In this episode Carey and Lindsay sit down with Aaron Gordon from Gordon Companies Insurance...
Episode #15 - The Bots Have Arrived w/ Mike Fusco
In this episode, Carey and Lindsay sit down with Mike Fusco from Fusco Orsini & Associates Risk and Insurance Services to talk all about the bots he has deployed in his agency. We cover what his bots do, how it impacts his staff and what he thinks it means for the future of both his agency and the industry.
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Lindsay Wallace (00:01.876)
Hey mom, how's it going?
Carey Wallace (00:04.610)
I am having a great day. How are you doing?
Lindsay Wallace (00:07.432)
I'm doing good, really good.
Uh, today is a fantastic day. We have the incredible, awesome Mike Fusco with us from Fusco and Orsino Associates. Welcome to the show, Mike.
Mike Fusco (00:33.718)
Thank you, Kerry. It's awesome to be here. Nice to meet Lindsay, finally. You guys have a great thing going, congratulations. It's nice to see the mom-daughter connection. That's pretty cool stuff.
Carey Wallace (00:37.789)
Yeah, I appreciate that. You know, you're not the first person who said that, but I appreciate that. It's a really fun thing to do, and I hope more people actually figure out a way to get this next generation's view on our industry. Unfortunately, there's too many of us and not enough of them, and I think Lindsay has a way of bringing insights and questions and just thought processes to the things that we're trying to solve. So anyway, I'm pretty excited about it.
Mike Fusco (00:46.631)
Mm-hmm. It's really cool.
Carey Wallace (01:12.821)
Speaking of forward thinking though, you know, I gotta tell you Mike, you're doing some pretty incredible things inside your agency. You and I have gotten to know each other over the last, I don't know, maybe two years, is that right?
Mike Fusco (01:26.427)
Yeah, I'd say maybe two, three years or so.
Carey Wallace (01:28.913)
Yeah, and you know, you've been very forward thinking with technology. You've been very forward thinking with how you've grown your agency. And most recently you've made some, um, you know, you've made some investments in the way of using robotics inside your agency. And I was at a conference recently and I, I always quote agents that I know.
and use examples of agents that I know, and I can see the impact inside their agency. So obviously you were part of my presentation and it was the most talked about thing. So I would love for you to start at the beginning. Number one, how did you even get close to robots in your agency and help us guide us along? Like how did that work?
Mike Fusco (02:16.958)
Yeah. Yeah. You know, full disclosure, when it comes to the development and all that good stuff, when it comes to these bots, I'm not the guy to talk to. But there are very good companies out there that do this stuff. And I can always give referrals to people that want to be introduced. But I think really, you know, I started looking at it. It's called RPA technology, repetitive process automation. So, you know, nowadays.
Carey Wallace (02:40.926)
Mike Fusco (02:46.014)
We hear a lot about AI, right? It's all over. I mean, that's the big hot button in 2023, with the invented chat GPT and all these crazy technologies. The two were very similar in the sense that, it could help you become more efficient, more productive. It's just the way that they're developed and programmed are completely different. So what an RPA technology does, and the people that build these bots, is essentially it teaches the bot process every single time. So it's developed to do the same thing every time. So if you think about as agency owner, right, or a business owner, but specifically here talking about insurance agencies, we have to do a lot of repetitive tasks all day long. So I started thinking of RPA technology to take that repetitive type, those repetitive monotonous, not fun things that our employees don't love to do, off their plates so that they can start doing
things that they enjoy doing every day, and that we can kind of replace that with the technology that we've employed. So to talk about it, yeah, I started looking at this, maybe right at the onset of COVID. I don't know where I was reading. And it's crazy, Kerry, that you asked this, because I was on a Zoom call, probably in like April or May of 2020. And I remember I was like the only person in my office, everyone was working from home. I came in every day.
And a gentleman from, and if the person's listening to this podcast, please reach out to me again, because it was the one and only time I talked to this person. It's an agency owner somewhere out of IOA that heard me on a, talking about technology on, on someone else's event or podcast, and he reached out to me. And we got on a zoom call and it was the one and only time I ever spoke to him. I've no, I can't remember the name for the life of me. There was no followup after this. It's just a crazy thing. And he's like, yeah, man, like.
You see this computer sit next to me? I'm like, yeah. He's like, well, I'm building, there's a robot that works on that machine all day long. I was like, what? He's like, yeah, I built, it's called RPA. And he built it himself, developed this bot. And he's like, tell me all this stuff it can do inside of the AMS and all. I'm like, and it blew my mind, you know? So I'm like, man, but anyway, so that's when I started kind of researching it and it came to fruition.
Mike Fusco (05:14.006)
Right after we saw each other, Carrie and Indy, last year, because I researched it, I wanted to get it going. I put it on the back burner. Then our good friend, Jeff Royce, talked about it during our mastermind. And I was like, man, I gotta get back to that. So that's when I got serious.
