Multi-Year Strategy for Benefits – Brent Bennett of Spectra Benefits

Brent Bennett, President and CEO of Spectra Benefits

Brent Bennett, the President and CEO of Spectra Benefits, grew his company’s revenue from $2.8 million in 2014 to $6 million in 2017, a 118% increase, and to around $7.2 million in 2018.  

Spectra Benefits provides insurance, savings and retirement plans to local businesses.  

In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Brent shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Focusing on clients who see benefits as an expression of their values and their culture.  
  • Increasing productivity by refining processes and workflows, and leveraging technology.    
  • Providing an outstanding work environment and culture, and career options for employees.  

Computer generated transcript - Spectra Benefits Interview (transcribed by Sonix)

Download the "Computer generated transcript - Spectra Benefits Interview" audio file directly from here. It was automatically transcribed by Sonix.ai below:

Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Brent Bennett, the President and CEO of Spectra Benefits, a provider of insurance, savings and retirement plans to local businesses. Welcome to the show Brent.

Brent Bennett: Thank you. Happy to be here.

Malcolm Lui: Brent, you grew your company's revenue from $2.8 million in 2014 to $6 million in 2017, a 118% increase, and in 2018 you hit around $7,2 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro, and how your company differs from the competition?

Brent Bennett: Yeah. So I wrote down this for a while in fact I started better in 2002 and we've had pretty good growth through that time it really is around that 2014 2015 when we really started accelerate our growth and what ways we did that is really by defining who our client was. You know we saw employee benefits or an employee benefit consulting firm and brokerage firm. So we brokerage health benefits for on case health insurance dental plans Excedrin you know really from 2002 to that 2014 we saw our customers as anyone any business that was out there that had you know five or more employees and we had clients literally ranging from his lowest three or four employees up to a couple thousand please. In 2014 we really averaged about 2010 when the economy crashed 2008 2009 we saw kind of bottom out around 2010. We saw a huge deviation from one company to an accident when I say company to an exit. Jack same industry very similar employee count and police size but a big difference in the cultural values and the way that they viewed benefits and really viewed our relationship whether they viewed this as a consultant that we could come in and really help them benchmark their plans see what other competitors were doing and use best practices.

Brent Bennett: Or if we were just a coding engine. If we're just looking out there to get quotes and another vendor for them and so as we looked at our clients that we're really spending a lot of time that we're value in their benefits they were using benefits as a tool to motivate their culture or to express what their culture is. Those are the companies in 2010 and frankly we're doing pretty good. They had higher company retention or employee retention they had client better client retention better revenue growth or at least didn't drop quite as much and really made a conscious choice to really focus on growth oriented clients and to choose our clients wisely. In 2014 we we let two of our sales team members go that wasn't them as individuals this was the size of their block. They had a lot of those Subway franchises things in nature that were great businesses but we couldn't add a lot of value to them. As we looked and saw you know those those companies that had maybe white collar blue collar grey color regardless of the industry that were really want to know a little bit higher touch employee experience. The interesting thing about our our firm or our industry is we don't charge anymore. You know we get paid by the carriers that we represent.

Brent Bennett: And so we don't charge anymore our services are really agnostic from one company from one broker to another. But what we know the value that we give or bring to our client changes pretty pretty drastically and so really the biggest change that fuel that growth was was the client mix right. We went through about 450 clients around 300 clients. We shaved off about a hundred and fifty or let those clients leave with some other salespeople. They were some of our smallest least profitable clients. And it wasn't the client side that was the mindset the culture you know whether they offered just health insurance where they offered health dental vision for ONC. And so as we monetize on those relationships we really saw you know or our firm grow we saw our existing clients the organic growth of our clients has been tremendous. I mean last year if I was to look you know we are organic growth was significantly more than our sales growth was which gets a little scary in terms of trying to be predicted you know trying to predict what that growth is going to be. But it's exciting from the standpoint that if we can pick our clients right we can really have some good growth as

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brent Bennett: They do the right things.

