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Celebrate Small Business Month: Why Shopping Local - Especially for Insurance - Will Never Go Out of Style

Posted by Morgan Nail on 06, May 2024
Morgan Nail

Discover the profound impact of investing your dollars within your community. Additionally, gain insights from three CFM Agencies as they share the triumphs and challenges of entrepreneurship.

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As we dive into May, we embark on a month-long celebration of the backbone of our economy: small businesses. These vibrant companies, fueled by equal parts passion and patience, innovation, and unwavering dedication to their craft, are the heartbeat of rural communities across the country. At the core of their success stories are individuals who dared to dream, took calculated risks, and transformed their visions into thriving realities. 

Numbers don’t lie - small business is quite literally big business here at home.  

There are over 33 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, accounting for over 99% of all firms. Between 1995 and 2021, small businesses were responsible for 62.7% of net new jobs, and in the past year, they contributed to 43.5% of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the U.S. With nearly half of America’s workers being employed by a small business, the importance of small enterprises in job creation and their role in sustaining the economy is crystal clear. 

In this blog, we pay homage to the spirit of entrepreneurship by spotlighting three respected CFM Agencies, each a testament to the resilience and ingenuity encapsulated within small businesses. For decades, these entrepreneurial movers and shakers have navigated challenges, embraced opportunities, and etched their mark on the business landscape in their hometowns. Their intentional business practices and commitment to thoughtful customer experiences not only enrich the market but also serve as inspiration for aspiring up-and-coming entrepreneurs. 

Let’s explore the narratives of these trailblazers, uncovering why we must all loyally support small businesses and cherish the invaluable contributions they make to our society. Through their stories, we'll develop a newfound appreciation for the ingenuity and good old-fashioned hard work required to sustain a small business over the long term. 

Understanding the Vital Role of Local Independent Insurance Agencies in our Communities

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Like any small business owner, local independent insurance agents embody the spirit of autonomy, risk-taking, and innovation. They invest not only in their businesses but also in building strong relationships with their clients, understanding the importance of trust and personalized service. With a keen entrepreneurial mindset, they navigate the complexities of the insurance industry, constantly seeking out opportunities for growth and adaptation. An Agency's deep-rooted connection to their one-of-a-kind communities further distinguishes them, as they actively engage in local initiatives and support the economic vitality of their beloved neighborhoods and the property-owners they take pride in protecting. 

Independent insurance agents are essential to your town's small business footprint because they provide:

Tailored Coverage: With access to multiple insurance carriers, independent agencies offer a diverse range of coverage options that can be customized to fit individual requirements. Whether you're seeking auto, home, life/health, or business insurance, independent agents can compare policies from various providers to find the best coverage at the most competitive rates. This flexibility ensures that clients aren't confined to a one-size-fits-all solution but instead receive coverage that aligns perfectly with their lifestyle, assets, and risk tolerance. 

Objective Advice: Since independent agents aren't bound to any single insurance company, they can offer impartial advice and recommendations. Their primary focus is on serving their clients' best interests rather than promoting the products of a specific carrier. This objectivity fosters trust and transparency in the client-agent relationship, empowering customers to make informed decisions about their insurance needs without feeling pressured or influenced. 

Advocacy & Support: In the event of a claim or policy-related issue, independent agents serve as advocates for their clients, guiding them through the claims process and addressing any concerns that may arise. This personalized support ensures that clients receive prompt assistance and resolution, enhancing their overall experience and satisfaction with their insurance coverage. 

In essence, local insurance agents play a vital role in our communities, embodying the principles of integrity, professionalism, and service excellence. Their dedication and expertise encourage stronger, more resilient communities where individuals and families don’t have to go any storm alone.  

Meet Three CFM Agencies Who Also Wear the Hat of 'Small Business Owner'

8207A_Get to know your Local Agents_BlogCFM’s agency network, which stretches across Missouri, includes hundreds of small business owners and entrepreneurial-minded folks. We were able to steal some time away from three CFM Agencies to better understand how they’ve woven their passion for insurance and customer service into every aspect of their work lives. Check out their unique journeys to business ownership and be inspired by their resilience and dedication to each customer they cross paths with.  