Carey Wallace (05:24.437)
Lindsay Wallace (05:26.697)
Lindsay Wallace (05:31.656)
So my mom's gonna be mad at me because I'm about to go a little off script here. But, so this is like automating things is honestly, I like to say that it like flosses my brain, right? To like take different tasks that you have to do daily and just make them automated or for me marketing automation, like that's like where I thrive. I like to figure out.
Mike Fusco (05:37.739)
No, go off script. It's fun.
Lindsay Wallace (06:06.464)
Oh my gosh, the word is escaping my brain. Differences like sequences and flows of communications to make it flow easier and make it all, you can track it all. So I guess, how do you, there've been a couple projects I've worked on in my short, short career. I mean, I've only been working full time for about a little over a year now. And I found lots of things to automate that previously people had to do by hand.
Lindsay Wallace (06:34.176)
How did you identify the things to start with, where you targeted in, okay, this is what the bot's gonna do? How'd you identify those things?
Mike Fusco (06:46.094)
That's a great question. So I'll go back one more step. So I think, like you said, Lindsay, we've been automating since we started the agency, just on different levels. I mean, our first true automation that we've built out and that we run every single day and about 4,000 tasks a week is marketing automation, conversational automation. And I don't mean marketing in the sense of drip marketing or email.
blast, I'm talking about conversational marketing with our clients, you know, in the everyday sales process, in the day to day sales process, in the renewal process, in the claims process, in the audit process, you know, through text messaging and that kind of stuff. So that, that was something that we, you know, focused on automating and that's not done through any RPA technology. That's all done through API technology. And so I said, okay, I need an API now because we've built this.
Lindsay Wallace (07:26.877)
Mike Fusco (07:45.214)
entire ecosystem of our sales process and our marketing process and our automation there. I need an API to connect that with our backend, which is our Epic system, Applied Epic, to communicate so that our people don't have to do double keystrokes. I want the data to flow between the two. I don't want to have to be able to enter it twice. I don't want the data to get mixed up. I don't want there to be any inaccuracies or messes in the data.
Lindsay Wallace (08:02.921)
Lindsay Wallace (08:13.460)
You're speaking my language.
Mike Fusco (08:13.718)
So I reached out and I'm not going to say who I reached out to or who gave me this quote, but I reached out to developers to build that API connection. And in a six week contract, because they told me it would take six weeks, it was going to cost our agency $75,000 to develop the API integration. Plus additional licensing that we would have had to buy to have the custom development.
enabled with our AMS for another $12,000 a year.
Mike Fusco (08:49.622)
Diminishing returns, right? I mean, how could I be, how could, how long would it take me to get into ROI? I mean, at that point it's almost like I can just continue to have our people do the double keystroke. And it's.
Carey Wallace (08:51.031)
Lindsay Wallace (09:00.388)
Yeah, or you can get a VA or something, you know, like
Carey Wallace (09:00.981)
Well, the issue with that is, yeah, I mean, but the issue with that is, as soon as one of your systems changes, now you have to reprogram, correct?
Mike Fusco (09:04.131)
Mike Fusco (09:15.026)
Yeah, I mean, yes, yes. I mean, and there would be, I feel like there would always be some sort of upkeep with that type of development. And I just wasn't willing to spend that kind of money to get the data to flow. So that's when I kind of went back to RPA and I said, okay, if that's what it's gonna cost me to develop an API, I know that RPA is far less expensive than that, just based on the research I had done before.
Carey Wallace (09:24.553)
Yeah, no kidding. Yeah.
Mike Fusco (09:44.262)
And so how much would it cost me to develop my first bot? And that's when I said, okay, break it down into the least common denominator, like bring it down to the floor level, the foundational workflow, make it simple. All I want the first bot to do is take my renewal list out of my AMS and move it into the pipeline in our CMR and our, in our, um, CRM. That's all I wanted to do. And.
We developed our first bot to do that. It lives inside Epic. It works off our renewal list based on date, renewal date, and then drops it into a preparation pipe stage of our pipeline so that at that point, our account manager or our broker could pick it up. And it saves. I estimated that it saves them between five and seven minutes of taking the data from Epic and moving it into our CRM, the bot every single time. And we renew.
you know, 400 policies a month. So do the math, 400 times five, it's 2000 hours a month that I saved and the bot just does it every single time, right?
Lindsay Wallace (10:49.329)
Lindsay Wallace (10:52.796)
Well, you're also saving your staff the, if it's 400 a month, how many mistakes are they going to make when they're moving? I mean, you can have the best employee possible, they're still going to make a mistake. So one's wrong a month, you're dealing with maybe upset customer, someone got lost. It's not only the small time that it saves you in each policy, but the mistakes that it would take to correct those.
