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Sunday, July 01 2018
Relationship Marketing Weekly: Financial & Insurance Professional

Insurance and financial service professional Mike Smith’s retention/persistency rate is 20% higher than the national average. 80% of his book of business has come from referrals. 100% of his Medicare business and 90% of his annuities business has come from, you guessed it, referrals. How does he do it? His answer will absolutely amaze you…

Kody Bateman: Hey everybody. This is Kody Bateman coming to you from Salt Lake City, Utah. Welcome to our special Relationship Marketing Weekly show. As always, I have a very special guest on the show today, coming from the insurance industry today.

So if you’re getting on here, just say hello to us so we can see who you are and we have people that are calling in from all over the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore. Just say hi to us as you’re getting on this Facebook Live and we’re going to go ahead and get started.

So coming from the insurance industry, we have with us today Mike Smith who’s the owner of Custom Fit Insurance based out of Bedford, Texas. Welcome to the show, Mike.

Mike Smith: Hey, thanks Kody.

Kody: Yeah, I will tell you, Mike. You got some incredible stuff that you do. What I love about the way you use this relationship marketing system is the simplicity of what you do. I mean you do some really simple things. It has generated some phenomenal results for you and I would like to cover some of those things on the show today. But I would like to start out – we always like to start out with – we have a great system here but we teach people it’s – the system is great. But it’s the heart that you put into the system that really makes it work.

Mike: Yeah.

Kody: And you tell a story about a lady that you sent a birthday card to and I think this would be a great way to start the show because in that story was kind of a real “ah-ha” moment for you. Could you share that with us?

Mike: Sure, absolutely. I had been just – I’ve been in sales pretty much all my life and started sending cards, thank-you cards and when I got into the insurance business, it was – since it was more relational with one-to-one individuals, I started doing the birthday cards and anniversary cards as well.

I mean I always enjoy doing it and every so often, I would get a call and hey, thanks for the birthday card or a text or whatever. That’s always fun for me to get. But I had a lady call me one time and she lives out in the country and kind of by herself and so she called me up and she said, “I just want to thank you for the card, for the birthday card.” I was like, “Oh, no problem.”

She said, “Well, it really meant a lot because you were the only one that sent me a card, much less said happy birthday to me.” She has family and everything else. So I said – so we didn’t hear from – and I know her son. I’m not going to mention any names. But I said, “You didn’t hear from you son?” and she said, “No.” She said, “You’re the only one that even had a remembering that it was my birthday.”

So after that point, I just got thinking everybody deserves a birthday card. So I decided from that point forward it didn’t matter if you were my client or a past client or whatever. If you were – as long as you were alive, you were going to be getting a card from me.

Kody: I tell you, I love that, and it’s usually a story like that because again, that story – you got into her heart and her sharing that got back into your heart and the heart is really what drives this thing. So you’re a great example of that because I’ve noticed that majority of what you do basically is send birthday and anniversary cards. Now when you say anniversary cards, is that anniversary from when someone joined you as a customer in your business or –?

Mike: No, it’s a wedding anniversary.

Kody: Wedding anniversary.

Mike: Yeah. So when I meet with a client, if they’re married, then the last answers that I get from them is, “What is your spouse’s birthday?” depending on the spouse that I’m dealing with, husband or wife, and then, “What is your anniversary?” And it’s really funny because a lot of times, I get a funny look when I ask them that. They will be like, “My wedding anniversary?” I’m like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “It’s just for my records. I’m not giving this to the insurance company.” I kind of kid with them and they’re like, “OK.”

Sometimes – and very rarely does anybody even say anything but I get more thank-yous on the anniversary cards than I do the birthday cards. The funniest thing was is that I get called on it. From time to time, I will have a client call me up and they’re like, “Hey, I want to thank you.” She was like, “I knew that’s what you were doing when you took down our anniversary date.”

Kody: Oh, that’s funny. Well, it’s interesting that you say that because it’s important that people look for unique opportunities to reach out to their customers and as you mentioned, most people don’t get a birthday card. Ironically, most people don’t even get a thank-you card.

