Before launching Nature Coast Insurance Agency in July 2007, Kathy Sanders, who's originally from St. Augustine, FL, worked a variety of jobs including 911 dispatcher and insurance agent for a different agency. As Sanders shared, the timing was right and her motivation was fueled by a desire to help everyone.
"I wanted to be able to help everyone, not just someone that had a lot of money or an expensive policy," she said. "Everyone matters and everyone deserves a call back. That's still important to us today. I gave my two weeks and said I can do the same thing I'm doing now, but treat everyone fairly."
When Sanders started her business in July 2007, about a year before the recession, she had no idea what she was in store for. Nevertheless, she rolled up her sleeves and never looked back.
"At the time, I remember feeling excited. I had no idea in July 2007 when I did this that the economy was going to tank. For the first 7 months, I picked up a second job delivering pizzas at night to make ends meet. Other early challenges included getting appointments with the insurance carriers. It was really hard to get that first appointment. Fortunately Progressive gave us a shot."
In addition to working a second job to bring in some extra income, while the business gained traction, Sanders took advantage of local resources. She worked with the Citrus County Chamber and received a small loan to help kick start and grow her business. She's thankful for that and for all the support provided by the local community.
Today, Nature Coast Insurance Agency offers auto, home, mobile home, motorcycle, RV, rentals and commercial insurance. They're appointed with some of the top insurance carriers in the country and offer customer service that's second to none. Sanders shared what makes her agency unique and why she enjoys helping her clients.
"First of all, my husband, Glen, and I run the business together now," she said. "He's licensed and customers know if they come in or call, they are only going to be dealing with him or me. We also both really enjoy helping and fighting for our customers. This is especially true when they have a claim and they need someone that will fight for them to make sure everything is taken care of properly. If the insurance company says they're not going to pay for something, I'll jump in and argue on our client's behalf. That's why it's great to have an agent. We're right there with our clients all the way through a disaster such as a house fire. It's much better than dealing with a 1-800 number."
Looking ahead, Sanders would love to be able to get her licenses to do business across several states. She has many clients that live in places like Michigan and Kentucky that have second homes and other insurable assets. She wants to be their agent whether they're in Florida in other parts of the country.
What advice does Sanders have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Don't give up," she said. "No matter how hard it gets, it is worth it in the end. When things get tough, don't panic. Just keep moving forward."