Lindsay Wallace (11:23.924)
or the time that it would take to correct the mistakes.
Mike Fusco (11:26.698)
Oh yeah, and also people don't like doing monotonous things all day long. I mean, it's people want their job to be. They want, they want challenges in that work. They want more out of their work. They want to form, you know, putting renewal information from one system that already exists somewhere else all day long is not the best morale booster. Uh, they'd rather be doing more, you know, growing their career. I'm sorry, Carrie, you go ahead.
Carey Wallace (11:38.467)
Lindsay Wallace (11:49.130)
Carey Wallace (11:53.653)
Yeah, so Mike, did you talk to your team and say, tell me the things that are super monotonous, or did you just go through your process and say, this is something that happens all the time? Because I think the challenge with this is, first of all, there are agents listening to this that are saying, you guys are talking about virtual assistants, you're talking about all these things, we don't know how to even use that. Now you're talking about bots, like give me a break. So tell me how you...
Mike Fusco (12:20.343)
Carey Wallace (12:22.697)
tell me how you came up with which things, because I think what you're pointing out is you pick something that's monotonous that you have to do in your agency and nobody's going to balk at having it done for them. You know what I mean? Like it's a win-win-win all the way around. If you pick something that maybe your team didn't believe in or your team didn't support, then it would be a much better lift in order to have adoption and have this go well. So how did you?
Mike Fusco (12:42.667)
Thanks for watching!
Carey Wallace (12:52.889)
involve your team or think about the things that you wanted to automate.
Mike Fusco (12:57.998)
Great question, I'll be honest. Bot one and two, I didn't involve them at all because I just knew that we had to get that done. I knew there was gonna be no pushback or no resistance from, well bot one and two are really, really simple. I mean, I told you guys what bot one did. Bot two simply works in the reverse order. When we have new business going through our new business stages of our CRM, the bot combs it all day long and just creates accounts in Epic.
Carey Wallace (13:02.653)
Lindsay Wallace (13:05.210)
Carey Wallace (13:15.285)
Mike Fusco (13:27.198)
under a prospect and builds the shell. So now, and it takes the account number, the account ID, and puts it right back in our CRM for our agent. So no one's gonna complain about that being done for them. Cause now when they write the business and they're ready to bind, it's all already in it. They don't have to go back in and type it all out again. Seven minutes each time. When you're writing a hundred policies plus a month, new business, that's 700 hours right there that we're saving each month.
Carey Wallace (13:48.190)
Mike Fusco (13:56.786)
in manpower. So now three, which I think is our best one, I got to say, I love our bot number three, because it's our onboarding bot. And that I did get our team involved. I got our service team involved, because for one, I didn't really understand their process as well as I should have, only because I wasn't really too involved on the service side of the business over the years. Now, Valerie, my business partner, she kind of helped the service team build out all their workflows.
you know, all their day-to-day and the processes. I knew the general big picture process, but I didn't know exactly step-by-step. So we got them involved and said, hey, what can we offload? What can we take off your plate? Because I know our service team is very, very busy. And I try to tell our people all the time, I wish I could hire ourselves out of the hole that we're, you know, in terms of being busy. I wish I could hire more people to help you guys all day long, but we just.
Mike Fusco (14:54.526)
As every agency owner knows, we have parameters we need to stay in. As Kerry, as you know, when you look at the budget, when you look at the P&Ls, when you look, there's only so many people you can hire. I mean, you can't, you know, you can't have a hundred people at an agency when, you know, you're generating a certain amount of revenue. So they were more than happy, more than happy to say, okay, we're going to create an onboarding bot and the bot's going to live in Epic and we're going to assign it a task and here's what it's going to do. You know, it's going to create.
Carey Wallace (15:06.261)
Mike Fusco (15:25.026)
Credentials and CSR 24 it's gonna create a VOC It's gonna attach our client offerings and it's gonna send a nice email from you CSR to the client Welcoming them to the agency every single time and it's gonna do it the same way every single time It's gonna do it every single morning and you guys won't have to worry about doing that anymore Sweet and that bots been running now for about two months and it's just it's brilliant. It's just it's brilliant and it does the same thing
the same way every single day, every single time, and our CSRs don't have to do it.
Lindsay Wallace (16:02.604)
So are your bots things that you customize to build out? Or are they things that the person who does the bots for you already has the workflow? Like do they have a template or how does that work? So I'm gonna go ahead and start with the first one. So I'm gonna start with the first one.
Mike Fusco (16:15.934)
No, so that's an awesome question. That's an awesome question. I know based on the research I've done, almost every company that does RPA technology has case studies and they've built certain bots that are out of the box. And they'll give you, if you reach out to these companies and you ask them, hey, what can I do? They'll give you some ideas, some case studies that they can employ for you. For us, they've all been custom.
