Tarpey Insurance Group
- Based in Wakefield, MA (branches in Saugus, Lexington, and Melrose)
- Took ownership in 1979
- 60% personal lines, 40% commercial lines
- 35 Employees
Elizabeth (Liz) Kent
“(The Partner Platform team) came up to visit us – in a snowstorm, no less. They showed us everything and answered every question…I saw the Partner Platform team was there to help us through anything. That was a big deal.”
We talked with Liz about her decision to change management systems and how change, though challenging, is rewarding and set her family up for success for years to come.
Tell us a little bit about Tarpey Insurance Group – what makes you stand out in your industry?
We’re a family-owned insurance agency, primarily property and casualty with a lot of general business. My father bought the agency in the late 70s, and we currently have three generations working in the agency today. Of our 35 employees, ten of us are family. It’s that family environment – and the exceptional service we provide our clients – that makes us stand out.
When did you start thinking about changing management system providers? What prompted the move?
In 2016, I got a call from a Partner Platform team member asking if I was interested in learning about their system. Fast-forward to 2018, and we’re going live. It was just good timing. We hadn’t been actively searching for a new system, but we were actively frustrated and complaining about our system. It kept getting more expensive and more corporate and distant. So, we were open to change.
As an owner, what outcomes were you after in your search for a new agency management system?
We were pretty happy with how our current system worked with day-to-day operations but were unhappy with the cost and the service. So, we wanted something that offered that same ease of use but with a lower price and responsive service. We used to know people by name with our old provider, but after they were bought and sold a few times, it became a big machine, and we couldn’t talk to anyone anymore. We wanted real, live people who would listen and act. And, we wanted to see a more reasonable cost. We were happy to get both with Partner Platform.
As you started to learn more, what convinced you it was time to switch to Partner Platform?
I was happy to see they were willing to work with us and the various opinions we had within our family. When I showed the next generation a demo, they really liked it. The ability to edit activities and see a continuous story for each client and prospect was appealing to them. But I knew some of my generation would be hesitant to change.
So, (SIS Director of Client Services) Jake (Thaxton) and (SIS President) Michael (Doran) came up to visit us – in a snowstorm, no less. They showed us everything and answered every question. Eventually, my brothers were okay with the system, thanks to that hands-on demo. Though they were hesitant to change, I saw the Partner Platform team was there to help us through anything. That was a big deal.
And, the cost savings were pretty significant. The combination of the similar ease of use, great service, and lower price sold us.
How did having multiple locations affect your transition?
That was a challenge. The Partner Platform team definitely helped. They brought three trainers so we could have someone in each office. It was tough to establish standards with multiple sites, but having those Partner Platform team members in each space to answer questions as we went through it really helped.
I still go to some of the videos on PartnerNet to get a refresher every once in a while, too. Though they can’t replace that in-person training, they help once you’ve had that personal walkthrough.
You’ve been live on the system for about three years. How has your partnership with Partner Platform and the SIS team evolved over those years?
It’s all been very positive. Everyone on the Partner Platform team is very accessible, willing to listen, and I understand what they’re working on and why. I feel I can come to anyone, all the way up to the President and CEO, with any issues I have. Like recently, I directly emailed one of our contacts, and she helped me with my issues right away. You’re not waiting for a response from a faceless person – you’re working with people you know, and they’re addressing your issues right away.
What advice do you have for other agencies looking to upgrade their management system?
When we switched to Partner Platform, I told my staff right from the beginning that it would be a challenging week, but that before they knew it, it’d be normal. Change is difficult no matter what – don’t let anyone tell you anything different. People don’t like change. If you can get beyond that attitude, then it’ll be okay. Partner Platform is highly intuitive and easy to use, but it was still a change. It’s not the product that’s difficult; it’s the change that’s difficult. It’s human nature for people to resist that change. Get your team on board from the start, and that’ll make the change a little easier.
As you prepare the next generation to take over the agency, what challenges and opportunities do you see them facing in the next 5-10 years?
I think we’ll always need insurance agencies and the advice and problem-solving they offer. I see more people moving to access agencies online – and I know Partner Platform is addressing that. People in their 30s and 40s now just prefer to do business differently than those 45 and older.
But, especially with commercial insurance, I think people will want to talk through their complex issues with an agent for a long time. We just have to adapt as new technology comes out, and I think it will continue to come out. I mean, every time we blink, there’s something else. Just when you thought life was as easy as it could be, it gets easier.
How do you see SIS and Partner Platform supporting you in those future challenges?
The fact that they are so easily accessible and willing to listen to the challenges we face means they’ll adapt to our evolving needs. I can already see that in their texting integration, client portals and apps, and the continual improvements they bring.