Unleashing the Power of Distribution

Season 3 Episode 39

Unleashing the Power of Distribution with Tom Dimmer

Season 3 Episode 39


Revolutionizing Insurance

Welcome to the Insurance Leadership Podcast, the podcast designed to bring you perspectives and principles from leaders in the life and health insurance industry. We trust you will enjoy today's episode.

Ryan Eaton: Welcome back to the Insurance Leadership Podcast. In today's episode, we have Tom Dimmer with Renaissance Life here with us. He is going to be hitting on a topic that I love talking about, and that's distribution, how to get plans, rates, carriers on different platforms and exchanges across the country. He's got 37 years of experience and you do not want to miss this episode. With that, let's go ahead and jump into the show.

Tom, thank you again for being on the show today, buddy. I greatly appreciate it.

Tom Dimmer: My pleasure.

Ryan Eaton: Look to give everyone listening right now, an overview. Why don't you tell a little bit about your background? Got you into the industry tell me about family, wife, kids, all that fun stuff. Just everybody knows a little more about you.

Tom Dimmer: Wow. All right. I have two grown kids both gainfully employed. So knock on wood, I've done my job, living now in Salt Lake City. We used to live in Michigan for 35 years and since we were empty nested wanted to roam the United States a little bit, check things out. So I've been in the industry now for, 37 years. First with Delta Dental of Michigan, one of the larger Delta plans in the system. And then we did this startup called Renaissance. And even though we're Renaissance Life and Health, for a long time, we're just Dental and Vision. And we focus on ancillary. And that's my background. That's where I started from. Did really well, in the 37 years sold everything from small group up to large fortune 500 companies? And then in the early 2000s Renaissance started. So I made this leap of faith. And got in the individual market, which was completely new.

Ryan Eaton: That's right.

Tom Dimmer: And it was an exciting time. A lot of people looked at me and they thought, you're nuts, individual. And I got a gut feeling that this thing's going to turn.

Ryan Eaton: David White always said that to people were like, what are you selling one dental plan at a time? It's 2 dollars commission or whatever. And he was like, yeah, but you're going to sell a thousand of it. And that was all his mindset.

Tom Dimmer: I love David's analogy on that. He is spot on.

Ryan Eaton: That's it.

Tom Dimmer: It took me years to figure that out. But he was right.

Ryan Eaton: That's right so look, give us a little overview on renaissance then what all renaissance does now products and then probably a little bit more into your role now with renaissance and what you're doing there.

Tom Dimmer: Sure. So renaissance has been around since maybe the late nineties, but really we started in the early two thousands. Dental vision, we focused on individual and small group. We've expanded that small group up to like mid-size groups, like a hundred to 500 type of sweet spot, right? And, but like half of the house is still strictly individual and that's what I help do business development for. In the beginning it was just me. And I thought they really took this whole individual thing seriously going here, you're the individual guy, it's just you. And it was that time that I go, I don't have a sales staff. Who's going to help me market my material. And I go distribution. I got to start talking with distribution platforms, people who one stop that talks and sells to many. That's going to be our ticket. And that's proven well for us ever since. We started with dental. We expanded into vision. We're now dabbling in this dental vision health kind of thing for the senior markets. We do have life and disability now, but it's strictly on the group side, and maybe somewhere down the line we can get that to come over to the individual.

Ryan Eaton: That's right. I love it, man. I love what you're doing there. I told the guys here that I was most excited about having you on the podcast while we're here because we're also looking at doing some more stuff with distribution channels from platforms and other things. We've done some over the years, but it's been more isolated situations and so I was asking the questions I was laying out for today were questions that I actually have, and I was like, this is gonna be great. Tom's gonna give me a little mentor session today. Every platform seems to be different, right? Whether it's the private or public or, it's one wants to do their own administration, another one wants to do any administration. It can vary, it seems like every single deal. How do you look at that? How do you start deciphering when you go into these different platforms and distribution channels? What is your thought process look like when you're going in I guess?

Tom Dimmer: I shut up and I listen. That's the key in your spot on. If you've seen one platform, you've seen one platform. Every one of them is different. Some of them might just have like minor tweaks, but some might be on total ends of the spectrum, right? You might have a technology savvy, company with a bunch of tech guys who know everything about digital, but they know nothing about product. And then vice versa, you might know somebody who knows everything about product, wants to distribute it, but has no technology backroom. So you gotta be so super flexible and you just have to know, okay, my skillset or my backroom can fit. It might not fit A to Z, but maybe it fits A through W. And then you just have to go and talk with that platform and ensure that it can fit in that spectrum. And then you start plugging and playing.

Ryan Eaton: What is your due diligence? Obviously you listen, but, what is your due diligence? Your questions look like when you're there to get them talking so that you're knowing the right stuff to know on the back end, what you need to plug, what you need to pull, all that type stuff. What does some of that look like?