Malcolm Lui: Right. So how are you different from the competition is really your focus right. You are focusing on businesses that really see benefits as more than just a line item that they provide the employees really they see it as a important facet of their business

Brent Bennett: Yeah well and even our relationship changes and I say relationship meaning you know instead of just focusing on employee benefits oftentimes our education you know we do what we call hub universities we do them onsite. We've got a training facility holds about 40 people here on our office. We have our clients and at least on a quarterly basis and a lot of times you know prior to that we were having you know we were having meetings about insurance we were having meetings about COBRA we were having meetings about compliance. We still have those type of meetings but now we're having meetings about how to engage your employees. How do you know how to increase productivity how to communicate with say millennials or different generations things that have to do with benefits indirectly but are not typically what you'd hear from another insurance agent and that's where we've seen you know that tremendous growth and frankly better relationship with our clients and our clients are now our promoters not necessarily our salespeople are still doing a fantastic job but our clients are kind of spreading that or as they move from one client to another they're typically pulling us with them. You know we're retaining the existing client but we're picking up the new client that they choose as their employer

Malcolm Lui: Right now it is your your business take a hit when you called your client list from 450 to 300

Brent Bennett: Absolutely. Yeah yeah. I mean that was a scary practice right. It was really really a hard call because I think as we went through there we employed or employed a business coach to help us through that transition and we we had never up until that time really segmented our clients by a b and c clients. We thought you know we live here in Utah. So we're big ski. So we thought you know Snowbird solitude right clients. And as we really separated those it really became obvious that we just saw certain things that really jumped out to us. So yeah we we took about 18 percent top line yet but surprisingly we took very little bottom line. So it was interesting to see how much of those clients were kind of spinning our wheels. We weren't very profitable on them

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. And then by having those clients no longer with you. The ones that were requiring an our time. That said I'm getting a lot of revenue in profits for you. You're able to provide even better service to those who make

Brent Bennett: As well and our bandwidth increased. Right. I mean that was one of the most exciting things from a net standpoint as you fast forward two years. Good or bad we you know we had tremendous growth we added very little staff. So our net profitability actually increased dramatically even though our revenue went down

Malcolm Lui: Right. Yeah it's a nice a nice situation to be in right. To have more bandwidth.

Brent Bennett: After the fact just to Gary going into it but it was it was a good call 18

Malcolm Lui: Yeah.

Brent Bennett: Months later

Malcolm Lui: Yeah definitely. So you agree a business quite rapidly 2.8 million two thousand forty two seven point two million. Four years later the number one driver from what you share with me is your focus on a particular type of client. Right the ones who see you as a partner who see the service that you buy do that more than just meeting taking off the box really giving you more as a way of improving their own business. What are the other drivers of your growth.

Brent Bennett: The other one and this is still a work in progress. I mean this is something we're still working on every day but it's really refining our process it was the different you know we're in a very service. We're in a service industry. We're very much people you know relationships still matter a lot in our business it's not as much. It's much more a relationship than it is transactional. But we spent a lot of time and still do on just refine our process. And you know oftentimes we get it wrong and we have to try two or three times to twist twist this or find to it that but I think that was one of the other big big differences is really looking at productivity and saying well let's use let's leverage technology let's leverage processes let's take a workflow system so that we have some management oversight so it's not just that we're doing things more productive but we have more oversight so hopefully making less mistakes you know with an analyst a smaller staff they're really trying to use that technology instead of people get the best people and the things that are the least productive for them to do and try to outsource that or try and push that through technology solutions.

Malcolm Lui: Okay give you an example of how you're able to refine if there's a process that had a big impact.

Brent Bennett: Yeah. So so what are our renewal process. I mean customer service is paramount but rates matter a lot. You know you look at most employers medical insurance is typically for a white collar client. Typically the second largest expense next to zero is their benefit package. So one of things that we really streamlined was was you know are coding automation software instead of just looking out and you know coding. So as an example this is a third party vendor. But we spent a lot of time and frankly you know we're changing vendors just now. And so you know instead of looking at software they every couple of years we really made a cultural goal to analyze to reanalyze every six months. I didn't pull the trigger but we want to know what our plan B. If we were to change software we want to know exactly who it would be and what it would cost. So what every six months we went through a pretty rigorous RFP on our own our mission critical piece of software like coding. So for small group groups under 50 employees we would go out to each chairs respective Web site and all the data entry and it would kick it back out we put it in a spreadsheet. We contracted cost estimates about 80 grand a year but we found a piece of software we can enter at once it pulls out all five covers that we do it grabs the data quotes it and spreadsheets for us. So so now we can have one person that's significantly more productive. We cut down on our errors and our productivity goes up and hopefully the accuracy we've seen the accuracy go up as well. It's been great to have some of those that's been a little bit harder to it's harder to find those that are multi-state. It's easier if I know that are think like we're in Utah. So to find somebody to focus on Utah it's been great it's been harder as our clients have kind of grown out side the state which is one of the reasons that we've looked at partnering with some larger firms

