The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Al Mauceri
1. You have to build your agency with the end in mind
2. Try to keep your independence
3. Hiring is very important, and experience isn’t always a good thing – It is easier to train someone than having to retrain someone
4. You won’t always succeed on your first try
5. Near death experiences aren’t the end, they are just near death
We are joined in this episode of the Person Behind the Professional by Al Mauceri (pronounced muh-sherry), an independent agent and owner of Mauceri-Bynum Insurance in McKinney, Texas. Al has been in the insurance industry since 1994 when he started in Charlotte, North Carolina as a claims adjuster. His dad was in insurance, so he started right out of college after realizing that he didn’t want to be a bartender forever. By the time he was in his early thirties, he had risen through the ranks and become the National Director of Claims for Nationwide. He moved every seventeen months for ten years before settling down in Texas and was managing 500-600 employees.
After getting comfortable, he was reassigned to an office in Des Moines, Iowa which is when he put in his notice and embarked on starting his own agency. He built up an agency from scratch for 3 years with Nationwide before giving it back and starting his independent agency under a broker model. Al discusses in this episode the many struggles he had when going independent and being on his own. However, as he puts it, his greatest motivators were and still are his three kids. Because of them, he knows that he has no choice but to succeed.
Al ended up buying an agency from a retiring agent and created Mauceri-Bynum Insurance. Because of the hard work that Al has put in, he has been ranked the Top Insurance Agency in McKinney, Texas. McKinney is a suburb of Dallas with around 170,000 people and 72 agencies, so this is no small feat!
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I’m doing great. How are you today? Hey, I’m doing great. Thank you so much for getting on this podcast. You actually scheduled on short notice and we really appreciate your flexibility. Oh, that’s okay. That’s the beauty of being an agent.
Yes, you are right about that will out. Let’s just start off and you know, to tell a little bit about, you have, what I know, the one thing we know is that you’ve had a lot of experience in the insurance world.
Uh, yeah. Good or bad. Yes. I’ve been around quite a long time.
You’ve seen it all, so you, you’ve seen the good, you’ve seen the bat, you’ve also seen a lot of the changes.
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been in the industry since 1994. I started in Charlotte, North Carolina as a claim adjuster. The lowest level of claim adjuster you can possibly be.
Well, you gotta start somewhere. Right. So that’s, that’s, that’s not a bad deal. It gives you perspective. I bet. Yeah, it does. It really does. There’s no, no place better to start in the absolute bottom. That’s right. Well, I’ll tell us just a little bit about your agency and what products you offer and also just some companies that you’d like to highlight.
We are an independent agency, so we’re really a broker model as opposed to the state farm and allstate, the captives of the world. I like to tell people who are like the orbits of insurance. We do business with 20 something different companies and we deal with most of the brand names that, you know, Safeco, insurance, travelers, insurance, progressive encompass, insurance, insurance company has gotten really of smart, uh, over the years. Um, the products that they offer. It’s kind of like car companies. Like Alexis is really a Toyota. SAFECO is really owned by Liberty Mutual, encompasses really all state. So, you know, one of the things that we have to do is educate consumers that, you know, you know, these companies, they’re not as familiar because they’re not on Sunday. NFL, they’re really the same company. They just slap a different logo on it.
Now. Why do you think that is? Because I know that is a frustration for consumers when they have come from all state and then they go to encompass and they’re a little leery of who is encompass. I haven’t seen them on the commercials, but. And then you tell them, well it’s actually an allstate company. How’s the response and why do you think that is such a problem?
I think it’s kind of the way the world, I mean, if you think about it, you know, chipotle is really McDonald’s and coke is really vitamin water. I think they just Kinda in their ultimate MBA wisdom decided that we’re just going to go ahead and put a different package on it and maybe reach a different segment of the population. But I think most people were kind of used to that. And when you explain it in English, not in insurance terms, um, you know, it, it, it’s a pretty easy way to identify with the customer.
Right. No, that makes complete sense. So you’re a little bit different than some of the agents that we’ve had on our podcasts, you know, you came from over 25 years of experience, you are, you still over 25 years of experience and continuing that and then from my understanding, you came straight out of college.
