Marketing Agency of the Month
Not your grandfather's insurance agency
Henriott focuses on what's best for the client; insurance is just one piece of the puzzle
By Dennis H. Pillsbury
From left: Rick Davis, CIC, CRM, President & Chief Executive Officer; Melva Low, Benefit Consultant; Gary D. Henriott, CPCU, Chairman; and Kelley K. Henriott, Vice President of Operations.
"We're really more of a consulting firm than an insurance agency," Gary Henriott, CPCU, agency chairman, says proudly in describing the Henriott Group, Inc., Lafayette, Indiana. That evolution to a consulting firm grew out of a focus on client service that started when the agency was founded by Gary's father, Charles, in 1963.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the company continues to focus on expanding the services it offers to clients to reflect their growing need for risk management advice. Its name has reflected that growth, as it changed from Henriott Insurance to Henriott Financial Services in 1980 and finally to Henriott Group in 2003. In that time, it has grown from a one-man shop to an agency of 30 people representing clients throughout the Midwest.
"We strive to become our clients' trusted advisor," Gary continues, "offering progressive, creative, innovative and collaborative solutions. In fact, our mission statement is built around trust and was developed by asking our clients why they did business with our firm. The fact that they trust us and view us as a member of their team was a common response." Mark Ciancciolo, CFO for Oscar Winski Company, says it best. "Henriott Group has been our broker for over 30 years and like our own company, they've grown, matured and probably even made some mistakes along the way, but they have always been focused on what's best for us, the client. It's not easy to establish that level of trust with a vendor, which is why we view Henriott as an extension of our team."
The employees of Henriott Group, Inc., Lafayette, Indiana.
This approach also has led Henriott to bring on board a distinctive staff that includes people from many different industries and backgrounds, allowing them to truly understand the buyer's perspective and be proactive with offering ideas and solutions.
President and Chief Executive Officer Rick B. Davis, CIC, CRM, is a perfect example. He was a CPA who spent time in public accounting, then as a financial professional for two large manufacturers for 12 years before joining Henriott Group 12 years ago. "I'd been in the buyer's seat for a long time and I really liked the value proposition that Henriott offered us. That's one of the reasons that I wanted to work for them when I was ready to move on."
Rick continues: "Over the last 10 years, we've been focusing on developing programs and service platforms in all areas of our business—commercial insurance and risk management, employee benefits, personal insurance, and financial services—that are based on the collective experience of our staff prior to entering the insurance business.
From left: Joseph Seaman, President & CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce, a community-based economic and community development organization; Gary Henriott; James L.M. Taylor, CEO of the United Way of Greater Lafayette; and Rick Davis. The agency personnel have been actively involved in both organizations, living up to one of its core values—to give back to the community.
"Most of us did not start out in the insurance business but found our way here and continue to enjoy it because of our focus on client relationships and solutions first, insurance later. For example, in our commercial insurance and risk management division, we recently developed our own unique system—referred to as the Milestone Risk Management process—that helps our larger clients improve their risk management procedures and increase their profitability through avoiding uninsured losses, addressing exposures early on, evaluating retention levels, etc." The process involves four key components—risk assessment, service timeline, gap analysis and the stewardship report—with the ultimate goal being to generate the lowest cost of risk for the client.
"It's all about results for our clients and prospects," Gary maintains. "It starts out like a doctor's appointment. If it's a prospect, then this would be the initial evaluation. If it's a current client, then this would be the annual check-up."
Rick picks up: "It's a comprehensive assessment. We conduct a thorough survey which generates a score that we use to measure our progress over time. This survey contains questions involving insurance but the majority of the questions relate to risk management practices and procedures. Since most of our clients do not have risk managers on staff, we like to think of this survey as the same process they would go through if they could afford to staff such a position.
"Once the assessment is complete, we will sit down with the client and decide what each of us wants to accomplish in the next 12 months," Rick continues. "We provide a service time line that is signed by both parties. It includes deadlines and who is responsible. This allows us to provide more customized services to our 'Milestone' clients."
The Wellness Team (from left): Janis Goffin, CIC, Account Executive-Commercial Insurance; Mallorie Kleinbergs, Marketing Specialist; Michelle Etzkorn, Custom Account Executive-Insurance & Risk Management; and Wendy Glista, Benefit Specialist.
The next step involves a "deep dive" into the insurance program itself to summarize existing coverages, identify potential gaps, discuss emerging risks and so on. "Delving deeply into the client's business to find those hidden risks is one of the values we provide to our clients," Gary points out.
"Finally, we end with a stewardship report that highlights our accomplishments for the year as well as areas that still need attention.
"This process then starts all over again and, if we're doing our job and the client is actively engaged, there is almost no chance that we won't have a positive impact on the organization over the long-term, and that's the basis for a trusting relationship," says Rick. "Of course, all of this is done while keeping the price of insurance top of mind. However, we think that our Milestone clients understand that 'price' is more than just the premium they pay to insurance carriers and are as concerned if not more about the potential costs to the organization if their risk management practices are not up to par," concludes Gary.
