The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Melissa Bankard
1. Follow your heart
2. Be brave
3. Market to your staff every day
4. Don’t be afraid to go broke
5. When you recognize someone awesome, do everything you can to bring them on board
In today’s episode of the Person Behind the Professional, Keagan has a lot of fun sitting down with Melissa Bankard, a Farmers insurance agent in the Dallas, Texas area. She has been in the insurance industry for over 22 years. Melissa has been a claims adjustor, a national catastrophe adjustor focusing on large-scale natural disasters, a consultant for 400-450 agents, and purchased her Farmer’s agency in March of 2018.
Melissa is also a self-described internet celebrity. She posts selfie videos very consistently on social media about everything from insurance, visiting the dry cleaners, shopping at Costco, and more. One of her videos even reached 78,000 views on LinkedIn! She has also dubbed herself the “Awesomest Farmers Insurance Agent ever in Texas”.
Thanks to these videos and other things, her agency is growing pretty rapidly. In fact, on the day of the recording she extended an offer to her 5th employee in the agency. Through this, she works hard toward controlled growth versus turn and burn policies. Melissa has built her agency on two foundations: transparency and communication. With regards to transparency, her staff knows how much money the agency is spending, how much they are bringing in, how much each policy is bringing in, and more. Melissa believes this is important because by being transparent with her staff, hopefully they will be transparent with their clients. She also aims to communicate consistently with her staff and clients. The staff is involved in most decision making within the agency. When the staff knows more information, they are able to provide more benefit to the overall team.
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Everyone has a story and everyone has been there for business owners, to parents to young adults. The hive five aims to tell stories about overcoming the struggles and adult team while celebrating the little victories of life in each podcast. Our guests will give insight to five key takeaways from someone who’s been there and done that, leaving you better than when you started.
Thank you so much for listening today. My name is Keegan with bright B and today on the person behind the professional, we’re super thrilled to have Melissa bankers with farmers insurance in Dallas, Fort Worth area. She has over 22 years of experience, some of that as an agent and some as a claim. This gesture and a lot of other things that she’ll be able to talk about. She’s an Internet celeb and she has been named well. She has named herself. Maybe other people have named her. The awesomest insurance agent ever. Alyssa, how are you?
Oh my goodness. I love that intro. I am the. Yes I am the awesome. This Texas farmer’s insurance agent ever. Uh, whoever opened their door. Thank you so much. That’s wonderful. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Well, thank you so much for being on. So tell me. So did you give yourself that name or did someone else?
Heck yeah, no, I’m, I’m annoying myself. I, you know, on my linkedin where you can write, read, or write a profile. I was like, hm, Internet, celebrity. That’s me. And it says Internet celebrity in open for the Cs said, said me. I think something like that where basically, yes, I’m anointed myself as an internet celebrity. Also. Craziest you. I introduced myself. Have that and networking events.
Well, I don’t know. At least at least you can own up to it. So
I an internet celebrity is the day you get a hater. You got to get some haters. You’re not, you’re not, you’re nothing unless you get some haters. So I’ve gotten, I feel like my hair and they’re, you know, they’re earned a. well, you do as much content as I put out there. I’ve, I’ve earned my share of haters and I’m not saying they’re wrong, you know, a lot of other observations are correct my stuff sometimes, but.
True. Well, so do you have a list of your haters or anything? Almost kinda like a hit list, but not a hit list list like we have. We know our haters, a little sticky notes and put them on the door so we know who are haters are and we can take them off when the people who loves us the most.
Oh my goodness. I don’t know. Listen, not everyone’s rooting for you to win. Okay. Let, let’s be honest. So you just kind of surround yourself with people who really do want to succeed and, and typically in my opinion that’s going to be a, you know, my staff. Oh, gladiators, right? Because we’re, we’re in the same boat. We’re all rowing the same direction. You know, all our, our, our wagons are hitched the same star. So I know that they’ve got my best interest in mind again because it’s a cumulative effort. So I’m not always going to trust people who say, oh, the wonderful things about you. Listen that I don’t know you gotTa have your own compass. That’s all I have to say. You’ve got to have your own compass.
