Rodriguez' agency offers franchising opportunities to aspiring business owners with the entrepreneurial spirit. He also serves on the board of the Delaware Association of Insurance Agents & Brokers.
Entrepreneurship led Rodriguez to the insurance industry. Growing up in Brooklyn, “I learned the entrepreneur life from my brother who used to sell clothing and accessories in New York City," Rodriguez says. “I learned all about sales, prospecting and customer relations." He later founded a transportation company—and noticed how much of his bottom line was spent on premiums. Then, a conversation with his insurance agent opened his eyes to the opportunities in the industry.
Rodriguez' agency offers franchising opportunities to aspiring business owners with the entrepreneurial spirit. He serves on the board of the Delaware Association of Insurance Agents & Brokers, has a heart for increasing diversity, equity & inclusion in the independent channel and is focused on expanding his footprint.
Importance of representation in insurance?
Mentorship is amazing. Unfortunately, when minorities are not represented, we miss out on certain mentorship relationships, ideas or opportunities. It's easier to see what you can achieve when somebody from your community has reached the level of success you desire.
Making insurance appealing?
To the world, insurance is not a sexy occupation, but at Prominent we're making it one. It's an amazing business, it's just not being presented properly. We are letting people know about the autonomy and income you can receive, but also the things you can do to help your community and allow businesses to thrive.
To build our agency franchise force and expand our region. We have a goal of growing 20 franchisees a year. In five years, we hope to be at 100.
How did you start your agency?
Back when I had a transportation company and was talking to my insurance agent, I thought initially you needed some formal education like a bachelor's degree to get into this great field. But I came to find out you just need to take your state licensing test. My agent at the time was a local insurance agent who had been in the industry since before I was born, and he knew that I'm an entrepreneur and what I do in the community of Delaware. He was willing to allow me to learn about P&C insurance. I worked with him for less than six months, and then I opened up a scratch agency.
Most minorities in this industry are on the carrier side, with little representation when it comes to agency ownership. We're trying to increase that—when you have diverse backgrounds, you get ideas from different cultures, minds, experiences, and it brightens up the whole organization.
Underserved communities' insurance challenges?
In our neighborhoods, they think insurance is a racket. Their experience is usually getting their insurance instructions from someone they're doing business with—for instance the landlord of their storefront retail shop—and then take them to an insurance “order taker" that really just insures for what the landlord needs. They usually have gaps in coverage and people are then left holding the bag.
Our mission is to educate our consumers on their vulnerabilities. It's not about giving a quote in 15 minutes. We're like doctors who do a full diagnostic to see where any problems lie. That's just what independent agents are trained to do: educate and advise.
Offering the whole menu?
We do P&C, life, employee benefits, and partnerships for resources like trusts and wills. You want to be the only one in the kitchen cooking for the client. We're constantly networking so we can be the one-stop resource for our clients.
Experience as an insurance agency owner who is a wheelchair user?
For me particularly, it hasn't been too much of a struggle. The only thing that is difficult is if you're going to an on-site meeting and it's not accessible. But with all this technology, it's a much more even playing field for someone that may be disabled or has a problem with any type of mobility. Everybody knows about Zoom now, and the uses of software has really made things accessible.
Favorite thing about being an independent agent?
No one gets turned away. You can always go to another carrier to try and help that client. At the end of the day, what I like to do is help individuals.
AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor.