Breaking Down Barriers to Succeed During COVID

Scrolling through LinkedIn recently, I came across something I’d never seen before—a drive-through brokerage. Nestled in the prairies of Regina, Saskatchewan, Knight Archer Insurance saw a hole (literally) in the market that needed to be filled.

Speaking with President & CEO Tracy Archer on a cold, rainy day in Toronto and an exceptionally warm day in Regina, Tracy shared the story of how this drive-through came to be.

“The idea was originally Ryan’s, our Senior VP of Business Development. We were talking about some of the issues our business faced given the government-mandated shutdown. SGI stated that within the first 10 days of the shutdown they saw a 30% increase in online renewals. We couldn’t keep up with the phone calls! We were looking for solutions when Ryan said, Have you ever thought of a drive-through? It would keep the required physical distancing while being able to service our clients.”

It seemed like a great idea, but then the how-do-we-do-it came into play. “There are floor-to-ceiling windows at our Victoria Avenue location, which is our head office. The side that a drive-through might work had parking spots in front of it. The location of the window would make for a simple transition to drive-through. We received a quote to build it, and it seemed like the right decision to move forward with.”

This spark of an idea turned success story in a matter of a week. So successful in fact that the brokerage saw revenue double at their drive-through location.

“It speaks to how many people needed that service. While 90-95% of our transactions can be done over the phone, some people prefer to talk to someone in person. Half the customers just want to be out and doing something. We’ve had lineups 20 cars deep—it’s been absolutely shocking. The line moves, but it’s continuous from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, and it all started with a little Facebook video that now has over 30,000 views. Word traveled quick.”

While the window keeps physical distance between staff and clients, it begs the question, what’s been done at the office to mitigate potential risks? I’m assured safety is their top priority.

“We use disinfectant spray after every transaction. Each staff member has their own clipboard, masks and personal space. There are five people in the office during the week and three on weekends. We clean every Friday and Sunday, and staff don’t intermingle. Our office can accommodate 80 people, but our whole second floor is now empty, and every single person who’s able to is working from home. We keep things as safe as possible for everyone.”

When asked if the drive-through only sees vehicles come through, Tracy says that’s  surprisingly not the case.

“While most customers are in vehicles, we have people walk up to the window or come by on their bike. We service everyone. If a transaction’s taking longer, we’ll ask them to move to the side, grab their cell number and call them back to the window to hand them their completed  documents.”

I know, like me, you’re likely wondering  the million-dollar question: what happens when physical distancing regulations lift and  people can walk through the front door again—will the famed drive-through remain open?

“Right now we plan on keeping it open, but we’re playing it by ear. We want to transform it into a normal drive-through as we prepare for customers and staff to want different ways of  doing business. Before COVID-19, we had one remote worker out of 170 staff. I expect at least 20% of our staff will want to work remotely once this passes. As long as we’re covering our customer’s needs, I don’t see why we wouldn’t make that happen for them.

“I firmly believe innovation shouldn’t just be in the digital space. Innovation is what we do differently to better serve our customers. That’s always been our fundamental mission at Knight Archer—we’re here to do business any way our customers want to.

“The future as we know it is different. What it will be, I don’t know, but I find it exciting. It gives us so much opportunity.”

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