Success Story With Jon Hood

Fran Majidi July 9, 2024
Jon Hood, Farmers Insurance

Jon Hood was born in Seattle, but his parents were missionaries so he grew up in Indonesia. When he returned to the U.S. as a young adult, he attended the same college his parents had graduated from, Seattle Pacific University. He studied English.

“I had no idea what I’d do with an English degree,” Hood remembers thinking, so he did something completely unrelated by becoming a cold-caller for a stockbroker. He then went on to become a broker for another company, before moving on to Morgan Stanley and, finally, Chase, as a banker.

“I left Chase to go to Farmers because I realized I’m a terrible employee,” he says, laughing. “Insurance let me start my own business and run it. It was also not a huge change because I’ve been in financial services my entire life.”

Hood mainly sells property and casualty (P&C) products, commercial insurance and life insurance. The only type of insurance his agency doesn’t sell is health.

“Health insurance is its own animal,” Hood explains.”I wanted to offer it, but I wouldn’t be able to do P&C and health. I refer my customers to someone who is an expert and has a passion for it.“

Hood also stays away from investment portfolios, referring them to someone who specializes in financial products.

“If you want to do it right, you don’t have time to do anything else,” he says. “To do finance and investing, you have to track interest rates and bond prices. You have to stay on top of economic trends. There’s not enough time in a day to do P&C right and do financial products.”

Farmers has always allowed its agents to sell outside of their product lines if they can’t or won’t write policies for certain individuals and businesses. In fact, Farmers has tightened their eligibility requirements over the years too, and much of what Hood sells now is not from Farmers.

“We end up selling stuff that nobody else can insure so it becomes fun,” Hood explains. “We even got to insure a witch! She was a lead from SmartFinancial, a business owner who sold ingredients to cast spells, and she also made artwork from skulls of crows.”

When Hood first started buying insurance leads, he spent a couple thousand dollars he didn’t have but couldn’t convert a single one. He couldn’t even get anyone on the phone. “I got nothing out of it,” he says. “I just couldn’t make the internet leads work.”

Hood tried another vendor, but as they grew, the prices for the calls went through the roof. “At some point if the price is too high it is not worth buying the lead,” Hood says. So, he tried another vendor and that didn’t pan out, so he went back to the first vendor. That’s when SmartFinancial called him.

“I told Rea right away that I hadn’t had any success with leads in the past and that I rarely make contact,” he says. “Rea told me to try the live-transfer calls. I was worried about the price so she looked at where the bids were, which was reasonable. I knew I had a 20% conversion on live-transfer calls, so I needed 10 leads to close one deal.”

We insured a witch! She was a lead from SmartFinancial, a business owner who sold ingredients to cast spells.

Rea also mentioned overflow leads, which are commercial leads with no returns at a flat $20 rate. Hood began buying three overflow leads a day. He’s been successful and meeting his goals ever since.

“Every couple of weeks my account manager checks in with me about pricing on bids,” Hood explains. “We also go over the overflow leads. What’s nice about the overflow ones is that they are hard to place elsewhere, so they are more expensive, which means I’m looking at a nice premium!”

5 Golden Tips From Jon Hood

  1. Find a good account manager with a good lead company like SmartFinancial. My account manager does analysis on a regular basis so that I’m not paying more than I can afford to pay.
  2. Because carriers are tightening requirements, get appointed with a couple of good MGAs, at least two or three of them. Just make sure your captive carrier allows you to do so in your contract.
  3. Customers leave an agency because there’s no communication, no education. Service and responsiveness help you retain customers. It’s not over after the sale. Do everything you can for the customer. Get back to people.
  4. Your average insurance agent doesn’t want to learn, expand and change but what worked five years ago doesn’t work today. Find out what works for you today.
  5. Don’t say no. If someone has an unusual business or seems uninsurable, see if there’s a way to insure it. This is when it's useful to have several appointments and MGAs.