Partner XE has the scalability we need, and SIS brought the attention to detail required for the move and transition… We couldn’t have gotten here without the help of the SIS team.
Neverman Insurance Agency
- Based in Westlake, OH
- Founded in 1979 by Jeff Neverman
- Provide Home, Auto, Commercial, Life, and Disability & Long Term Care
When John Horvath took over Neverman Insurance in January 2016, he inherited a thriving agency with strong community connections. Since 1979, his father in law Jeff Neverman had built relationships, grown his business, and transitioned Neverman to SIS and Partner XE. When John stepped in, he saw a potential for more growth. Leaning on the SIS support team, he helped his staff maximize Partner XE’s capabilities and streamline their agency operations.
We sat down with John to talk about how the SIS/Neverman partnership has grown through the years. Excerpts of our conversation are below.
We’re based out of Westlake, Ohio and are known as a family organization with a strong investment in our clients. We put a lot of emphasis on interacting with the Westlake community. We’re heavily involved with the Westlake school systems and sports teams. Community has always been a big part of what we do.
And we’ve been able to keep those roots – those connections – while adapting to change. The insurance industry continues to evolve, and we’ve done a great job keeping up with technology and how we interact with our clients. That contributes to a real ease of doing business. That’s what we hear from our clients.
I know everybody says service, but we’ve been testing that out recently. We’re working with a company called Ask Nicely to know our net promoter score. It amazes me the feedback we’re getting. Our clients have praised our service and attention to detail. That’s why people stay with us, I think. And we’re pretty happy about that. We feel like we’ve built a good reputation over the years.
Part of being a family business is the connection we have with our clients. We’ve had a lot of people working here for many years, with the same clients and their families. We don’t have much turnover. Our CSRs know their clients and know them well.
Those close connections mean we can keep an eye on our clients and make sure people are getting the attention they need. I’ve worked at large organizations where you’re trying to do sales support for too many clients. You’re getting passed around to different people every time you come in or getting passed around via email. As a customer, that gets frustrating. As a small family business, we can keep the personal touch, making everyone feels like they’re important. Because they are.
My wife and I took over the agency back in January 2016. My main role is to be the point person on, well, everything! Making sure the agency runs smoothly– the operations, managing the office. One great thing is that my father-in-law (and agency founder) Jeff Neverman has stayed on to work with our commercial clients. Jeff has been great in helping me transition, introducing me to the clients he’s had a relationship with for years.
One area I’m working on is increasing our understanding and use of the great time-saving, efficiency-building tools we have but aren’t utilizing. My goal has been to steer us in the right direction, to be more efficient, and still keep that personal touch.
We switched to SIS a little over six years ago as one of the early adopters. Our previous system was with one of the big-name providers and was server-based here in the office. So, everything had to be backed up, and we had to change out drives and tapes pretty often. We were looking for a truly a cloud-based solution to get us off of that bulky, somewhat antiquated system.
I can’t take credit for making the move to SIS and Partner XE. My father- in-law Jeff and my wife, Becky, did their due diligence to find the best solution for us. A lot of their research came from talking to other agents. The more they spoke with people about SIS and Partner XE, the more it made sense as a solution for Neverman
Partner XE has the scalability we need, and SIS brought the attention to detail required for the move and transition. That was the biggest piece. Moving from a non-cloud based solution to a cloud-based solution, they knew there’d be a lot of hurdles. The SIS team made it very easy to make the move.
Everything was well spelled out: what needed to be done on our end to make things move smoothly was very clear. That makes things easier for us. We could set expectations for everyone in our office, and watch out for potential trouble spots. And the timeline was set up realistically. It wasn’t overly aggressive and didn’t seem padded.
One thing we tried to do was clean up our data before we moved it over. We knew if we put garbage in our system, we’d get garbage out. The SIS team was great in working with us to make that happen. Most of the data moved pretty seamlessly, even with it going from non-cloud based to cloud-based. So that was another good piece.
The support was also awesome. We got the attention we needed from a dedicated team. We had our own account manager, we knew them, and they answered all our questions throughout the transition. That was a big selling piece: that support. We wouldn’t just be a ticket number. We actually had people to contact.
When I took over the agency, I wanted to make sure we were using our management system to its capacity. Everything was working fine, we had no issues, but I knew we could do more with what we had. So, I called up our account manager, Luke Purnell. He came up to Westlake and did in-person training with my staff, showing us how to maximize the system.
