Changing with the Times

As the clock rolled over to 2012, Heather Allin took the reins of Doucett Insurance, where she continues to build on its excellent reputation.

At the start of 2012, Heather Allin stepped in to take full control of Doucett Insurance. A look at how she’s primed the company for growth.

This past New Year’s Eve was an exciting night for Heather Allin. With the ball poised to drop in New York City’s Times Square, there were more important things on Allin’s mind than who she was going to kiss at midnight. When the clock struck 12, Allin became the sole owner of Doucett Insurance, taking the business over from her stepfather, Rick Doucett. Now, as the fourth generation of Doucetts to own an insurance-brokerage firm, Allin is excited to explore the future.

The firm began with George Doucett, Rick’s great uncle, who owned his own insurance brokerage in the mid-1920s. Rick’s father, Allan Doucett, bought George’s firm several years later. In 1985, Rick started up his own firm, and in 2001, Heather joined the family business.

Doucett’s primary product portfolio is employee-group benefits, including life, health, dental, and disability. The company also offers buy-sell insurance and key-person insurance for business partners, as well as travel insurance, critical-illness insurance, and disability products.

One of its largest insurance providers is the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan, for which Doucett Insurance covers 17 chambers of commerce in eastern Ontario. This is significant because it is the only pooled plan in Ontario, which provides tremendous benefits to each individual chamber. “Rather than look at what they paid out in claims on a single company basis, these companies are able to adjust their rates by looking at the entire group across Canada,” Allin says. “For the last 10 years, their rate increases have been under 6 percent a year—that would be unheard of for an individual company.”

In total, Doucett insures more than 400 businesses for employee-group benefits, 90 percent of which have less than 10 employees. The small size of these companies has encouraged Allin to pursue a Certified Human Resources Professional license. “Most of these companies have no HR manager or training in HR at all,” she says. “This is an area where we feel we can really help our clients by providing them with human-resource expertise.”

Allin is also looking into offering banking products to existing clients. “Handling all insurance and bank accounts in one place is a convenience for [our clients],” she says.

For Doucett, the banking service provides a new revenue stream. But it also helps meet the needs of the clients. “When I set up my own corporate bank account, it cost $500; we can do it for our clients for nothing,” Allin says. “That’s a huge savings. If we can save clients money with their banking, make sure they’re protected with their insurance, and help people when they need it most, then I feel we’re really helping clients as best we can.”

Doucett also makes a point of keeping up-to-date with technology. The company database is accessible via smartphones and other mobile devices, providing agents access to client information in the field. The company’s website is built using a content-management system, which allows Allin to upload testimonials and change content
quickly and easily. Other ideas have included
rolling out a Facebook page and starting a
blog.

Following in her stepfather’s footsteps—he was recognized as a top 100 agent for 1992–1994—Allin achieved a Top Producer award for 2004–2006 and again in 2008–2010 for her work as one of 100 top agents in Canada for the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan. She also has earned her Certified Employee Benefits Specialist, Group Benefits Associate, Retirement Plans Associate, and Compensation Management Specialist designations through Dalhousie University.

Competitive products are critical, but Doucett’s real strength is its service. “We want to be the first point of contact when [clients] have any questions about claims or their policy,” Allin says. “Service is huge. Keeping our clients happy is our most important goal.”

With more than $350,000 in annual sales, a steady 10 percent year-over-year sales growth, and a retention rate of more than 90 percent, both Doucett and its clients appear happy indeed.