Wednesday 26 August 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Jackie Hyde - Specialist Nursery and Childcare Insurance Provider

In this inspirational Woman Profile we interview Jackie Hyde. Jackie Hyde is a specialist nursery and childcare insurance provider. Jackie's work and expertise has recently been recognized by the sector having been nominated for an Enterprise Vision Award.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

There isn’t a typical day for me but that makes every day interesting. I generally try to arrive at the office at 8am but at least once a week, I have a breakfast networking meeting to attend. This is great for generating leads but also meeting all sorts of different business people. These individuals have often ended up being clients, suppliers or peers producing a great source of guidance.
There are two parts of my day which I will deal with separately. Firstly my role as an insurance broker requires either telephone conversations or more often meetings with clients to discuss renewals, review their insurance needs, help with claims that need to be submitted to insurers or tendering for new business.  Staff require my input on what they need to do for our clients or just to bounce off ideas.  The work involved for clients varies as they work in a wide range of industries, so nothing is ever the same and there is never a dull moment. When meeting with business owners opportunities arise to share business issues and try to find solutions together. I often find that running my own business brings common interests and this helps build real strong working relationships.

The other side of what I do is to develop the business itself. This means that I am working on a strategic plan as to where we want to take the business. Marketing and sales of our business is a particular favourite of mine and this has been quite instrumental in the development of the dot2dot children’s nursery scheme which is a national facility. This can involve finding PR opportunities, digital marketing on Facebook and twitter or writing articles for the industry press. 
There are 18 staff at Stanmore, so HR issues often arise including deciding what training is needed, helping a member of staff with a personal matter or just working on motivating the team.
Finally, finance and budgets are never far away from my mind to ensure we hit targets in respect of our income and expenses.
I still love the insurance broking side of what I do but coupled with developing the business makes my day to day activities that bit more interesting.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?

The business was formed in 1962 by John S Gorton a Chartered Accountant who decided there was an opportunity to add an insurance brokerage to his developing accountancy business and building society agency. The original business was called Life and Home Services and the main target was to provide personal insurance to the local community of Radcliffe, Manchester.
I joined the business in 1988 and was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1999 and purchased 26% shares in the business in 2000. In 2002 Stanmore became a member of Broker Network as it was felt that an alliance with a network would enable the business to secure improved terms with the insurers. Stanmore switched alliances to The Brokerbility Group in 2007, who then bought a 33% share in the business.
From 2003 to 2008, Stanmore committed to a growth plan that pushed the business beyond organic growth as we acquired several smaller practices including Doherty Turner Insurance Brokers, Royle Tyrer Insurance Brokers and Beecroft Insurance Services.
In July 2015 after a difficult restructure due to my business partner  having a serious accident resulting in brain damage, I increased my business shares making me the majority shareholder with 66% ownership.
Following the mergers and acquisitions Stanmore has grown organically but the emphasis is to provide insurance and business solutions to businesses rather than private customers.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

My greatest accomplishment has been dot2dot, which was developed and driven by me from day one.  Approximately 20 years ago Stanmore was approached by Commercial Union to sell another brokers children’s nursery scheme. I completed some market research and quickly realised there were a number of nurseries locally and we didn’t insure any of them.  I agreed to become a sub broker for the scheme and secured a number of new clients in a relatively short timescale.  After a couple of years the main broker offered us a franchise and the relationship developed for a total of 8 years.
I started to realise the company I was working with were not delivering the service I felt was needed by this unique industry. I therefore decided to launch dot2dot in 2003 with an innovative approach including a nursery branded product with a name that is associated to children and an appropriate brand with a teddy bear as our mascot. At events we promoted the dot2dot product in jeans and t-shirts giving away stickers, wall planners and children’s CD’s to demonstrate we were in tune with the Early Years industry.  It was so well received that all our competitors who had previously presented their products in the normal insurance style followed our approach.
Blue-chip insurers have always been the backers for our policy which benefits from minimal warranties and conditions that ensure claims are met. Since the change of insurer to Zurich in 2009 dot2dot has had 100% growth.

All clients have a dedicated account handler who personally gets to know them and their business. It also creates individual ownership at the office. Cards and gifts regularly leave the building to celebrate births, marriages or simply wishing a client well when they are poorly or having a difficult time
Strategic partners were chosen to provide wider business solutions to the sector in areas including claims, legal, HR, H&S, safeguarding, IT to name a few.

Claims trends are regularly monitored and solutions sought when a need arises. Previous examples have been to persuade clients to fit finger guards to doors to prevent children suffering major injuries. Incorporation of an on-line management toolkit to assist clients with documentation so clients can be defended should a liability claim arise or a H&S allegation occur. Safeguarding and mock tribunal events to raise awareness of challenging issues have been a relatively new development.

The gross written premium has grown from £100,000 in 2003 to £1.7 million in 2015 and is on target to reach £2 million by the end of its next trading year. dot2dot currently insures over 1,500 nurseries on a national basis, 50,000 children and £1.2 billion material damage.

We have recently changed insurers to Aviva which takes us to the next stage of development. There are lots of great ideas in the pipeline and we are so looking forward to what the future holds.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

On the 2 January 2014 my business partner sustained a brain injury and was subsequently away from the business for 19 months which has recently resulted in me purchasing his shares in July 2015.  Overnight the business needs changed, as I had to not only to service my clients but immediately needed to understand the requirements of my partner’s clients and build relationships very quickly.  In addition, the whole of the responsibility for running the business became mine with the need to have a greater understanding of regulatory matters and finances which had previously been my partner’s area.  To add a further challenge I was diagnosed with breast cancer two months later, so treatment took place with two weeks off for surgery and radiotherapy outside business hours.