Malcolm Lui: Right. Got it now. So the second driver be refining the processes processes and every technology workflow is there a third driver behind your growth

Brent Bennett: People. I mean I think you know probably one of the proudest moments for me is as our CEO and as kind of a decision maker or leader here at the company in 2017 where voters you know one of the top 25 best companies to work for in Utah. We spent a lot of time with our employees. We spent a lot of time making sure we have the right clients. We've also spent a lot of time making sure we have the right people but candidly it's you know that this may come out wrong but we've been pretty quick to fire right to say if we're if we're going to fail it's fail fast. And you know let's let's really interview for culture let's make sure that they have the skill set let's make sure they have the right talent and kind of the right mindset that we can train up you know we can train our industry but we kind of can't train culture very well or can't train work ethic and so you know over the last four or five years you know we've spent a lot of time trying to find the right people making sure they're in the right position and then really strength finding kind of finding out what are they naturally good at or frankly what do they enjoy doing. And that will change for different people on being flexible enough with their employees you know we're a small workforce with 32 employees or so for you know for a small company 32 employees. It's hard to allow people to kind of move into different positions especially once they're trained. But we found you know we've found that by doing that it makes people a lot happier on the jobs and frankly they'll step up and usually perform a lot better when they feel like there's some mobility in a job you know kind of a career path for them

Malcolm Lui: Right. So how do you interview for culture and work ethic.

Brent Bennett: That's it. So it's really tough. And I say that from a standpoint people interview really well sometimes and don't perform nearly as well. So so one of the things that we've done is a pretty rigorous interview process that we do typically four steps. We almost we not almost we always do a phone interview to get an idea of who they are. Walk through some things and make sure they're regimented or perfect. But then we get them in here and find that's a little different. We have the initial interview and we always do. What I would call a third interview or second in-person interview. And when we do that we pull in one of the people that would be their co-workers which is a little bit odd for us to do it first. You know as a poet and you know somebody that would be their peer their co-worker to interview them for the job but we found they ask a lot of questions and sometimes some deeper questions on a on a set level but also just on a fundamental level that they either click or they don't click. And so oftentimes you know work ethic maybe the wrong term. But I think that cultural value seeing how they react in certain situations how their demeanor has and then really letting our team kind of vote on how this would be your team member. And we're very team dependent. You know I mean for a company you know 32 we've got six salespeople the rest of sales support and so you know we're really interdependent upon each other so having by hand of you know this isn't just you know call your new co-worker but how do you buy for two or three people in that department of you. This is somebody we're really excited to sit next to and work with as really helped this

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. You spend more time with their co-workers than you do with their family right.

Brent Bennett: For sure

Malcolm Lui: You're going to make sure you're you're happy with them. Now you mentioned the hub very briefly early on in our conversation about the education that you provide to your clients. You talk a little bit about your relationship with hub

Brent Bennett: Yes so I a company you know the sixth largest insurance brokerage firm in the world. We've had an ongoing relationship about the last six or seven years just talking to know I would say very casual conversations I had always known that we wanted to you know likely wanted to sell them the firm or merge with another firm a little bit larger that has a lot larger scope and some of that is you know most of our clients that 80 percent of our clients over hundred employees are state. Several of our clients are overseas. And so you know how they approach me. We had about October of 2016 and now our schooling a 17. And so we actually sold the firm I retain some equity in hub that sold the firm to hub International in March of 2018

Malcolm Lui: And what does what is hub bring to the table

Brent Bennett: So resources. I mean frankly brings resources that we just would have never had at our size. So now we've got full time legal counsel now we've got a county the department and was a business owner and entrepreneur I love what I do but I love spend my time with clients. I don't love spending time looking over leases or negotiating a copy or lease or office lease or dealing with employee issues. And so being able to really push that to corporate still have control and autonomy over who we hire how much we pay them. Those types of items and how we run the office but we able to push off to somebody else so all of kind of the back and office or at least the corporate has really been great in terms of time and focus for me personally and I think most of our leadership team. But in terms of bringing tools and resource to table you know you've got over a million clients formed at the office in the US so as we have a client as an example that does an acquisition in California you know and call 45 different offices depend on who's closest and ask if somebody could run out help do an open enrollment meeting or call and say gosh can I get some help. Who's the local carriers that I should be looking out for this situation or the hospital administrator here that we can jump on the phone list just have an Evernote network and resource. You know 13000 employees nationwide as you know just brought more resources than I ever could to create a deal in my career.

