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30 Years of Best Practices: First West

First West in Bozeman, Montana, was the top-performing agency in the $5 million-$10 million in Revenue category in the 2022 Best Practices Study.
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04 - Bryan Hall.jpgREVENUE CATEGORY: $5 million—$10 million

First West

Bryan Hall | President

Bozeman, Montana

Why did you want to become a Best Practices agency?

It stems from wanting to remain independent and control our destiny. To do that, we needed to make sure that we were measuring ourselves so we can improve on an annual basis.

How did you find the application process?

I was energized by it. I was not the president of our company at the time, but it opened up this menagerie of data that I can collect and put on a dashboard to see how we are doing. It was cumbersome, but, like many things that take time, it was worth it.

What are the biggest takeaways?

It shows you some of the blind spots that you may have in your agency. It forces you to get outside of your day-to-day. The fun part of our job is taking care of our clients and having great company partners to sell insurance. When you do that day in and day out, sometimes you take your eyes off the prize. The Best Practices Study helps us hone in on that vision.

What changes have you made as a result of the study?

Our sales velocity, age banding and net unvalidated producer payroll (NUPP) have shown us what we need to do to continue the tradition of this company, which is a 50-year-old independent insurance agency. We've made a couple of new hires in our sales department. One is a seasoned professional from outside of our industry who we think is going to fit in really well within the insurance industry and can create good relationships. We've also made a hire from Montana State University here in Bozeman. That individual will be a brand-new producer mentored by a salesperson within our agency and hopefully on a three-year validation track.

What did you learn from your sales velocity?

The question that it raises is whether we are getting enough opportunities that are cultivated from a sales call. Are we knocking on enough doors and getting the door open? And do we have enough of a salesforce to meet our goals? Also, when an agency gets older, validated producers can get comfortable, but then sooner or later the sales velocity is going to drop.

Best part of being a Best Practices agency?

Life's a lot harder when you try to do everything on your own. Best Practices opens a door to a peer group. The guys at Reagan Consulting look out for you, and they know that if you need some help, they might know of someone who has already been through it and can solve something in a way that you wouldn't have thought of.

Advice to other agencies?

Don't rest on your laurels. Use the data, the metrics and the study itself to continue to make yourself better.

Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.

This interview is part of a six-part series to mark the 30th anniversary of the Best Practices program.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Agency Operations & Best Practices