Sheila Metzger - American Family Insurance Receives Small Business Award
Wednesday, October 02, 2019
Sheila started the path of opening her own agency in early 2009. After being appointed as an agent with American Family Insurance, she participated in an intense eight week program that required travel to St. Joseph, Missouri and Madison, Wisconsin. Following completion of the training program, she officially opened her door on May 1, 2009 in a small office space just north of 17th & Plum with herself as the sole employee and a small book of business that she was expected to retain while prospecting new clients. Shortly after opening, she hired a full-time licensed agent assistant. In 2011 and 2013 veteran agent retirements opened up the door for the agency to inherit additional American Family Insurance clientele. In 2013, the agency relocated to 1210 Main St. (former Gaylon Miller Agency building) and grew to two full-time licensed agent assistants and one part-time Customer Service Representative. With the business growth the agency converted to a limited liability company employing three full-time and 2 part-time employees. It is a goal of her agency to add another full-time sales producer in the next two years.
The mission statement of Sheila’s agency is to provide superior customer service by listening to identify the client's needs and implementing a plan to take care of those needs. All people know is that they need insurance. The agency is there to help people maneuver through dealing with the insurance - coverages, insurance company requirements, and more. Sheila has a team of both licensed and non-licensed professionals in the agency that demonstrate honesty, integrity and the desire to ALWAYS do what is best for the client. The true role of an insurance professional is that of being an ADVOCATE for the client, and Sheila takes that role very seriously in providing the best customer service experience and THIS is what makes her agency unique.
Developing a customer relationship management program was one of the first challenges she faced when starting her agency. At the beginning, she didn't even know what the purpose of a CRM program was and how it would benefit her business. While her corporate partner gave her tools to help develop this program it was essential for Sheila to analyze and develop a system that was unique to the agency on how it would interact with current American Family clients along with prospects. Whiles she has a good system in place it is ever evolving with changes in demographic, technology, etc. This is an element of her business that she find challenging in a positive way. If a business wants to grow, it has to change with the times.
As a small business owner, Sheila has served many different roles ranging from sales person, payment taker, human resources representative, payroll processor to doorbell fixer. Finding a balance between the many tasks that come up during the day has been a challenge. As she has developed as a business owner, she has recognized that it is okay not to know and/or do everything in the agency. To grow you have to put people in place around you that can take care of the things you are not good at or frankly don't want to do. Sheila has found that when she, the business owner, focuses on the things that she likes to do then good things happen - increased sales and client retention which in the end is an increase in revenue.
Sheila has created an environment in the agency where employees know they are a part of an agency family. There are weekly staff meetings where they not only discuss the client happenings inside the agency but also have discussion about the overall health of the business. She gives the employees a vested interest in seeing the agency succeed by providing various incentives-commissions on new business sales brought into the agency from their sole efforts, bonuses and agency outings. Also, she provides full-time employees a generous PTO package and retirement plan. In a positive small business office setting employees develop relationships not only professionally but personally. The relationships in the agency are strong and this is one of the reasons for the success of her business.
Community involvement for a small business owner intertwines both professionally and personally. Some of the organizations Sheila participates and supports are the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Hutchinson and Holy Cross Catholic Church. In additional, she is a supporting member of the Historic Hutchinson Fox Theatre and Hutchinson Symphony. She volunteers as a coach for local youth sports along with being a sponsor to many youth and high school teams. In the past, she has served as a Chamber Ambassador and VP of Reno County Advisory Council member, participated and graduated from Leadership Reno County and her office has been a location drop off for First Call for Help Christmas Gifts for Teens program.
When Sheila was a Chamber Ambassador, she enjoyed going to the ribbon cuttings for new small businesses that had opened in the community and to see the excitement that was generated from those owners. During the nearly 9 years of being in business there have been many times she felt the pressures of operating my own insurance agency was too great, but the perseverance that she was taught as a child has been instrumental in building her successful business and is the characteristic that makes her small business deserving of this honor.
Thank you for all you do for our community!