Reginald Hawkins Makes His Startup Insurance Agency Personal
by Leo Adam Biga
Insurance as a Hedge in the Unstable Economy
In planning their life together, newlyweds Reginald and Angela Hawkins of Inglewood, Calif. decided to mesh their skill sets in a start-up business of their own.
He has years of market research and retail sales experience. She uses her business and management degrees as a County of Los Angeles human resources analyst.
“We’re pretty well off, but we still wanted another source of income coming in, especially in this economy,” says Reginald. “You want numerous revenue streams because you never know. Even the big companies, they take hits nowadays.
“And so with my sales background and her management experience, we did some research on what might be the best business for us to start, and we decided to go ahead with an insurance business.”
Insurance, after all, is a perennial with no shortage of potential customers.
The couple’s Red Tie Insurance Services specializes in home and life coverage. Their slogan, “We’re large enough to handle all your insurance needs, yet small enough to care,” reflects their personalized approach. He’s the licensed agent and she handles everything else, from marketing to bookkeeping.
“I knew what was missing in the business,” he says. “Nowadays they have all these online (insurance) websites doing the same thing. There’s no person really on the other end. When you call them, you’re just another number. When you call us, we treat you like you’re not a number. We call you by your name. We treat you not like you’re just another policy holder but like you’re a family member.
“It’s a family-based business and we want people to see there’s a family on the other end that’s taking of them and their family.”
It’s all about keeping things real.
“We’re mainly an online company but when it comes down to you signing the policy I go and meet with you face to face and you don’t get that much anymore these days,” says Hawkins. “With home insurance, I like to see the home. With life insurance, I want to be sitting across from the person because their life is the most precious thing.”
It’s All About the Leads
Years in sales taught Hawkins the importance of having solid new client leads. He culls prospects from hot leads providers, real estate open houses and networking events. “Another stream you never want to ignore is the cold call. It’s proven. And that’s where genie would have come into play,” he says. “But then there’s a service like Infofree.com out there that does the same thing genie does, only better, and with a brighter future because of all the new features they’re adding, and at a much more affordable rate. Genie can be $250 a month. Infofree is giving me the same thing at $49.95 a month, so for a small business it’s easy to do the math.”
“InfoFree is our sole cold call provider,” he says. “It’s serving its purpose of allowing us to reach a bigger market (all of L.A. County) at an affordable rate, and it’s providing us with quite a few homeowner customers. That’s what I’m primarily using it for. And now they have lists of people turning age 55 and that’s great because we also sell life insurance, so we know who’s getting ready for life insurance and I can contact them. InfoFree has produced some leads that have turned into clients for us. They’ve already saved us money and made us money, so we’re very satisfied.”
If Red Tie becomes the franchise Hawkins envisions, he says Infofree will be along for the ride.