Russell Insurance & Investments is based in Strongsville, Ohio. The agency is owned by Ron Russell, Jeff Russell, and other partners. Tony Larizza manages the agency operations, and along with Kristen Perzel handles all sales and servicing.
What is the biggest challenge your agency faced in the past year?
The biggest challenge that we faced in 2020 was not meeting people face to face. All businesses had to deal with that this past year. Insurance is little tougher to sell than a commodity because all we are selling is a promise. A promise to pay in the event of a catastrophic loss. We must earn people’s trust in a matter of minutes. It is more challenging to earn people’s trust if you do not meet them in person. There is only so much a prospective client can get out of a phone call. As a result, we really had to try and reinvent how we did business and earn that trust.
Do you have a new tip or best practice you have learned and want to share?
The best tip I can share is something that we all know is available but not everyone is willing to use it. Technology is the key. We now use Loom to record videos of us explaining the coverage to our prospective clients. I feel that helps them put a face to the voice. We also use Zoom to meet with our referral group to stay top of mind. Lastly, we signed on with Agency Zoom in August to help us with our new business follow ups and to track our opportunities. Those three technology pieces have helped us tremendously. In fact, we had our best year since we started in 2016.
Why are you an SIA of Northern Ohio member?
Russell Insurance is a member of SIA of Northern Ohio because we see the value in what they bring to us. SIA of Northern Ohio has the experience to help agencies grow. The entire group has a wealth of knowledge. We like the fact that we can bounce ideas off each other and learn new ways of doing business. Plus, SIA of Northern Ohio has partnered with the same competitive companies that we have worked with for years. So, it was an easy transition.
What makes your agency unique?
Our customer service is what makes our agency unique. We have two agents that have been in the business over 42 years combined. Both come from a customer service background as opposed to a sales background. In fact, both agents have worked together in the past and were trained the same way to focus on customer service. We make sure that we are available as much as possible for our clients and if we are not available for some reason, we make sure we respond quickly to their needs.
What causes does your agency actively support?
The main cause our agency actively supports is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Russell Insurance has been involved with Make-A-Wish since our inception. Russell Real Estate Services is our partner and has been involved with Make-A-Wish for over 23 years raising over $1 million. Every year Russell puts on a huge golf outing to raise money for this great cause and there is always a child from Make-A-Wish there to tell everyone how much they appreciate their help in making their dream come true. It is such a rewarding experience.