Malcolm Lui: Right now. How's it going. How does it work if you needed to contact someone in this state for some assistance. Yeah it just kind of doing a favor for you as part of the Hub Group

Brent Bennett: Most

Malcolm Lui: Or

Brent Bennett: It depends. Right it depends on how. And so as an example the Army my new title now I've been presidency over spectrum will and so have that as we transition over to hub or have transitioned over to. I'm the Utah practice leader so I can manage our Utah office and the practice here in the state of Utah. I've got it. I mentioned California to my counterpart Shana Taylor who's in California both the time it's calling through them and depending on how big of a project it is. That's something that we want really boots on the ground. Typically we'll call and do some sort of commission split or share on the group will maintain the contacts and have them do it but most of the time is pretty open. You know it's a very decentralized and very open entity very company and so if we just need some knowledge here it's been amazing how many people want to pick up the phone and talk to talk to you and just help you out

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brent Bennett: And vice versa. Right. If somebody calls you know we get calls not every day that certainly. Several a month or maybe one a week from somebody that's out of state that has a you know a plant that's moved to Utah looking to acquire a company in Utah. They want to get some due diligence I'm more weren't happy to spend some time on the phone because I know I'm going to call them back a couple months in a similar situation.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah yeah it kind of cuts both ways. So now the hub is in the picture here I know you said that they took care of the back office issues you still have the ability to hire people do they imposing their limitations and how you manage your business beyond the back office type work

Brent Bennett: Yeah yeah they do. I mean I'd be lying if I didn't say it's changed a little bit. So you know most of it's been really open and I'd say they've been they've been an amazing partner. They've been really good to work with but there's been some hoops to jump through. I mean as you know they're their company was around 13000 employees as a company with 32. They have no documentation and some hoops to jump through like in the hiring process. I think most of those are good but it just takes more time. You know we're in the past if we had somebody that we met with really like them we could hire them on the spot and figure that paperwork out later. Now we've got to have a apply for the job go through do the background check. You know it takes the process. There's more hoops to jump through it's a lot longer. The biggest one has been software. I mean step software technology was something that we really can't hang our hat on and although we have access to some of those systems similar systems have changed and it's been not necessarily negative it's just different.

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brent Bennett: You know

Malcolm Lui: A

Brent Bennett: It's

Malcolm Lui: Chain

Brent Bennett: But it's definitely been an adjustment in the office

Malcolm Lui: All right. OK Bob in terms of running your business. Do you still have latitude on on how you market your company for example or rather market your business unit

Brent Bennett: Yes. Yeah I mean in terms of marketing in terms of that is you know clearly upset want some oversight and doesn't want to off the reservation but you know I think I can speak for the acquisition philosophy is they liked what we were doing we explained what we were doing and they bought us because they wanted us to keep doing it. So that's been. Tough. So they've been very supportive and helpful and you know how do we how do we change that message to include additional resources not to change the message and tone.

Malcolm Lui: Right

Brent Bennett: So so fundamentally we're still the same company we were. We just have a little bit more ammo in our small

Malcolm Lui: Right now. Are you the only hub unit in Utah or are there other hub units in Utah and they operate independently from what you do for

Brent Bennett: There

Malcolm Lui: The most

Brent Bennett: Was

Malcolm Lui: Part

Brent Bennett: There's two other there. There have been two other hub offices in Utah. One was you know hub Salt Lake where it has its hub Sandy bait that that business unit merged into our business units. We're all one as of September of last year September of 18. So and that's been great. I mean it's actually been really really good in terms of the types of clients we had in the type of clientele that they had were actually quite different. But a really good combination. So it's there's been you know that's one of the reasons that we did that is going to that group think or mindshare thought leadership. It's been great to have their office join us and ask people to kind of coordinate collaborate back and forth on projects

Malcolm Lui: Okay then but there's still a separate office from yours. Are they

Brent Bennett: Nope

Malcolm Lui: Or are

Brent Bennett: Nope

Malcolm Lui: You

Brent Bennett: They're actually not they actually we're all one offs. So they merged and there is one other office that's strictly it's called a hub transportation. It's strictly a truck you know they do trucking property casualty nothing in the employee benefits and they're still a separate business unit completely. You know we've met them have done some referrals back and forth but completely different business unit.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah.