But the business world is starting to send more and more thank-you cards, thank goodness. So in fact the thank-you card is still the most effective touch you can send. However, a birthday card is even less likely that someone is going to receive a birthday card. Then an anniversary of your wedding is even less likely.

What I love about what you’re doing is that you’re choosing two times of the year in somebody’s life that means a lot of them, the birthday and the anniversary of a marriage, and you’re choosing to celebrate those times, which are – it’s very unlikely that anybody else is going to reach out to them.

So I think that’s part of what really separates you from other people in the insurance sector and I will tell you, it’s reflected in your – your retention numbers and stuff are incredible. In fact, I would like to talk a little bit about – just have you share with us for all of our insurance people who are calling in and listening today. I’m sure they’re going to be able to relate.

You talk about industry averages of retention. Could you share that with us? What is your average retention and why do you think yours is so much better?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Now obviously I’m an insurance agent in the State of Texas. So the number that I share with you are only Texas. They’re not national.

Kody: OK, sure.

Mike: But this is probably pretty close nationwide. So the average retention rate in the State of Texas is between 72 to 75 percent and – which isn’t bad. You know, if you sign up four clients and you keep three out of four for several years, that’s a good deal.

But I have been able to have a retention rate of – it’s over 90 percent. I think it’s closer to 92 or 93 percent and I firmly believe that it has to do with sending out the cards because I touch my clients at least two or three different times a year by reaching out to them. What has gotten even better is – the funny thing is, is that I have friends and colleagues that they tell me that, oh, it’s such a waste of time to send birthday cards and stuff like that because nobody looks at those anymore. It’s all emails now. So I send email birthday cards and stuff and I’m like, “Actually it has gotten better because now that there’s less mail, your card really stands out to them,” and I tell you, every year, I will walk in to revisit a client or something like that and they’ve got the card sitting there and I don’t think they did it for me because it’s not like in my line of sight. I just happen to view a room when I walk in and I always notice a card sitting there or I send them calendars throughout each year and that kind of stuff.

So I see my stuff somewhere typically around the house and that’s fun for me because I know that they’re getting my stuff and keeping up with it because some people you never hear from obviously. They’re not going to thank you and I don’t expect that. But I firmly believe that’s the retention rate.

Kody: Well, I will tell you. Not only do people get less real physical mail but they get more and more and more email.

Mike: Yeah.

Kody: So it’s both of those things that are going on. So if people are relying on email communication to reach out to their customers, especially for a birthday celebration or something like that, it’s likely to get lost in the clutter. In fact studies have shown that only 11 percent of emails even get opened. Ironically, a greeting card, physical greeting card in the mail is 11 times more likely to be opened than any other piece of mail.

Mike: Right.

Kody: You see what I mean? You’re a stat guy. So I’m sure we can use some stats of why you are getting – why these cards are making such a huge impact on your retention. I mean if somebody can increase retention by 28, 25 percent, I mean that’s kind of – the industry – well, it’s what? Yeah, 21, 22 percent above the industry average. That’s significant especially in the insurance business where you have – you rely on that repeat business for sure, right?

Mike: Absolutely. Well, and I looked at it just from my standpoint because I get – as I’m sure you do and probably everybody that’s listening to this. I get so much email that I open every email. But to say I read every email, that’s a different story. I look at it and if it looks even halfway junk, it’s going away. Maybe save for later. Maybe I never get to it. But I can tell you what. If it ends up in my mailbox, I’m going to look at it. So that’s the way I look at it is from that aspect.

Kody: Now you also – you talk about – you do some unique product announcements. Can you talk a little bit about how you use the system to do your announcements?

Mike: Well, I actually – I honestly haven’t used the system to do that. But Michael  and I spoke and we talked about that. I think I’m going to start using that. It just never occurred to me to do that because you just get locked in to what you’re doing. So I did birthday and anniversary cards and that’s what they do.

