Founded in 2003, Brightway Insurance has become a leading national independent insurance retailer. The company’s focus on creating the “ideal customer experience” has resulted in an industry-leading customer retention rate of 93 percent and increasing growth. From 2010 to 2011, sales grew from $108 million to $168 million, and rose sharply to $257 million in 2012.
Talman Howard, President of Brightway Insurance, is a graduate of Mercer University and has been in the property and casualty business more than 25 years. He has worked for national carriers Liberty Mutual and Kemper, but primarily for Progressive. Talman held leadership roles in claims, product management, and distribution and served as a general manager and president. Talman joined Brightway as chief marketing officer in 2012 and became president in October 2013.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What incentives are you currently offering veterans who wish to become Brightway Insurance franchisees?
Talmand Howard (TH): Brightway currently offers 100 percent financing of the franchise fee for qualified veterans, compared to 50 percent for the general public.
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FC: What does it take to qualify for these incentives?
TH: This incentive is for honorably separated veterans who served on active duty in the armed forces.
FC: In your experience, why are military veterans good candidates for a Brightway Insurance franchise?
TH: Veterans have the integrity, desire, and work ethic to get any job done, including running a business. They have experience setting goals and understanding how to meet those goals in a timely, decisive manner.
FC: What are some unique aspects of the Brightway Insurance model that make it an attractive opportunity for those looking to invest in a franchise?
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TH: Brightway has a centralized, exceptional customer service model that allows owners/agents to focus on selling more customer policies for faster growth. In a typical agency, successful agents are bogged down by customer service needs as they attempt to grow business.
FC: What are the key success factors to running a profitable Brightway Insurance business?
TH: An owner operator must be willing to engage in the benefits of the franchise system — being comfortable networking in the local community and asking for customers’ business. Another method is an investor who is willing to take the time to identify and enable individuals that engage in the sales and marketing aspects of the business and who are willing to share the revenue necessary to establish the business.
FC: Can you tell us about your growth targets for the Brightway Insurance franchise system?
TH: Brightway has approximately 200,000 policyholders and 600 associates in more than 115 offices, and generates more than $300 million in annual sales. The company expects to reach $1 billion in annual sales by 2018.