Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center Items Podcast Episode 61

Why It's Important to Respect Where Your Agency Came From

Published on

If you don't, it could be a lot harder to take it where it needs to go.

Because most agencies aren't successful by accident and previous generations had a pretty good idea of what they were doing.

It's important not to lose sight of that as you look to modernize and improve the day-to-day operations.

The more you're able to translate and adapt that original success the more fun everyone will have along the way.

Taylor Garcia, Vice President of Jackson & Jackson Insurance, talks about how he's handled the new responsibilities that have come his way.

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Full Episode Transcript

Joey Giangola: Mr. Taylor Garcia, how are you doing today, sir?

Taylor Garcia: I'm doing well. I'm doing well, Joey. How are you doing?

Joey Giangola: Taylor, I'm doing all right. I am doing all right. I want to know this first, before we really go off the rails in any way, shape or form, but do you have a strange way to judge progress?

Taylor Garcia: Do I have a strange way to judge progress? I wouldn't say a strange way. No. How do I judge progress? Ooh, that's a tricky one. No, really I don't. I wouldn't say it's weird. I would just judge it by their actions, what people are doing. There's no real weird way to it now. Is there a weird way to judge that?

Joey Giangola: There's no right or wrong answer here, Taylor. I guess where I'm going, I generally look to the abstract of if this thing has happened, I should be able to do this or in some way shape of... I always kind of look to the result of the thing as opposed to the actual specific number or something.

Taylor Garcia:  I agree with that. Yeah. That's kind of how I am.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. It feels strange to me because people are always very focused on the write down, I must be this thing or do this thing, but I look as to if that happens, then this also should happen. I don't know. Maybe it's the step after the step, but it always felt strange to me and I never felt like anybody else. I've always wanted to ask somebody else if they do that as well. It sounds like you do so [crosstalk].

Taylor Garcia: Yeah, as far as progress, yeah. I look at it from whatever they get to, that's the progress. Like you said, it's more of just that end goal to me. Maybe that's right or wrong, but...

Joey Giangola: Well, neither of us know. It's going to be right today because we both do it. So for today it is right.

Taylor Garcia: Okay. Okay, good.

Joey Giangola: I guess we can say that. Well, let's move it over to the agency. What does progress look like for you there? I know a lot of progress sort of in work over the last couple of years for you, you're in a family agency. But if I remember correctly, it's the wife's family. Is that correct?

Taylor Garcia: Yes. Yeah.

Joey Giangola: So that's a different kind of progress that needs to be handled with a different set of gloves on. How is that going for you?

Taylor Garcia: It's going good, man. I must say the one thing with the relationship I have with my in-laws is not like most. We're with them all day, every day. We have a great relationship. The one thing I must say I give props to all my in-laws, is we are changing so much as far as our technology goes right now. And like I was mentioning in the beginning of this was we're getting a new agency management system. So it's a huge change there. And there's a lot of things going on that I give them kudos because they don't understand half of it, but they're giving me kind of those reins to say, "Hey, I trust you. Come to us." Obviously I talk to them about costs and everything because they're still the owners. But as far as implementing stuff, unless they really strongly feel against it, they let me kind of take those reins.

Taylor Garcia: And so as far as progress goes, a lot of it right now is just modernizing us a little bit more. That's been the talk that I've been here since five years ago, it's been updating things. We didn't have a website when I joined. It was kind of like that. The progress has just been really that modernizing and the relationship I have with my in-laws, letting them letting me kind of just have free reigns. They trust me. It's been really nice.

Joey Giangola: So I definitely want to dive into sort of the specifics of everything that is going on a little bit more, but I guess I want to say I remember having a conversation. Is there a sort of a perpetuation plan in place? I feel like I remember you saying there was some sort of track laid for that. Or where does it look like in terms of, like you said, giving you leeway here and there to do these things?

Taylor Garcia: Right. There's not really a plan yet as far as my wife and I fully taking over yet, if that's kind of where you're going with that. Right now, so my father-in-law, obviously he's the one who started the agency and he's the original Jackson. And then my mother-in-law came in and now she's the president. My father-in-law retired. He's still here for his wisdom and his knowledge. And he still handles a couple things here and there. But as far as the plan of it, my mother-in-law's in charge now. She does all the HR and payroll and accounting. It's between her and I really right now that kind of make things run. And we just kind of fill Clark in with stuff that's happening. And he's like, "Okay."