Yeah. You know, it’s Kinda funny. I, uh, my dad, uh, you know, I know some people are born into things like professional sports and music and all these cool things. My Dad was an insurance guy, he was a claims guy. Um, so I grew up, you know, I remember being around the dinner table and my dad talking about, you know, work and lawsuits and litigation and all these things, and I remember saying, I don’t know what I’m going to do in my life, but it’s not going to be what you do because that is boring as hell. So, you know, as life has it, just when, you know, just as it works out. I wound up, when I got out of college, first I was a bartender, so that was my first career and that didn’t last too long. And then I started as a claim adjuster for nationwide insurance in Charlotte.
And then, um, you know, I found out that, you know, as much as I didn’t want to, it was kind of in my blood. So I started as a claim adjuster. I used to manage attorneys. Uh, I was a regional manager, I was a financial controller. Uh, I eventually went on to be the national director of claims for nationwide insurance in Columbus, Ohio. I think I moved every 17 months for 10 years. And then they brought, they brought me to Texas because it was an unprofitable operation form and I ran the claim department for the state of Texas. I had about six, five slash 600 employees I guess. Wow. Then they were going to send me to des Moines, Iowa, which is like, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a hard sell to your wife.
So I just decided I was in my early thirties and I just said the hell with it. I pulled a Jerry Maguire just put in my two weeks and decided to start an agency. Uh, initially I was a nationwide captive agent, um, which I’m sure your listeners understand the difference. It’s like own a subway franchise. Sure. Um, and uh, I did that for several years and then that we were struggling. Uh, and then, uh, we decided to, to get a divorce from nationwide. We had started the original agency from scratch. We built it up over about three years. And then we gave the agency back to them for free and started from scratch and started from scratch again in 2010. But this time we went with a broker model. And build from there, it was the scariest thing I ever did. It was the stupidest thing I ever did and it was the best thing I ever did.
Okay. So let’s back up here for just a second. I don’t, I don’t want to highlight the poor time in life because I know that was not the most fun time in life. But let’s talk about that for a second because we have a lot of people who listen, who are business owners, who are going through challenges, man, even bright be we’re, we’re a startup and we are failing and succeeding and we’re failing again. And we’re having to pivot. So tell me a little bit about why you had to walk away from that and what you learned. Maybe a couple things of what you learned from it, from it,
you know, what was happening with, uh, with them as a company at the time was the economy. It hit 2008 hit. And uh, and this is just my opinion, you know, insurance companies have to have so much money in the bank to bring on new customers. You know, there’s a reserve adequacy, you got to have so much in savings to bring on new customers to cover their losses. I think a lot of insurance companies were economy hit, you know, all of a sudden their savings account dropped like everybody else and they started to limit, become more picky on what they were bringing on board. So at one point with nationwide we have built up a staff, you know, we’re really doing well or, or so I thought I didn’t know what I didn’t know any better and um, it got to the point where we could only write auto insurance and that was it.
And I mean, you know what? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So it was like being able to go, you know, you used to go to the grocery store and pick out your groceries, now you had bread and water and, and good luck to you. Um, so it, uh, you know, I went through a lot of soul searching because I was thinking to myself, you know, I could go back to corporate. I was doing fine there. I’m still fairly young and you know, you know, claims and insurance, it’s like the post office, there’s always work there, there’s, you know, there’s more male coming tomorrow. So I, um, I really felt in my heart that, you know, what, I can do this like I’m, you know, I’m just not like some, you know, some dilbert ish executive that works a big mega corporation. You know, I can make this work, man, I can do this.
I just had the, I needed to change my business model pivot. Yeah. Well, yeah, pivot, you know, I always tell people it’s like building a house from scratch, burning, burning the damn thing to the ground and then break it out a two by four and a hammer the next day and start over again. That’s got to be scary. You know, it was scary. Um, one of the greatest motivators, you know, I had kids, I had three children and you know, you just don’t have a choice. I, it’s so funny. I always tell the story when I first opened my agency, you know, I bought all my Ikea furniture and everything looked cool and I had a little desk with what was a cool laptop at the time and I opened my business and we had a retail store front for like five days. The phone didn’t ring and then I decided, you know, the phone, well, no wonder why no one’s called the funnel got to be broken. So I picked up my, you know, my blackberry at the time and called the main number and sure enough the phone rang and then I realized it was working. I always remember the old talking heads, oh my God, what have I done?