Well, so 22 years of industry experience, bad insurance agent for as long have you been doing for the last 22 years.
What haven’t I been doing? I mean, I got to say my dad is an insurance agent. So I became an insurance agent. My mother’s a teacher. My sister became a teacher, right? So, uh, I know, I know it was kind of born into it. No. So after I graduated from college with a business management degree and right after I graduated, I started in the insurance business as an adjuster. So I was a person to, you know, settle claims. Um, I was a national catastrophe adjuster. So, you know, all, you know, when bad things happen there, they’re special adjusters that handle those types of claims. Uh, you know, you’re heavy, your severe types of claims that I did that and then I was a consultant for a couple of different insurance companies, but I will, it will remain nameless and now they’re there. They’re all great. So I played concert, a consultant role for probably over 400 to 450 insurance agents across the country, so, you know, and then I worked for my father for six years and really, you know, to say old, I mean day in, day out. Um, so I’ve been doing this for a really long time, but you’re right, I opened my agency, I actually purchased a farmer’s insurance agency, uh, on March one of 2018. So it is relatively new being, you know, the name on the marquee?
Yeah, well it’s new, but it’s definitely becoming more established. I feel like daily. I mean you’ve already heard how many people.
Oh Gosh. Okay. So just about 10 minutes ago, I extended an offer to a candidate and she will be my fifth employee. That’s a big deal. I know for people who are listening, you’re like, what’s the big deal? You know, some companies have hundreds of and they’re still considered small business ride, but in the insurance world and the agency world anyway, you know, a staff of five is, is massive. I mean, now there are a few agents out there who do have staffs of, you know, 12, 13, you know, those are few and far between. So it’s a big deal to me. Yeah. Yeah. I got, I got me an army,
have a large agency, no, absolutely efficient people and have a very well established agency but established. But you’re not doing this because you’re established, you’re looking to grow, right?
Absolutely. I mean that’s the name of the game. Uh, my. So let’s just say with a fifth person bringing on four out of the five are focused on new business growth. That really is their primary focus. So I have one that is about retention and in really making sure that what I, what I purchased my investment, right? Essentially what it is and the investment is being well taken care of. Um, so yeah, it’s a big staff. We’re focused on growth and controlled growth, right? We want to, we want to grow the right way because there is a difference, you know, you can turn and burn policies, um, but, or you can be, in my opinion, very responsible about I want to write good quality business and I want to do it the right way so that it stays with me because that’s how I make my money. We get paid commissions and it’s a renewal business and new, um, you know, the more successful financially we are.
So let’s talk about this, this business strategy here because honestly, when I talked to you last time and it’s something that is not as unique in the industry. I mean, I said that wrong. I said that wrong, unique than I’ve ever heard any agency grow. And so I want you to tell us a little bit about what you’re doing, why it makes you so unique and why your employees are so unique and just, just overall strategy. Why, why is it? Sorry.
Absolutely. So my agency, I built my agency on the foundation of two principles, transparency and communication. Those are going to help me become a successful agent. And so let me explain to you what I view transparency be. My staff knows exactly how much I make. They know how much the agency makes. They know how much commissions on each Paul
generate. Let’s stop right there. Sure. A lot of people would tell they would tell you that you are crazy. Like that is, that is, that’s not good. So what, what’s your, what’s your response to that?
How can it be crazy? There has to be a level of trust. So my staff, every morning they wake up and they decide that they want to work through the Melissa Bancard farmer’s insurance agency is, it’s a decision they make every morning. Um, so for me, I’ve got to earn that. And if I am transparent as to the direction I want to take my agency and truly bring them in so that they’re making decisions and they’re out there battling and concrete for the agency, they know why. They know, just like we have a state of the union, right? We have a team meeting, we have a state of the agency. They know exactly how much is being brought in a. They know how much it costs to keep the lights on every month. Um, you know, they know how much my take on it is in. I do it because I need them to understand these are the reasons why I’m making the decisions I’m making, right? This is why I’m bringing on a fifth person. This is why we’re spending this much on marketing. This is why we may not pay for, you know, this event because we need to have more money for this. And there’s a limited amount of money when you run a business, right? I mean, it’s not, it’s not, it’s not. It’s a finite amount.