Tom Dimmer: It's sometimes it's a long drawn out process. Sometimes it's a quick phone call. Which is crazy. You just get on these calls and COVID, was such a kind of change in the marketplace on selling. Suddenly you were doing things on zoom and phone calls and sometimes you just get the call. Hey, I've got this. I'm going to start this program. I need product. I need ancillary. What do you have? And then it's the due diligence to it's who are you going to market to? How are you going to do it? And then just listen and then figure it out, because I always I have this analogy that I have this quiver full of arrows on my back, and I'm going to pull that specific arrow out for that specific solution, right? And just listening in through them, figuring out where they're going to market, what product they're going to need, price points, that whole thing, are they going after a low income demographic, are they going into high income demographic? Great. I got product for each one of those scenarios, right? So sometimes it could be a lot, like I said, sometimes it could be a long process, sometimes it could be like, boom, yeah, we got that, let's do it.

Ryan Eaton: Have you found any similarities between the high producing platforms versus low producing platforms? Anything that, Hey, someone comes to you like, Oh, we're gonna write all this business and then they don't write any business. And then the guy says, Hey, we're going to write a lot of business and they write a ton of business, right? Have you found any similarities? And those things, it's Hey, watch out for this type stuff.

Tom Dimmer: There's no warning sign at the beginning, you don't know you can sit there and you can work on it for months. You finally plug it in and it's like laying pipe, right? And then suddenly you set all the pipe up and you turn on the spigot or they turn on the spigot and you're just sitting there waiting. And then finally maybe something comes dripping in a little trickle, right? It's a little trickle and you're going, Oh didn't see that coming. Or, I didn't see that coming and it's suddenly I'm gonna need a bigger pipe. There's so much coming in. In those type of situations when you're coming back to your team, right? Cause you obviously have stuff to do, it's not just, hey, here's the concept, great. They're sold on and it's done. There's All the different pieces, whether it's maybe administrative agreements that have to be done or there's getting the rates over and maybe it's a file or maybe it's just a shelf rate or what. There's all those different pieces when you have had something that turned out to be a dud, right? And it just dripped way longer than everyone expected and it never came flowing out, and we've had those, I'm speaking from our experience here because I've seen that.

Ryan Eaton: What do you do the next time you come with the platform, to try to keep your team.

Tom Dimmer: From getting negative?

Ryan Eaton: Do you know what I'm saying? You're laughing, so keeping people from getting negative and keeping that momentum going, Hey guys, this is different than the last one. This one's going to be because of this. What's your suggestions and thoughts on that and how do you handle it? 

Tom Dimmer: It's sometimes it's an athletic coach, a sports coach, you prepare for the game. You think you got all your ducks in a row and you lost. It whether it was a blowout or you lost by one point, you gotta get the team together and say, that was yesterday. And that platform was yesterday. This is a new platform. You can do the whole lessons learned thing. And it does. People will go.

Ryan Eaton: What did you learn from that last fiasco? It's like, all right.

Tom Dimmer: I don't know because sometimes it's like you don't see it coming, and or it could be just like a bad marketing campaign from that distribution partner. It just didn't hit the right people. And sometimes they'll retool and reload and maybe they will be successful later down the road, like another iteration. But yeah, with the team, it's all about the next game. Here's the next platform. Let's focus on that. And, God willing, we're going to hit a home run this time.

Ryan Eaton: When you're bringing something back, how do you on the initial one, not after a dud, but let's just say you're taking it back. You've got X, Y, Z company you've just met with. You figured out exactly what they need. You're taking it all back to your team and you're trying to get everyone fired up about this. Not after a dud, but just, Hey, this is what it is. What does that process look like when you take it back, circling everyone from like a leadership perspective, you're trying to get everyone on the same page moving forward. What does that look like for you? Are you getting meetings with your teams on a weekly basis? Are you meeting with them on a monthly basis? What's your normal setup look like when you're moving a deal down the road?

Tom Dimmer: Yeah, sometimes people say that the hardest cell is not the external cell with a client, it's the internal cell. It's getting the team sold that we're going to actually be able to accomplish the work.

Ryan Eaton: We're actually, we'll get something for doing this.

Tom Dimmer: And it's part, like I told you about the coach part and the other parts, cheerleader, right? It's just getting everybody geeked up, going, let's get excited about this. Let's get the team together, back in the old days, when we first started, we were a small group, a dozen employees, right? So it was easy to get the team together, to get them excited. Now we're like over a hundred, pushing 200 employees. We have staff that reports to staff , and now it's oh my gosh. It's like now you gotta get everybody herded together. And talking and making sure that they understand. It's not just the small picture of what they're doing, but the whole big picture on the whole project. And that's where Renaissance is morphed into. We understood that in not just implementation teams, but we have project officers now that actually will help take that new platform, sales so to speak and help run it through the.

Ryan Eaton: Say it to the process.

Tom Dimmer: Yes. And that is, I tell you what, we are learning every day from that. And it touches every department. We will talk to every department that project will touch, and making sure that they're on all the calls, and they're held responsible and they have deliverable due dates. And, just so we can make sure that we get to that goal line.

Ryan Eaton: That was a great leadership idea or executive decision there to get everyone on that same track. Were y'all butting heads and dropping balls? Is that kind of what got you to that point? Is this fair?

