Peterson Insurance Services
- Based in Bartlett, TN.
- Founded in 1955
- 40% commercial and 60% personal
- 11 employees
“(Partner XE) just keeps getting better. And… the people are world-class. I would highly recommend it. After coming off our old system – you couldn’t pay me to change back!”
Britt Linder of Peterson Insurance Services prides himself in providing specialized, personal service to his clients. When looking for a cloud-based, versatile management system to help his agency run more effectively, he sought the same service from his potential provider. After speaking with SIS President Michael Doran, he knew he’d found the partner he was looking for in SIS.
We sat down with Britt to talk about his experience with the SIS team and how Partner XE has helped his agency grow into the next 60 years.
Tell me a little bit about Peterson Insurance - what makes you stand out in your industry?
Peterson Insurance Services was started in 1955 in Memphis, Tennessee. We’re a third-generation, family-owned and operated agency specializing in property and casualty. We’re a 10-person office, and everybody here is licensed. Regarding family staff, we have my wife, my brother-in-law, and my father-in-law as Chairman of the Board. I’ve been here 25 years. We’re a community insurance agency and operate almost wholly on referrals. We pride ourselves on providing 24/7 service to our customers; we’re one of the few agencies to do so in our area.
What is it about Peterson Insurance Services that prompts so many referrals?
The main factor is we’re very specialized. Our people provide targeted services to customers, giving them the proper coverage to meet their needs for their station in life. We do business with the local university, the University of Memphis, and have ties to some of the school systems here.
We’re also an endorsed local provider for (businessman, author, and motivational speaker) Dave Ramsey, who is from the South. So, that gets our name out there!
With all these factors and great personalized service, we don’t have to knock on doors for business. We take good care of our customers. They provide us with enough referral business to keep us very busy.
Tell me a bit about your role in the agency. What is important to you?
I’m agency president, which means I’m a little bit of everything: the electrician, plumber, handyman, you name it. And, of course, I help manage the personal and commercial lines department for the agency. As a true independent agent, I can take on whatever task is needed to help the business run. I joke with our staff when something out of the ordinary happens, saying “That one’s going on my resume!”
But, in all seriousness, I don’t want to overplay my value in here. We’ve got a phenomenal staff. Everyone has been here at least five years. It makes work easy when you’ve got a good staff. And my two partners are invaluable. My father-in-law, who just recently retired, Hugh Peterson, has taught me everything about the insurance business. I’m a people person, and he’s a details guy, so we’ve played well off of each other. I’m lucky to have such a great team. We work well together and pass on that positive experience to our clients.
How did you get connected with Partner XE and the SIS family?
We were with our old system since 1996. It was a DOS-based system that they prettied up look like Windows. It just didn’t give my staff the ability to work remotely. I wanted a cloud-based system. Honestly, cost was a big factor as well. Partner XE checked all our boxes as far as a management system goes: it’s flexible, truly Windows-based, and is accessible through whatever kind of media you want to access it through. There was virtually no downside.
What really sold me was the people. The first time I talked to (SIS President) Michael Doran, I was blown away that you can actually speak to the owner of a company. After that conversation, I got my sales manager on the phone. We moved over three months later.
Tell me more about your interactions with the SIS team. What was it about the people that made you choose to partner with SIS?
Every single person I spoke to was absolutely top-notch and bent over backwards to find a solution for us. They focused on how they could adapt to what we needed, not the other way around. That’s a breath of fresh air compared to everybody else.
With SIS, we have true relationship. I truly enjoy talking to all people. I worked with Emma, Candance, Jake, Adrian – just everybody has been a joy to work with. I can’t say it enough about the people. After spending time with our trainers, we consider them friends. I got cell numbers from a couple people. Shelly was our lead trainer – phenomenal young lady. Honestly, I would hire any of them myself.
The greatest thing I could say about the SIS company and staff is they have found ways to make my agency run smoother. And that’s a godsend for a small, independent agency. I like that they listen to our suggestions and we see them implemented. The SIS staff has gone above and beyond to help our agency run smoother.
Do you have any stories about the service you’ve received you’d like to relay? Do any moments stand out for you?