Oh my God, what? Oh my God, what am I going to do? I got to buy chocolate milk for the kids to, you know, what am I going to do? And uh, and, you know, just the fact of, all right, you know what, I just got to roll up my sleeves and he just gotta grind sausage and just start calling ’em, you know. So that’s kind of our story. Um, that’s Kinda, you know, like I said, it was the best thing I ever did and it was the stupidest thing I ever did. Um, but, you know, thank God. I mean thank God, you know, and I had, was able to hire some really good people. We did. Okay. We’re still around 10 years later.
Well you’re definitely, you’re definitely around and from, from what I see, you’re one of the top agencies in Mckinney, Texas.
Um, yeah. Well, you know, that’s like kind of being like the, you know, the biggest kid on the block. It’s only a limited space. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. You got your blogs. Yeah. Yeah. I always say that like we win those awards and that’s the closest I’ll ever get to an Oscar. I mean, but there are 72 agencies here in mckinney, so we’ll take it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It shut out of town. It’s a suburb of Dallas. It’s about 170,000 people.
How have you adapted to this ever changing world of insurance and technology? I know that you’ve seen a lot. How have you adapted to all of this? What have you had to change through the process to make sure that your agency continues to?
No, I can tell you. I don’t know if I really don’t know if we have adapted, uh, you know, I always tell my kids that eventually I have a feeling that we may go. Insurance agents may go the way of the gas station attendant may not be around forever. So what we’ve. The only thing I cannot say that I think I’ve done that well, the only thing that smart thing I think I’ve done in that regard is, you know, we, you know, my staff and I are very experienced. I mean, I would venture to say that if you had your home burned down, you would want us as an agency because I used to handle those claims adjusters. I know how I know how it works behind the scenes and I know how to work with an insurance company. There’s a lot of gray areas out there and contrary to popular belief, you know, you can put it on a claim, on her own unfortunate situation with an insured and get them, get them covered or get as much coverage as possible. So a lot of little nuances and tricks of the trade that you’ve learned over the years. So I think trying to explain to our customers that, you know, everybody’s got to have insurance and you can buy it through the internet or whatever, but you’re home when you’re home burns down or God forbid something happens. Who Do you want told in your hand? And that’s our special sauce. That’s our special sauce. And I refuse to ever have voicemail. So when the phone rang, so you gotta pick it up
right there. You don’t give yourself enough credit. I will say that because I’ll tell you this bright. He believes that the agent is extremely important and that the agent is going to be around for a lot longer. And actually that’s why bright B is here because we believe that we’ve got to take care of the people who do believe that. You know, if I don’t keep things going or if I don’t start adapting more than I might not be around and we just believe that is far from from where anyone needs to be. Now we know it can be true, but we we’re excited to be a part of that growth and that adaptation as well. You know, one of the things that you are doing well from, from what we can see is you’re very consistent with your blog, which honestly no one does. So you’re already setting yourself a little bit further up there. So are you writing those blogs or do you have someone in your office who helped?
Oh God, no. You know what? I’m smart enough to know what I’m not good at and outsource that. I don’t make any bones about it. We, I’ve got a vendor who does that and I’ve probably been through 10 vendors. Heck, if I just saved all the money I did on making bad hires for Seo, my agency probably be twice as big.
Well, we know that content is extremely important and also just at educating your customers on insurance is very important as well. So tell me a little bit more about how you educate your customers. I know you do it through your blog, but do you do it in any other fashion, social media? Do you also do it just in the way you speak to your customers and how you, uh, write their policies? What does that look like?
You know, we, um, a couple things. One, you know, after years of being in this business, what I’ve learned is that, you know, I am not, I’m kind of an introvert by nature, so I’m not a great salesperson. I also know that I’ve wasted, have mountains of money on every form of advertising that it just doesn’t seem to work for me. Um, so we don’t advertise, we don’t advertise, we don’t do direct mail paid ads, we don’t do anything. What we do try to do is really just kind of old school blocking and tackling of a word of mouth. I think the one thing that we do really well is that we talked to people in English, you know, um, you know, insurance people can get in the process of talking about full coverage and indemnity and liability coverage and you know, all these different terms and you can see people’s eyes roll in the back of their heads.
