Peter Vitale has a passion for the insurance industry. A native of Michigan, Peter Vitale has spent his entire career helping individuals and businesses get the most for their money. A graduate of Oakland University, Vitale began his career as an Insurance Sales Agent. He moved quickly to be the top agent in his company and winning multiple awards.
Today, Peter Vitale is the Owner of the Bloomfield Insurance Group in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He divides his time between managing the agency and insurance consulting. When Vitale is not working, he’s actively involved in community affairs. Vitale sits on the Board of the Eastern Michigan Better Business Bureau.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Peter Vitale about the insurance industry. He delves into why he prefers insurance consulting to sales and what he sees coming in the near future to the insurance industry. Here’s what he had to say:
You describe your job now as an insurance consultant. How does this differ from being an insurance agent and why did you make the change?
As an insurance consultant, my job is to garner success on behalf of my clients. It takes a multi-faceted approach to maximize success on all fronts, from marketing to staffing. Developing a strategic growth plan for an insurance company requires looking at all facets of the company currently in play. It requires me to figure out how to streamline operations, increase profit, generate loyal consumer bases, and set up the infrastructure needed for the company to function successfully.
I decided to switch from strictly sales to consulting because I felt I could make more of an impact. I wanted to influence the entire industry for the better and make it healthier, as opposed to just selling a product.
You seem to pack a lot into your work day. What does the typical day look like for you?
Every day is different in my job. That’s one of the things I like best about it. However, there are a few tasks that I make sure to accomplish on a daily basis. I try to make progress to resolve client concerns, champion client success and get closer to long-term goals. This can include recruiting staff members, training, and providing ongoing training support to insurance companies. This can also include longer-term planning, development of strategies, and oversight of marketing plans.
As an entrepreneur, consultant, and overall busy professional, I rely on task management apps throughout the day to keep me organized. These apps make sure that I don’t drop the proverbial ball on anything. I also make a point of finding an hour somewhere in the day to spend quietly meditating or reading something that isn’t directly related to insurance. I find that refreshes me and allows me to get more accomplished.
What do you tell consumers on how to get the best insurance coverage possible for the best rates?
This is what everyone wants to know, right? How to get the most for your money with any purchase. Insurance is all about relationships. While you can buy insurance from your computer, your computer isn’t going to tell you that you need more liability coverage. It wont notify you that you’re paying for features in your auto insurance that you’ll never use. The best thing you can do for your insurance portfolio is to find a good agent that you can connect with. Then, trust him or her.
What do you see as being more important for an insurance agency — customer service or sales?
This is kind of the business version of the chicken and the egg problem. Without sales, you don’t have a company, but without customer service, you don’t have any customers to sell to. While many insurance agents and agency owners want to take on as many clients as physically possible, I believe this strategy to inevitably yield negative results and client feedback. By focusing solely on the number of clients represented, insurance agents and agency owners may be sacrificing the quality of customer service they offer. Without enough staff to successfully support the needs of a growing customer base, customers may be left with unresolved questions, procedures that are unfinished, and an overall lackluster experience. So, I have to weigh in on the customer service side of the question.
What changes do you see on the horizon for the property and casualty insurance industry in the next few years?
This is an exciting time for the insurance industry. We’ve been a little slower than some industries to fully embrace new technology. Advances in artificial intelligence, the internet of things and drones are set to revolutionize the industry.
Some companies are already using drones to assess properties for underwriting. They also view damage in areas that are unreachable for days after a natural disaster. Chatbots are making insurance companies available to consumers 24/7. While they will never replace the human agent, they can answer a whole range of commonly-asked questions and help customers check the status of their claims. Lastly, I see more and more customized insurance policies using data from things like devices in cars that report on a customer’s mileage and driving habits.”
What advice would you give to someone just starting in the insurance business?
As a consultant, I’m asked this question a lot. The advice I give most frequently is to remember that the only thing that matters is hard work. I tell new agents and agency owners not to waste time trying to be what other people want you to be. Just hustle, and you will reach your dreams faster than you ever thought imaginable. Don’t be afraid of failure. Fail frequently, but learn from each failure. Finally, trust your gut. Don’t try to make something work because someone else wants it to work.
What do you think most insurance agencies should do better?
First, I applaud small business owners, including insurance agency owners, for persevering in this challenging pandemic environment. However, I think most insurance agencies could benefit from focusing on a couple of areas. I think the best thing agency owners and managers can do is assemble a ‘rock star team’. With a powerhouse team, entrepreneurs can achieve growth. They can sustain growth and successfully implement changes that trickle down from the proverbial top. This is a crucial element to success, more important than garnering a large client or customer base. After all, how can you deliver a positive experience for a growing client base without the operational capacity to handle this growth?
Secondly, I think agencies need to embrace digital technology and use the increasing number of digital tools to make their jobs easier and to better connect with their customers. In today’s fast-paced world, everything seemingly relies on shortcuts. It’s easy to feel as though you’re left out on your own to do research, choose a product, purchase a product or service, and then be stuck with that decision. That’s where I try to help agencies, to find the resources they need to succeed.
We hear you’re a reader. What books that you’ve read recently would you recommend?
I read mostly non-fiction books, books on general business topics and those specific to the insurance industry. I strongly believe in the tenet that ‘readers are leaders’. It really helps me to get different perspectives. As for books that I’d recommend, I’ve found Jim Collins’ “Good To Great” to be very enjoyable, educational, and inspirational. In the book, Collins delves into the importance of mastering basic principles of leadership, and the proverbial fundamentals. Without mastery of the basics, high-level executives and business professionals cannot succeed on their own. Collins’ methods of diving into the examination of how fundamental principles impact success on a long-term basis are brilliant and effective for anyone looking to embark on a professional journey.