The Ontario Broker - June 2019 - 31

PRESIDENT

ADAM MITCHELL

"Things have been up and down since I took over the brokerage in 2009. Growth would be great if it went in a
straight line and you could plan for it, but that's not the way it works."
Adam admits that despite over 40 markets, a big team and scale, the periodic ebb and flow of the market
impacts M&W just like anyone else. "We don't have difficulty finding and closing opportunities. It's more that
we've struggled to onboard and train people fast enough to keep up with this movement we've created. And
the market for experienced brokers is fierce right now. Smart brokerages are looking after their winners."
Scalability is critical to any fast-growing business like Mitchell & Whale. But Adam feels strongly that the
customer experience should remain consistent whether they are one of five callers or one of five thousand. If
that means missing the occasional call, that's OK.
"As the business grows, we're going to get hit with spikes in call volumes where we're getting smoked every day
like we are right now; we don't get to every caller even though we obviously want to. We need to be disciplined
though and remember that no business can double the size of their team, or their capacity, in a month. We're
always hiring and training new people, but we don't ask the team to do what's impossible. Handle a realistic
number of calls every day, and smile. Don't rush to answer more calls and be miserable. Your teammates will
feel that negative vibe, and so will the customer."
Adam says it's been incredible to watch the team band together. "We pulled everyone into the boardroom to
discuss strategies to better handle increased volumes. The ideas that came out of that session have all had
very positive impacts. Why don't we leverage some of our admin team? We pulled them in to support the sales
team. What if we made a self-service portal? We launched it a few weeks ago and it's helped manage workflow
and timelines. What if we brought in a few assistants, who are easier to hire than experienced CSRs, to help
with paperwork? We added a few to the team within a few days to relieve some of the workload. We
ordered new laptops so people could work from wherever. Every day we get a little better."
A winning strategy at M&W is their ability to identify issues and opportunities and build
systems to fill the gaps. Besides their database on insurance company rules and processes,
they're always looking for opportunities to use technology to empower the team.
"We built a commercial quoting engine because our team said that business customers need
more accurate quotes, faster. On the other hand, our chat bot was cool, but it wasn't giving
clients the brand experience we wanted so we put it down for the moment. Yesterday's
winning playbook isn't tomorrow's-you need to be willing to change and adapt as you
grow."
Acquiring and merging with other brokerages has never been part of M&W's
approach. Adam explains the effort they put into hiring the team they want,
shaping the culture to support it, and the significance of working out of one
location.
"Buying brokerages never made sense to me for our team, although I'm
sure it does for others. Most of them have baggage and legacy issues.
We'd rather fit things into our own ecosystem. We grow at 15% a year
in the worst years. Typically, it's closer to 50%. We're really only in
the infancy of what we want to be."
Adam will always attribute M&W's success to the team, including
winning Brokerage of the Year, among other industry awards and
recognition. "None of this is possible without the team, and their
buy-in. I'm not an expert at anything. But if you can align a team
of winners, and that team's all working well together, you can pull
off some pretty incredible things."

31

JUNE 2019


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The Ontario Broker - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Ontario Broker - June 2019

In This Issue
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