Dysart Agency, LLC | Marshall, MO | In Business for 55 Years 

Phillip Giffen, reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, traces the roots of his agency back to its inception in 1969 under the guidance of Edward Dysart. Joining the agency in January 1999 marked Phillip's official entry into the business, and in 2011, he took the helm by purchasing the agency. Embracing the many perks of the independent agent side of his career, Phillip values the agency's ability to provide unique products not always available through competitors. 

One of Phillip's passions lies in giving back to the community, primarily through various fundraising events. From supporting the local ball association to the rotary club and the FFA, the agency has woven itself into the fabric of community support. 

Phillip attributes much of the agency's success to the strong relationships cultivated with its clients over the years. Looking ahead, while predicting the future amidst the complexities of today's world proves challenging, Phillip remains steadfast in the commitment to serving both clients and community, adhering to the golden rule of treating others as they would like to be treated. This fundamental principle has been the cornerstone of the agency’s success thus far. 

Offering advice to those embarking on a similar journey, Phillip emphasizes the importance of perseverance and hard work. In an ever-changing landscape, he underscores the enduring value of dedication and resilience, affirming that hard work indeed pays off. 


Burch & Liles Insurance Solutions, LLC | Butler, MO | In Business for 8 Years 

In the vast landscape of insurance agencies, where choices abound and competition is fierce, Burch & Liles Insurance, based in Butler, MO, emerges as a standout example of personalized service and community commitment. Established in 2016 by Larry, Will, and Jamie—father, son, and daughter respectively—the agency was born from their desire to transition from roles as captive insurance agents and a banking professional to create something truly special. Almost instantly, Burch & Liles Insurance became a trusted ally for individuals and businesses throughout their local community. 

From the outset, community involvement has been ingrained in the DNA of Burch & Liles Insurance. The team actively supports various local initiatives and organizations, ranging from school athletic teams, the band department, and FFA to the Lions Club and County Fair. One standout endeavor is their involvement with Giving Fore Living, a local charity promoting organ donation and providing financial aid to those in need. Through annual golf tournaments and banquets, they've raised an impressive $700,000 in financial aid known as “love offerings”, a testament to their dedication to making a difference at home. 

At the heart of Burch & Liles Insurance's success lies their unwavering dedication to their clients. They prioritize open communication and transparency, ensuring that clients feel supported and informed every step of the way. Larry, Will, and Jamie go the extra mile by providing their personal cell phone numbers to clients, emphasizing accessibility and a commitment to being there when needed most – which means outside office hours sometimes.  

Recognizing that every client's needs are unique, the B&L team takes a personalized approach to crafting insurance solutions. Self-proclaimed sticklers for the proper liability limits on all lines of insurance, the agency makes sure to find any holes in coverage and immediately correct the shortcomings for their policyholders. Whether it's explaining coverages in detail, conducting annual policy reviews, or encouraging clients to request quotes for potential savings or better coverage, they strive to ensure that each client receives tailored solutions that align with their specific needs. 

Like any small business, Burch & Liles Insurance has faced its share of challenges, from time constraints to navigating market fluctuations. However, their focus on prioritizing existing clients while nurturing new business opportunities has been key to overcoming obstacles.  

Despite the current challenges posed by the turmoil in the insurance industry, Burch & Liles Insurance is diligently reaching out to each client before their policy renewal. This proactive approach often leads to a requote, a crucial aspect of the service they provide as an independent agency. While it's true that sometimes there are limited options available for clients, the team's dedication to prioritizing their best interests and maintaining transparency strengthens the trust between customers and the agency.  

As they look ahead, the B&L team remains optimistic about the agency's trajectory. While they hope for a more favorable market that allows for expansion, they are also committed to growing their expertise in commercial insurance to diversify their offerings, as farm insurance remains their bread and butter. Their dedication to providing exceptional service and putting clients' needs first continues to drive their vision for the future. 

For those considering venturing into the world of insurance or small business ownership, Larry, Will, and Jamie offer invaluable advice based on their own experiences.  

Put other people’s wallet before yours. Now, this can come back to bite you some when it comes to contracting with certain companies (production minimums etc). However, we have always done our best to give the client the best price we can offer while maintaining proper coverage levels. Also, make yourself available. Encourage and explain to the client that this is not a 9-5 job and they are welcome to reach out to you at any time of the day. Then, make certain you follow-through on that offer."

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"Be prompt on service calls and be even more prompt at the time of claim. Follow-up with them and encourage the client to follow-up with you if they have not heard anything from the company or an adjuster.”