Brent Bennett: But the employee benefit shops we're really operating as a single entity now

Malcolm Lui: Right. OK got it makes sense. So for 2019 what's your revenue target. And you said you're starting from a base at seven point two million in 2018. What's the one number you shooting for in 2019.

Brent Bennett: To have

Malcolm Lui: All right

Brent Bennett: A eight point five million

Malcolm Lui: And now what's the plan to get there.

Brent Bennett: Grow. So a lot of that is being you know I mean this year are approach has changed a little bit. And when I say approach meaning just the type of clients we've gone to after we have several clients that have been acquired over the last few years that we've been able to maintain a local presence. This this last year and that was one of the reasons the appeal of hub International and a large large national scope. A lot more resources than we've had in the past. We've actually reached out to several those parent companies to try and get the opportunity to to look at their benefits. And that's been you know it's been mixed. I mean oftentimes when the parent company acquires a smaller company they'll gobble them up into the mothership. So to say just like our company that you know are benefits payroll things that nature all rolled up to hub. But we've been fairly successful in fact you know two of the three that we've approached we've been able to pick up the entire benefit package across the US now because we have a little we have a different story to tell a better in a bigger story to tell. And so you know from a growth strategy it's really one where we've wanted a bigger footprint and a bigger relationship with our existing clients. As an example international benefits you know we have several clients that do international have employees internationally. So that was a skill set that we just didn't have in the office before. And so typically we'd handle the U.S. domestic benefits but didn't handle them overseas or that something very aggressively that we're going to have to think our mindset is although we want to grow and we want more clients I'd much rather spend more time with our existing clients that just gathering more clients

Malcolm Lui: Right. So the focus for growing your business from some point to date we find we'll be providing additional services to existing clients as opposed to finding new ones

Brent Bennett: Yep. But then and then really for 2019 it's it would be he'll grow in the footprint of the property casualty starting out in the property because he workers comp additional lines of business that we don't offer now and or you know an acquisition local acquisition and then really backfilling that and cross-selling employee benefits to those clients and vice versa starting to offer property casualty insurance to our existing clients. So at least for the next two to three years it really will be a focus of clearly where we're going to grow in terms of number of clients but we'd like to see that growth about 50/50 and new client growth versus organic growth within our book

Malcolm Lui: Right. But for this year something is coming more from organic growth as opposed a new client does that then I get that

Brent Bennett: Yeah

Malcolm Lui: Right.

Brent Bennett: Really. Yeah really

Malcolm Lui: Ok

Brent Bennett: Well I know some of that is just rebuilding sort of processes like we talked about some of software changes and things that nature that just comes inherently with an acquisitions where

Malcolm Lui: Yet.

Brent Bennett: You know we need to spend a little bit more time refining those processes learning exactly what our capabilities are. We've done that over the last year. We just in our one year mark now that we understand exactly kind of what that is and how to tap into those that now we're ready go out to our clients. Last year the message was Hey nothing's changed. We have more capabilities this year we're actually going out and explaining what those capabilities are.

Malcolm Lui: So what do you do to grow your business from some point two to eight point five in a year. What's the biggest obstacle that your team has to eliminate overcome

Brent Bennett: You know it's it's just the time I think in our industry and I don't know that this is unique. But I think you know ACA the Affordable Care Act there's been so many laws and changes so as an example just hear this this last week you know President Trump talked about association health plans and a lot of you know a lot of companies and associations have really rushed to do that and then they struck that down and today. But just as importantly Labor really wants to pull that back and not allow that a strike that is unconstitutional. So one of the biggest obstacles that stands in our way is frankly legislation as a legislators make changes. We've got to now stop and go back to our clients to make sure and our number one commitments to our existing clients. You know I want to grow you know my growth a in a company. That's the way I think. But if you know if we've got to make a choice of a new client versus servicing our existing will choose us we'll choose to service our existing every time. And so as the legislation landscape sees us back and forth that's what that honestly would be one of our biggest obstacles is know having to spend more time stopping digesting the laws and explain to your clients what that means versus business as usual because business as usual for us is pretty good. The legislative landscape changes a lot that will probably prevent us from hitting our sales goals and we keep

Malcolm Lui: Right

Brent Bennett: Things status quo will actually be great because we can spend more time out with new clients.