They've all been custom. We built them custom from the ground up because like we just felt like we need something a little different than what they had already offered. Now I know there are some LPA companies that they'll only offer out of the box.
Lindsay Wallace (16:45.129)
Lindsay Wallace (16:52.840)
Mike Fusco (17:00.022)
pots that are already developed and they just plug them in for you. But I needed something more custom. And my fourth one right now that we're developing is a cancellation bot. His name is Luke Obotsky. He's, he'll make you swim with the fishes and he doesn't mess around with non-pay. If you're not making your payments, he's coming after you. So that one, Carrie, to go back to your question, I asked our, I know what our CSRs hate doing. I know what our team hates doing all day. They hate following up on non-pay cancellation.
Lindsay Wallace (17:00.213)
Mike Fusco (17:30.382)
with the same clients every single month. So I said to myself, okay, there's one or two ways we're gonna go. Either I'm gonna stop following up on non-pays altogether, I'm gonna send an email to our clients and tell them, hey, no longer in the next 30 days, this is the end of this, we're not gonna follow up with you anymore. Because it's the same people every single month that we're trying to retain. And I would tell my CSRs, you don't have to do that anymore. You're alleviated of the monotony.
of following up a client's on non-pays. Or the other way to go is we have to automate it. So we decided to automate it. You know, we're retaining 94% of the customers that go into non-pays by putting them into a sequence that the bot creates.
Lindsay Wallace (18:17.956)
So when that bot happens, does the communication, are like, are the customers aware that the communication is coming from a bot or does it just come from agency owner? Like, can you control that?
Mike Fusco (18:35.307)
I don't think they're aware. They could be aware, but I don't think they're aware. In the cancellation one that we're generating, that we're creating, it's going to have text messaging. And what it does is the sequence is already built out. The campaign's already there. So all the bots going to do now is basically take the data from the NOCs and upload it into a custom form that still kicks it into the same campaign that our people were putting people into.
So it's still gonna come from us. Like the text messaging is still coming from us. The emails are still coming from us. All the, so they don't, they're not gonna know the difference, right? Now on the email onboarding.
Mike Fusco (19:17.546)
I guess if you got it a couple years in a row, you might start to figure it out. Like this seems pretty similar every time I get this email. But I mean, it could just be anything. I mean, it could be that we have a template already built, you know.
Lindsay Wallace (19:24.856)
Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Lindsay Wallace (19:31.540)
Carey Wallace (19:31.549)
Yeah, but honestly, if you're using HubSpot, that would be the exact same thing. So if your people were in HubSpot and they were sending the same message every time something happened, because they're using, they're putting them in the sequence, that would be the exact same thing. It's just a matter of, is a human doing that? Or is there an automated process doing that, correct?
Mike Fusco (19:52.246)
Yeah, and I don't even know that people, and Lindsay, it's a great question because I've thought about that a lot over the years, but I don't even know that people even care. You know, at first I was like, man, are people gonna, are customers gonna be dissatisfied because they know that we're automating these messages or it's not coming from, I don't even think they care. I think that as long as they get the reminders, they're getting the service and the value, that they go with it, you know?
Lindsay Wallace (19:58.813)
Lindsay Wallace (20:07.953)
Lindsay Wallace (20:13.500)
Well, and I think nowadays, people are so attuned to signing up for a calendly meeting and getting the reminders from calendly. It's very obvious that it's not me sending the reminder saying, hey, Mike, we're meeting in 30 minutes, get on the call. That's very obvious that it's coming from calendly, like I set up an automatic reminder. So I really don't think people care, but I think sometimes the people who are doing the work care more about it than...
the people who are receiving the communication. We care more about the customer experience and we want them to think we're here reminding them of every little thing, but it can be automated and it's the exact same. The customer doesn't care that much.
Mike Fusco (21:00.174)
I don't think they care. And I think for us, for our people, I think people fear replacing, that they'll be replaced eventually by all this crazy stuff we're talking about. But I don't look at it that way and I never will. I'll look at it as supplementing, as enhancing, as allowing our people to be better. Almost like these are all assistants to them. I tell my salespeople all the time, hey, the automation we have in place for the sales
Lindsay Wallace (21:11.273)
Mike Fusco (21:30.166)
Think of that as your assistant. You know, it's doing the follow-up for you. It's creating that initial message, but that doesn't mean that you're still not the point of contact for the client. You know, same with the CSRs. Think of it as your assistant working for you behind the scenes, you know?
Lindsay Wallace (21:39.335)
Carey Wallace (21:44.757)
So you just shared with us that you've got four bots, you've got three in place, you're developing your fourth, correct? Tell me from start to finish how long this bot development took and round about what cost is, Mike. So people have an idea because if I were sitting here listening to this podcast, I'd be like, man, that's not something I can do. Like...