With a firm commitment to community involvement, unwavering client relationships, and a forward-thinking approach, Burch & Liles Insurance will continue to set the standard for excellence in Butler, MO and the insurance industry as a whole. 

Bess Insurance Agency | Fredericktown, MO | In Business for 36 Years 

Bess Insurance Agency has been hustling in the insurance industry for over 35 years, marking this year as their 36th anniversary in business. Having served as a captive agent for 22 years, Dennis Bess, Owner, said the transition to becoming an independent agency was a pivotal move for his career. BIA's commitment to detailed customer interactions and ease of business sets them apart from competitors. 

In terms of community involvement, BIA goes above and beyond, sponsoring and supporting numerous local groups and organizations. Each year, they also offer a scholarship through the local FFA, demonstrating their dedication to investing in the future of their local youth.  

When it comes to building and maintaining relationships with customers, the BIA team prioritizes personalized service. They seamlessly transition the sales process into a servicing sale and ensure that each client feels connected after their policy is purchased by assigning them a dedicated CSR-Agent. 

“We try to move the sales process over to a servicing sale as soon as we can. We reach out after the sale with a welcome box and introduce the account to all the staff - the assigned CSR-Agent is the lead point on all of this. This approach allows the customer to feel like they have an inside link into the services being needed. 

To thrive in a competitive market, Bess Insurance Agency strategically positions themselves to have options, allowing them to then offer more tailored solutions to their clients' diverse needs. However, like any small insurance agency, they face challenges, with market retention being a significant obstacle. Nevertheless, they remain adaptable, with a clear focus on conforming to the ever-evolving market landscape.


Looking ahead, the agency remains cautiously optimistic about the future, focusing on what they can control and not wasting time on external factors beyond their purview. 

For aspiring entrepreneurs entering the insurance industry, Dennis Bess advises seeking partnerships or groups that can provide support and access to markets. He also stresses the importance of going into the independent agency side early in one's career as opposed to staying captive, a lesson he wishes he had learned sooner. 

Uplifting Small Businesses is a Team Effort

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As we contemplate the significance of patronizing small independent agencies and recognizing the invaluable contributions of local businesses to both their specific communities and the global economy as a whole, we must acknowledge the pivotal role each of us plays in shaping the trajectory of our rural hometowns. Every decision we make, whether it involves where we shop or which insurance provider we select, has a ripple effect that resonates far beyond our neighborhood. 

While there's no arguing that online shopping with larger corporations can be convenient, what "warm and fuzzy" feeling do you get from that type of transaction? Does easiness trump the emotional benefits you'd feel from contributing to someone's livelihood during a rather trying economic time by shopping local? The ability we all have to support our area's brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends — all the people who make our community a wonderful place to live — will always be worth the collective time and effort in our book. And here's why:

By intentionally choosing to collaborate with these local business owners, you not only open the door to personalized service, years of industry-specific knowledge, and a wide range of product options tailored to your specific needs but also actively contribute to the vibrancy and resilience of your community. 

Supporting local businesses means... 

  • Investing in the economic prosperity of your neighbors, friends, and fellow community members.  
  • Contributing to a vibrant marketplace where entrepreneurs can thrive, innovate, and create meaningful opportunities for themselves and others. 
  • Preserving the unique character, diversity, and cultural heritage of your community for generations to come. 

As you think about your insurance needs and financial goals, consider exploring alternatives beyond the appeal of impersonal online platforms or corporate giants. The same goes for local artisans and creators selling you handmade, unique products that the Walmart’s and Target’s of the world try to imitate on a mass scale. Instead of settling for run-of-the-mill items everyone in around the globe has access to, consider the transformative potential of collaborating with local shop owners and independent agents who are deeply invested in the well-being of your community. 

Together, we can embrace the impact of community-centric insurance and the enduring spirit of support for local businesses – not only during Small Business Month, but all year round. Remember - making a difference within our community or at local storefronts doesn't depend on wealth. Your time and advocacy are worth more than gold when it comes to raising awareness about causes or small businesses close to your heart. 

Seeking inspiration on how to more actively support your local agents, initiatives, and businesses? We've got you covered. In the meantime, remember the power that lies in your choice to make a difference at home - one policy, one purchase, and one act of loyalty at a time. 

Topics: General Tips, Insurance Information, Missouri Made, Rural Missouri, Community First, Claims, Awesome Agent

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