Allstate agency owners are the individuals our customers seek out in times of challenge. They are small business owners who play an outsized role in their communities, dedicating their knowledge and resources to making life better across America.
Owning an Allstate agency is one of the best small business opportunities in America and an important part of our value chain. Customer surveys clearly demonstrate that frequent, positive interaction with Allstate’s agency owners is the most important driver of satisfaction.
Agency owners form the basis of our reputation. To help enhance our reputation, Allstate has a goal to support and enable agency owners to serve as reliable and trusted advisors within their communities. We do this by providing them with the resources they need to become actively engaged.
Because agency owners and financial specialists are independent contractors who run their own businesses, it is critical that we maintain close ties with them. By doing so, we protect our vital connection to the market. To this end, we constantly seek open dialogue and feedback from our agency owners through forums, boards, surveys and other groups.
Engaging Agencies through Feedback
National Advisory Board
We facilitate dialogue among company leadership, agency owners and financial specialists through the National Advisory Board (NAB). The NAB consists of nearly 90 agency owners and financial specialists, representing nearly every state. Through the NAB, they voice issues and create solutions for the agency system. They also serve to strengthen the relationship between Allstate and the agency force. To this end, the NAB convenes Allstate leadership, agency owners and financial specialists throughout the year to discuss how Allstate’s decision-making will impact their businesses and customer satisfaction.
Agency Executive Council
In 2008, we formed the Agency Executive Council (AEC). Its mission is to collect input from agency owner thought leaders on Allstate’s strategy to better serve customers, while ensuring a profitable sales model for Allstate and Allstate agencies. The AEC is actively engaged in helping Allstate to promote agency ownership as one of the best small business opportunities in America.
Pioneer Technology Agencies Group
Technology continues to transform the business landscape, and these developments bring great benefit to agency offices and the customer experience. The Pioneer Technology Agencies (PTA) group consists of agency owners and financial specialists who convene to provide insight into how technological advances and initiatives impact agency operations. They do this by testing and providing feedback on key technology initiatives. This helps Allstate increase speed to market, minimize agency operational disruption and improve adoption of technology and processes.
Agency Relationship Survey
Allstate’s Agency Relationship Survey (ARS), conducted every fall, offers Allstate insight into the engagement, satisfaction, challenges and concerns of agency owners, financial specialists and independent agents. The purpose of the survey is to identify actionable opportunities to build Allstate’s relationship with the individuals who represent Allstate in their communities.
Despite challenges trending within the insurance industry, the 2015 ARS illustrates the strong and healthy relationship Allstate shares with agency owners and financial specialists. Agency owners are proud to represent Allstate (87 percent favorable). In particular, the support they receive from Allstate’s claims support and field sales leaders were given the most positive scores.
“Thanks for allowing me to protect my community by doing more than selling insurance. Through programs like #GetThereSafe I’m happy to help teens understand that driving a car means taking responsibility for themselves and others on the road.” Agency Owner, Susan Gilmore-Layton (New Jersey)
“Like a lot of people, I was oblivious as to why victims of domestic violence simply don't leave. Through Purple Purse, I now understand the number one reason domestic violence survivors stay in or return to an abusive relationship is [that] they don't have the financial resources to break free. Our agency is proud to help these women start a new life.” Agency Owner, Jon Boulware (California)
Supporting the Best Small Business Opportunity in America
Allstate is committed to making Allstate agency ownership the best small business opportunity in America. To help agency owners and financial specialists thrive in today’s market, we provide the following support:
• Education. Our best-in-class education tools and resources help agency owners and financial specialists understand the products and services they can offer customers. We also support them as small business owners through programs like virtual mentorships, best practice sharing and interactive workshops. In 2015, we increased efforts to provide agency owners, agency staff, financial specialists and sales leaders with virtual, targeted content to equip them with on-demand access to answers and information.
• Staffing Support. We offer agency owners a wide range of programs and resources to assist them in attracting, retaining and developing their employees. By providing agency owners with resources like effective agency staff recruiting materials, and awards and recognition programs for their staff members, we are enabling their success as small business owners, not just insurance agents.
• Equity. The economic interest that agency owners build through their book of business is a unique and compelling aspect of Allstate’s agency value proposition.
David Erb Receives the 2016 Ray Lynch Community Service Award
Put Amelia Erb on a swing and she was like any other carefree child—soaring and smiling, the wind in her hair and her feet high off the ground.
The day-to-day reality was entirely different for this five-year-old born with agenesis of the corpus callosum, an absence of the membrane that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, and microcephaly, a rare disease that can include abnormal brain development, delayed motor functions, seizures and other neurological issues.
