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Just the Beginning
With Duliban Insurance Brokers
Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario
1 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700
Toronto, ON M4P 3A1
416.488.7422 | 800.268.8845
Copyright © 2021 by Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
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n 2013 at age 25, Jason and Adam Duliban purchased their brokerage from their father, who officially retired in 2017, when the team was 25 employees. Pre-pandemic they won IBAO’s Brokerage of the Year, 10+ Brokers for their growth, operational performance, culture and client focus. They’ve grown to 67 staff, expanded to five locations, launched a digital life insurance company and successfully onboarded 16 new team members over the course of the pandemic.
“If you told us a year ago that our team and our service offerings would expand this much despite all the challenges Covid has presented, I would have said that’s not possible,” says Jason. “Next week we’re adding six more members to our team. We think a lot about the reasons behind our growth—what it comes down to is uniting as a team, focusing on the customer and adapting to change.”
If you told us a year ago that our team and our service offerings would expand this much despite all the challenges Covid has presented, I would have said that’s not possible.
People First
Jason and Adam have always been committed to their team and creating an open and inviting environment, but the pandemic has amplified that focus even more. “Covid brought significant challenges to every business,” says Adam. “It’s important to focus on what you can control as opposed to what you can’t. We’re really taking this time to reset, ditch the medals and refocus on the changing customer, supporting our team and communities. We’re in the process of transitioning from a business purely focused on growth to one focused on high performance. To us that means supporting and educating our team and making significant investments in technology and automation.”
“It’s certainly been a challenge. We’ve encountered a lot of unknowns this year we hadn’t experienced before,” says Jason. “But it’s made us stronger as a team because we’ve gone through it together. We’ve leaned on each other. We’ve supported one another. We’ve been able to provide exceptional customer service to our clients during a very challenging time.”
Chief Financial Officer, Colleen Craitor shares their strategy. “We’ve become very mindful of our staff’s mental health. We provide additional paid wellness days to focus on personal wellbeing. We offer Zoom yoga and Zoom meditation. We host online trivia games, socials, virtual happy hours. We’ve done a number of team deliveries where everyone opens their delivery together over Zoom. We’ve tried to be as creative as possible almost on a weekly basis to show our team we’re looking out for them personally and professionally.”
Virtual Onboarding
Duliban has ramped up, not slowed down when it comes to recruitment. Like other brokerages, they say the number of applicants and general interest has increased, with up to 50% more applications than they’d receive pre-pandemic.
“We typically draw talent from Niagara, Hamilton and Haldimand, which are very hospitality based. When I talk to candidates, a lot of them say they’re re-evaluating because they’ve been laid off, and people need to be able to support their families,” says Michelle Schurer, HR & Team Culture Leader. “Duliban is a fast-paced, professional organization where individuals can grow and prosper. People never used to consider the insurance industry, but over the past year it’s proven to be a very stable career choice. We want them to understand that it’s a professional designation and a professional career. Those are the conversations I continue having because people don’t understand what a RIBO license is. Educating them on what insurance is all about—they get even more excited about the opportunity.”
Typically, Duliban looks outside the industry to find new talent. “Our recruitment efforts are predominantly focused on finding great quality people, period,” says Jason. “We don’t necessarily look for insurance experience. We’ve built a digital onboarding process, Duliban Academy, intended to provide the tools for team members to be successful within our organization for the long haul. For the most part, it’s people with no insurance experience and they’re doing exceptionally well.”
Michelle says it’s been a challenge hiring and onboarding virtually, but one she welcomes. “Our team—with our culture and our environment—is very much what we’re about. With virtual recruiting and onboarding, you have to find new ways to communicate and convey that culture. I set up more time for interviews now. I make sure interactions over Zoom are the best experiences they can possibly be. We have a number of staff who have never been to our offices, never met the team in person. We want them to feel just as important and part of the team as everyone else.”
We recognize how many businesses are struggling right now and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide more value during this time. So although our community involvement looked different this past year, it’s really on us to look at new ways of contributing.
Data Matters
Another winning strategy of Duliban’s is their use of data, the fact it’s at the heart of every decision they make and has significantly progressed over the past few years. “With Covid, we had to re-evaluate our tech stack. We ended up doing a complete overhaul,” says Jennifer Honsberger, Digital Marketing Team Lead. “We looked at every platform, assessed the lead sources coming in, looked at which ones were performing well and which ones weren’t. It was clear buyer personas had shifted—before it was 45–60, now it’s a younger demographic looking online for insurance. There’s been a huge increase in searches from that demographic.”
Jennifer says the overhaul included a new phone system with video conferencing, upgraded web chat, text messaging, new CRM, social media messaging and chat and a redesigned website with added functionality focused on customer experience and streamlined workflows.
Once they adapted platforms, they had to figure out reporting. “There’s no unicorn tool, no one platform you can implement that will give you the data from lead to client. You have to use anywhere from three to five platforms and then figure out how to integrate so your data is easy to parse through. We discovered Google Data Studio where we were able to automate reports instead of relying on spreadsheets. It helps make sense of your data by providing the bigger picture of what’s happening.”
Jennifer says another big learning was sharing data and reporting more cohesively. “Before, I would have a meeting about marketing data, sales would have their meeting, customer service would have theirs. We didn’t get together to talk about what was happening in all departments, which is how we were able to identify inefficiencies. Find out who the best client is to go after, who stays with you the longest and where they spend their time, then figure out how to get in front of them.”
Community Vision
Duliban Insurance Brokers has always been rooted in community support and service. With the pandemic, it’s become even more important.
They introduced Duliban Days—paid days for staff to be able to give back to their favourite charities. They further invested in their #DulibanForCharity campaign where organizations apply for funding—Duliban has donated tens of thousands of dollars over the last year. They began highlighting small businesses, using their platforms to shine light on their services.
“That was something we were really excited to be able to do,” says Adam. “Some of the businesses were clients, some weren’t. We boosted them on social, through email, SMS and on our website. If it was a Hamilton restaurant, we’d target our entire Hamilton client base, highlighting what the restaurant had to offer.
“Jason and I feel we’ve been given the opportunity as third generation business owners to use our platform to support the communities where we work and live. We recognize how many businesses are struggling right now and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide as much value as possible during this time. So although our community involvement looked different this past year, it’s really on us and no one else to look at new ways of contributing.”
The Duliban team has a lot to be proud of. What they say they’re most proud of is their ability to not lose sight of who they are as a business despite their growth over the years. “A good example is our customer communication strategy,” explains Jennifer. “We used to have a lot of walks in, I think it was an outing for people. They want to come into our brokerage and sit and chat. That’s our client base at Duliban—very face-to-face and customer service focused.
“With Covid we had to help these clients with policy changes, request changes, digital pink slip downloads. How could we provide that same hometown experience online? There was a lot of trial and error—we needed to move people to our website to do whatever they were looking to do and figure out how to create equivalent interactions and experiences. I think we did a really great job. I’m interested if after Covid, people go back to coming into our offices or if they’ll be like no, I’m good. I can do it online.”
“For us, it’s about knowing who we are, and who we aren’t, and doubling down on that,” says Adam. “Work in unison as a team, listen to the customer and adapt, and don’t let anything get in the way of the values that make you who you are.”