It’s really a Shelly story. Our agency has a marketing agreement with another company where we have a separate corporation as part of that agreement. When we rolled over our books, we found Partner XE had trouble delineating how to assign them to the proper area. So, Shelly went in and programmed with Adrian, to devise a sub-company. They updated every single one of those customers. It would have taken us hours to do, but the SIS team did it without hesitation.
And that’s not the end of the story. We recently changed CSRs and updated some of our workflows. So, I called up Shelly and asked for her help in the update. She told me she’d do some programming and find a way to blockchain it for us. Sure enough, she did. Instead of me having to go through and update each client, the SIS team came up with the solution we needed.
Another story is from right when we switched to the new system. We were using a different scanning system in our office, but wanted to move it all over to Partner XE. It was (our account manager) Jake who researched scanners for us and came up with a solution that made more sense. I recently compared costs. Since moving our scanning to Partner XE, our costs are about 30% less. Bottom line for an independent agent: if you can save money on a daily task like that, you’re saving a ton! That’s money I can put back in my staff’s pocket.
What type of training has SIS provided for your agency?
The training has been top-notch. I thought it was going to be a, “Hey, we’re going to give you two days of training and good luck. Here’s a video, watch it and figure it out.” But there was a whole team that came out and worked with us for multiple days and stayed in contact after.
Specifically, Emma worked with my accountant for weeks after we signed on. After the in-person training, she gave them her phone number, and they were in constant contact. Emma made sure we knew the accounting inside and out and felt comfortable. It was the accounting switchover that worried me the most, but Emma made that a breeze. We had no issues with payroll or anything. That is a huge compliment to SIS.
What are some of your favorite Partner XE features?
The system allows you to access it from anywhere. You can add up to five producers on an account. And it’s customizable. You can go into reports and customize them as you need: find home/not auto, auto/not home, accounts that don’t have an umbrella. You can create your own templates for letters you want to send out. You can use marketing programs. It’s just amazing to have one system that does all that!
Another thing is when you create a note (which is what a lot of people in our area would consider an “activity”), you can set very specific follow-ups and assign them to whoever. That gives you tons of cross-sell opportunity within your agency.
My goal this year is for our policy count, per client, to go up. We’re utilizing Partner XE to expand that policy count. I’ve been tracking our growth, and I’ve seen a slight uptick in polices per client each month. I attribute that to the easy to use work list in Partner XE. It’s self-explanatory, and that makes my producers’ jobs much easier, giving them more time to cross-sell. And it gives them the right people to cross-sell to so they’re not wasting their time.
Something else we love is that emails automatically attach. As an agency owner, it gives me comfort knowing while my staff is out there doing, doing, doing everything is getting put in the management system. That protects us so we can grow without fear of E&O.
We’ve also been able to tie commercial accounts to personal accounts and vice versa. For a small agency that needs to maximize every revenue dollar, that’s huge.
What are top things would say about working with Partner XE and SIS?
SIS finds solutions for you. You make suggestions, and they make them happen. One of the first suggestions we made was to make it easy to see active versus inactive clients. We have so many clients, being in business since 1955, and you lose some along the way. We always had a hard time delineating from active to inactive. The latest update brought us that solution. There is now a box that says “search all industries” or “show inactive clients.” And that solution came in less than a year. That shows us SIS is listening and acting.
What would you say to other Tennessee agencies in the market for an agency management system change?
I’d tell them Partner XE is an affordable system with the support that Southern people expect. We expect hospitable service with staff taking the extra time and sticking around even after you purchase the system.
I’ve actually spoken to several of my friends about Partner XE and SIS. I feel both the system and the company are focused on helping agencies grow. I’m a big advocate because I think the more people that are on Partner XE, the more robust it becomes. It just keeps getting better. And, as I’ve said, the people are world-class. I would highly recommend it. After coming off our old system – you couldn’t pay me to change back!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I consider our relationship with SIS a true partnership. I still got a good 25 years left in my career, and I’d like to spend them all with SIS, collaborating to make both of us more efficient. We’re planning on growing and being here for a long time.