Joey Giangola: Yeah. I remember there was a shift in power I guess at one point. And maybe that's what I was remembering that you said your father-in-law sort of moved out of that role. So I guess what were those conversations like then? Like you said, they'd been... I guess, well, no, I want to know this first. Just even like you said, that ability, that comfort to feel like, "Oh, it's great that I have room to move with this, to have some leeway." Just even to have that, "I trust you, Taylor. Kind of figure this out." And they kind of get out of your way unless it's something crazy. And I want to hear if there is anything crazy. But just what is that sort of approach like to be able to just have that relaxation to it all?

Taylor Garcia: It's A little tricky at times because I don't have all the answers. I've only been doing this for almost six years now. And really kind of how I judge my decisions on implementing something new, a lot of it comes from talking to other agents and agency owners and being in these groups like IAOA and all that. I mean, that's kind of really where I get a lot of my ideas for implementing a new phone system or whatever it is. Now, there is that fine line of there's a little bit of nervousness I guess I get when I do something like that, because I'm like, "I hope it works because I spent X amount of dollars on this and if nobody uses it and we just kind of throw it away and we stop it, well, I just kind of wasted some money." But I always communicate with them, even if they give me free reins on whatever, I still tell them.

Taylor Garcia: And then they always come back to me and go, "Taylor, you don't have to tell us. You don't have to ask us." And I'm like, "I don't write those checks yet." And so I just like to have that open communication like, "Hey, I'm trying this new program for this or we need something to do e-sign is going to cost this." And they're like, "Do it. Okay. Go." And I'm like, "Okay. I just wanted to be sure." And so there is that fine line of me going to them too much at times because I just want them to be sure that what I'm doing is okay. But then there's also that some of the stuff they don't understand. So I'm like, because they don't do the day-to-day operations anymore as far as selling, servicing, Monique, the owner or the president, she does accounting.

Taylor Garcia: So and Clark doesn't sell anymore. He kind of delegated all of his big clients out to the agency or to other producers. So really they don't see the day-to-day operations. So I'm the one that kind of comes in and says, "Okay, I see where we're struggling in this avenue. I think this might help us." And they're like, "Go for it."

Taylor Garcia: So there is that little bit of fine line of do I have free reins or do I not? But they've been very good with communicating with me. It's like, "Hey, we trust you. As long as we're not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on this, please come talk to me." But for the most part it's been... And of course there has been programs and stuff I've tried that nobody uses and we kind of discarded them. But for the most part, the things that I've changed was our phone system so we can have a VoIP phones, which was a huge thing because right as we got the new phone system, we went on lockdown and we had everybody, part of the staff working from home. And we couldn't have done that on our old phone system. Everything was in house. And so that was something that was just perfectly timed that I just happened to... It worked out.

Joey Giangola: I mean, isn't it interesting that something like you said, so simple can be so effective and yet I know a lot of agencies still struggle with. In terms of, like you said, that were in that position where they might not have had the ability to do that. The interesting part, too, is that there's a lot of that conversation of I guess it seems like for the last however many years, it's like, oh man, this must've been a struggle or what do they think about this? Or what do they think about that? But like you said, to have that support, I guess the question I want to know, we'll get it out of the way here is, has there been anything, like you say, crazy to where they're like, "I don't understand this, Taylor. What are you doing? You either got to fill me in a little bit more on this, or I don't know if we're ready for this quite yet."

Taylor Garcia: Yeah. And that's been our agency management system. I mean, I will say hands down, that has been, since I started here, that's been the one thing we've discussed over the past five or six years I've been here. Because we're on Applied TAM. It does okay. It works. I mean, so far we haven't really had any hiccups, but we don't do any downloads. We don't have any integration with them. It's there was a lot of things that I've seen other agents talking about and doing with other management systems. I was like, "Guys, this is the one thing." But it was such a big change that it was scary for them and our staff. I mean, to get everybody on board with something completely different, completely new, processes, workflows, everything else, it's been tough. And that was my one piece when they started giving me some leverage, I was like, "Okay, so are we going to start looking at something different?" And they're like, "Ah, wait a minute."

Taylor Garcia: And of course that's kind of what everybody likes to talk about. But that's really, I mean, other than that, they've been on board with all of it. I mean, I redesigned the website myself or not myself. I went through Advisor Evolved, but I did it and they looked it over of course. And they had a couple of things they wanted to tweak or the wording or whatever. But for the most part, all the big changes we've made, other than which we're not planning to do is rebranding, say, our logo or something. I haven't really touched that nor do I feel the need to. But I feel like something like that would have been something that Clark would have had a really hard time doing. And maybe that comes in the future when I do hopefully take over. But I like the logo still. I have no problems with it. It's just one of those things. So really our management system right now, since we're going through that process, that was our hugest thing. And that took me six years to convince them that there is better things out there.