Kody: Well, I will tell you. What you are doing are the most effective touches. However, you can’t utilize the system because it will do group sends. Like you could send – if you’ve got a new – something you want to introduce, whatever, you can choose a group of names and send one greeting card or flat card. We have a new flat card now which is a flat piece, five by seven, that goes into an envelope, first class mail that goes out. You can send that to a group of people.

So if you’ve got a VIP list of 100 people or whatever that you want to send an announcement to, the system will allow you to do that. It is very effective. But make no mistake. What you are doing is – those are the most powerful. For sure they are. It’s really good stuff.

Mike: Yeah. I definitely think after Michael and I talked that I definitely think I’m going to use that because you look – the competition is stiff in the insurance business, just like any business, and you look for any way you can to stand out.

Kody: Yeah.

Mike: When I send a little freeform letter to my clients, it’s normally very professionally business written. I will be honest with you. It’s kind of like the email. Maybe I will scan and look at it real quick. But I’m not sitting down to read the whole thing. But a card, with a quick announcement on it, yeah, it’s going to get read.

Kody: Yeah, that’s great. You mentioned to me prior to the show starting – and I really love this is that you – you actually send unique cards every time. So the reminder system tells you that it’s somebody’s birthday as an example and you have a chosen birthday card that you like to send and you pop that up and you actually put a unique message in each card as it goes out. Is that true? That’s kind of how you do the system?

Mike: Yeah, it’s true. I mean there are a lot of times it can be as simple as just, “Happy birthday.” I always try to put their names, so that they know – the biggest thing that I want my clients to know is I actually – while I do use the service, I truly do care that it’s their birthday or their anniversary. So I physically go in and type in their name and so it may just be as simple as “Happy birthday, Mike!” or whatever. But sometimes if I just had a situation with them or good or bad, I will try to bring that up or hey, how are the – hope the dogs are doing great. You know, whatever the case is. So it just depends on the case scenario.

Kody: Well, I’m going to share with you – it’s really cool that’s what you do. A lot of people, they want to create as much ease as they can, which is great. They will pre-build campaign cards and they will have a preset message on the inside and then that way they could just push a button and it goes out. That’s way better than not sending anything out for sure, like way better. That’s probably better than any other form of communication still. But it’s not as good as what you do, because what you do is you type that unique message.

Let me tell you something. People feel it. They feel the energy. They feel that you put in the extra time to highly personalize it to them. So we have always taught people as much as you can, send an unexpected card at an unexpected time to somebody in your life that you care about.

What that means is, is that you think of the person. Like the reminder comes up. It’s so-and-so’s birthday. OK. Now you’re thinking about that person. Now you go in and you take a piece of your heart and you type a message.

They feel that. They sense that you typed the message and people think that’s, “Oh, yeah. Right, Kody.” But it’s reflective in the numbers. It really is. So one of the things we have done as a company is we really want to reward the behavior you’re doing.

So we recently came out with a program and I usually don’t share this kind of stuff on the show. But I think it’s appropriate right now because we came out with a program to reward people to do what you’re doing. You could spend – at SendOutCards, you could spend $97 a month that you can send that type of card, as many as you want, anywhere in the world, stamps included, every month for just $97 a month.

We want to make it so simple and such a no-brainer to do what you’re doing because we know the effect that that has, not only on the recipient but on you, the sender.

So – that’s what I want to close the show with. You’ve been doing this since 2012. I didn’t pre-ask you this or none of this. So I have no idea how you’re going to answer.

Mike: Right.

Kody: You’ve been sending these cards since 2012. Have you noticed a change in your personal life? Have you noticed a change in your attitude towards life since you’ve been sending these cards on a regular basis?

Mike: Well, the biggest change that has been for me anyway is just on a personal standpoint is – sorry, my phone dropped. The – I was never a card giver. So whether it was mother, father, siblings, somebody I was dating, whatever the case may be, I didn’t – I never really saw the importance in cards and one of the things that I do now is pretty much on holidays and everything, somebody is getting a card from me now and I never used to send out Christmas cards.

