Anthony Hodel knows more about business than some other business people will ever know, and a portion of that knowledge comes from the people he employs.
"I listen to everybody ... You can get a lot of feedback from employees and customers from all walks of life," says Hodel, CEO of Platinum Warranty Corp., a credit and gap insurance company.
Since 1998, when Hodel quit selling cars and went into the business of providing car owners, banks and dealerships with insurance, Platinum has grown organically and expanded its product line by integrating technology and providing accountability.
"I know the other side, the customer, and what they are looking for," says Hodel. "We are black and white, we deal with people candidly. I don't understand how business people use any other tactic."
Technology has provided the other part of Platinum's growth. Thanks to a new integrated online system, customers can go to a Web site, shop for a warranty and enroll online, directly dealing with Platinum without having to wait for a dealership to process paperwork.
"With the new technology, we were able to acquire some big key accounts," says Hodel. "Last year, 2002, was a big year for us. We grew 177.78 percent. We brought everything in-house. And now we have more contracts with less payroll expense."
Hodel believes his company has been successful in part because it is flexible and responsive to the needs of the customer.
"Part of it is the economy today. The consumer is seeking alternatives," he says. "They search the Internet and do their own due diligence and save money by buying direct."
As the company has grown beyond its original products -- including emergency roadside and gap insurance -- Hodel plans to continue expanding into new markets and adding staff.
"I promote from within, regardless of whether the job requirements are perfectly filled or how they look on paper," Hodel says. "I look at their demeanor and how they treat the office, their surroundings and others, because I believe that's what reflects back into the company." How to reach: Platinum Warranty Corp., (800) 692-KEYS or www.dealersprofit.com