SUMMARY: Fort Myers Insurance Agency, Culbertson Agency, announces their three year anniversary as well as the “unrealistic” accomplishments they've made since September 2010.
FORT MYERS, FL — September 5, 2013 — Three years ago, husband and wife entrepreneurs Brian and Karen Culbertson and recently married agents David and Kristen Cantoni opened the Culbertson Allstate Insurance Agency in Fort Myers. As a scratch agency, they started with no customers, no accounts and no revenue. Since then their Fort Myers insurance office has become the top producing property and casualty Allstate location in the state of Florida.
“If your goals and dreams don’t make others laugh and shake their head, then they’re not big enough” says agency owner Brian Culbertson. “I can clearly remember while going through training telling one of the corporate field leaders for Allstate that we expected to grow to 5,000 policies by our five year anniversary … they just laughed and told me I should set more realistic expectations. They even made me change my business proposal to more realisticlevels before they would approve my request to become an exclusive Allstate agency owner.”
In the three years since that time, the Culbertson Agency has already grown to over 8,800 policies; exceeding what anyone thought possible including the Culbertson’s themselves. They’ve exceeded that unrealistic five year goal in just three years and have now set another improbable goal to be at 20,000 policies by their five year anniversary in 2015.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you …in our office culture, this motto isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing” declares Culbertson. “We have applied this filter to every decision and every aspect of how we conduct business.” Culbertson says he gets this motto from a verse in the Bible (Luke 6:31) and includes it on the back of the agencies business cards as a continuous reminder to his team and their customers. “Our culture is authentic and is bought into by everyone in our organization.” In late 2012, they coined the phrase 631 Culture and began to share and consult with other Allstate agents across the country who wants to instill this same system in their agency.
Not only are they growing quickly, they are keeping their new customers. Insurance agencies closely monitor the retention of their policies, with anything above 85% retention considered exceptional. The Culbertson Agency currently retains an unprecedented 94% of their customers on a twelve month moving average. “If you’re losing as many customers out the back door as you’re gaining coming in the front door, there’s a problem” says Culbertson who believes their customers stay with them because they purposely do things different.
Culbertson recently posted on their agency Facebook page “one of the best things I’ve done in my small business was to hire people who make up for my weaknesses.” The agency has seen very little turnover of staff, which they credit for their high customer satisfaction and retention results. “When an agency is constantly turning over staff, the customer never gets to talk to the same person when they call, it can be very frustrating” insists Culbertson “and it’s not only frustrating for the customer, but for the team members who are left behind to clean up the mess from the resigned or terminated employee.”
To avoid turnover the Culbertson Agency has, to this point, chosen to hire those they have an existing relationship with. “Everyone here is connected in some way … we all are related or have known each other in a former life … that’s made all the difference in the world.” Their first formal hire was Scott Ehrenfeld, who used to work with Brian and Karen Culbertson in the mortgage business as a real estate appraiser. Kristen Cain Cantoni, who happens to be Culbertson’s niece, met David Cantoni while taking their insurance licensing class together and were later married in 2013 in a ceremony officiated by Brian Culbertson. Each person in the agency has a story to tell on how they are interconnected to the rest of the team.
The Culbertson Agency is a different kind of insurance agency and it is apparent the moment you step into their lobby which is adorned with contemporary art by Matlacha native Leoma Lovegrove and local tattoo artist Andy Howl. They’ll often wear jeans and t-shirts to work from their non-profit sister company SaltTee. You’ll here modern rock playing throughout the office and they give back generously to the community both locally and across the globe. Several of the agents have gone with Culbertson to the Dominican Republic on mission trips to feed and serve impoverished children in the small community of Hato del Yaque. Karen Culbertson says “the brand that we present has a different feel, we are purposely trying to do things differently and that transfers over to our customers.”
Unlike most insurance agencies, none of the team member’s work on commission, choosing instead for their salaries to grow as the agency grows. The brand you get is one where everyone in the organization thinks and acts like an owner. Although they all play different roles, none seem to be considered more or less important than the other. Culbertson states “if you put individuals in a motivational environment, and get self-motivated people, you don’t have to motivate them, offer incentives or commission.”
On a recent presentation Culbertson was giving to other Allstate agents he stated “Our team is at the center of everything we do ... they are people not units of production and we treat them like family. Our customers are at the center of everything our team does ... they are people not revenue units, and our team treats them like family.” Brian and his team firmly believe that if they help enough people, and treat everyone like family they’ll continue in the success they've experienced over these past three years.