Benefits is next
The Ping Pong room offes employees a chance to blow off some steam. Kelley Henriott volleys with Bob Bryan, CIC, CRIS, Commercial Insurance & Risk Management Consultant.
Similar efforts are underway within Henriott's growing employee benefits division, which makes up almost 40% of their revenue.
"At the end of the day, our benefits clients, which are often commercial insurance clients as well, are interested in and need the same type of assessment process—accountability through a service timeline, in depth reviews of their benefit programs and an annual review of progress—that we're doing in the commercial risk management area. After all, health care costs are typically in the top five costs incurred by an organization, so managing those costs while providing competitive benefits is a major issue for our clients," Gary says. "We're also spending a great deal of time, as you can imagine, guiding our clients through the uncertainty associated with health care reform. Again, our intent is to be at the table with our clients, rolling our sleeves up and getting to work on these issues. We're not lobbing ideas over the wall and heading back to the office!" adds Rick.
One unique solution Henriott was able to offer in their benefits division was the formation of a multiple employer trust for the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) back in 2010. "IACT is our state's municipal league and on January 1, 2010, we created a medical trust for IACT so it could offer affordable health coverage to its 8,000 members. We currently have more than 3,000 employees from 19 cities and towns throughout Indiana participating in the trust. Not only is the trust providing economies of scale from a buying perspective, but also is a great network for municipalities to share ideas on health promotion, benefit offerings and contributions and overall healthcare strategy. It's been a terrific opportunity for everyone and a learning experience for us."
Henriott's other two divisions, personal insurance and financial services, follow the same "client first" approach and it revolves around education and, you guessed it, risk management. "Most individuals don't think they need risk management, at least until you explain the potential impact on themselves and their families if these issues are not examined closely," says Rick.
Oscar Winski, Lafayette, Indianapolis and Chicago, is one of the agency's long-term clients. Founded in 1907, the company is a metals company that processes scrap metals, as well as providing steel and fabricated parts to manufacturers through-out the Midwest.
Here, Henriott Group members pose with Winski executives at the Lafayette metals warehouse. From left are Michelle Etzkorn; Amy Klemme, Human Resources Director; Risk Davis; Roger Carnes, Executive Vice President-Finance & Administration; Jim Bronchik, Vice President of Administration; Mark A. Cianciolo, Chief Financial Officer Gary Henriott and Melva Lowry.
Gary adds that "not all homeowners policies are the same so if you don't know what is or isn't covered, you're accepting risk without even knowing it. The same is true when it comes to planning for retirement, the death of a loved one, the increasing costs and need for long-term care and the list goes on. Our job is to educate our clients on the risks they face and help them make the best decision for them and their families."
Another area of focus for Henriott is technology. Henriott is a long-time Vertafore customer and is constantly looking for ways to improve workflows and processes through the use of technology. Debbie Miner has been with Henriott for over 35 years and has been actively involved in the Network of Vertafore Users (NetVU) for many years and is slated to be president of NetVU in 2014.
"Debbie has been a real asset for our agency over the years for many reasons, not the least of which is her knowledge of Vertafore's products and the ability to share ideas to and from the Users Group to the benefit of our agency," says Gary. Other technology initiatives include iPads for producers, an updated Web site including a "C'Mon Man" blog authored by Rick, a "Mistress of Disaster" blog by Melissa Richardson, personal lines manager, as well as active Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Becoming a great place to work
"We recently moved into a new space downtown," notes Kelley Henriott, vice president of operations and small business consultant and the representative of the third generation of Henriotts to work at the agency. "The space fits our style in that it's open and conducive to employees meeting with each other as well as clients, and from a design perspective is just a fun place to work. Of course, the ping pong room helps when we need to work out some frustration or just get away for a few minutes!" The new headquarters also displays the agency's commitment to its community. "We provide our penthouse (conference space) to community organizations and clients for board meetings and other needs," Kelley points out. "We also display local artists' works throughout the agency on a rotating basis."
Rick adds, "We have a culture of community involvement. It started with Gary who has always given back to the community as long as I've known him, and frankly that's one of the things that drew me to Henriott in the first place. We encourage our staff to get involved in outside activities and provide time during the workday to do that. Recent examples include teaching JA classes and going into elementary schools to read to kids as part of our community's Read to Succeed program that Gary was instrumental in starting." Historically, the agency contributes more than 2% of annual revenues to social service organizations within the communities where it operates. And this does not take into account the countless hours of volunteer time.
Rough Notes is proud to recognize Henriott Group as our Marketing Agency of the Month. The agency has built strong relationships with clients based on trust and fair dealing. We fully expect that they will be around to celebrate their second 50 years with stories of new successes.
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