Mike Fusco (21:51.202)
Carey Wallace (22:07.741)
This guy's in La La Land. I don't know what he's doing. And it's, most people think some of this stuff is out of reach, right? And I would love to put some perspective around this. So from start to finish, the start to finish on the first one, how long did that take? Because it might've gotten faster, right?
Lindsay Wallace (22:10.339)
Mike Fusco (22:13.792)
Mike Fusco (22:26.194)
Yeah, great call. And the thing is, you know, at first you don't know what to expect. But, and there is a lot of back and forth. I do got to say that you got to be patient with the process because the bots never going to work right the first time. But if you have a good company developing it for you, they understand that and they do a lot of testing and they know what it takes to get it to the right level. And
they're going to be patient with you just as much as you are with them. But I'd say the first one, you know, four weeks.
Carey Wallace (23:02.053)
Oh wow, wow.
Mike Fusco (23:04.606)
In four weeks it was going. Uh, and then, you know, you've, even when it starts going, you'll find things that you have to tweak or change. And, you know, every morning we get reports in Excel spreadsheet that they bought actually makes. They make the reports for you and they send them to you and it tells you exactly what they did, you know, what they processed and if there was an error, why. Uh, so you start to learn, you know, the onboarding bot had some, you know, the bots, I say that they go rogue sometimes. Like they'll do some weird things and you're like, what the heck?
Lindsay Wallace (23:04.948)
Mike Fusco (23:33.198)
But then you realize you kind of missed a step in the process because you got to teach it every step. So if you missed a step, it's going to miss a step. And then there's always those different factors that get involved and you're like, okay, I didn't think of that. We have to install this type of metric to make sure it doesn't happen again. But you just got to have patience with it. But I got to be honest, like our first three are now running so smooth that it's amazing. Like we don't even, we still look at the reports every day, but we don't have any issues anymore. But this last one, the onboarding bot, only took about two weeks to develop. Now the cancellation bot's gonna take longer and the reason why is because we're teaching it to parse out info from every carrier's NOC. So we're starting with our first top 10 carriers plus our premium finance carrier to pick out all the info from the NOCs and learn how to read the NOC. So all we have to do is forward the NOC to an email address and the bot picks it up from there. Yeah, it's pretty crazy stuff. So this one I...
Carey Wallace (24:04.821)
Lindsay Wallace (24:26.674)
Lindsay Wallace (24:30.548)
So it doesn't only pull data from your CRM, but it also pulls data, like you can give it data that's not, well, it would have to be put in the, whatever acronym you just said, NOC. I'm not very insurancy, but okay. So yeah, that's sad that I don't know that. But like, so you can just forward it a PDF and it, as long as the PDF is always looks the same, it...
Mike Fusco (24:44.482)
Uh, yeah, it's from a PDF, like just a regular insurance document.
Carey Wallace (24:48.117)
Mike Fusco (24:50.186)
Yeah. Oh, no, that's OK. Yeah. No, you can, you can.
Lindsay Wallace (24:59.252)
can pull the information from the, wow, that's really cool.
Mike Fusco (25:02.542)
Correct. And what it does is we have a custom intake form that it takes exactly boom, boom, boom, boom, puts it in the form and it goes into the CRM exactly in the fields that you want it to.
Carey Wallace (25:12.757)
So here's what I'm hearing, just so, let's just put this in perspective. Cause you know, I think about value of an agency, scalability, what it does to your team, cause that's what I do, obviously. That's my translation every single time. So if I go to Fusco and Orsino, I know that it's going to be consistent. The data is going to be cleaner than the average agency.
Lindsay Wallace (25:12.960)
Carey Wallace (25:39.725)
You're going to have higher efficiency numbers in your service, and you probably will have a higher retention with your staff because they might like their job a little bit better. You might also be able to pay them a little bit more because they can do more than an agency that doesn't have these kinds of things together. I'm not saying you should. I mean, if your staff's listening to that, that wasn't a pay raise. But my point is
Lindsay Wallace (26:04.477)
Carey Wallace (26:06.061)
That's the kind of thing you have to be thinking about. Is if you're afraid of doing some of these things because we want the personal touch or we want these things, you don't need a personal touch in something that is never contacting a customer. It is literally streamlining work inside your agency. And for many, I think even virtual assistants are difficult to wrap your head around. But if you have a...
defined process and you can tell that virtual assistant to do it this way every single time It can actually create efficiencies. This took it even step further where it's not a human being now It's it's literally an automated process doing it which is insane, right? I mean, it's literally insane And we all think that this is like george jetson And it's now it's happening right now, you know, it's crazy, right?
