IBA: Higginbotham has been recognized by Texas Monthly as one of the best companies to work for in Texas. How do you support the success of your producers and employees?
The foundational, singular thing you can point to is employee ownership. Everyone in our firm either owns stock directly, or they participate in our profit incentive plan. That really creates alignment between those who are out in the production force and those who are supporting the producers. We are very much what I describe as a “performance-based company” – when we experience success, so do the employees because they benefit as owners of our firm.
Our mission statement is to “exceed expectations” – of our employees, clients, carriers and communities we serve. We really do take all that to heart and make sure we always keep that first and foremost in all our interactions.
IBA: How important is the next generation to Higginbotham?
Youth is a great thing at Higginbotham. We bring in young professionals every single year, typically twice a year, and not only do they bring with them fresh energy, they also bring new ideas, new innovations, etc. We are very intentional about growing our firm, so we have a strategy to grow it – we are not just going to sit back on our laurels. We are not going to overwork our people, either. We are going to continue to add talent to supplement and support our growth. The fact that we invest in youth is a bet we have made, and that’s a bet we have won, and it has aided us as we continue to pursue our growth.
IBA: How are you attracting and growing that new talent?
We have what we describe as our “newbie program”; it’s where we recruit individuals out of college. For those newbies who join us right out of college, we have Higg U, and we actually developed our own curriculum for those newbies that goes above and beyond just getting their license. In Higg U, they develop coverage expertise and sales principles, and then they mentor under one of our seasoned producers.
IBA: Tell us about F.O.R.C.E. What does it stand for?
F.O.R.C.E. stands for Family of Responsible Caring Employees. Every employee is a member of our F.O.R.C.E. and has opportunities to participate in volunteer community development projects. We also have our Higginbotham Community Fund, which we established in 2011. That is a private foundation where every office has representation on the Higginbotham Community Committee.
In each office, people have the opportunity quarterly to submit a request for a grant to go to their favorite cause. The only rule is that if you contribute to the fund, then you have a right to make a request for something that’s important to you in the community. Since starting the fund in 2011, we have supported about 400 different nonprofits across the state with more than $700,000 in grants, and it’s truly a corporate initiative. We have found that it has become a part of our culture and something our employees support significantly.
IBA: Can you describe what Higginbotham’s Day Two Services are and what makes it unique?
Most people in the mid-market sector kind of do what we describe as “day one work.” They go out, they try to get the best cost, coverage and cash fl ow for their clients, and then they see them at next year’s renewal. Our belief is that after you deliver the renewal, that’s when the real work begins, and that’s what we call Day Two.
There are two components to Day Two. One is risk management. We have a team of our own in-house loss control people, in-house contract review people and in-house adjusters. We have online technology tools that help us do data mining to really help provide a drilldown capability on claims.
The second is employee benefits, with our own in-house wellness directors and our own in-house attorney who came from the Department of Labor, who was in charge of enforcing the ACA – so we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have him on our team and support our clients as they navigate through Obamacare and what it may entail?
We have our own in-house communications department to help our clients in branding their benefit programs. We bundle all that up and refer to that as our Day Two Services. That has really given us a leg up on the competition in the markets we serve.