Joey Giangola: I mean, it is like remodeling the entire house, Taylor. So I mean, it's understandable that it comes with a bit of hesitation.

Taylor Garcia: Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And of course there's a lot of debate and back and forth and controversy about it. But we are going to Applied Epic. And so, and I know there's pros and cons and a lot of people have their own feelings about it. But for us it made sense. We've been on Applied forever. We loved it. And some of the features they had had is, okay, great. This is a step up from what we had. And the cost, yeah, we weighed out other management systems at other companies, but for us it made sense. And so we're in that phase right now. We go live on it August 2nd.

Taylor Garcia: So these last six months have been cleaning up our old management system, getting rid of old data that we had a lot of companies in there that we don't use anymore. Whatever it is, just cleaning up our old system. Now I'm trying to train our staff on this new one and it's, man, it's tough and we still got a couple of months of training before we go live. But yeah, it's literally pushing restart on everything we do.

Joey Giangola: Did anybody else share your enthusiasm? Because I know that's another big sort of trope in terms of people wanting to keep things the same. But was anybody else on your team?

Taylor Garcia: Yes. Obviously my wife was. She's real excited for it. She was nervous, of course. There is parts of the accounting that doesn't, say, move over or transfer over. And different things like that she was a little nervous on. But she was my hugest supporter. She was just like, "Yeah, this is going to be great." We do have a couple young agents in our office now that do personal lines. And one of them particular, he's this guy and he was very on board with it. He was very supportive. He was talking all about it. He was real excited for it. So there was a few people in our office that were somewhat excited for it I'd say. But majority of the people were like, "Are you kidding me? We're changing all this?" Some of them have been here working on TAM for us for 20 years.

Taylor Garcia: And they're in their late 50s or whatever it is. And they're just like, "Wait, I've been doing this for half my life on TAM. Now you want me to learn something completely new?" And I try to ease into it. I understand where they're coming from. I'm not just screaming at them to learn it. I'm like, "Hey, I know this is going to be hard. I know this is going to be not easy, but it's going to get worse before it gets better."

Taylor Garcia: Quite honestly, the one thing that I've seen here at our agency was there wasn't a lot of processes in place. So when you hired somebody new there wasn't a, this is how you do it. It was, you're a producer, good luck. Here you go. Here's a phone and a computer, good luck. And whether that was right or wrong, I saw it. And when I hired somebody new, I felt it because I was the one telling them that now. And I'm like this, ah, this, no. They don't know what they're doing. We had no training in TAM, that kind of stuff. So now it's like going into a new system. Everybody's going to be on the same page. Everybody's going to do things the same way. We're all at the same level now, as far as knowledge in TAM or in Epic now. So I feel like it's going to give everybody kind of an even playing field. And then with new staff coming in, then we'll know we have these certain workflows that we're going to do now. And that's kind of what we're implementing right now.

Taylor Garcia: And it's been a long process. I've been talking about doing this stuff for years, but obviously you're trying to move a whole train, man. I mean, Jackson & Jackson's been around for 85 years. So to now push it in a totally new direction, even working remotely was extremely hard for my in-laws to accept the fact that they're not coming into the office. Even now, okay, so summer breaks out, the kids are out of school. So we're going to have everybody come back into the office. Already that was a hurdle because now people in the last year and a half got a taste of working from home. They're like, "Why can't I just continue doing this? It's great." And to be completely fair, they have been doing phenomenal. We haven't had missed calls. We haven't had complaints of lack of work. Everybody's been doing their work.

Taylor Garcia: So now we're discussing whether we do a hybrid type style going forward or how it's going to work. But yeah, man, there's a lot of changes coming for us and it's exciting, but I'm a little nerve wracking cause I'm kind of steering that train. And so I'm just hoping I kind of steer it in the right direction and not totally screw it up.

Joey Giangola: I mean, that's the worst that could happen is you totally screw it up.

Taylor Garcia: All of Clark's legacy is not.

Joey Giangola: I mean, I'm sure that won't make Thanksgiving awkward at all.

Taylor Garcia: No, no. Not at all.

Joey Giangola: All right. All right. Well, so you brought me down the path of I've worked from home and changes. I guess, of all of the stuff that has been going on, what is the one thing that, while it might not be big, while it might not be small, is there one thing that stands out as being the most impactful, at least at this point?

