Hoosier Associates, Inc.
When Taylor Schoen meets with a client to talk coverage, he doesn’t stay behind his desk.
“I sit down with someone side by side—not across from them, because I’m not superior,” Schoen explains. “We go through everything, with all their current coverage on one side of the page and then our proposal on the other side.”
After discussing everything from deductibles to liability limits, Schoen asks, “Do you know more about your policy than you did when you came in?”
“The answer is always, ‘Oh my gosh, no one’s ever done this with me,’” Schoen says. “Customers just want to be talked with, not talked at.”
I don’t try to compete on price. A lot of times people end up spending more when they come to me, but they walk out with a much better policy, as well as a sense of security. You can’t put a price tag on that.
WHAT SETS YOUR AGENCY APART?
Our slogan is “Our family working with yours.” We are small-town, and that’s how we want to stay. When you come to us as a client, we’re going to learn about your kids, we’re going to rub shoulders with you in the community, and you’re going to feel like you’re a part of something. You’re not just another number here.
You either fall into it or you’re born into it, right? My great-grandfather and grandpa started the agency in 1956, and my dad has always been in it. When I was going through high school, my two older brothers were not planning on getting into the agency, but I felt like it was the perfect fit for me. I knew I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day, and my dad didn’t do that. And the opportunity to own your own business—that’s the American dream.
WHAT’S TO LOVE?
It’s always a challenge. Every day you have it planned out, but it never fails that you do something completely different from what your plan is. You constantly have to learn and grow, which keeps you as sharp as possible. And you get to rub shoulders with some of the brightest minds, which only makes you better at your job and as a person.
Our community is very tight-knit. It’s a rural community, and our bread and butter is farm insurance, so we spend a lot of time on farms. We don’t roll up in fancy Audis. We go over in our pickup trucks with our four-wheel drive to meet with our clients, walk the barn lots—you have to be involved in the community in order to work here. I’m also a volunteer firefighter for one of the towns. We write a lot of fire departments, so it works out perfect—I can talk the talk and walk the walk.
Being the youngest person in the business, I’m the one who has to implement a lot of that change. My dad has done it the same way forever and it’s always worked, but he is open because it is going to be our agency to change.
A couple years ago, we switched to a different website provider that enables our website to be mobile-responsive, so when you pull it up on your phone it’s formatted to the smaller screen size. Probably 80% of our web traffic is someone on a mobile device, so if it’s not mobile-friendly, why do we even have a website?
Beyond our web presence, e-signatures, texting, email—people may not want to come see you. And you’ll hear some agents say, “That’s not the clientele we want,” but the next step in our industry is reaching those people who are all digital. I’m open to it 100% because that is my generation.
WHY BIG 'I'?
My dad has been involved with the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana his whole life—he’s a past president. I went to my first Young Agents conference in 2014, and everyone was awesome—it was a great experience. You sit here in rural America and there aren’t that many young agents. Who do you talk to? Who do you connect with besides your family members? It gave me an opportunity to connect with other agents around my state. I’ve gone to every one since.
Then, in 2016, I joined the Indiana Young Agents Committee. I went through the ranks, and I’m now the chair for 2019-2020. I lead our quarterly meetings and I’m on the conference task force—we host a two-day conference with about 120 attendees where we organize educational and networking events. We also do silent auction at our annual state convention that benefits a charity of our choice, and we coordinate other fun networking events throughout the year.
We recently changed the name to Emerging Leaders, and my goal is to hit the ground running with that rebrand. We chose the name because not everyone involved in our events is an agent—we have a lot of company folks as well. And not everyone is “young,” and that’s fine—you’re still totally welcome. We felt like Emerging Leaders was a good fit because we’re all leaders in our industry, whether you’re on the agency or company side.
PERPETUATING THE AGENCY?
My oldest brother ended up joining the business when I was still in college. My dad had just bought his second agency in as many years, he was working an unsustainable number of hours, and my brother saw a good opportunity. We’re going to end up being partners here in the next couple of years.
ADVICE FOR FELLOW YOUNG AGENTS?
You may not be at the same agency the rest of your life. As you make those connections, you may find your calling is in the manufacturing industry or something—you never know. If I was going into an agency where I had no ties to the owner, I would be making the strongest relationships ever with all my clients, because I may end up working for them or they may end up working for me.
Make the most of every opportunity you have, because you never know where that’s going to lead you. You can be a producer, you can be a manager, you can jump to the company side and be a marketing rep if you don’t like selling—there are endless opportunities to do whatever you want and still be involved in the insurance industry.
PHOTO BY BRIAN POWELL