Malcolm Lui: Yeah. That's an obstacle though. That's it seems mostly out of your control right. And this hub has a

Brent Bennett: It is

Malcolm Lui: Powerful

Brent Bennett: Yeah.

Malcolm Lui: Lobby.

Brent Bennett: If

Malcolm Lui: Mark

Brent Bennett: It really is. I mean it's been good from a standpoint that you know two years ago five years ago you know I had to meet with a patent attorney by the hour I met with our compliance department and we had to kind of decide decipher hey what does this mean. You know one of the great things with Harvard they've got some really really smart people you know that when these happen they're coming out with a brief or doing conference calls. We we know that the verbiage or the language know to speak really quickly but it's but it's still a lot of time. And if we get 350 clients are we going to you know we feel like not not all of them we need a message with that but likely there's going to be 50 to 100 of them that are going to be calling or 1 and it's been an hour on the phone or wanting to do a meeting to figure out you know what does this mean for me and how does this change our plans. It takes some time and we've known that we've been face up to that since the passage of ACA back in 2010. So it's been about nine years now that we've really spent a lot of time on that

Malcolm Lui: Right. How about the obstacles that are more so in your control that your team can can tackle and accomplish over next year. Any big rocks the climb over

Brent Bennett: Yeah. So I mean candidly one of one of our biggest obstacles as much as we talked about culture you know we've had we've had some big cultural changes because we had a difference in ownership and a difference in name recognition. And so you know employee turnover and I say that from a stamp like minded I should say employee turnover as much as find the right talent. You know we've got four we've got four positions open right now three of them are new positions. No one's replacing an employee a former employee but three of them are brand new positions. You know the state of Utah where 3 percent unemployment right now. So you take a market where it's 3 percent unemployment rising wages you know changing expectation in the workforce. And it's really difficult to find I should say it's really challenging trying to find the right people and bring them in and get them up to speed quickly.

Malcolm Lui: It. Now do you have latitude on how to go about finding the people or do you need to do it. The Hub international way

Brent Bennett: Both made hub hubs certainly has you know their preferred method to use but they give us the latitude to use that it's our personnel. So a cost you know what I have to manage with the analysis you'd asked earlier. How flexible is how they're letting us manage the way we want to. I think they've been amazing that they're also making amazing within certain borders just like any businesses out there. You know we've got some mandates that we need to get and stay within some guidelines

Malcolm Lui: Right. So the way the way hub works is if you use the services they kind of give you some a charge of some sort to your piano or at some fixed charge but we

Brent Bennett: Yeah.

Malcolm Lui: Opt not to. You can spend your own resources to do other things to some degree

Brent Bennett: So if we want to hire tech recruiters you know what we've done here. So you hire a recruiter you use some alternative methods. You know it just it cost me more and so it just those are you know as a small company we have certain resources that fill a finite amount of resources that we need to figure out you know what's the best use of them. So that that would certainly be an obstacle this year. The other thing is the market changing right I mean I think mortgage is probably a really good industry for that we've got a handful of mortgage companies although they're booming within the last week at the industry that's really slowed down. So 2009 2010 we an office down in St. George Utah which is south of here about four hours. It's very very hospitality construction. And in 2009 2010 Yea some of our clients down there literally shook shut shut the doors went out of business we had other clients laid off 30 40 50 percent of the workforce in that specific industry. And you know and so that's you know we've got a lot of high tech clients. I mean we've got a pretty diverse clientele in terms of you know there as I see or what they do for an industry but we've got a lot of high tech industry which is largely D.C. you know VCA private equity funded. So if interest rates rise dramatically if private equity or access to capital dried up. And that can really have you know that could have some profound effects on our organic growth or frankly our growth this year

Malcolm Lui: Right. Again that's something that's difficult to forecast and the much of your control there are you can have to do damage control more than anything else if it happens

Brent Bennett: And our and our economy's great. I mean you've got Yale where in Salt Lake City Utah is where the majority of our client businesses are and the economy is extremely strong and pretty diverse here. So I feel pretty comfortable about that for the next 18 to 24 months at least

Malcolm Lui: Right now. Earlier you talked about doing more business with their current clients right. Especially since you now have more services available to offer them. How are you going to do that what's the plan on getting that done.