Taylor Garcia: Impactful? Yes. I can do it agency-wide and then for me personally. But as far as impactful with all this going on, it really, and I've heard other agents talk about it, it really forced us to do a lot of these moves that we've been hesitant on and everything else. Say for instance, doing these Zoom calls, I've never done a Zoom call until COVID hit, as far as with clients or anything like that. But now that I'm doing them, say for I do some group benefits for some employers. So those employee meetings talking about the health insurance, I'd have to go into their office. It would take an hour, hour and a half to go over everything. And then I'd have to go back and pick up the paperwork or whatever it was.

Taylor Garcia: Now, it's like, hey, we'll jump on a Zoom call. We do the employee enrollment. I attach all the documents, they fill it out, sign it, send it back. And it were in and out in 15, 20 minutes. And it's like just that little time-saver doesn't seem like a lot, but it really helps rather than me getting in the car and driving over there.

Taylor Garcia: Now, obviously I don't want to lose that personal touch. There is that little part of me that does like to meet with them and see their office or whatever. But at the same time, if I'm going in there regularly to do this, it's just a time saver. And I'm seeing the employers like it as well. And I tell them upfront, I'm like, "I'm more than happy to still come in. Now I'm still comfortable to come in if you are, but we can keep doing it this way. It seems to be working. The employees like it." And so I think that's really been big or small. I mean, for me personally, that's been a huge thing is just, that's why I started getting fancy stuff because I was like, I'm on these Zoom calls all the time and I'm a gear nerd. So I just started. My wife's like, "What are you buying now?" I'm like, "Oh, I got a new microphone." She's like, "Okay." It really did help as far as that goes.

Taylor Garcia: And even for the agency, I feel like with everything going on, it just pushed us in the right direction of where I know we needed to go and I know Clark and Monique, they knew it. But my mother-in-law always jokes as we're the back of the bus as far as tech goes. We're not the beta group. We're not testing stuff and maybe that'll change because I'm a little more into that kind of stuff. But as far as implementing things early on, we're not that agency.

Joey Giangola: Never underestimate the gear, Taylor. Never underestimate the gear.

Taylor Garcia: I know. I know.

Joey Giangola: All right. Well, so outside of your envious relationship with your in-laws, is there anything else that you could possibly give in terms of advice for somebody that is either in a family or not family situation that is maybe getting a little more control and, like you said, more ability to just steer the direction in which they're going? Is there anything that stands out to you that says, boy, I would do this again, or I wouldn't do that again to where you might be able to help them out?

Taylor Garcia: I would say you got to have that communication. Now, I know not everybody's in the situation that I'm in, where my in-laws were super open with all this change. I know there's agency owners that are older out there that just kind of shut a lot of ideas down and they don't want it. If it's not broken, don't fix it kind of thing. Even with the management system, it took me five years. I just would bring it up every now and then. And when Epic would change a little bit or whatever it was, I would mention it to them. And I just, "Hey, check this out. This changed in the new system. We should take a look at this again." And it was just being persistent in that way but not still respecting what they do.

Taylor Garcia: I still try not to come off as like I know everything because from what Clark's built here at Jackson & Jackson, I mean, clearly he's done very well. It's lasted a long time. His dad started it. He's built it a lot bigger than what his dad had. And then now it's like I don't ever try to disrespect if he doesn't understand something or anything like that. I just try to educate him like, "Hey, look it." And I'll show him things. Look it on Google. Look at how the reviews really help. So we should ask people to start asking our clients for reviews or whatever it is. And he doesn't get it, but I'll show him it. And I try to do that. And the other thing I try to push is... And I'm sure I'm talking more to the son-in-law or the daughter-in-law or whatever, but I try to explain to our staff even because I'm family, a lot of people think I have it easy.

Taylor Garcia: They're like, "Oh, you have it made. You're married in. You got a permanent job." But I try to tell everyone, "I have it way harder because they're looking at me with a microscope, making sure I'm doing the right moves and trying to critique me, positively, trying to help me." But my in-laws are very hard on my wife and I, because they're just trying to teach us. So it's like a lot of people think I have it easy and everything else. But man, it can be stressful, working with a family business. And I've been seeing that more recently because now I'm vice-president and I can make those calls. And it's hard, because my sister-in-law is our receptionist. So if I have an issue with something down at reception, it's kind of hard to have that conversation without intervening with our family dynamic. But still being like, "Hey, I'm kind of in charge of here. I need to make sure that this is working right." But, so that's kind of a hard thing to balance.