So, so with that being said, I, I believe there’s a trust factor between employer and employee and I believe that they will want to have this agency success if they know the big picture. And in a lot of that is I don’t, I do not have fear of them knowing how much I make. I take it off the table. I’m done. I know a lot of agents who are like, oh my goodness, I’m afraid. I think the reason, one of the reasons why they fear that if they feel their staff may feel a sense of jealousy or they may feel resentment, my response as I think you got the wrong people in their team, if you have feel that way towards your success, I think you’ve got the wrong people. That’s, that’s it. And the second thing is communication, right? So, uh, I don’t make any hiring decisions without my staff truly been about 90 percent of the decisions made because of the team. And basically I’m just like, Hey, I agree with that. Or you know, I’m going to override this, but they have, I have no problem. Had been to every single email that comes into my inbox. I really don’t. In fact, the more they know, the stronger they become as a, as a warrior two on this army of, of team I’ve, I’ve recruited.
So you think they’re going to use that against you?
Why? Why would they? They’re ultimately, if we’re, if we’re all looking and trying to row in the same direction, we’re trying to get in the same place, which is I want them to have a lot of success financially for them and their family. And the way to do that is to have the agency have success. So I, my personal, my personality is, one is I’m on a trust, trust for us until you give me a reason not to, but that’s just who I am. And I feel comfortable with that. That’s not obviously everybody. You’re not interview those people.
So I feel good about that. I mean, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you one extreme staff. Uh, she has the ability to sign checks from my, one of my business accounts. I have complete faith and trust in my staff because I think that I’m going to give it to them until they tell me. They gave me an example that it’s not earned. So, you know, I come in every day, um, I don’t show up at 8:30 everyday and it’s okay with them. They’re like, hey, you do you, you’re the face of the agency. You’re the voice, you’re the name on the marquee, right? Um, we do our part. You do your part and then we’re all going to high five. I’m in the zone.
No Pun intended.
Yes. You’re building it on transparency. How do you feel or what do you know about how that translates over to the customer experience?
I do believe that the more transparent I am, the more knowledge they have, the better service and a better customer experience the end user, the policy holder will have. Right? So every decision I make, I have to come. I have to answer these questions. Is it good for our policyholders? Yes it is. Is it good for my staff? Yes it is. Is it good for the company? Yes, it is. Then ultimately I’m going to be good for me as the agent and ultimately the agency, but when they would have questions, there is no fear that they have to hide anything or if I’m transparent with them, I feel that they’re going to be transparent with our clients and that’s critical. They have to be able to to be a trusted professional to our policy holders because our policy holders are trusting us with some of the biggest assets they own their home, their car, their life, their business. So it is a culture and it bleeds through every, every aspect of my agency.
So one thing that I believe you tell me if I’m wrong or right, we all have our opinions, but one of the things a lot of people say is keep your personal life separate from your business life. And I just think that is kind of a joke. I don’t know how you can do that all the way you live your life outside is, is how it’s going to be reflected in the, in the business as well. What, what do you think about that?
And so like on my facebook I have, I have one facebook, it is and I do videos everyday. It’s about Melissa with farmer’s insurance agent. It’s my agency is a large part of who I am personally. So I know now I know there’s agents out there who wouldn’t friend their staff right there. I don’t want them doing this and this. My staff knows exactly. They know when I’ve got an appointment to do my lashes, they know when that is, you know, they know. And so I can’t take the personal. For me, I don’t feel like that’s being my authentic self in portraying Koann because when you meet me in person, you should have the same person who you saw on the video. I mean, it really is who I am. And when my staff describes me to our policy holders who may not meet me everyday, they have a really full, full spectrum picture of who I am because not only do they see me everyday, but they see my videos everyday and they’re like, yeah, that’s congruent to who you’re gonna meet.