Brent Bennett: Yes. So I have an example. You we had somebody here today she manages are worksite or voluntary benefits so you know actually that critical illness financial you know just financial protection and so more and more employers as an example are going to high deductible health plans and HSA. So I'm a big fan big believer in that as a solution you know to help at least the consumer be part of that process. But as they do that you know oftentimes there's a single plan or kind of a one or two plan designs for Kennedy that might have 80 employees you know and so you have people making twelve dollars an hour you have people making a hundred twenty thousand dollars a year and everybody in between. And so really looking at spinning it's been in a lot of time on. We have a very robust foreign cage retirement planning department. So cross-selling that and cross-selling not just monetizing now but also providing some financial education. So helping the employees understand why do we want to get in this early rather than have 40 or 50 getting excited to say gosh we need to get on it starting when they're in their 20s or 30s. But a lot of that know like the worksite products as example the Aflac style financial protections it may not be as needed or necessary for somebody making a one hundred thousand a year that somebody is living paycheck to paycheck has a two thousand three thousand deductible oftentimes with a lot of wisdom and those people saying you know I'd rather pay 20 dollars a month and know that I've got insurance you know that's going to fill in that gap versus haven't come up with two or three thousand dollars all at one time.

Malcolm Lui: Yet

Brent Bennett: So yeah you know it's not for us it's not selling it. Frankly the employees want it. You know the employees one of the employees are asking for it. It just you know figured out an administrative way that it doesn't put a burden on our clients you know to be offered on a volunteer. So most of the voluntary products don't cost clients anything but it's really doing an assessment. And so you know you are asking how we do that really do that by benchmarking we do that by sharing client data and then going out our offer of reasonable and just kind of showing them some financial analysis here's your employees here's their average income here's kind of the thing that they're probably staying up late about here's some solutions for that are you interested in helping you through these. And some clients are very interested. So clients are having a great talking point for next year but that's that's how we're accomplishing that is really going out and doing individual analysis of our existing clients. Mark

Malcolm Lui: Right. Sounds like a slow process

Brent Bennett: It is I mean it's it's something that we can automate. We've got a business analyst here that helps kind of create that put that information together but it's it's very customized it takes a lot of time but I think it's worthwhile know not not just in monetise and be able to have some organic growth but I think we're legitimately finding solutions for people

Malcolm Lui: Right. Yes definitely. But she's since the products can be very complex depending on which options you choose. All right

Brent Bennett: Are

Malcolm Lui: The three last questions for you. If you were to have a billboard for the Utah Utah business unit of a hub international what would your billboard message say. It must be going to have six seconds to read a billboard for the drive bys. It has to be somewhat to the point that

Brent Bennett: So. So as far as a billboard fort for us or for hub

Malcolm Lui: For you

Brent Bennett: It

Malcolm Lui: For

Brent Bennett: Would

Malcolm Lui: Your

Brent Bennett: Go

Malcolm Lui: Bid in Utah.

Brent Bennett: Yeah it would be. I mean this may not be the sexiest tagline but it's having a multi-year strategy right. I mean I think so I mean oftentimes we ask our clients we sit down with a new prospect. We ask our clients where I would say you know as a firm our firm and our clients typically are very deliberate in the decisions they make. And I can't tell you how many times we sit down with a company that spends you know 300 400 500 thousand hours a year on benefits and you ask them Well why do you have this type of plan. Like what. You know what determination did you decide to go with this company versus this or this type of plan design and most of time as a CFO or an H.R. person can say well this is what we've you know I've been here two years. We did this before I came. We've always just. Done the same thing and so you know I'd say that was sort of message to our prospective clients or existing clients or the business community at all in terms of benefits it's slow down take some time and be deliberate about the benefit plan that you offer and have a multi-year strategy because it's really hard for employees to make all the changes all at once and that's what we see as time H.R. people especially in this you know in unemployment at 3 percent. People that want to rock the boat if it's not broke. They don't want to rock the boat and we would argue or at least gonna say we really ought to look at that and say well why are we doing that. And if there's a better way or we're going to get a higher value you know higher are away for this let's look at making incremental changes over the next two to three years

Malcolm Lui: Right. An additional question that came to mind before I ask you the other two. Maybe two more questions. Now Specter benefits before you had done your acquisition. I took a quick look at your paper clip presence in your SDL presence and really didn't see much of either. You find those marketing channels to be not that useful in your business the way you've structured it.

