Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Jamie Gaskill about her years of working with The Brokerage. She shared some great insights on how the industry has changed over the years and also how she is excited for what is to come. Enjoy!
The Early Days
My TBI journey started in September of 2005 as a contract laborer. I was primarily hired to help with Medicare marketing. At that time, Medicare had just gone through some major changes, especially with the introduction of Part D, and they knew that this would be a great opportunity for us to take hold of. Keep in mind, at that time we were a team of just SEVEN people, so everyone did a little bit of everything. I worked with Medicare marketing, contracting, group insurance, and just about anything else that came my way. Even though things were crazy busy, we had a lot of fun. I remember one New Year’s Eve we were in the office until midnight because at that time AEP went through December 31st. Ross and Cheryl came in after a New Year’s party and brought us champagne as we celebrated the close of the season. Those were good times. I believe Ross Hopkin was a psychic. He was one of those guys that always knew what was coming next, in this case it was Medicare, and we adapted accordingly.
Change and continued growth
I’ll never forget Christmas Eve of 2008. The average Medicare Advantage commission was between $700-$800 dollars which sounds great, but the renewals were only $60 a year for a short term. Large commission upfront, but not much to build upon in terms of renewals. All of a sudden, around 4:30 on Christmas Eve, they decided to cut commissions to around $400, but offer lifetime renewals of around $200 annually. It was a BIG deal. CMS stated that this move would be better for the agents, but our agents weren’t so sure. As it turned out, CMS was right. This change further encouraged agents to sell plans based on what was best for clients, putting greater focus on building relationships rather than chasing commissions.
Many have pointed out that we only have 45 employees, yet we out-perform FMOs that have hundreds of employees. How is this possible?
I think it’s all in the management style. Ross always gave us the freedom to take ownership of the company. We aren’t micro-managed, and this inspires us to work hard and reach our goals. We believe in being honest and direct, so we don’t waste time and can be fully dedicated to supporting our agents. Because our leadership treats us so well, we don’t want to disappoint. Even when times get stressful, we continue to work as a team and improve every single day. The numbers speak for themselves. It’s a concentrated effort. Instead of having a large team of people who do a decent job, we work as a small team where everyone is busy striving for excellence.
Looking to the future
I sometimes think about retirement, but I’ve always told Cheryl that I will be here as long as she’s here. I think we can all sense the positive energy running through both our team and our agents with so much opportunity before us.
It’s always been a concern of mine that there will be changes in Medicare that will require us to strengthen our other product lines. Though we play a vital role in the distribution of these supplemental products, not everyone understands our value. Even still, I’m confident that we’ll be able to adjust with the times just like we always have.
Why Work with TBI
If you’re thinking about coming on board with us, I would encourage you to ask questions, step up, and treat this business like it’s a real job. Put in the work necessary, and we will back you up with the best marketing available in the industry. One of the most unique aspects of working with us is our Brokerage Bucks program. The more business you write, the more marketing dollars you will get to continue growing your business. We’re non-captive and we really want to see our agents thrive. We trust that if we take care of them, they’ll stick around.
I’m so grateful for all the memories made in my time here, and I truly look forward to what lies ahead.