This is our agent. Um, and I think they take a lot of pride and personal interest in the fact that, that, you know, this really is my life. I mean, in, in my content. You mean, you know, you meet my children. Um, you know, you hear about my staff, you hear about, I’m posting one today about. I went to a dry cleaners. I mean, this is actually my dry cleaning. You’ve seen me do it, so I’m with you. I think there is no, not, not in today’s world. I think people really want to see everything about how, you know, how I run my agency. I think it helps them put a good picture, you know, who I really am and who they’re, who they’re entrusting their policies with their business.
Yeah, definitely. So I know that you, you own the agency, but honestly, I feel like a selfie video business because you’re doing so many videos. So how are you spending a day on videos?
Uh, I probably spend less than about 20 minutes,
my goodness. And producing them as well.
So I, I create, you know, I have the right child, I create all my ideas. They’re just, they’re my ridiculous ideas. I take full responsibility on the silliness of the all. Uh, I, I filmed them, I edit them, you know, I do all the posting on the different channels in different mediums. It’s one man. I’m a one man. Media Mogul.
How has that been for you?
Oh my gosh, let me tell you something. It’s, it’s insane. I posted something a couple days ago and I didn’t know everyone didn’t see this, but on Linkedin I can see how many views a video gets. Well, I, one of my videos has almost 78,000 views.
Yeah. I’m not Kim Kardashian.
Okay. Does that million stuff. But for little insurance, that’s, you know, to me, Hulu to watch me as an intern, they did. I don’t know, but apparently I guess it’s, you know, people do they want to see him. I don’t know why, but, and I’ll just keep doing them and listen as long as you know, if I get the viewership of 10, that’s it. That’s encouraging. Not to do another one. I guess I’m easily pleased in my view in my, uh, my viewership numbers, you know.
Well, one of the, one of the ones that I really liked was when you went to costco and you talked about the employees possibly hiding or taking credit card. You got to tell us a little bit more about that.
Kylie’s. So, uh, so how, how that came about is I had taken a snapshot or a screenshot essentially of my, my credit card on my phone and I texted him again, part of the transparency, right? I texted my, this is how much it was, like, I’ll tell you right now is got $6,000 a, texted it and do all my staff. What’s the best part about it was. And I think my caption was, oh my goodness, I think my credit card is like, it’s like it’s been tiered and they were like, you need to stop charging stuff. They, they felt a sense of protection of, you know, hey, this is a sense of ownership. Like, Hey, are we okay? Are we where you need, you need to cut back. They were, they were very considerate of the fact that what this means to the agency, they want to have a healthy agency, right?
Because they work here. They want to make sure that the lights will continue to on an everyday. But um, so yeah, so that was, I send them that and then they’re like, what are you, what are you doing? I had spent a lot of money on some swag, I just, I had to spend it. It was so fantastic. And go to Costco. I do. So I’ve got like a 15 boxes into my war room right now with stuff that I probably don’t even need. And by the way, there’s some dog treats that are the cutest things. Milk bones on their of bankers, insurance agency, the cutest thing ever. Yeah. So then I had to go away some treats go into costco and I did a video saying that I had gotten texts, like stop buying stuff. You need to cut it out and I kid you not.
When I walked into the office, Cheryl, who is my most senior person, she actually, I inherited her when I, when I bought the agency was a deal when she must stay on, um, she’s like, give me like, give me a credit card. You just need a, we cut you off, this is too much. You’re just too much. You’re out of control. So yeah, there, um, I, I liked the fact that I have people who are looking out for the, the overall healthiness of my agency despite myself. Um, so yeah, I get what I think is funny to me is I’ll go someplace and I’m actually, I’ll get recognized by somebody like, oh my gosh, I saw your stuff. I love it. And they’ll refer to an episode that they saw and I’m like, that’s crazy. How awesome is that? They’re like, do you remember that one where you’re washing your face and talking about the movie. That’s why you can’t, you can’t open your eyes and wash your face when you were seven. You’re like telling you the story of what you have. The video. I did a 5:00 AM washing my face in front of the camera and I posted it up in the world. How nuts is that? That was awesome.
Yeah, that’s pretty neat. I want to switch gears for a second. Let’s talk about your kids for just a moment. What do they think about you starting up this business and doing all these crazy videos? I mean, do they think you’re the coolest mom ever or do they think I’ve got to hide my face? I don’t want to go to school.