Mike Fusco (27:01.430)
People get scared of it. It's not, it's only gonna get, it's only gonna move the momentum and the speed of what it, the way that it builds is gonna get even faster, stronger. And if you're trying to fight it, you might lose. And I'm not trying to be, I'm not trying to sound like an a-hole or anything, but I'm telling people that you gotta start to learn this stuff. And you know, you gotta use, yeah.
Carey Wallace (27:19.442)
I would agree.
Carey Wallace (27:26.717)
Well, you're competing against people who are like, that's the bottom line. You are literally competing against people who are thinking about this. I say it all the time. You know, if you've ever gone to a presentation of mine, I talk about those that are going to be acquired and those that will acquire and those that acquire are trying to figure out how to build scale and profitability inside their business in order to be able to have the infrastructure to be able to acquire. And this is a perfect example of that. Um, so.
Tell me what the future looks like. What's bot number five, six, and seven? Do we know?
Mike Fusco (28:01.814)
I know FIVE is going to be a customer facing chatbot, which lives inside our CSR24 portal. And it's going to be able to answer questions, pull information, provide documentation, and direct clients to us if they need to speak to us. But we find that and we've had, I've kind of worked our chat. We have a right now an off kind of off the shelf.
Carey Wallace (28:08.754)
Mike Fusco (28:31.554)
chat messenger inside our CSR24 portal, and I've been working it for about the last six, seven months. And I find that the top five questions are basically the same from every single client. It's how do I pay my bill? How do I get a COI? How do I change my driver? How do I add an auto? And how do I file a client? So why would I be sitting there all day? Or why would any of my team be sitting there all day answering the same five questions?
Lindsay Wallace (28:32.842)
Mike Fusco (29:01.110)
when I can just program a bot that works on an RPA basis that knows exactly how to do
Mike Fusco (29:10.378)
deliver that information to the client. Now, of course you always wanna give the client the opportunity if the bot doesn't work, but this is gonna be some pretty high level stuff where it's not gonna be your out of the box type, okay, here's an FAQ list. I actually hate that, to be honest with you guys. I can't stand that when you're trying to interact with the business online and you're using their chat feature and you ask it a question and throws you a knowledge base.
Lindsay Wallace (29:11.369)
Mike Fusco (29:39.955)
I hate that.
Carey Wallace (29:40.669)
I would agree. Yeah, I literally disengage immediately and call a number or something. It's like super annoying. Yeah, which means we have to be aware of that. Like I think that's maybe the downside is that you'll be viewed that way. And you could take it to the point where it hurts the relationship, but again, I don't think we're anywhere near that line in a lot of organizations, right? So, yeah.
Lindsay Wallace (29:40.965)
Mike Fusco (29:46.698)
It's so annoying.
Mike Fusco (30:06.366)
Yeah, yeah, I'll say it again. Like you try to get if you can, if you can take the most repetitive task and still make it a good experience for the client, then why not do it? But then, you know, take your top five, but still keep your six through 20 with your people. You know, if someone needs and has a coverage question or if someone needs an additional quote or if someone, you know, has high levels of questions about, you know, you know, you guys know what I'm saying.
Then it comes to us, but if it's, how do I pay my bill every time? Well, okay. I know who you are, Mr. Wallace. Here's how you pay your bill. You're with Liberty mutual. I know exactly who the carrier is. Here's a link to their website. Here's their phone number. Here's your account number. Here's how you pay your bill. Why not just deliver that on the spot?
Carey Wallace (30:48.530)
Lindsay Wallace (30:53.440)
Lindsay Wallace (30:57.556)
So are there any, yeah, yeah, are there any like pieces of this process that you have started and then stopped or I guess even the better question is there any like piece of your tech stack that you've just completely gone away with that you like replaced with a bot?
Mike Fusco (30:57.794)
You know what I mean?
Mike Fusco (31:21.038)
That's a great question. No, not yet. Is my answer.
Lindsay Wallace (31:23.764)
Do you see, in the future will that happen?
Mike Fusco (31:28.130)
Possibly. Possibly. I've kind of been the type that I don't like to add new pieces to the tech stack unless it's something that I know is gonna work or that I've tested myself before I roll it out. And so I don't think we have a lot of inefficiencies in our tech stack. I do think we spend more money than we should on our technology. And I think Kerry would probably agree with me. However.
Lindsay Wallace (31:44.649)
Carey Wallace (31:53.845)
Hmm, I'm gonna stay silent on that little number just in case you're wondering.
Lindsay Wallace (31:54.197)
Mike Fusco (31:59.304)
However, I think we're at a point now with our team. And I think we've probably overspent in the last couple of years. But I think now we have an opportunity with what we've spent and what we have in place to grow exponentially. I think we can really add a lot of revenue to the top line with what we have and not have to add much more to the to the to the expense.