Amelia unexpectedly died following a seizure in August 2015. The unimaginable loss inspired Natalie Erb and her husband, Tennessee Agency Owner, David Erb, to transform their heartache into something good and beautiful.
Shortly after Amelia’s death, the couple established the nonprofit Milly’s Wings in the hopes of building their area’s first “universal playground” that would accommodate children with and without disabilities.
David Erb’s tireless work toward that goal, as well as his ongoing commitment to multiple other nonprofits, helped earn him the 2016 Ray Lynch Community Service Award.
A $250,000 goal
Though microcephaly has been in the news lately as researchers explore a possible link with the Zika virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the lifelong condition impacts 12 or fewer babies per 10,000 live births in the U.S. every year. There’s currently no standard treatment.
At age five, Amelia functioned as a nine-month-old, unable to sit up independently or eat on her own. Still, all her challenges fell by the wayside when she was on a playground swing.
With Milly’s Wings, David and Natalie hope to raise $250,000 to build their playground. In the short time since they formed the nonprofit, they’ve garnered local media attention and maintain a Facebook page and a website where people can contribute online.
“He makes everyone feel so good”
According to his field sales leader, Candace Smith, it’s that kind of passion that has cemented Erb’s reputation as an agency owner committed to giving back to his community.
“As I meet other agency owners, I discovered that David is known first for his community involvement,” she said. “He is completely dedicated to his office and his team members and the community he’s serving.”
Much of Erb’s volunteerism targets organizations that help people with disabilities or address issues that have affected him personally. In addition to Milly’s Wings, he’s served as chairman for the Alzheimer’s Tennessee fundraising walk, which raises up to $85,000 annually to benefit research about the disease that afflicted his grandfather and, subsequently, his father.
He also has served the North Anderson County Boys and Girls Club, the Clinch River Home Health board, the Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties and the Business Advisory Council for Emory Valley Center—among others.
“Because of the number of boards he sits on, he helps all these organizations do their job a little better,” said Naomi Asher, executive director of United Way of Anderson County. “And the stronger they are, the stronger we are, and the more people we can help.”
“Leave this place better than you found it.”
For Erb, it’s a matter of understanding what’s truly important.
“Once you have children, you realize it’s not all about you,” he said. “You start thinking you want to leave this place better than you found it.”
The acorn, as they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree. And the family trait is being passed along to another generation, too.
The Erbs’ seven-year-old daughter, Fiona, who once was frightened by Amelia’s seizures, learned to comfort her younger sister during those times. And Fiona’s developed her own unique affection for others with disabilities.
“I can tell you this: She’s acutely aware of other people’s suffering,” Erb said. “She’s extremely compassionate, and she looks through differences. When she sees someone in a wheelchair, she goes up to them and talks to them. She asks their name and holds their hand.”
Award puts Erb at the “pinnacle” of his career
It wasn’t until Erb was on stage at National Forum with all 13 nominees in Las Vegas that he learned the award was about to come his way.
“I was reading the teleprompter as Tom [Wilson] spoke,” he said. “The teleprompter moved up, and I saw, ‘David and his wife Natalie.’ I just went cold. That’s how I found out: I read it on the teleprompter. There was clapping, Natalie joined me on stage, and we bawled our eyes out.”
And though Erb’s view may continue to be through tear-filled eyes at times, he can see the significance of all he’s built and what’s yet to come.
“This is the pinnacle of my career,” he said. “I’m with a company I love. I work with people I love; I have a fantastic team. I’m with the woman I should be with. And I had close to six years with the most amazing little girl.”
“And now I have a calling.”
Ray Lynch Community Service Award
Every year, each region nominates an agency owner or financial specialist who demonstrates excellence in both business and community service. Each nominee receives a $2,000 grant from The Allstate Foundation that he or she can distribute to a nonprofit organization of his or her choice. One of the 14 finalists is then chosen as the Ray Lynch Community Service Award winner and receives an additional $5,000 Allstate Foundation grant.
In addition to this year’s Ray Lynch Community Service Award winner David Erb, the 2016 nominees were:
- John Alsop, California
- Josh Barger, Texas
- Paul Dellauniversita, New York
- Lisa Jusino, Midwest
- Carolyn Lankford, Southeast
- Tom Paterson, Florida
- Marty Randal, Northeast
- Rick Robertson, Capital
- Armando Rubio, Southwest
- Shawn Schmidtke, Northwest
- Tammy Stubbs, West Central
- Sam Tanoos, North Central
- Brian Zimmerman, Allstate New Jersey