The COVID-19 pandemic has had an extraordinary effect on every part of our lives. All over the world, people have changed the way in which they live to help other people to survive through this most difficult of times. We take a look at one of the construction industries most distinguished commercial lines firms, Fairbanks Insurance Brokers Inc., to understand how they have been able to make a difference to their clients during unprecedented circumstances.
Through even the most difficult of times, business must keep running. The ability to trade and to keep economies moving is vital. The COVID-19 pandemic upended so many standards by which we do this work, however. In very short order, the world was changed forever, with a quick impact seen all over the globe. It wasn’t something that businesses could prepare for. It wasn’t something they could react to.
For the team at Fairbanks Insurance Brokers, under the strong leadership of Jason Fairbanks, it was a time that demanded quick action and a rapid response. The team offer commercial insurance products for artisans and builders working within the construction industry, with clients who range from the local neighbourhood handyman to your corporate CEO’s. When clients work with the team at Fairbanks Insurance Brokers, the product they buy above all else is peace of mind. Having the right coverage during the most critical times is, quite frankly, an invaluable resource.
Family owned and operated, it’s little wonder that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this was a firm that was able to move quickly to secure its footing. Many businesses felt the impact of the pandemic quickly, and those who had chosen Fairbanks Insurance Brokers were grateful for the family approach that each client shares. No two clients are the same, and each requires unique support to ensure success. The success of Fairbanks Insurance Brokers comes from the way in which clients don’t just sign up, they stay with the firm year after year.
The nature of insurance means that the Fairbanks Insurance Brokers team offer a wealth of knowledge on different lines of products, with some of the most popular including general liability, workers compensation, commercial auto and surety bonds. For around a dollar a day, in some cases, clients can operate in a way that is as safe as possible, with security on hand if the worst happens.
While many organizations will boast of 100 years “combined” experience as a misleading marketing tactic to obtain business, Fairbanks Insurance Brokers focuses on a proven track record that showcases their exceptional knowledge of both the products they sell and the customers they serve. Only by combining both can the team ensure their clients get the best coverage available for the lowest possible rates. The value of the company comes not from pulling together both seasoned brokers and thoroughly trained CSR’s but from what the team as a whole can offer.
The thriving nature of the team at Fairbanks Insurance Brokers comes from an approach that embraces the importance of the staff who run the organization. As company president Jason Fairbanks explains, “If you see your business as a tree, the staff is the irrigation, and the workload is the water. For the tree to grow strong and sturdy in a healthy environment it is essential that the irrigation keeps clean water flowing on a consistent basis from an uncontaminated well providing nutrients critical for healthy growth. Growing the company, while knowing when you hand over the reins and responsibility to others, the workload will continue to flow in a consistent and stable manner”.
Fairbanks has found this to be incredibly tricky. The most important company secrets and business relationships are at the heart of how the firm operates. As the business achieved further success, he had to expand how it operated and change how he worked. As a unified group, the team had to collaborate to secure the business during the unprecedented circumstances of 2020. A key part of how Fairbanks has secured this success is in the way he assures the staff that they do not work for him or his company, but beside him with their company. “Everyone performs harder when they know that their work is appreciated and making a difference in something important, and furthermore, the hard work undertaken by staff members means that they can easily see what an asset their hard work has become to the success of the company” he adds.
The secret of expanding this family enterprise in a way that retains all of the benefits of a small operation, while reaching even more clients, is finding the right talent. While some companies believe that hiring someone with multiple years’ experience means that they will need limited training and that alone will save them lots of money in the long run, Fairbanks thinks otherwise. They take the time to show new employees the ropes from the beginning all the way through to the end, training them all like right-hand men and women. Instead of bringing other business practices to the table, the aim is a fresh start by getting rid of bad habits and to create an environment that supports the greater goal of the overall company and its philosophy.
As such, when the Fairbanks Insurance Brokers team look for new staff, they tend to stray away from the cookie cutter “industry superstar” but strive to seek out people who have the right personality for the position being offered. At this firm, personality is key and has been vital to thriving in the last few years. Most people can be trained for a job, but few can be trained with the right temperament to deliver truly outstanding customer service.
Taking this approach has allowed the team to seek candidates who might not have had the opportunity to take that next step to a thriving career due to the lack of means or overall experience. With all the difficulty finding new staff under the current circumstances and extensive e benefits being offered through COVID-19 government relief programs, you may be forced to get creative in some areas more than other. Former day care employees working as customer service reps. Former gym membership counsellors working in your sales department. It meant that when somebody had to believe in them to protect the best interests of the company at heart, and they returned the favour by stepping up to the plate for giving them the opportunity when others may have chosen to pass on their candidacy altogether.
When the pandemic hit, it was a chance for this intrepid team to prove themselves. Reminiscent of the 2008 financial collapse, it was clear to Fairbanks that he needed to act quickly by making hard decisions to manage a dangerous situation to protect the company and the people who work for it.
He explains, “COVID-19 is like the world’s most wretched criminal organization. Gaining unthinkable power over powerful bureaucrats and world leaders, not by paying them off with large sums of money, but by wreaking havoc on the world by driving fear into the heart and soul of every breathing human being with something to lose. It ploughed through the world population like an unexpecting crowd being hit by a garbage truck flying out of a mountain of popcorn at 80 miles per hour”.
During this time the team were forced to be conservative in many areas that they normally would have not been. As a result of the collaborative approach he has always championed, staff were encouraged – and willing – to put unconditional love and effort into keeping the business afloat. This stopped a bad situation from manifesting into something far worse, essentially adding cracks to the foundation of the business.
Thanks to this caring and careful approach, Fairbanks Insurance Brokers has not only survived to 2021, but is a growing and thriving business as well. The specialist knowledge of his staff, combined with the ruthless commitment to customer service, has kept businesses wanting to use their services. The credit must lie with the long-term strategy that has brought this about. As the rest of the market becomes increasingly competitive, with some businesses willing to say anything to get a payment and bind a quote, the honesty and integrity that sets Fairbanks Insurance Brokers apart is a welcome relief to many.