- Serving clients in Michigan, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Ohio, and international locations based on commercial-client needs
- Founded in 1985
- 40% personal and 60% commercial
- 7 employees
“We didn’t just want somebody new; we wanted the right fit. Just like with our customers, we wanted to make sure our new provider was the best choice for us. In the end, it was a total team choice to go with SIS.”
With over 150 years combined insurance experience, Matt Derrenberger and his team at Ann Arbor Insurance Associates know what it means to serve their customers. Matt sought that same sense of service when looking for a new agency management system partner. Engaging his team, Matt narrowed down his options and SIS and Partner XE were on his short list. After meeting the SIS team and reviewing the system, Partner XE quickly moved to the top. We talked with Matt about his decision to join the Partner XE community and his experience since his switch.
What are your points of pride as an agency?
Local first. We are truly homegrown agents. Our entire office is from the Ann Arbor area, many for 40 plus years. Altogether, we have over 150 years of insurance experience. So, we know this area and this business, making us experts in every sense. We’re here to take care of the people of this area.
How do you take care of your clients? What are some important aspects of your unique service?
This may sound cliché, but we try to slow things down in a fast-paced world. It’s important to ensure we understand what our clients want, and they understand what we’re doing for them. It’s all about education and communication. We make the time to sit down with and really listen to our clients, so they can educate us on what they need. From there, we can work with them to create a plan that protects them.
Building relationships – that’s really the bottom line. We have great relationships with our vendors and clients and work hard to keep them that way.
How did your relationship with SIS and the Partner XE community start?
We officially became clients in May 2014. I came to SIS after extensive research. I talked to other agencies throughout the country and inquired at multiple associations and companies. Eventually, I narrowed it down to four vendors. In the end, it took me three years to make a decision! That may seem like a long time, but there are a lot of factors that go into making that choice to switch management system providers.
What factors influenced your choice in management system?
There are multiple parameters and parties involved in choosing a new agency management system. I had to consider not only my relationship with the provider but how that vendor communicates with our agency as a whole. And of course, we need to look at how the system betters our agency. We didn’t just want somebody new; we wanted the right fit. Just like with our customers, we wanted to make sure our new provider was the best choice for us. In the end, it was a total team choice to go with SIS.
What makes Partner XE and SIS the right fit for your agency?
First was what my team told me after our interview: “This is going to save us clicks.” That was music to my ears! To me, it’s all about clicks. When we minimize clicks, we increase efficiencies. And the more efficient we are, the better we can serve our customers and grow our agency.
Next was cost. The price was right! And coupled with that was something of equal importance: communication. From day one, the communication we had with the SIS team was nothing but positive. The fact that I was able to have discussions with (SIS President) Michael Doran and all the different team members at SIS was truly amazing. It’s a testament to your team. Each time I had a question, they actually responded to me – there’s a novel idea! I was blown away by the immediate and sincere connection.
Tell me a little more about the communication you received from SIS. What made it stand out among other management system providers?
In the end, I felt SIS mirrored our agency. I’ve always encouraged our team to stay in communication and get the right information to the customer. It’s the same with SIS. You guys get back to us. And when you don’t know the answer, you don’t make one up. It’s about being honest and staying connected.
Has that communication stayed the same? Do you continue to feel heard and supported?
Absolutely. When we call and leave a message, we actually get a response! Just today one of my staff members had an issue with the Outlook plug-in. I took a look and did what I could, but it still wasn’t working. So, I said, “Just call. Don’t waste any more time, just call them. They’ll get it taken care of.” She called, and you had it fixed within an hour. The response is there.
You’ve been with SIS since 2014. How has your partnership evolved over the years?
There’s been a lot of changes in the system, and it just keeps getting better. Through it all, I’ve been impressed by SIS’s ability to keep things simple. I always go by the “KISS” theory (keep it simple, stupid) and I feel SIS has done just that. With all the different agencies you serve, you’re able to recognize commonalities and still tailor Partner XE to fit each unique business.
Another big thing is SIS’s ability to recognize and address weaknesses. Nothing is ever perfect, and you’re up front about that. My former vendor was incredibly arrogant – they were never wrong! And they didn’t listen. At SIS, you know you don’t have all the answers. You truly listen to and value the agencies.
What are some of the notable Partner XE improvements you’ve seen?
The security updates have been huge. Data security was important when we got on board, and Partner XE’s security support has expanded exponentially since. As a principal, security is my number one concern. A great system means nothing if you’re data’s not safe. I feel secure with Partner XE.
And you continue to reduce clicks. Each update cuts down the time it takes to do our daily processes just a little more. For me, if I can get something done in two clicks versus five, that’s a huge amount of time saved. It doesn’t sound like much, but it all adds up!
One thing that’s been a huge increase in efficiency is the Outlook plug-in. The ability to right-click on a message and stick it in a customer profile is a massive time saver. No more cutting and pasting – just one click! And I know that’s one of the many enchantments that came right from the agencies. When I talked with (SIS Product Management Director) Bryce (Lee) about it, he let me know others had brought it up as well. It’s another prime example of what SIS does well: listening to clients.
What advice would you offer to those seeking a new management system?
The first thing I’d say is there is no perfect system. Once you’ve debunked that myth, get your team involved. Take off your control hat and find out what your team needs. As a principal, that’s critical because we don’t view the everyday work like our team. If you want an efficient system, your staff needs to be involved, understanding and scrutinizing each system.
That being said, as a principal you need to make sure the provider understands your agency’s needs. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and find out how that provider can help you grow. I felt that honesty from SIS right away. I could tell you’d be more than a provider, you’d be a partner. And I was right.