Right, right. So I have three children. My oldest is 11, uh, my middle of seven and then the baby is too. So when I moved to Dallas it was always the intent of becoming a business owner. It was just, you know exactly what that looked like, wasn’t that so much. But so they always knew that I wanted to be a business owner and when I bought the agency I kinda sat them down and said, hey, this is what this, what we’re doing. I didn’t know then how involved I would be on social media before December 30, first of 2017. I’d never posted anything and didn’t know what a post was and what I explained to them, they’ll be doing some videos. They didn’t seem to care, you know, they’re like whatever. Um, it was a conscious decision to include them in very short snippets just to show people that I’m a working mother.
I mean, that’s a really big deal. I mean, it’s, I think it’s important because I, I, I did, I do create an agency that is very family friendly, you know, we’re available all hours because their parents are people who are, have crazy schedules and so we’re available and then I wanted to kind of convey that. So I’ll give you an example. I was doing a video in my seven year old, was kind of like monkeying around in the back and my oldest one says you got to leave on loan. She’s working and I’m doing this video like, but they know that that’s because we’ve talked about that and what does work mean? So it was like my staff, right? My, with my children is a lot of transparency, communication. Whereas this is what I’m doing, this is how we’re going to be marketing. Um, and, and they’re on board, you know, I had to get the, I got there by and even though they’re young, right? They understood that the video’s mean. It’s a way for me to get out of obscurity and into the world so people know what I do and eventually can one, you want me to be their insurance agent.
How do you balance all of that? You’ve got the work you’ve got being a mom. So how, how do you balance all of that and make that all work?
Without guilt? I, I’ll be honest, I do not feel guilty being a working mother. I, I, I’m very proud of what of where I’ve gotten. Um, and it is largely because of the support I have from my children, but like you mentioned, right? I think it’s hard to take away from the personal, from the professional. It’s, it seems very natural that this is part of everyday. I mean, I have an agency, I’m a mom. It’s mother’s do it every single day and I don’t find it to be unusual that I can balance. Everyone has things that they’ve got to balance. It just happens to be the miner family and work like most people. Um, so I, I, I go to the PTA meetings and I did. If I sit next to someone, I’ll certainly tell them I’m a farmer’s insurance agent.
Can I quote you? I’m not about that. There’s no shame in that at all. Hashtag shameless. Hashtag shameless. I’m putting that on everything I post for you. There you go. So let’s jump back into the insurance. So tell us a little bit about what products you offer and companies. I know that you’re for farmers, but do we also any other, other companies?
Alright, so farmers insurance. I write, you know, your auto, your home, your allies business. I mean I don’t see the standard stuff, but most people know how know we’re a, we’re a huge company, we’re a well known company. I’m very proud of, of the company I represent. I’m a former claims adjuster, so, you know, having a great claims experience and having a phenomenal claims team that supports every policy that I write. Uh, it makes me feel good. I liked the, I liked knowing that I sell a promise and the claims team is going to make good on that promise when, when that accident does happen. So
definitely. Do you also offer a business as well?
We do. We are. I actually have on staff a commercial specialist and that’s all she does. So, you know, dry cleaners, attorneys’ offices, dentists, um, know general liability, plumbers, you know, restaurants. We ensure all that. And uh, and I have someone on staff that does just that, so it’s nice to a specialist that I have a couple of them because she’s got 16 years experience and to me like if I were to have open heart surgery, I got to be honest, I’d like for someone to have at least tried a couple times before they try to work on me. So I like experience, so I like people who come to me and everyone who works at my agency has prior insurance experience.
Oh fantastic. So we’re about out of time, but I told you that we were wanting to, to ask five key takeaways and hockey takeaways for our listeners. Maybe life, business insurance. What would those be?
Yeah, so I’ll tell you, number one, what if I had two pieces of information on and I get to my children and it’s, this is, you know, follow your heart and be brave and it sounds silly and Corny, but it really is tough to be brave. I mean, let me tell you, when I put the Hashtag just hit record,
I, I’m, I’m petrified. Every single time I hit the record button, I am, I am a shy person.