Brent Bennett: Not not for us. And I say from. I mean this is what we found and we've played around with that the past of what we find is most most employers of choice and part of that is who we're trying to go after as far as clientele. I mean we're looking for established businesses that already have an existing benefit plan. We're looking for established benefits that have a strong culture that are that are growth oriented that are typically on the radar. They're getting called five or six times a month. They're usually not have to reach out to people like us. And so what we found when we did a lot of that is we got a lot of calls and could pick up some business but it was typically the business we didn't want. So that was typically 150 type of clients that we were looking at saying this may not be as profitable. And I and I say that from a standpoint most of the time and that's why we kind of double down on our existing clients. We found it made a lot more sense for us to where we do spend money and advertising is like our education series those top universities and offering some thought leadership and bringing clients in and say here's here's our philosophy here's how we think come get a chance to meet us and not give them sales pitches not offering a quote but just let it. Well here's here's the services we provide and how we approach benefits and that has done more for us of having those type events happen about 70 percent clients 30 percent prospects and give them a chance to kind of test drive our services but we're not a high volume where we're kind of a low volume high quality shop versus kind of a high volume if that makes sense. So for

Malcolm Lui: Yep

Brent Bennett: Us you know bring on 25 to 30 new clients a year is is about capacity for us

Malcolm Lui: Right. How do you find those twenty five or thirty two an invite to the educational workshops

Brent Bennett: Very carefully. So so depending on who the what the topic is you know we will almost always target about 70 percent tenants of our existing clients. We really ask for referrals and that's something that we do a lot of ask our existing clients for referrals. If there is you know either competitors or vendors that they work with or similar in size and explained who we're looking for and oftentimes our clients will bring referrals you know they'll bring somebody says Hey my friends H.R. director for such and such company they actually just reached out asked who we were with you know this would be great. A vital part of that is we offer c e credit so continuing education so a lot of your CFO that have their CPA they're sure they have a P H.R. professional human resource or senior professional human resource. We offered to do anyway. Education Credits and that's really changed the dynamic to where a lot of the bigger midsized and larger companies that are credentialed in H.R. these are H.R. professionals these are employee benefit specialists at their firms they're needing that continuing education and so as we're reaching out to them this is somebody they're excited to go to because they're required to have so much education per year

Malcolm Lui: Right. Got it. Two last questions for you. Are your ideal clients and what's the best way for them to contact you and your team

Brent Bennett: So ideal client for us is those clients that have between 30 and we're going to call mid-market kind of at 35 to a thousand employees group we have clients that are larger than that we have clients that are smaller than that. But really it's a client that's in that mix that has big company benefits but they don't have big company resources. So you know where we do really well or where we feel like we're really good fit as a company that's a high growth high culture. They care about benefits but they don't want to be taken advantage of. They want to benchmark and make sure they're at or above their benchmark high growth heights strong culture low turnover or at least the desire for those three things or somebody that you know regardless of what industry it is you know U.S. based companies typically something that's based doesn't have to be that somebody is based in the Intermountain West is one of our best for at least my office right for how it would be anywhere. The best way to get hold of this really is is give us a call or shoot us an e-mail right. And so looking at our website which is spectrum benefits dot com or hub international dot com my personal e-mails Brent dot then other national. So either or our phone numbers 8 or 1 7 2 7 6 thousand. So either call us you know us or help on our website check us out

Malcolm Lui: Right now. Your website is going to be changing shortly right.

Brent Bennett: It will be but I'll just be pointing so spectrum benefits we'll still be live. It'll just point to our other national Sandy location.

Malcolm Lui: Okay great. Would you like to spell out your username for your email address

Brent Bennett: So my email address it's Brent Bennett Brent dot Bennett b r e n t dot B E N N E. That hub international HQ B international dot com.

Malcolm Lui: All right. Fantastic. Fantastic. It's been great having you on my show today Brenton in hearing how you grew your company so fast

Brent Bennett: Great thanks Malcolm appreciate it.

Malcolm Lui: We've been speaking with Brent Bennett, the President and CEO of Spectra Benefits, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.

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