Mike Fusco (32:25.747)
So we're ready. We're ready to get to that next level with what we have. I think it's time to scale. And I think we have that stuff in place.
Carey Wallace (32:32.501)
So I want to just clarify that. I was joking with you slightly, but here's the thing. I think that agents like you are redefining what the benchmark is of what to spend on technology and what to spend on marketing and what to spend on infrastructure. Those are the metrics that are moving and shifting because...
It's also going to change what staffing you need for the volume that you have. It used to be when you get to a certain level, you need to add another CSR. When you get to a certain level, you need to add another administrative person. Well, if you're adding tech and you're adding automation, those numbers move and shift. So it's ridiculous to think that those benchmarks are now going to stay the same. So while I was joking with you, you do invest more in technology, clearly, because you're automating part of your process.
Carey Wallace (33:21.877)
I guarantee your metrics will change on what your staffing costs are, what your benefits costs are, what your occupancy costs are, because you won't have a staff that grows at the same rate as what your agency grows, which is again, what is going to separate those that can drive efficiency and scale and those that can't. I mean, it's really thinking about your business in a very different way and thinking about the roles of people in a very different way.
Carey Wallace (33:51.129)
And breaking it down to which roles have to be people driven and which roles can be technology driven and still maintain that relationship. Right. I mean, it's, it's one of the craziest things. Yeah.
Mike Fusco (34:01.302)
Absolutely. 100. I agree with you. 150%. And I think, you know, I hear this metric and I don't use it too much. But you know, I know a lot of agency owners talk about average revenue per employee.
Mike Fusco (34:19.166)
I don't know what best practices are. Carrie, you're gonna know that better than I do, but I think we can get to 300,000 revenue per employee. I think we can, and I don't think it would be a problem. In fact, we're right now in sight for 250, 250,000 per employee based on where I think we can get by the end of 2024 or beginning of 2025 without having to, you know, but I don't know. I mean, what is it? 165, 170?
Carey Wallace (34:30.961)
Carey Wallace (34:42.841)
I think it's right around 170 actually, but it depends on the size of the agency. So it's not this easy number I can spit out at you, but my point is I would agree. I think that those are the metrics that are going to move and shift, and those are the things you should be thinking about. So what about this, Mike? If someone is thinking about, I want to dip my toe in the water, is there any words of wisdom or advice you would give to someone who wants to go down this path, what would you tell them?
Mike Fusco (35:15.322)
I would tell them first and foremost, and you guys both, Lindsay and Kerry, touched on this, you have to first have your processes, your workflows, your standards, and your procedures have to be in place. Don't even bother if you're not there yet. You got to first get that stuff in place because all you're doing is plugging another piece into the puzzle, right? Just like when you hire a VA. Kerry, you said this multiple times in this conversation. Agencies have a very hard time bringing a VA into the mix.
If they don't already, they need, you already have to have the foundation built and it has to be strong if you want to start adding on top of it, right? Same thing goes for this technology. You got to have your processes. Everyone needs to know and you got to be able to just to insert, okay, I'm going to insert this bot here, this bot here because I already know the process and I already know where we can take ourselves out of it and put a bot in. That's number one. Don't even bother if you don't have that. If you have that.
Mike Fusco (36:10.302)
Let's say you're maybe 70% of the way, 50% of the way, this technology and going through the process could actually help you get to a hundred percent better workflow. It could help you get to that next, you know, reach that. So now you're at the best you can be in each because you're going to break it down so much when you build the bot that you're going to have to have that you're going to be, okay, that's something I can change in the way that we have already defined it. So that's number one. Number two, you know, research your companies.
There's a lot of good companies out there that are developing these bots. If you want any advice from me on who I've used, I'm happy to give that information out. But I do think you can take my referral, but I think you should do your own research because not everyone is going to think it's the best fit for them. I think it is for me, but not everyone is going to think it's the best fit for them. I will tell you that the expense is not.
Carey Wallace (37:00.946)
Mike Fusco (37:08.290)
probably not as much as you think it is. But you should research your options. And I think as we go along, there's gonna be more and more companies that bring this type of offer to the table for our industry. Carrie, as you know, is being talked about everywhere. But I would say, don't be scared of it. I mean, shit, go out there, find ways where you can do, talk to your people, let your team know what you're trying to accomplish. Carrie, I'll tell you this, like, you know,
Carey Wallace (37:24.915)
Mike Fusco (37:38.518)
We just put two CSRs through training, you know, because we were able to finally get them to a point where they're not swimming all day long or drowning, I should say. They're not, you know, getting swamped. I mean, we have someone else starting a CISR program, you know, we have people in CISR. I mean, this is good stuff. This is what we want. We want people to learn, develop, grow and be better at what they do. Right. Or we don't, you know, who, who wants.
