, I would look up to most.


Nelson Barss 40:49

What is the one best piece of advice you can share with our audience?


Kyle Corbridge 40:53

Ah, I'm going to put in two, and I apologize, I'm gonna say; do what you love, and love what you do. Because if you're if you hate what you do every day, you're gonna do something wrong. You've got to love what you're doing. That's the first thing of advice. My second one is; to be kind. There's a lot of opportunity in this world for us to not be kind. And I think one of the greatest things in my life that has allowed me and my business to grow, is simply being kind to people I run into every day.


Nelson Barss 41:23

Yeah. Well, awesome. Well, I would say that level of commitment you have to your business, being there six to ten hours a day, and being kind and committed, it really is paying off for you. I think people can tell, I think the employees and your customers.


Kyle Corbridge 41:37

Thank you I look up to both of you immensely, watching you. I knew you both before you both started your brokerages. Use your services before you started your brokerage and to see where you guys have come in the short period of time in the teams that you have built. I can see why you have this podcast to build teams because you guys are living what you're preaching and are building that. And so I hope the listeners to your podcast really understand the influence that you guys have on everyone's life that you're affiliated with. So, I look up to you guys immensely as well.


Nelson Barss 42:05

Thank you. Well, how can our listeners find you and get a hold of you?


Kyle Corbridge 42:09

That's right, you know, our website, www.bonagency.com. There is no “D” in “Bon”, a lot of people say we're James Bond, we're not.


Liz Sears 42:17

You’re like Bon Marche, like old school. B-o-n.


Kyle Corbridge 42:21

B-o-n. And then our phone number is on there as well. (801) 773 - 7570. I'm not really active on personal social media, I have them, but I don't really participate in them. But then we do have some social media sites on there, Facebook and stuff for our businesses out there.


Nelson Barss 42:38

Well, I couldn't speak highly enough of your service as an insurance agent, especially- you do some of the stuff for my business, all the commercial stuff for my buisness.


Liz Sears 42:46

He does all the commercial stuff for my business!


Nelson Barss 42:47

And just have really appreciated your expertise and service. And so I highly recommend you if somebody's looking for a good business consultant and a risk advisor. I think they couldn't do better than to hire you. Thank


Kyle Corbridge 42:59

Thank you. That means a lot, coming form you. Thank you. I Appreciate it.


Nelson Barss 43:02

Okay, thank you, Kyle.


Kyle Corbridge 43:03

Thank you, guys.


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