Then I started doing it for business and I’ve had a friend joke with me because he came in one time and this has been years ago and I had boxes of Christmas cards I was getting ready to send out. He was like, “Well, seriously, you send them to your clients. You send them to your buddy.” I was like – I never thought about – and he was kidding. But I never really thought about it. So now my friends get cards and everything else.

Kody: So obviously it has made an impact on your business.

Mike: Yeah.

Kody: And again typically what you send out in life is what comes back to you. So when you send kindness out, kindness comes back and that’s kind of what I’m looking for in asking this question is just – it’s kind of interesting because the more you send them, you kind of get acclimated to sending cards all the time and sometimes you have to be reminded of a really – what an impact it makes on you personally. I mean whether you know it or not, Mike, you’re a kinder, nicer person because you have to be. You absolutely have to be. You may not notice it really. But I guarantee you, people around you do. Does that make sense?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely and yeah, I think so. It’s kind of like Michael and I were talking and I don’t remember the exact conversation. But honestly, I did it as a way to keep my name in front of my clients in the beginning. I don’t look at it that way anymore. I do it because – you know, I will make sure because sometimes I slip on the reminders and I may not like this. But I have to run down and buy a card real quick to make sure that they get it because that’s tomorrow or whatever and I want to make sure that they get something even if it’s a day or two late.

But it’s – yeah, it’s definitely – and it all goes back to that very, very first story. When I – so I then realized the impact that it may have and it may impact 1 person out of 100 that I send it to like that. But that one person was worth it and who knows what’s going on with somebody – you just never know. So – and getting a birthday card, I’ve never been upset about that.

Kody: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Well, we say to people all the time, relationship marketing is about the first word more than it is the second word.

Mike: Yeah.

Kody: And a lot of people start using our system and services for the second word. So what I say all the time is in my business I’m going to leverage what the marketplace wants from us, which is a follow-up system that generates referral business. Let’s face it. That’s what you want. It’s what anybody wants that wants to do this.

You do want to generate referral business and those kinds of things and that’s why you do it. I’m going to inspire you on what you need from us and that is a system of connectivity, a way to reach out in kindness every day, which you have made that shift you just mentioned. When I first started, it was just a way to do this. But now, it’s – I feel like I need to – everybody – you said it. Everybody should get a birthday card. I’m not going to let somebody I know have her birthday come and go without her getting anything in the mail and you’ve made that a personal charge in your life.

So you now have made this about the first word, relationship, more than the second word and I will just put it out there. That’s why you have the numbers that you have because people feel that.

Well, Mike, thank you very much. I appreciate the time that you spent with us on the show. Any final words of wisdom or counsel? This is the Mike Smith golden nugget opportunity to close the show. Anything you want to share?

Mike: Wow, the only golden nugget is – and I’m not – we didn’t discuss this, so I’m not promoting SendOutCards per se. But the new program that you all have is excellent and Michael told me a little bit about it. I’m glad you brought it back up because I definitely think – I’m pretty sure I spend at least that on cards a month and just to think that you can send even more cards. You know, and not have to worry about the price. You know what the price is. So that’s a really cool program that you guys have set up.

Kody: Well, thank you Mike. I appreciate that. Thank you everybody for tuning in. If anybody wants to know more about what Mike is doing, just get back with the person that shared this show with you and I’m sure that they could share the system with you.

Thanks everybody and take care. We will see you next week. We will have another one of these once again. Take care now.

Mike: Thanks Kody.

To secure your best year yet, you may consider using a service like SendOutCards. In just minutes, you can create a custom card, add a personal message and picture, and do it all right from your mobile device!  You can even include one of their many gift selections like their amazing brownies, their new premium line of chocolates, you can even include a Starbucks card!

If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate a Relationship Marketing Strategy in your business, feel free to call or text me, Andrea Shepherd, at 424-442-0143.  I will answer all your questions and help you build relationships, increase referrals, and make an amazing impression on all your clients, friends and family!

Posted by: Andrea Shepherd AT 10:37 am   |  Permalink   |  Email