Tom Dimmer: Yeah. It just got to be so much, right? So much to do and things are starting to fall through the cracks. And project officers are, Oh my gosh, they're they go down to the detail, right? So they are always making sure that everything's held accountable.

Ryan Eaton: What does that accountability look like when they're trying to check with them on detail? Is it one manager who's report talking with the five different departments and they're all reporting back to them, and then making sure those people are on the calls with your external? Is it something along those lines?

Tom Dimmer: Pretty much. There's not a ton of people, but they're just the key individuals. Like you said, like the managers involved, right? Managers or directors levels. The folks who are actually doing like the file feed transfer, the I. T. Guys were actually doing the work. We want to make sure that they're on the call. So they're listening in and they know exactly what's going on with the whole scope of the project.

Ryan Eaton: Because in the scope of a project we're talking about, starting from the beginning, just thinking in my head, we're talking about administrative agreements. We're talking about how you need the files, how do you get the brochures? How do the file feed transfers and A. P. I. Transfer. There's so many different little pieces and like you said, can vary from each thing and then there's, Oh, there's the contract. And we forgot to do this. How's this documentation?

Tom Dimmer: Did anybody talk to legal? No. We don't. Okay. I'll pick up the phone. I'll call legal.

Ryan Eaton: No and it's all those different pieces that come together, I love that. And I think it's y'all's leadership team did a great job pulling all that together to make sure y'all did that, what would you say? You gotta say something, your leadership team has done extremely well, right? Maybe even a chance for you to brag about the leadership team. What's something that you guys do great and excellent from that standpoint?

Tom Dimmer: Yeah, that's a great segue because not only did they help see the whole scope of having a project officer involved now, but also being involved. Our senior leadership when it comes to like our individual platform partners and keep in mind, we're talking, we don't know if it's going to be a couple hundred people, a couple thousand, 10, 000 people, so those big numbers get people's attention and it gets our senior leadership attention as well. And when I'm vetting these new prospects and these new opportunities, they're on calls. They're getting updates during the sales process, so they don't just see it once we bring it in, they know what we're out there tracking. Yeah. Like, how's that going? And is there anything that we need to do internally? So they're already getting like our ducks in a row before we even hit implementation.

Ryan Eaton: So they're engaged. Basically.

Tom Dimmer: They're engaged. They have our back and they're making sure that everybody's held accountable to, that are going to be part of that new project.

Ryan Eaton: That's great. All right, so we're here at the ICMG conference, right? And we're both of us probably have 20 to 30 meetings over the next, two days, everybody, all the different things going on. What are you most excited about for 2024 in the insurance industry?

Tom Dimmer: Wow. Alright. So a lot of the things, and I love ICMG because it's not only just new business but it's also existing business. Morgan White group, long time partner. It gives us a great time to get.

Ryan Eaton: Catch up.

Tom Dimmer: Yeah to catch up beat, meet face to face, which is really lacking a lot. Gotta get back on the road and see everybody.

Ryan Eaton: That's exactly right.

Tom Dimmer: Some of the things that we're excited about, especially as we enter 24. Is beefing up our senior products, especially for Medicare sales. Ancillary is always a good add on. I talk a lot about the health care, happy meal. Everybody comes in. Looking for the burger, do you want the biggie fry or the small fry? I love that happy meal analogy because everybody loves a happy meal. They don't just go in for the burger, they want everything that goes with it. General vision. Maybe the hearing. So we've got that going. The gig economy continues to chug along as a potential marketplace. It's been strong for us over the years. And now this whole ICHRA thing is really bubbling up and we're seeing more and more platforms just picking up the phone and calling us going, Hey, we have an ICHRA platform or we're going to start one. We really need some individual ancillary. Do you have something that could fit it? And we're morphing some of our individual products now to meet that. I'm really excited about that as well.

Ryan Eaton: I agree with you on that, we've started getting some of those same type phone calls and they're popping up all over the place. And I think that's pretty. All right. So last question, Tom, for you I got today. Thinking from a leadership standpoint, what has been the biggest leadership lesson you learned that's maybe impacted you the most? Or maybe your favorite leadership quote or a principle that you tried to lead others by? Put you on the spot there.

Tom Dimmer: Yeah. Awesome. God, in 37 years, the first one I've always heard about, and that's helped in the sales. It won't matter in a hundred years, you got to just let some of that bad baggage go, and focus on what you're going to do for me in the sales and business development on the next sale. Let it go. Learn from your lesson. What did you take away from that? And how can you become a better either sales, manager or just person in general, right? And just take that and then take that into the next coming year.

Ryan Eaton: Oh, I love it. Dave Ramsey has something along those lines he says, if it's not going to matter in five years, don't spend more than five minutes worried about it. And that's it, just dropping it behind, leaving it and going from there. Tom, thank you so much for being on this has been a blessing to me as well, just hearing your experience on there so thank you for being here. For those listening on the show today, thank you for listening in and remember a good plan today is better than a great plan months from now. Thank you for joining in.

Thanks for listening to today's episode of the Insurance Leadership Podcast. Make sure you subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you'll be notified of future episodes, or stream online at insuranceleadershippodcast. com. Have a great day, everyone.