Article and images originally published as part of the This is the Way series on GetITC.com
Scott Cornelius is relatively new to the industry. He’s got a bachelor’s degree in retail management from Central State University in Oklahoma and worked in retail for 25 years. In 2006 Scott returned from opening a Golf USA store in Korea as their director of operations. After the 26-hour plane ride, his dad remarked at lunch that he didn’t look well. His dad then invited Scott to buy him out of his insurance agency. It only took him 10 seconds to answer.
“I look back now and realize I probably paid too much for the agency but got the deal of a lifetime because my father not only sold me a viable agency but mentored me through the process. We became best of friends over this deal.”
Now owner of ECI Agency, Scott likes the insurance industry over retail because of the recurring revenue and how easy it is to grow a business without a lot of additional capital. I talked with Scott about his experience and time in the industry. This is the way Scott works.
Piedmont, Oklahoma, a town of about 6,000 people northwest of Oklahoma City. Dad always said he wants to be the big fish in a small town and grow with the town. We are the only independent agency in town along with two captive agents. Thanks to our digital marketing plan, we write business all over the state. Most of our customers do their business via the phone, email or insurance agency website.
I’m the person that keeps momentum moving forward. I try to do as little as possible, including quoting, changes, renewals but work to make sure business is flowing in, and we are growing with our current customer base. The CSRs are incentivized as an agency if we are growing.
One word that describes how you like to work:
Current mobile device:
Apple iPhone 6S. It just works.
Dell XPS I7 processor with Windows 10. I want my computer to be fast so I don’t spend anytime waiting on things to load.
Project(s) you’re currently working on:
Developing a direct mail campaign for home/auto customers. Developing an email campaign to cross sell existing customers. With the economy taking a downturn, I feel this is the best time to go after new business. People are looking to save money. Also, with the escalation of earthquakes, we have a standalone product that we can write easily. It gets our foot in the door, and hopefully, we can cross sell and acquire additional lines of business.
Accomplishments you’re proud of:
In 2013, we won the best insurance website as judged by Agent and Broker magazine. Also, we have been able to quadruple the size of the agency and have done it all debt free.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
My son just started working here three months ago. I would like to develop him into a producer. My niece has worked here for the last two years and has developed into a very good producer. I hope to keep mentoring her and growing her book of business. Also, continue to expand our marketing plan through email marketing, direct mail and social media to touch and retouch more clients and prospects.
Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Apple Watch. I love everything about it. It sends alerts so I don’t have to pull my phone out to look at texts/key emails. It tracks calories burned and reminds me to get up and move around every hour.
What technology, apps or tools can’t you live without?
Roboform password manager is invaluable. It securely remembers user names and passwords and is simple to use. It also syncs with mobile devices and other computers, if I need to access something away from the office.
Describe your workspace.
Desk/credenza; computer desk; small conference table/chairs for meeting with clients.
How do you manage your to-do list?
I use Outlook and schedule my time on my calendar instead of just adding tasks.
What do you do when you finish a project?
Ring the bell. We have a bell in the office and sometimes you want everyone to know when something is done. If a policy is sold or a project is complete, we get to ring the bell.
What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?
Only check email a few times a day. For me it is usually first thing, around lunch and then before I go home. It really gets you sidetracked looking at email all the time. I have favorites whose emails send alerts on my Apple watch so I know if something important comes in. I forward as many tasks as possible to the other team members to do. This saves a lot of time also.
What is your best everyday habit?
Getting up early and attending an exercise class. Doing it after work was tough. Having time to attend, like an appointment, works for me. It gives me energy and keeps my weight somewhat under control.
What do you listen to while working?
Nothing; I find it distracting. I listen to what is going on in the office.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished “Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt” by Arthur Vanderbilt II. It talks about how the fortune of the richest man in the world in the mid to late 1800s was squandered in only 40 years and three generations. Instead of reading, I listen to a lot of audible books since I spend a fair amount of time in my car.
How do you decompress?
I have a meditation CD that allows me to quiet my mind for 30 minutes when I get home.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00 because I get up at 5:00 to go exercise. I need to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
Who are your business idols and why?
Obviously, my father is the top of the list. Not because he was the most successful, but a lot of the mistakes he has made along the way, I have avoided. The CEO of Golf USA taught me how to sell the dream to companies, clients and potential clients. That is a skill that is very valuable. John Maxwell has been a great source of information for leadership skills. Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership/ Financial Peace have been life changing programs. My business model has been developed partially from this program.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Talk less, listen more. Hard to do but when I do, it makes a great impression.
What are your biggest professional challenges?
As our agency continues to grow, how big do I want to be? The bigger we get; I see different challenges but bigger rewards. It is hard to weigh the pro and cons of this balance.
What do you like most about your job?
No partners. I get to make the decisions about how to run this agency without having to consider a partner. I have several friends and coworkers, I go to for advice. I also get 100% of the reward at the end if all works well. Of course, if it does not, I am the one that suffers the most.
What’s your most memorable face-palm moment?
When cash started to get tight, going to the bank, and they said they would not loan me any money. Not only no but they wanted the existing line of credit paid off immediately. I learned right then that I needed to operate without depending on banks. Goes back to the Entreleadership principles.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
Whatever it takes