Branch Insurance automates agency partner onboarding process for scale using Next Matter
Branch is an insurance company that uses data and technology to make insurance easier to buy and less expensive for everyone. With Home, Auto, Umbrella, Renter’s, Motorcycle, Boat, and ATV coverages available, they make it easy to get the insurance coverage customers need with the savings they deserve. “Our goal is to become the fastest ever insurance company to be writing in all 50 states plus DC,” says Tommy Brown, Leader of Business Administration Automation at Branch.
What makes Branch Insurance unique is their business model. They rely on partner insurance brokers for over half of their revenues, which in turn allows them to provide policies faster, more easily, and cheaper to customers. Insurance brokers sell different insurance policies on behalf of multiple companies within their jurisdiction. In the United States, where Branch Insurance operates, agents are generally licensed to sell insurance policies in one state.
They decided to look for ways to automate the agency onboarding process in order to keep up with the growing number of organizations they were working with, and prepare the team to scale alongside the company’s ambitious growth goals.
The Agency team needed to validate that the partner sales channel was an initiative that would drive substantial revenue for the company. In March, 2021, they had already onboarded 500 agency partners and there were only two people working on this — Steve Reffitt, Head of Agency, and Tommy as an intern.
The channel was scaling so fast, we realized we needed to compartmentalize this process and hire someone to manage it.
Head of Agency, Branch Insurance
Before using Next Matter, Tommy and Steve would manage the process by checking boxes in a spreadsheet, communicating over email, storing files in the Google Drive, and using Github to track progress - though neither of them had an engineering background.
Then, someone from the Agency team would review the submitted information and send an email back explaining what further documentation they needed, such as licenses and other documents for compliance.
Tommy and Gabe Tornberg, Operations Manager, were looking for an automation solution that didn’t require a lot of technical skills, could be set up quickly, and was customizable to their needs. They weren’t sure exactly what they were looking for, but appreciated the customization capability of Next Matter, and decided to give it a try.
To get Next Matter set up, Tommy met with stakeholders across the company involved in the Agency onboarding process and collected their requirements. “I learned to build out a lot of processes on my own,” he says, adding that together with Shadi Rashed, Solution Engineer at Next Matter, they built the process together.
The new onboarding process
Agency partners join Branch Insurance by submitting an extensive online form. Once submitted, the information is automatically sent to Next Matter, and the onboarding process begins. A tag is automatically assigned to each new Agency partner, making it easy for Branch’s Success Managers to filter which processes belong to them. “You can log into Next Matter and look at exactly which processes are assigned to you and see where new partners are in the process,” says Tommy.
An automated email is sent from Next Matter to the partner Agency, asking for further information, including required state licensing information. “Next Matter created this automated outbound email that requires these things to be done,” says Steve, explaining that the email is more effective when sent via Next Matter as opposed to communicated over a call.
All the documents are then stored in one online location, automatically categorized and easy to find for anyone at Branch Insurance who might need access, no matter how involved they were in the process. Team members no longer have to spend 20-30 minutes each time they need to look for documents in their Google Drive if there’s an issue. “You log into Next Matter, find the file that’s needed because it’s dropped in there, and everyone has a fully transparent view of where we are in the process,” says Tommy.
As processes and companies scale, communication can be an afterthought to keeping up with the growing work demands. With Next Matter, communication was automated and seamless, meaning everyone knew exactly what they needed in order to make the best decisions possible when onboarding new agency partners.
“The ability to communicate information wherever we need it to go is phenomenal,” says Steve.
Branch Insurance also uses integrations with Slack, Bamboo and Google Suite to increase cross-functional communication. Steve adds that they’re looking at an integration into their internal CRM tool in order to provide the same overview access to the Sales team.
The agency operations team uses Next Matter daily to manage their processes, with some people checking it three to four times per day.
It’s the biggest thing we use in agency onboarding, it’s the biggest source of truth. If you don’t know something, you go check it in Next Matter.
Operations Program Lead, Branch Insurance
Having a standardized process helps the team maintain exponential growth. The Agency partner team at Branch Insurance grew from two to 14 people, while the number of agency partners grew from 200 to over 3000 in just over one year. Next Matter helped the Agency partner team at Branch Insurance professionalize their processes and get ready to scale.
“You could say we were version one doing the job, and version five was Next Matter,” says Steve. “We skipped a bunch of iterations and went straight to automating and tracking the process.” They are now ready to meet the company’s growing business demands and keep the growth pace high.
In the future, Branch Insurance plans to use Next Matter to onboard new employees, as well as other business partners. “Next Matter is a phenomenal product that is easy to love,” says Steve.
Scaling up onboarding of new partner agencies – a critical operation to Branch’s commercial success. Before Next Matter, onboarding was managed by 2 internal team members using spreadsheets and email.
Onboarding automated end-to-end in less than 1 week.
Integrated with Bamboo, Slack, Gmail, and Google Drive. Process automates internal/external coordination and documentation. Scaled up partner operations by a factor of 7x in less than one year.