Carey Wallace (37:51.549)
Carey Wallace (38:03.764)
100%. Yes, absolutely.
Mike Fusco (38:07.250)
You know, we don't want them moving data all day long. We want them learning, being better. But that's what I would say. That's the advice I would give to start off.
Carey Wallace (38:12.669)
Yeah. And I would also add, you know, when you're thinking about bots, you chose to build custom bots for your agency and go through that development work. There are companies out there that have these off the shelf because they understand that this is the same. I mean, and honestly, in the notes of this...
podcast, we'll actually put some of the company names, if you're okay, Mike, sharing those. Like if someone wants to know where to start, we'll do that. But I'm gonna talk about one that I met at One City World Tour. It's called Adapt API, where they basically go out to each of your carriers and they download the carrier reports for you and put them into your CRM or your agency management system. So it's literally, here's the process, we're gonna do that.
Mike Fusco (38:41.418)
Carey Wallace (39:04.137)
for those you actually pay per usage. You don't actually pay a development cost, it's paid per usage. So I agree with you. I think it's going to, the development will continue and the cost will be driven down because there's so many people in the space. Like anything, I think that there's a, you know, there's truly a market for it and certainly a market for it in our industry where there's so much repetitive and administrative work that
has the opportunity of being automated again, if you have the infrastructure. So I think, you know, one of the best things we can do is we're not just gonna have this conversation and give you nowhere to start. We'll give you at least a running start, but you're right. Everybody's gonna have to do their own research here, just like anything else and get educated on it and then apply it to your business the way that it makes the most sense. But don't ignore it is what I would tell you and don't think that it's so far in the future, right?
Mike Fusco (40:01.506)
Don't ignore it. Do not ignore it. You don't wanna fall behind on this stuff. And the same even goes for the AI. I mean, I've been trying to start to learn. I actually talked to the people, I had a meeting with them yesterday. The company is called Alleviant, the company I work with. And I had a talk, I said, hey, I sent them an email last week. I said, I need, where are you guys at with the AI? Like, what's your level of understanding? And how is this gonna start to play into our business?
And, you know, when I talked to them yesterday, they made me quite aware that they know a lot. I mean, they actually deploy AI technology within their company. Now it's just a different way. I mean, it's behavioral based versus process based. Um, but. You know, I want to have companies with me behind me that I'm doing business with that. Keep this stuff at the, on their radar. Cause I don't want to ever fall behind and not understand and figure out ways that it can help me. And I told them, I said.
Mike Fusco (41:03.102)
If you guys start building programs in AI that you think can help me, I want to know about it. I want to know about it right away. So don't forget about me. Because this stuff is crazy. Crazy moving fast. But no, Carrie, you're right. Don't bury your head in the sand because you think that it's too far-fetched or you're George Jetson cruising around in your spaceship. I mean, this stuff is here, man and it's going to get crazier.
Lindsay Wallace (41:32.432)
Oh yeah. So Mike, if someone wanted to find you and had questions, wanted to reach out to you, where can they find you?
Mike Fusco (41:40.866)
Give me a call. I'm right here on my phone. I love talking. A583841507. Mike at FOagency.com. Hit me up on LinkedIn. Love making connections there. But I'm more than happy to help. We have a lot of good people in this business. I love our counterparts. Carrie and I know a lot of the same people. They're all great. I want them all to succeed. I want the independent agency distribution channel to be the best it can be. Because I think that we bring the best value.
Mike Fusco (42:14.302)
in the way that we distribute our product. But I think that we all need to start to understand this stuff and be better. But anyone that I can help can reach out to me. And anytime.
Lindsay Wallace (42:29.428)
Thanks so much for coming on. This was such a great conversation. My boss and my boss's boss are gonna be so happy when I schedule a meeting with them on Monday and tell them we need to like deploy bots all over Indium. They're not prepared for the level of Lindsay that's about to come at them.
Mike Fusco (42:47.210)
No, they're not. I think Kat probably knows what's going on. She's sharp, man. So I don't think she's gonna fall behind anything. But no, thank you guys so much for having me. You guys are awesome. You're doing really good stuff.
Carey Wallace (42:51.410)
Yeah, I see you, sir.
Lindsay Wallace (42:51.528)
She is, she is. Ha ha ha.
Carey Wallace (42:54.694)
Carey Wallace (42:57.585)
Yeah, Mike, thank you so much. I'm pretty confident there's going to be a lot of agents that are happy that you came on and shared. And I agree with you. This is an incredible industry. The level of sharing and the level of, uh, you know, just ability to learn from each other is one of the things I love the most about this industry and it's people like you that make it that way. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story.
Mike Fusco (43:21.442)
Thank you ladies, you guys are great. I appreciate it.