During times like these you realise the support that is around. I have a fantastic team who did whatever was needed to ensure clients were not neglected. Insurers provided renewal terms for us well in advance which helped us with planning. Clients were so understanding with what was happening and were prepared to be flexible where needed. Business peers were amazing, providing reassurance, guidance, understanding and the occasional stern word whenever it was needed. The business needed looking after alongside my own person situation.

We never took the foot off driving for new business or ensuring our clients still received the service they expected.
The business not only survived but had the best financial year for a long time with an increase in turnover and profitability.
Many lessons were learnt personally. The business had to undergo changes but this predominately brought opportunities to lots of individuals to develop within our organisation.
I had some really tough days but there were lots of good ones too and I am so much stronger for this experience.

What are your future plans for the business?

Stanmore is on a growth trajectory and alongside the goal to become the number one niche insurance provider to the nursery market we plan on becoming Bolton’s best community commercial broker. This will demand focus on efficiency and systems, marketing, branding, team appointments and development, clear leadership and investment in new partnerships.

The working business plan is in consultation stages as I  believe in a full staff involvement. Processes and discussions are underway with three major insurers to develop a unique marketing approach to the commercial businesses in Bolton.  One insurer has already committed following a concept presentation and we are in early discussions with the other two but this has been very positive.

Improvements in efficiency are critical to ensure Stanmore reaches it goals. An audit by Stanmore’s broking IT platform to help identify any weaknesses and to ensure the company maximises the benefits of the system has already taken place.  We eagerly await the report so we can start making improvements to how we work. A new IT company has been appointed in 2015 which has shown a dramatic improvement in how hardware and software matters are resolved ensuring the team can concentrate on servicing clients and bringing in new business.

The Stanmore team is predominately made up of technical staff and during the last 12 months administrators have been appointed who have again improved efficiency as they are experts in this field of work. Thus again allowing the technical staff to concentrate on what they do best, look after clients.

Out sourcing of other industry experts is a way forward for Stanmore and alongside a new IT company, we have appointed financial support and a new digital marketing company.

Networking is becoming so important to the growth and development of the business. So we get up nice and early and work late to forge new relationships to grow our business. This has resulted in new clients but we have also found new suppliers and experience from other business owners willing to share their knowledge. This is key to getting the Stanmore and dot2dot names out there.

Stanmore knows that generally insurance is not seen as a valued purchase.  The success of the dot2dot scheme in particular, confirms this perception can be changed. Although it will be difficult to change the whole of the UK’s views about their industry, the target is to continue to build dot2dot’s reputation and to work hard to ensure that the Bolton business community values what Stanmore has to offer.  They have made good headway with a number of new clients and have testimonials to demonstrate this is possible. 

The financial target for dot2dot is to double the size of the scheme taking it to £3.5m gross written premium, resulting in an increase in income from £500k to £1m.

dot2dot will also strengthen their market position by developing several value added services for their clients via securing new partnerships and continuing to look at ways of enhancing their product offer.

Following the appointment of a new insurer Aviva, dot2dot is working closely to develop their work in understanding claims losses and trends. Burst pipes is a major problem for the insurer and dot2dot’s continued innovative approach is working with the technology behind a device to detect the escape of water.  This could revolutionise the scheme’s claims costs hopefully ultimately reducing premiums.

All of these partnerships will support nurseries to develop their businesses which in turn, supports the growth of the dot2dot scheme.  It also creates fantastic relationships with partners who in turn grow their business. A true win/win.

For the past 4 years we have conducted a client satisfaction survey for the dot2dot scheme and have improved our statistics each year with 100% satisfaction this year in all areas. No pressure but we need to maintain this next year and also introduce this to our non-dot2dot clients.

The target for the commercial arm of Stanmore is to replicate the proven marketing approach of the dot2dot scheme. The financial target is to grow the commercial business 5% year on year. Although this is considered conservative, Stanmore is realistic that it takes time to build a brand particularly if you want to get it right.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t change anything. All that has happened has made me who I am.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

There are not enough women running businesses and certainly not in the insurance broking industry. So much emphasis these days is put on qualifications and although they are important, they are not everything. Some people are just not academics. I haven’t a degree and I don’t have great qualifications however I believe you can achieve a lot by sheer determination and hard work. 

We need more young ladies to realise that if you want something, you just have to be strong minded to go for it.  Also open your mind to all sorts of careers. I never thought that when I became an insurance account handler that I would be running my own business being involved with so many aspects of business such as sales, marketing etc

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

Speak to lots of companies and find out what suits you whether this is a large corporate or a small independent company. Listen to their values and beliefs, see if they suit you and then learn the ground roots of the insurance industry. Once this is done, then you can start planning your future. Let your bosses know you are keen as often people wait to be noticed. You cannot beat working your way up through any business but you always need to show your determination and interest to succeed.  Insurance is not the most sexy subject but it can be great fun.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

I am a big fan or Richard Branson and love to read his books and blogs. He built his various businesses from nothing but he has such a passion for what he does but more importantly for the people that work for him.

I also have a business coach Jane Kenyon who I met a number of years ago. She is inspirational and having worked closely with her, she has really helped me to find me and in particularly what I am good at and equally what I am not so good at.

I am a much more confident person than I was prior to meeting Jane and love working with her.  We have become close friends and she is a fabulous confidant. Running a business can sometimes be lonely so you always need to find good people to open up to.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

I don’t have one to be honest. Jane taught me the importance of being authentic and this is my “work rule” which has served me well.

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