Many franchisers start out by deciding to become a franchise and finding a product or service to base it around. Brightway Insurance co-founders and brothers David and Michael Miller already had their business, Miller Insurance Group. What they saw was an opportunity to deliver an experience unlike any other in the insurance industry.
“Outside of Brightway, there’s no national insurance brand where consumers go to a store and have access to all of the different brands under one roof. It doesn’t exist,” says David Miller, who serves as chairman. Michael is the vice chairman.
The concept has taken off since Brightway started franchising in January 2008. Entrepreneur named the company the No. 1 insurance franchise in the country in 2013, when Brightway reached $310 million in sales.
“Consumers love it because they don’t have to shop for insurance every six months,” Miller says. “And they have all of the access and convenience they could ever want.”
Insurance carriers like Brightway because it produces a high volume of business, and carriers can deal with one company rather than many independent agents who all do things in different ways, Miller says.
By taking the concept of the independent insurance agency and providing corporate support to allow agents to focus on what they do best, Brightway has found a formula for success.
Fix a fundamental flaw
Businesses flourish by identifying and addressing unmet needs. What Miller saw in the insurance business were national brands that have stores offering only their insurance, and independent agents who may have access to a few more brands, but lack the sophistication to inspire confidence that consumers are getting the best coverage and price.
“What’s so different about Brightway is it’s the first true retail store. You can go to any Brightway — whether it’s in Miami, Arizona, Delaware, Orlando, it doesn’t matter — and it’s going to look the same, feel the same and you’re going to have the same experience,” Miller says. “There are other independent agents out there but they’re not focused around a consistent consumer experience and a consistent national brand.”
That consistency is ensured through Brightway University, a training program initially created in 2009 as a one-week class. It has since evolved to provide differentiated course tracks for employees working in various aspects of the operation.
“Brightway University for someone who is starting on our service team is going to be completely different from someone who is going to be working as a producing agent in an office,” Miller says.
There also is ongoing training that continues to evolve, which is accessed through classrooms and an online program for employees in other parts of the country.
“The training, along with things like the layers of support we provide, is what really is special,” he says.
That support includes technology designed to allow people to do a better job, rather than as a means to replace jobs. Miller says such win-lose propositions are fatally flawed.