Taylor Garcia: Any advice really for other agents struggling with this, it's just trying to educate them. It's hard because everybody's so different. You know what I mean? It's not a one size fits all. It's just working with them as best as you can, respecting where they came from, but trying to educate them on where it's going kind of thing. And that's kind of my goal here is I educate Clark and Monique on what's happening in the future, but I still take tips and tricks of business tips from Clark on what he's done as far as buying agencies or just relationship building or whatever it is. I try to blend them. But yeah. I mean, as far as that's kind of what I have for advice.

Joey Giangola: All right, Taylor. I've got three more questions for you. The first one, very simply, what is one thing that you hope you never forget?

Taylor Garcia: Oh, I never want to forget... See, my biggest struggle is I never want to forget where I came from as far as growing up, my passions and everything. It's really hard for me to balance my, because I'm very creative minded. And when I'm in the insurance space, I tend to push that aside because I need to focus on my policies or my wording or my working skills or whatever it is. But I never want to forget that side of me as far as playing music and the filming and the everything else, because I've been seeing the last four or five years, it's gradually getting less and less and less. I don't play my drums anymore. I don't. And I've been trying to really push that out of me more because I feel like that's who I am. And when I don't do it, I get down.

Taylor Garcia: And so that's one avenue I really don't want to ever forget is just who I really am as far as the creative side of me. And hopefully I don't want to turn into this work 40, 50, 60 hours a week, but not really still do the things that I love. And that's hard for me now to have that balance of work and because I get home from work and I'm still thinking about work rather than me going home and maybe practicing a little bit or picking up my camera and doing some photography or whatever it is.

Joey Giangola: All right, Taylor. Well now on the other side of that, what's one thing you still have yet to learn?

Taylor Garcia: One thing I've yet to learn is, man, and I push it every day, is just more... See, I have a lot of education in the insurance space. I got my CIC and all this stuff and I have the insurance knowledge I feel now after the five or six years I've been here. One thing I don't know is a lot of the business side of running the company. And that's something I push to Clark to teach me a lot of that. Just as little as taxes. What do you do for taxes for a company? How does that work? And just things like that, that I know that I'm not educated on yet that I know that if God forbid something happened to Mo and Clark and I was ready to take over, say, tomorrow, I feel like the insurance side of it and everything else I could be okay in.

Taylor Garcia: But as far as successfully running a business with any employees is tough. And my hardest thing is being that guy that maybe has to deliver that bad news to that employee and let them go. Or I don't have that knowledge or skills yet to be that good, valuable owner. And so I'm striving to be better at that every day. And that's kind of my goal because I feel like once I pair that up with my insurance knowledge, it'll be okay. But as far as the business side goes and being a good employer to a staff, I don't know that part yet and I'm learning.

Joey Giangola: All right, Taylor. Last question to you, sir. If I were to hand you a magic wand of sorts to reshape, change, alter, speed up, really any part of insurance, what is that thing? Where is it going and what is it doing?

Taylor Garcia: Oh, okay. Magic wand. Really what I'd like to change, as far as the industry as a whole, or maybe like here at... it could be anything, really?

Joey Giangola: You use your creative imagination, Taylor.

Taylor Garcia: Okay. See, one thing I'd like to speed up here, especially at our agency, is we are very much still a generalist. And my biggest struggle day-to-day is getting these one-off calls of a guy who he works as a toilet seat manufacturer and he makes this certain thing and I don't know where to put it and I'm struggling to find a company to do that. So I've been trying to push to finally kind of have some niches or kind of narrow down our agency-wide appetite. But I know that's going to take time because we have such a large book of business with random businesses all over. So I would love to speed that up a little bit because I know it's going to take a while to really kind of hone in that appetite as far as that goes, because that's a really big struggle for us. I think that's my number one struggle right now.

Taylor Garcia: As far as tech goes, that's a struggle, but my biggest struggle is when I get all these random calls in, which Advisor Evolved's been doing great. I've been getting a lot of submissions from our website, but it's random stuff. And I don't know these businesses as well as certain industries. So that's where I'm trying to hone that in. And I wish I could just snap my fingers and kind of change that side of it. But I know that's a big change as well. And that's something that, again, I'm steering that train from a completely different direction than what we're doing right now. So that's something that I wish that was an easier change than it is.

Joey Giangola: Taylor, this has been fantastic. I'm going to leave it right there.

Taylor Garcia: Okay. Thank you, Joey. I appreciate you having me on. This was nice.

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