Insurance Office of America is like no other company in the insurance industry, and no one knows that better than CEO Heath Ritenour. Speaking at IOA’s 2018 National Sales Meeting, he touched on how we continue to watch much of the insurance industry move down a path of sameness while IOA continues to do things differently. IOA’s business grows organically while competitors continue to buy their growth.
Last year alone, IOA grew 6% organically while the industry only increased 1.5%. Competitors buy their competition, while IOA continues to invest in making itself better. “While those competitors focus on growth, we focus on excellence.” Some of those investments have a long payback time, but it doesn’t matter because IOA’s vision is long term.
Heath also reiterated just how special IOA continues to be culturally. IOA is unlike other agencies because of its founders’ vision and goals. Other agencies are unable to sustain the commission structure set by IOA because no one else has taken the greed out of the industry. This sets IOA apart from the rest, and its leadership fully intends on further disrupting an industry of sameness. As Heath confidently stated in his closing, “We are the broker of tomorrow, and our competitors better look out because we’re coming for their business.”
At Insurance Offices of America’s 2018 National Sales Meeting, President Jeff Lagos began his address to the group by recognizing the work that co-founders John and Valli Ritenour have done to make the impossible possible. Jeff shared a personal account about his challenges early in his career and how IOA provided opportunities for him and his family, stating, “It’s been better than I’d ever hoped it would be.”
Shifting to the present, Jeff expounded on what producers could do to help the company continue to produce. First, he urged agents to set sales goals and then hit them. It sounds simple, but for IOA to keep its organic growth, producers must have a business plan and work toward their goals. He then talked about how building good working relationships with carriers positively affects the business.
The client relationship’s role in growth was next on the list. “The number one growth strategy is client retention. If we increase our retention by one percent, that’s the equivalent of writing $2 million in revenue,” he said. Doing what is right for your clients at all times must be front and center.
A major factor in retention involves IOA’s most valuable resource—its people. Jeff encouraged producers to build positive working relationships with their teams, get to know them on a personal level, and be sure to listen effectively. For example, state your point like you know you’re right, but listen as if you know you’re wrong. He summed it up by saying, “There are about 1,200 people who work at IOA. That’s the most important thing to us.”
What does it take to make the impossible possible? Insurance Office of America co-founder and Chairman John Ritenour knows and shared the answer in his address at the 2018 National Sales Meeting. “[IOA] may have started because of John and Valli, but the mission possible happened because of all of you.”
John broke down four keys that have helped the company grow from the dream he and co-founder and Vice President Valli Ritenour had in the early days to where it is today. First, never give up. “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” he said. Second, be respectful. “Be sure to show respect to everyone from your spouse first thing in the morning to your team members when you come to work,” he emphasized.
Third, be ethical. John asserted, “You have to be ethical when nobody’s looking.” To underline this point, he explained that a number of IOA’s carriers and partners attending the conference were there because of “who we are.” He added, “They trust us, and they invest in us because we’re ethical. We’ve always done the right thing.”
In his fourth and final point, John stressed the importance of partnerships. It’s richly rewarding in the IOA model for those who make it a priority to give of themselves and invest in partnering with others. “That’s a true partner. That’s somebody who gets the generational side of this business,” said John. It’s also what makes him excited for the growth and future of IOA.