We have an agency spotlight with Rey Insurance this week on the podcast. Laura Rey Iannarelli, joins us to share her perspective running an agency started by her dad in 1978. Since taking over in 2008, Laura has increased the agency by 700%. Tune in to hear some of the ways she has found to connect with customers and generate referrals which she says is the engine behind her growth. To hear the story of how Iroquois was passed on from Father to Daughter tune in here.
Edwin K. Morris (6s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris. Laura Rey Iannarelli is owner of the Rey Insurance Agency, a New York state certified women business enterprise that serves nearly 3000 clients in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Laura is very active in her community, serving on the board of her town’s chamber of commerce and supporting several local nonprofits. In 2020, Laura was recognized by Westchester magazine as best insurance agent in Westchester County.
Edwin K. Morris (46s):
So how does your agency Rey Insurance stand out differently than other agencies? And I understand you’re a bilingual agency also.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (56s):
Yes, we are bilingual. We cater to the Hispanic community. My dad started the agency in 1978 and he, his parents are from Spain. His first language was Spanish. So he was a life insurance agent. He worked for Prudential and he had a satellite office and the clients came in and he was able to help them and realize, you know, they need more help than just life insurance, car insurance, home insurance. So that’s how he started the agency. And I have tried to maintain that. I mean, I have tried, I have maintained that because that is something that I it’s all about.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (1m 40s):
It’s really all about my dad. I mean, I just wanted to have, take his business to another level
Edwin K. Morris (1m 45s):
On that perspective of your dad starting off in this industry, where do you see the differences in male to female owned agencies from 40 years ago to now?
Laura Rey Iannarelli (1m 59s):
You know, the insurance agency is primarily a male business. In my last 24 years, every, I have to tell you, every time I go to a meeting or I have been invited to a meeting, I am sometimes the only woman there. And that, to me, it just makes me more empowered because I, I love it. I love the fact that I can bring hopefully a different perspective and I feel I have more patience. So that helps with a lot – dealing with the staff and dealing with the clients. If I, if I can just tell you a little bit about what happened.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (2m 41s):
I started with the agency with my father and it was just him and I. It was not, I was not planning on staying here. It was really just, I had gotten married. I was working like 60 hours a week. They wouldn’t pay me more. So I said, you know what, let me, in the interim of finding a job, let me ask my dad if he needs help. And truly I was, because I wanted to, I had gotten married, I wanted to have a family and it wasn’t happening. And I think it was because I was very stressed. So I just said to him, let me help you. It’s less stress for me. And that’s where it started.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (3m 21s):
And I just, there was just something about you get sucked in because you love it. You love dealing with the people, you love helping them. And so my dad said, you know what? You’re really good at this. So why don’t you get licensed and start selling? And I said, I’ll try it. So I did. And then slowly, my mom had retired, so slowly they were, he was taking off like a month, two months. So here I am at the office working and I’m thinking, are you coming back? Who’s going to pay the bills?
Laura Rey Iannarelli (4m 2s):
So I put myself on the operating account and I started paying bills. And, and then before you know it, for the eight years before I actually bought the agency from my dad, it was really me. And so I had hired someone because we got so busy and then hired someone else. That’s a good problem to have. Yes. And this is really, really great, great story. We had to find a space and there was a house that was down the block from my office. It was perfect because it had the parking in the back and it was just enough space. So I went to meet, his name was Mr. Murphy, and I went to him for seven years.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (4m 43s):
I went and knocked on his door and said, don’t forget about me when you’re ready to sell, because he was like 93. You know, when he was ready, but he, he wasn’t telling me he was ready. So I said to my father, okay, we’re too cramped. We definitely need to find another space. And Mr. Murphy’s not ready. So let’s just find a space. We did. The morning that we were going to sign the lease, the morning we were going to sign the lease to this new space, Mr. Murphy came into my door and he said, I’m ready. And I was like, yes, we like, in two weeks, we closed on this building and my father was hesitating.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (5m 25s):
And I said, dad, if we don’t get this, I’m out. So we did. And we bought it then and we renovated it. And now we have a staff of seven and I, I have an apartment upstairs that I already renovated to accommodate. And my goal, I would like to move that upstairs to be the commercial department. And then down here will be the personal lines department. So yeah. So I have goals. I, this is what I, when I bought my dad in 2013. Yeah. This was what I was thinking, my plan was to make it bigger.
Edwin K. Morris (5m 59s):
It’s good to have a plan. It’s good to have that vision. Right. Where do you see five years from now?
Laura Rey Iannarelli (6m 5s):
Okay. Five years. That’s my goal. And actually in two years is where I’m going to start. I will be in a different position where I will be able to hire and move that business upstairs. So that is, that is going to happen.
Edwin K. Morris (6m 22s):
You will, in five years time, double your capacity. Yeah. Swell plan. Well, I’d say, go with that. That’s great.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (6m 32s):
Yeah. I do want to point out as a business here with the insurance industry, you know, there are opportunities that you have to buy a book of business, to agencies close and you can buy their book or you can, you know, there’s a lot of different opportunities. You can merge. You can, you know, partner up with someone. I will never partner up with anybody. That’s number one. But the other thing is buying a book. I’ve never bought a book. So my growth is completely organic. Yes. I feel very proud about that because we have reached the goal that I wanted to reach. In 2019, I, I broke that goal I made.
Edwin K. Morris (7m 12s):
In an organic structure, it’s gotta be a challenge to feed the machine all by yourself. So how do you do that?
Laura Rey Iannarelli (7m 20s):
I don’t mind sharing the secret ingredient and it’s customer service. Customer service is the key. When you have happy customers, they refer people. Referring is absolutely the key. There is a difference between purchasing leads and having referrals. The referrals they trust you, they trust the person that’s referring, so they will be open and they, they will trust in what you say. Whereas I did try and I have to tell you in 24 years, last year was the first year that I tried because I got a little nervous with COVID. And so I tried buying leads. It lasted two days because I, because every client was not what I had asked for.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (8m 7s):
There was filters. There are things that you asked for in a client and every client was not that. So I just said, this is not for me. The referral is the way to go. I mean, we get calls all day long and it’s amazing. The, my website is amazing. I love it. And just being in the community, I’m vice president of the chamber here in town. So being a part of that community, being a part of the nonprofits, it’s, it’s, it’s very rewarding though, too. Yeah. I really work hard. And I put a lot of time and effort into making sure my website, getting the SEO right.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (8m 49s):
And all of that in the posting. And it, it really does help because I do get a lot, you know, I found you on the website, there’s that app next door, the next door app, that’s becoming very popular. And I noticed that, well, I, people have told me when someone refers an insurance, you know, asking for an insurance agent and my name pops up like two or three times. I, you know, I get texts saying, you know, your people are recommending you. It’s like really amazing. And I, I, can’t be more grateful. We have a, a group here on Facebook, 10591, which is my, our zip code.
Laura Rey Iannarelli (9m 32s):
And we have about, I believe there’s about 14,000 members. And when someone also moves to Tarrytown or sleepy hollow, and they ask for, you know, an insurance agent and my name pops up like two or three times, I just, I’m so grateful. And I comment, that’s what, like just makes me love everything about not only are my community, what I do. I’m just so happy and proud to be here.
Edwin K. Morris (10m 1s):
And not only that, to be part of a community. Yes. Well, thanks for being on the call today. It was wonderful to meet you. Thank you. Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K. Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.