Don’t tell Jason Creech that change creates upheaval.
Creech’s whole working life has been spent in a state of continual change. Having worked as a mechanic, millwright, and laborer to auto sales, telemarketing and pastor, Creech is used to reinventing himself. But when a friend approached him about becoming an agent, he was skeptical, so he brushed him off. The friend persisted. So when Creech found himself out of a job, he finally listened.
Now four years later, Creech is not just a licensed independent agent, but he’s also an agency owner with four agents working for him in various states. It’s something the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Creech never expected out of his life, but something he says allows him to use quite a few of the skills he’s learned in his blue-collar (and ministerial-collar) days.
Starting from scratch
It wasn’t anywhere near an easy road to his current success as owner of Insurance One, his online agency. Creech says he spent the first three months of his career at a captive agency, but says that within three months, his entrepreneurial spirit emerged. “I’ve always been the type of person to say I can do this better or on my own. I was on the road, going door-to-door, and I had a lot of windshield time.”
Too much time on the road, he says, and not enough time locating business and working with clients. Once again, his friend intervened. “He said ‘Hey, I can show you how to sell insurance over the phone.’ So I thought I’d give it a shot.”
Now, his business is 100-percent virtual, he connects with clients over the phone or the internet. “I don’t see clients. I don’t have walk-ins, and I work from a home office. That really fits my style.”
The transition, he says, was easy. Creech’s previous work in telemarketing, fundraising and auto sales became the unlikely basis of his current sales strategy and technique. The sales part, he says, is the piece of his business that he felt most comfortable with.
Still, switching to selling an intangible product was tough, he says. For me, it’s being creative. I have to sell the value of the policy as opposed to the policy itself. So you have to know the policy and how it works.”
That’s where his blue-collar skills come in handy, he says. “It’s the same as mechanics — you have to know how the machine works before you can fix it. What I got down to were the nuts and bolts of how policies would operate, and would be able to relay that to a client — how it would affect them and fit their life and being able to piece it together and have it make sense to a client.”
It must be working. Creech’s business has grown from a one-person shop operating locally to a 12-state business employing four other agents. He chose the states in which to do business based on his own market analysis. Then he goes through the process of obtaining licensure.
That in itself presents a challenge, Creech says. “Being independent, you don’t have a guy in the front office doing all this for you. Sometimes at the end of a day, I want to throw my hands up and say ‘I’m an agent, not a paperwork guy.’”