So, and that’s when they say, that’s why I hate insurance. Yeah. Yeah. So the. Yeah, the, but the best way to do is just say, hey,
you know, here’s how, here’s your homeowner’s coverage. It’s 500,000. If your home burns down, you’re getting a check for 500,000. Does that sound about right? You know, and, and I think those are the ways we try to explain to them what the coverage covers and really try to guide them through the process because we don’t, we’re never going to be experts in knowing their wives knowing what they need to be honest with you, it’s just impossible. But if we can, we can teach them how to think about it. That’s the best tool.
You’re absolutely right. One thing we do like to do is make sure that we come away with five takeaways and you know, what I would love to hear from you is five takeaways about a business and your experience and so would you be able to give us maybe five good takeaways that our consumers and also other agents had anyone listening could, could take away and apply to their life?
You know? Um, I would say that if anybody is still listening to this, they’re probably not interested in a quote.
So I would say is that is probably true. So I think for sure
it insurance agents, I would say the five takeaways is that one, you kind of got a build your agency with the end in mind. I always think of my business is building a house and you kind of have to figure out what you wanted to look like when you start. Otherwise you come up with a really ugly looking house that doesn’t flow very well. The other thing I would say is for agents who are starting or making a transition state or nationwide and they’re trying to become an independent, um, you know, there’s a lot of people out there who really, there’s a lot of other franchises out there that it’d be really interesting. Um, we stayed away from that, you know, getting, getting divorced and getting remarried to a person you don’t know who’s really in your interest. So really try to keep your independence very true.
Uh, hiring I think is a big one. We hire people. My, my hires are always, never had insurance experience. I think it’s better to find if you have a smart, ethical, competitive person, you can teach them insurance. I think so often I’ve hired people with experience before, never works out. Uh, it’s almost easier to give birth and raise the dead. So, uh, you know, you can always give someone experienced but you’re never going to give. And then true, true. It’s very difficult to retrain people. Oh yeah. You can’t, you can’t convert somebody sometimes. What I also would say is that the one thing that we’ve always, I’ve always, my dad taught me this when I was young and you know, this is a good, good little thing. Do you know why his name four? Oh, nine. You know the spray that you use?
Oh yeah. No, I don’t know. Tell me
that was the 409th attempt to make to make that, that formula they failed for 108. Wow. I mean my kids are so sick of me saying this because I’ve been saying it like every three months for like the last 20 years, but you know, I always see my dad used to drill that into my head and you know, I think that, I mean you’re, you’re running a startup, you’re, you’re going to screw up so many times and you just got to keep in mind that near death experiences or just near death, you know, you can constantly reinvent yourself. I don’t know if that’s five.
I’ll tell Ya. It’s four. Oh nine. That was a good one to end on because I think it’s something that everyone can apply to their life. It doesn’t matter if you’re an insurance startup or my wife just trying to raise two of our kids and myself. So I think that is fantastic. And I’m going to remind my wife four. Oh, nine. Much more. So, uh, when I fail so she can remember that I’ve got many more chances.
Yeah. Yeah. I always, I still buy four. Oh, nine. Just for that stupid reason. I don’t know if it’s any good, but I just still buy it.
That is great. Well, how do our listeners get in touch with you? What’s the best ways to reach,
you know, what the best way to reach us. We can go on our website and send like an email chores. It’s m as in a missionary or mckinney or m as in Mary, a insurance agent.com. Or just give us a call at two. One, four, seven, three, three, 8,400. We do business throughout the state of Texas and we don’t use voicemail. So if you call us, you know, put me to my, to my word, make sure that the phone rings, you know, two or three times and someone picks up. So it’s a good little test for us.
Absolutely. And just to remind everyone, if you are looking for Al Mauceri, you can also to BriteBee.com and go to the agent directory and find him there as well with many other things about him. Also, we just want to remind you to like our podcast and also please give us a review. We definitely need those and also need the feedback. But again, thank you so much for listening today and we hope that you all have a wonderful day. Al. Thank you so much. You were a joy To speak to.
Find Mauceri-Bynum Insurance Here: http://www.minsuranceagent.com/
Find Al’s BriteBee Profile Here: https://app.britebee.com/agents/al_mauceri_96