Agency Profile: Us Against Ourselves

APBrady, Chapman, Holland & Associates, Inc.

Houston
Founded: 1983
Employees: 80

“We truly believe there is no good or bad except by comparison,” says Jeff Brady, president & CEO of Brady, Chapman, Holland & Associates in Houston. It’s a philosophy that this 25-year Best Practices Agency has taken to heart.

Brady notes that without outside benchmarking, it was very difficult to understand how the agency was performing. “Best Practices gave us the start of operationally trying to measure whether we were attaining what we hoped to attain through comparison,” Brady says. “That has spun off into us doing a bunch of things on our own. So we have not only external benchmarks through Best Practices, but we also have enough history that we can compare against our previous results.”

The agency is meticulous about measuring everything from quantifying the efficiency created by technology to revenue per employee to liquidity. The results are shared with employees at a town hall meeting each month. “We talk about where we are, averages, comparing ourselves against the industry—and comparing ourselves against ourselves.”

JAN CLARK, COO & CONTROLLER

Every year, we create goals—what do we want our retention to look like, etc.? We work hard to put together attainable, smart goals. Then we review them at least quarterly to say, “OK, how are we doing? What do we need to do to make sure we’re staying on course?” We have benefited from working with Best Practices because they’ve given tools and comparisons that help stretch us.

I love having the black-and-white side of my job as the COO and controller—I’ve got the numbers and I can make sure they match in the black-and-white. But I really like the other side of my job as well—helping people grow into what they want to be.

JEFF BRADY, PRESIDENT & CEO

We were very much a generalist agency for several years. We’ve always been very strong in the relationship side, but we had to know where the line is drawn on what we can make a buck at. We spun our personal lines operation off. Now we really truly are risk managers for predominately privately owned, midsize businesses, helping them understand the risks they face, understanding what they can do to mitigate or manage those risks, and then insuring them.

By far my favorite part of my job is selling. My passion and expertise is being belly to belly with customers that need my help. A lot of my peers have an agency that has evolved to a size where they handle less client interaction. I just can’t do that. I’ve got to be out in the community.

LEIGH IGUESS, BENEFITS ADVISOR

We are very much about the team model—no one works in a silo. I think a key differentiator is the way we communicate with our clients. We have no interest in being a transactional agency, so it really is about a deeper level of engagement. It’s about having an in-depth conversation with our clients from the beginning, before they’re even a client, and then all the way through the life of the relationship. You need to understand what their needs are, because that changes.

The economy changes, industry changes and there are ups and downs—especially on the benefits side with the workforce. You need to ask clients, “Where are you having pain? Where can we support you?” And then you deliver those results.

Photo by Scott Dalton