Originally from Kentucky, Debbie Reynolds, Owner of Debbie Reynolds Insurance Group, LLC, moved with her family to Charlotte County in 1974. While in college, Reynolds began her insurance career working for Charlotte Insurance. Over the years, she progressed through several roles and accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge in the insurance industry. Reynolds shared the story behind her 30 years in the business and how, in September of 2018, the time was right to go off on her own.
"After working for Charlotte Insurance for four and a half years, I spent 16 years managing a State Farm office," she said. "I was happy at State Farm, but didn't like some of the changes they made in the late 2000s. That's when I decided to go work for Chapman Insurance Group. After nine years with Chapman, it was just time to do it for myself."
Reynolds weighed the pros and cons of starting her own agency versus buying into a franchise. She came to the conclusion that, not only did she want to represent as many insurance carriers as possible, but that the franchise model would allow her to be competitive on day one. She found a home with We Insure Group and, two days after leaving her previous job, spent a week in training at their corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, FL. Two weeks later, on September 4th, 2018, Debbie Reynolds Insurance Group was officially open for business.
"The first couple of months were a challenge to get the word out and start building a clientele base," she said. "However, a lot of things I expected to be large obstacles have worked themselves out and fallen into place. I think for us, the keys to success have been providing a great service, working hard to give our clients the right product at the right price and firmly standing behind our work. We're also an advocate for our clients. If there's a claim question or an issue with underwriting, we're right there to help them. We go to bat for our clients. By doing so, we build strong and trusting relationships."
With a focus on service, building strong relationships and access to over 150 carriers, Reynolds and team have quickly built a solid reputation in the Charlotte County community and beyond. The franchisor, We Insure Group, has also taken notice. Within three months of being in business, Debbie Reynolds Insurance Group has made the top 10 list of We Insure group franchises throughout the state. They've been on that list ever since.
Future goals include building a team of five full-time agents and expanding the commercial side of the business throughout Charlotte and neighboring counties. Reynolds, who's motivated by helping her clients and providing a valuable service, wants her business to be known as an agency that people can count on. She also wants her staff to know they're appreciated and to hire people that are willing to fight for the clients they represent.
What advice does Reynolds have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "I wish I would have done it sooner," she said. "Building a business for yourself, rather than someone else is a great feeling. Sure there are struggles and issues, but those are there regardless of whether you work for yourself or someone else. You also need a team of good people that have the same business beliefs as you do. Believe in yourself, don't fear the unknown and, most importantly, when you give your word to a client, be sure to follow through with it."