During our training, I showed Luke our workflows and asked him for suggestions to improve them. He showed me how to create, run, and customize reports, saving me a ton of time searching for the information I needed. That one-on-one attention was amazing. To have someone willing to drive up and spend time working with us speaks to SIS’s company culture.
As I mentioned earlier, we did a decent job of cleaning up our information in our old system before transferring it. But, there was still some data that should have been purged years ago: customers we made inactive and pretended weren’t there. One thing I wanted to do was target these past customers, most of which had left because of the price. We have different carriers now, and some of our carrier’s programs have changed, so I wanted to go back to those customers.
In looking through our system, we found about 9,000 of these inactive customers. That’s a daunting figure to clean up! Well, (our account manager) Luke has stepped in and, along with other SIS support team personnel, has helped take control of how we can do this quickly. A lot of the back-end work is being taken care of by SIS. That’s saving us a ton of time. I don’t think we would be able to do this without their help.
For a while it seemed every time we get something straight, I realized we needed to figure out something else. Luke has been there to help with all of it. We’re finally at a point where our system is, I think, completely clean. Everything’s accurate. We couldn’t have gotten here without the help of the SIS team.
I did some research on comparative raters recently, and many raters also have their own management system. They were usually trying to sell me on those at the same time. I wasn’t interested in making a move, but I listened anyway. There was nothing there to convince me. Other systems may have a few more bells and whistles than Partner XE, making them look like they can do more. To me, I don’t care how it looks; I care how it functions. Partner XE gets the job done for us.
And the price is right. I’ve talked with some agencies interested in Partner XE, and the first thing people ask me about is cost. We’re in the same industry, and they want to know. I tell them you get a great rate and a stable system that does probably 95% of what you want and the other 5% are in the works. I know SIS is constantly working with us to add to the system. I know what’s coming down the pipeline and that 5% will be there in the next 2-5 years. It’s an intuitive system, and easy to learn. For what we do here I think it’s a perfect fit.
One I spoke to Luke about recently is an agency portal. This is something I was looking for to improve our customer experience. Giving customers the ability to access their information online will be huge.
The other thing I know is in your pipeline is tighter integration with raters. Right now you can export/import, which works, but I think a true integration with a rater will be a huge time saver.
We use carrier downloads all the time. It works pretty seamlessly, updating on a regular, nightly basis. I know that’s a standard feature, but the fact that it’s reliable makes a difference. Same with creating certificates; we have a pretty good workflow going, and we can easily make changes to policies in the system.
As an owner, what I use the most is the mobile app. When someone calls in on the weekends, my cellphone is on the line. When I get a call, I’m able to pull up the mobile app, take a look at their policy and answer their questions pretty quickly. That saved me a bunch of times. It’s able to provide an answer to our customer quickly, giving them peace of mind. That right there allows us to keep up a great connection with our customers.
Being an owner, the first thing I’d talk about is the price. The cost alone begs you to take a look at SIS and Partner XE.
About a month ago, I fielded a referral for a Kentucky agency. They were using a competitor company and were thinking of changing systems, mostly based on price. Their main concern was, “What am I going to lose?” So, I asked what they were doing with their current system. We went down the list, and Partner XE covered everything. I told them, “This system does everything you do. It may do it differently, but it does everything you do. Why are you paying more? Seems like a no-brainer to me!” They were laughing and agreed.
Another concern they had was support. I asked about their current support system. They told me, “You fill in a ticket, and then you get into a pool. A lot of time issues aren’t addressed until you get enough tickets, or someone complains enough. It’s very slow. If things get in the pipeline, it can take 18 to 24 months to come to fruition.” Well, that shocked me. Some of the suggestions we’ve made to SIS were implemented in maybe 12 months. That time difference is a big deal. I find SIS is flexible enough to make the changes we need.
For an Ohio company, I think it’s a no-brainer, too. The SIS headquarters are right in the middle of the state. I’ve driven to a training, and it’s an easy day trip. And SIS is local here on Eastern Time. I think that makes a big difference, knowing the office is fully staffed and ready to help out when possible. I’d rather work with someone local than with some 800 number out on the West coast.
100% yes. The cost and the support alone – those two factors. In my opinion, if you’re looking at an agency management system those should be in your two main concerns. All owners should ask “What’s your support?”, “does the functionality work and fit into my workflow?”, and “what does it cost?” And I think SIS and Partner XE pass those tests with flying colors.