Dostal & Kirk Insurance and Financial Services
- Based in Central Ohio – offices in Bucyrus, Galion, Marion, and Powell
- Founded in 1875
- 45% Commercial, 45% Personal, 10% Life & Health
- 14 Employees
Michael D. Dostal
“Right out of the gate, we could tell the SIS team valued relationship in business and were not just selling a product. Their values felt very similar to ours…(After they) came to our first in-person meeting to demo Partner Platform…(w)e knew from that point on that we were more than a number to them. That relationship continues to this day.”
In 2017, Michael Dostal and his team acquired a new agency, expanding their reach to four locations – and two management systems. Unfortunately, their 25-year relationship with their old management system provider was just that: old. They knew it was time to look for something modern to consolidate their two systems and four locations into one cohesive operation. That’s when they reached out to their partner agencies to get recommendations.
When they connected with Partner Platform, they discovered a system and agency that hit all the items on their list: cloud-based, intuitive navigation, and – most of all – a true partner willing to listen to and work with their agency. We talked with Michael to get the full story on how he and his team chose Partner Platform and how their relationship evolved over the years.
Tell us about your agency – what makes you stand out in the business?
Dostal & Kirk has been in business for almost 150 years. We currently have 14 employees spread among four agency locations.
Our agency tagline is “for all of life’s milestones.” Dostal & Kirk is uniquely positioned to protect our clients in all aspects of their lives, whether it’s their personal insurance, business insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, employee benefits, or retirement planning.
Something that makes us uniquely different is that we take each new client through our custom-designed Milestones Planning Process. The goal is to educate our clients on all of the coverages and products available to them while removing the industry’s commoditization that focuses on price.
What prompted you to look into new management system providers?
We were with our old systems for over 25 years but contemplated a new agency management system for at least five years leading up to 2017. It always seemed like such a daunting task to change systems that we kept putting it on the back burner.
In January 2017, we acquired another agency that was using a different system. After running two agency management systems for a few months, we decided that wasn’t working, and we needed to consolidate everything into one. Looking back, we should have tackled the transition much sooner.
As an owner, what were you looking for in a new management system and provider?
At the time, we knew we needed to convert to a cloud-based system. The expense and hassle of maintaining servers and backups for our old system in-house was archaic, and it was time to modernize the process.
We also wanted our staff to be comfortable using the new system because we didn’t want to do this again in another five or ten years. Lastly, we wanted a real partner who would work with and for us, collaborating and listening to us.
How did your first hear about Partner Platform? What were your impressions?
We reached out to our insurance company representatives to get some statistics and feedback on agency management system trends from other agents. A few of our best partner companies noticed a trend in agents taking on Partner Platform. Even with relatively small numbers compared to the other system providers, the movement was stark. That prompted us to reach out to set up the initial call.
As you started to learn more about Partner Platform and SIS, what stood out to you?
Right out of the gate, we could tell the SIS team valued relationship in business and were not just selling a product. Their values felt very similar to ours. SIS President Michael Doran and his team came to our first in-person meeting to demo Partner Platform at a high level. We knew from that point on that we were more than a number to them. That relationship continues to this day.
The other agency management system companies we interviewed felt very salesy. They promised a lot of bells and whistles that would save our employees numerous hours per week, but all of that meant nothing to us if the relationship wasn’t there.
Did having multiple locations impact your decision?
We have four agency locations, so moving to a cloud-based system to connect all four sites was important in our decision. In addition, our setup with our old provider wasn’t ideal, with remote connections that were inconsistent. So, the cloud-based nature of Partner Platform was vital to us from that perspective.
Also, the SIS team made their onboarding process very simple from a training standpoint. They sent trainers to our various locations as needed, so everyone got the same training simultaneously.
How has the transition process been overall, from implementation to today?
The transition was tricky for us because we were going from two systems down to one. So, we had to implement one transition a month before the other one. But, the team at Partner Platform made it as smooth as possible. They prepped us for what to expect before the data moved, and their trainers were in our offices multiple times, even weeks after the transition.
What stands out to you about your partnership with SIS and Partner Platform today?
Partner Platform is the perfect system for us because they provide a stable, secure, cloud-based system with a management team that listens to our needs and is focused on the long-term success of their agency partners.
We genuinely appreciate their accessibility and willingness to listen to our challenges. Our relationship with Partner Platform truly is a partnership. We are always looking for ways to help the Partner Platform community improve the overall product. It’s not uncommon for my team to recommend something they would like to see, and then three months to a year down the road, the feature is part of the updated system.
What advice would you offer to agency owners looking for a new management system experience?
List out what’s important to you and make sure that the system you choose checks all of those boxes. There are a lot of options out there to store and manage your data, and, unfortunately, there is no silver bullet.
Also, do your research! I recommend talking to your company partners, agency associations, and peer agents to get a feel for what others are seeing. Finally, make sure you get buy-in from your employees. Build an internal team to work on this project together. It’s a major decision that impacts their daily lives. You want them to have some skin in the game.