By the time she entered high school, Jayme Bates was already bringing people together and using creative methods to motivate and encourage those around her.
“I worked in a donut shop filling donuts. The donuts were always thrown away at the end of the night, but there was nothing wrong with them, the shop just made too many that day. So, I bagged them up and brought them to school by the dozens during exam week. I thought it was a good motivator for the other kids and helped build camaraderie during a stressful time. People bond over food and shared experiences, and we use some of that in our approach to managing a growing, geographically separated team,” she said.
Six years ago, J.T. Bates Insurance Group had two employees and a single client account. Today, there are twelve on staff, dozens of clients, and a product assortment that keeps on growing with new product launches and core product improvements. One of the ways president Jim Ricker and vice president Bates keep the team gelling together is to host an annual Christmas dinner party and recognition service.
Last year’s Christmas party was especially stirring for Bates. “Having the whole ‘family’ in one room to bond over and share a meal and personally thank them all for the work they do to support our clients and each other—for our founder, Jim Ricker, to see all the families our company helps support was definitely a proud moment,” said Bates.
The employees at J.T. Bates Insurance Group all work remotely, telecommuting from home-based offices. This setup has allowed J.T. Bates Insurance Group to leverage a core competency in information technology and grow very quickly into a national footprint. Being able to offer employees the option of working from home gives J.T. Bates Insurance Group unparalleled flexibility, but it does make establishing employee camaraderie somewhat of a challenge.
To address that issue, Bates focuses first on hiring practices. The most important element of recruiting and hiring at J.T. Bates Insurance Group is fit with culture. It’s critical that the team works well together and puts the needs of the clients first. On those two priorities, there is absolutely no compromise. By recruiting employees who have a proven track record of client service, Bates ensures that the team has a unified goal and will work together to achieve the high standards set for customer care.
The focus on teamwork and client service as well as the product offerings has driven exponential growth in the company.
It was Jim Ricker’s insight that laid the foundation for J.T. Bates Insurance Group. His experience with equipment dealers and their unique needs to protect their rental equipment is what drove the development of Rental Equipment Protection and certificate tracking, which then evolved into Straight|Docs. There’s a real family connection, too. Ricker is Jayme Bates’ father, and growing the legacy of his life’s work with this industry is what she likes most about working at J.T. Bates Insurance Group.
Bates is making her mark as well with new products based on her own observations of client needs. Straight|Docs is the document management product that was launched last year and is available only from J.T. Bates Insurance Group. It tracks customer certificates of insurance, tax exemption forms, claims, and recently added supplier certificates to the growing list of capabilities. “We’re constantly looking for ways to better serve our clients and meet their needs. Developing and growing Straight|Docs has been my favorite project to lead,” said Bates.
The company plans to refine core products as the business needs dictate and introduce new products once a year or more. By listening to the needs of their clients, J.T. Bates Insurance Group will continue to introduce new products that help drive profitability for their clients while reducing risk.
The focus on client benefit and developing new products to meet their needs has driven one hundred percent growth in J.T. Bates Insurance Group for the last several years. Managing this kind of growth is a challenge Bates takes very seriously. She works with a team of leadership coaches who function similar to a board of directors. “Making sure that we meet the needs of our dealers while we double our volume year-over-year is my number one priority in this business,” she emphasizes.
“We’re positioning ourselves for more growth over the next ten years,” added Bates. “Our goal is to be the leading provider of rental protection built on a reputation that precedes us.”
“Insurance can be a mixture of confusing, boring, even frustrating at times. We try to take the pain out of dealing with it. We focus on helping our clients protect their equipment, grow their businesses, simplify the day-to-day processes for them. It’s the best part of our jobs, which we all have thanks to the fantastic clients we serve.”