Rob Palmer, franchise director of Coversure Insurance Services discussed the practical, financial and operational steps towards owning a Coversure franchise during a recent IB Talk podcast. The conversation also enlisted the experience of Emily Price, chief operating officer of the British Franchise Association and John Palmer, MD of Coversure Poole, Weymouth & Maidstone, to provide insight into why more entrepreneurs than ever are now turning to the franchise model.
Franchising is a large industry in the UK, Price said, representing £7.2 billion of turnover with over 710,000 employees employed across the sector. Dipping into what it means to be a franchisee, she explained that this model sees businesspeople, who are looking to invest with a franchise such as Coversure, pay a joining fee to avail of significant support and training, as well as the brand equity that comes with an established business.
“The key is that the model is proven,” she said. “When you enter into that model, any of the projections that you’re provided with will have already been proven. [So], with the likes of Coversure, you’re looking to enter into a network where there are a number of other people who are operating very well-established businesses, and where there is a very structured central team that can offer the support and guidance to help you build a valuable asset for your future.”
Exploring what sets a franchise model apart when it comes to insurance broking, Rob Palmer emphasised the resurgence of the local broker. There’s a high number of clients in the SME marketplace who want to avail of expert advice on a one-on-one basis, he said, and that in essence is the Coversure business model. The group is strengthening its value proposition by investing heavily across the business, with the support of its parent company Jensten group – ensuring that franchisees have access to the right systems, technologies, marketing, HR and people capabilities.
“That’s to really make sure they’re geared up to maximise the opportunity that we think is out there at the moment for the local broker,” he said. “And for Coversure what that local broker looks like is a business that predominantly services SME businesses and commercial business, although we also build businesses that support a wider network of individuals.
“There’s a mix within our business of people that are performing that very important [role of] a local brokerage advising local businesses, but also there’s the flexibility in the model to provide service to niche industries and sectors as well. That’s one of the beauties of the different models that are out there in the industry – if you own a franchise, you have the opportunity to build your own strategy that suits your area of expertise, or the geographical area that you’re operating in.”
Detailing his own experience of joining the Coversure model, John Palmer highlighted that he has worked in the insurance industry all of his working life. He noted that he reached the point when, after 13 years working for a corporate insurance broker and hitting a senior level, there was just no further progression possible. Being in his early 30s, he said, he had to seriously consider whether he wanted to just keep treading the same water or strike out and do something new.
And so it was that seven years ago, he made the call to join the Coversure business. Palmer said that, for him, working as a broker is all about being the local insurance person on the ground, who could serve their community by being available to anybody looking for advice and expertise. Focusing on local SMEs opens up so many opportunities, he said, as business owners have cars, houses, and maybe pets or boats, and they all require support in finding the right coverage.
“I wanted to be able to offer them everything under one roof,” he said. “And Coversure really gave me that opportunity to do that – to be a one-stop-shop, to be a local insurance broker that could build a reputation locally with that brand, and ultimately be able to offer more services.”
The Coversure franchise has seen quite a significant increase in inquiries from people looking to establish their own insurance franchises lately, Rob Palmer noted. COVID-19 has certainly driven some of that interest and people are increasingly reflecting on what they want from their career and what a successful work-life balance actually looks like.
One of the key things he has been seeing lately is a shift in how insurance professionals want to look after their clients. With local brokers seeing a resurgence in the marketplace, he said, burgeoning entrepreneurs are being increasingly drawn towards exploring that opportunity with the safety net of the franchise model in place.
“Other elements that are driving people’s interest [include] the independence that they have within operating under a franchise model,” he said. “They get the best of both worlds in terms of having our infrastructure, tools and training, but they also have a high degree of independence… to define their own strategy and build their own business and ultimately own their own asset. That’s a really important part of modern franchising, that you can realise that asset at the end of it. So, we’re seeing a lot of interest in our business model, which actually is similar to [what is being seen] in the wider franchise sector at the moment.”
Are you interested in starting your own insurance broking franchise? Find out everything you need to know in the latest podcast from IB Talk, available here