For most family businesses, there is always the challenge of ensuring that the legacy lives on. It takes commitment and undying love for the business to thrive and continue.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Scott Saunders (pictured) is the third generation of Saunders to further the legacy of Howard Baker Saunders, who established the Saunders Insurance Agency in 1951. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing at the University of Rio Grande in 2009, Saunders joined his father, John Saunders, and worked for the family-owned and operated agency.
Now, Saunders serves as the agency’s vice president and an agent/broker with a specialization in commercial, public entities, farm, employee benefits, and personal insurance. Over his first five years with the agency, he was able to grow the direct P&C premium by 22% and has also been instrumental in the agency’s 45% jump in gross profit over a decade period. In 2010, he was named Producer of the Year by the Mountain State Agency Alliance Ohio.
Today, Saunders is leaving his own legacy for the company by transforming and rebranding the agency’s marketing strategies through the use of digital media.
Outside his career in insurance, Saunders has been active in his participation in the Downtown Revitalization Project, where he serves as board secretary. He is also a member of the Business School Advisory Board of his alma mater.
In this exclusive interview with Insurance Business, Saunders shares how the family business has been changing the game since the 1950s and how important it is to honour its legacy. For those in the auto insurance market, Saunders tackles the challenges posed by the growing market share of driverless cars. He also paints a picture of a world where insurance does not exist.
My father followed him by joining Saunders Insurance Agency in the late 1970s. I joined the agency after graduating from college – marking the 3rd generation of Saunders to take on the family business. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s golf game wasn’t passed down to me but luckily his knowledge of insurance was.
Our competitive advantages include strong referral programs, creative digital marketing, and a wealth of great companies to offer clients. SIA’s newly formed Community Referral Program turns every referral into a charity event: for each referral SIA receives, we donate $10 to a local charity of the year (A Heart Like Ava for 2018).
SIA also takes advantage of creative digital marketing strategies including an enhanced website that hosts our blog and community events, use of social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & LinkedIn, e-newsletters, digital billboards through Rocket VII Interactive LLC, video marketing through our local theater- Silver Screen VII, and offering free Nike & Under Armour SIA branded swag to clients.
We also offer clients the choice among the best insurance companies in the industry: Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, Auto-Owners, Grange, Travelers, Allstate, Safeco, Progressive, and State Auto in the property & casualty segment with United Healthcare, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna in the healthcare segment. Our agency niche markets include farm, public entitles, employee benefits, personal packages, & commercial business packages. The agency’s location allows us to compete for clients in both Ohio and West Virginia.
If the car manufacturers take sole responsibility, personal auto insurance carriers will have to transform their coverage offerings to become excess over the manufacturer’s coverage. The possibility that car manufacturers will follow Tesla’s lead and begin offering auto insurance with the purchase of driverless cars creates an additional challenge to the role of agents in the future auto insurance market. Insurance brokers who previously focused on personal auto insurance will have to shift their focus to property and commercial lines.
Hopefully, the insurance industry focuses its marketing to consumers on coverage rather than price. I think the biggest detriment to insurance in the past has been the focus of some carriers on price only - forcing our product to be seen as a commodity rather than the financial tool it really is.