August 20, 2018 by Greg Meckbach
Many brokerage offices are open for business outside of normal working hours but some question whether this is really necessary, given recent advances in web services.
“It shouldn’t really matter if your technology is structured properly” whether your brokerage is open on weekends or evenings, said Ken Schindle, president of Thomson-Schindle-Green Insurance and Financial Services Ltd., in a recent interview. This independent Alberta brokerage is not open weekends.
Yet some are open after hours.
For example, John Beal Insurance Ltd. in Calgary is open Saturday mornings. One purpose is to service customers who work during normal working hours and can only make it in outside of normal working hours.
“It’s just a service we provide,” Ken Nicholas, partner/principal for John Beal, said in an interview.
The amount of customer traffic depends in part on the time of year, Nicholas added.
“They know we are open, so they come,” Nicholas said. “If you build it, they will come.”
Many of Hub International Ltd.’s Canadian brokerage are also open weekends, Hub Canada president Tina Osen said in an interview.
“Most of our retail locations, not all of them, but a good portion of them, are open seven days a week,” Osen said Friday in an interview.
Hub offices are often open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Osen said, noting this is not true for all Hub locations.
Chicago-based Hub’s most recent Canadian property and casualty acquisition was the P&C insurance business business of Windsor, Ont.-based Cypher Systems. As a result, Hub now has offices in Windsor, Tecumseh, Leamington and Harrow.
Thomson-Schindle-Green is one Alberta brokerage that is not open weekends. “We don’t seem to have a demand for that,” Schindle said in an interview.
Thomson-Schindle-Green places home, auto, farm, commercial, group life and health, among others. The brokerage has offices in Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Brooks and Bassano.
“I feel that technology should be able to give your clients some 24-hour a day access to their information,” Schindle said. “There was a time when we would have people lined up in the lobby, 14-15 deep, waiting to pay their bill. So the payment counter was sort of busy all day long. But we are definitely not seeing that anymore these days.”
Thomson-Schindle-Green lets customers pay bills by e-transfer – so the money goes directly from their bank accounts to the brokerage’s bank account. The brokerage also lets customer print auto insurance pink slips and request changes to their accounts.
“They can do it at 2 in the morning, they can do it on a Saturday or Monday at 4 o’clock” Schindle said.
“We have a lot fewer customer visits,” he said. “The 55-60 plus group still like to come in and say hello, but even that is starting to taper down.”