I am, I’m, I’m petting me. Everyone in my staff knows that, oh my God. Hi. I’m okay with one on one and you know, it’s funny that this is going to be listened to by people. Maybe I’m pretty big in India. People living in India, I don’t know why, but I get emails from them all the time and, but, but it is, you know, you gotta be brave. You gotta follow your heart. I knew that business ownership was something that was just part of who I had to be. Um, so the other thing is market to your staff every single day, every day. Know that they’ve trusted you as, as an employer. And it take that very seriously. I do every morning I think, what can I do so that my staff says I made the right decision and working for her. I know. So the other thing is, again, I, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do what I do. I feel good about it. I wasn’t transparent and, and believed in a lot of communication. I just think it’s critical. Here’s the thing, don’t be afraid to go broke.
It is. Let me tell you I, I probably spend more money than, than I should on things that I do believe. Eventually my future self will thank me later. My future self will thank me for the decisions I make today. And what’s she saying is don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. You’re the best risk we got. You know, I, I made a decision, a decision to hire employee number five and I’m actually looking for employee number six. Can I afford it? Five or six? Not. But guess what? It is something that I’m thinking when you find, when you come across a Unicorn, don’t let that. Don’t let that go because that’s not an everyday thing. Great staff, great people to yourself with to build essentially your empire, your legacy, you know, your business. When you find them and you recognize that they’re awesome, bring them onboard, do everything you possibly can to afford that person because I think it my opinion it will, it will benefit you 10 times over and it’s just, I dunno, I truly believe in, in hiring great people and then I will pay them. Now. I joke, I, you know, they don’t give me enough, but uh, I pay my people. Well, in fact I feel comfortable saying that I pay between 30 to 60 percent above market value. I do. And it is and it just, to me it shows, I believe in people who have the same vision and passion for what they do. Like I like, I do honor, those are five, but I feel pretty good with those. All right, good enough.
So if anyone wants to find a little bit more about you, what are the best ways to, to reach you and your staff?
So, uh, I’m actually, I’m at, I like to market myself as a Texas insurance agent. I ride anywhere across, uh, the great state of Texas. So you can find me a, my actual physical location is in Dallas, fort worth in a town called Richardson, but you could find me under Melissa bankers on facebook. You can find me. Melissa, bankers insurance on instagram. Melissa Bankert on Linkedin. I Have Melissa. I think it’s almost a bankers on youtube. You’re going to have to try real hard not to find me. I’m going to hunt you down somewhere if I’m not finding you. I’ve done something wrong. So my number is nine, seven, two, seven, six, seven, nine, three, three, three. But nobody calls. I’m getting instagram messages.
No one’s calling anymore. They’re going to now google you.
Yes. Let me tell you, I, I sold a piece. I sold a policy to a 17 year old because he found me on instagram. You’re not crazy on instagram. And I wrote his landscaping business. That’s insane. How about that? How about that for the world we’re living in today?
That that is. But it works. So we won’t blind Willie.
Oh No. We will not know everyone that’s cash that commission check. You know, I will as well.
I am so thankful that you’re on today. I hope anyone who is listening this put a little more pep into your step today. If not, then there’s probably a problem and we’ll we’ll talk about that later, but want to make sure that everyone subscribes to the podcast, the high five podcasts, and also gives us a review. Give us a review of your thoughts on Melissa banker. We would love it, and then also don’t forget if you are looking for insurance quotes that don’t sting checkout bing.com and you can find Melissa Bankert on bing.com. If you click get a quote, type in her name and you will find her shining face there with her videos as well. Thank you again and we will talk to you soon.
Find Melissa Bankard Farmer’s Insurance Agency: https://agents.farmers.com/tx/richardson/melissa-bankard
Find Melissa’s BriteBee Profile: https://app.britebee.com/agents/melissa_bankard_89
Find Melissa on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaBankardInsurance/
Find Melissa on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissabankardinsurance/?hl=en
Find Melissa on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-bankard-5b94b757/
Find Melissa on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuJo4lc-Eoy8tZjHozqaBIg/featured