“Our motto is simple: If it is important to you, it is important to us.”

Talking smart business with Hugh McTavish, president of Godfrey-Morrow Insurance and Financial Services Ltd.

When merging the original brokerages behind Godfrey-Morrow Insurance, CEO Hugh McTavish knew that he had to harness the legacy of the two historical firms while also adapting to the new demands of the insurance field.

In opening the doors to Godfrey-Morrow Insurance and Financial Services in 2002, Hugh McTavish was well aware of the legacy he was inheriting. “The original brokerages—Godfrey Jolin and Bishop Morrow—had loyal customers that dated back four generations,” he says. “In merging these firms, I wanted to respect this heritage and, at the same time, provide the superior customer service that would attract new clients.”

McTavish has succeeded in his quest with a winning combination of client attentiveness and 21st-century technology. Advantage sat down with the Godfrey-Morrow CEO to talk about his efforts to expand on his firm’s premiere status within the Calgary and Alberta insurance markets.

Advantage: How important is product diversification to your firm’s operations?
Hugh McTavish: It is vital. If you don’t have what your customer wants, they will look elsewhere. For this reason, we offer the full gamut of insurance for individuals and small to midsize companies, plus financial services such as mutual funds and life insurance. As a broker, we represent several insurance companies that are among the top Canadian insurance providers.

In essence, we are a one-stop shop for those in the market for comprehensive insurance and/or financial services.

How do you address the customer-service component of your business?
You often hear about percentages of customers for specific insurance products. But if you aren’t committed to exceptional service for each client, then none of those customers exist for your brokerage. When it comes to serving our clients, our motto is simple: If it is important to you, it is important to us.

To live up to this motto, we place great emphasis on flexibility. We strive to serve the customer on his or her own terms and where they are most comfortable. If customers want to speak with their assigned broker directly, or if they have a simple question that they want answered quickly, or if they prefer a retail option, or want to deal with us electronically, or [want] a personal visit, we make it happen. Bottom line: it is the customer who decides.

And what about staff? How do they manage such high-calibre customer service?
Staff well-being figures significantly. We make it a point to have Godfrey-Morrow be a good place to work, with our employees working well together as a team. This has a huge impact on customer interaction—someone who is generally happy to go to work is more inclined to provide the best service possible to clients.

Where does technology fit into the customer-service mix?
Technology is figuring more and more prominently in our client focus. For instance, 25 percent of our new auto-insurance business comes to us exclusively online. On the commercial insurance side, our clients’ Internet activity is nearly 50 percent of our interaction. Typically, a client or prospective customer who visits our website can immediately obtain comparative quotes on auto and home insurance. We’ll then follow up, informing them on further ways to save money on their policy.

Can you describe one of your technological innovations?
One of our technological developments involves our acquisition of 18 Internet domains with addresses under the “Insuremy.ca” brand, such as Insuremycar.ca, Insuremyhouse.ca, or Insuremybusiness.ca. Accessing these addresses enables clients to take advantage of quick and efficient online capability in obtaining insurance policies. These domains also provide us with a consolidated look and feel that, we believe, will greatly enhance our marketing efforts.

But no matter how advanced or innovative the technology, it all still comes down to meeting client expectations. Consequently, everything we are doing regarding tools such as the Internet is dedicated to creating a positive experience for our clients.

What do you see as the major industry trends, and how is Godfrey-Morrow meeting such challenges?
It is important to have the critical mass to compete. For some time, consolidation has been a significant force within insurance and financial services. An increasing number of smaller firms are being acquired by larger organizations with resulting larger revenues. When I first started in the business, $5 million in gross, written premiums was a respectable amount for the average broker. Now, it is more like $25–40 million.

Godfrey-Morrow has followed suit through our own acquisitions. This activity has not only enabled us to provide better product and service, but also made us a stronger, more viable organization.

What benchmarks for success have you set for Godfrey-Morrow within the next few years?
We will continue to advance in our technological capabilities to the customer’s benefit. And, when it comes to client service, we will continue to not only make sure that our promises are kept but also raise the bar in providing a superior customer experience.