Insurance Education with Enterprise Training School's Ryan Evans
July 21, 2021 | Episode 3
Insurance Education with Enterprise Training School's Ryan Evans
July 21, 2021 | Episode 3
For Episode 3 we get our very first episode with Eric Grundhoefer, the podcast’s regular host. In this episode, Eric is interviewing Ryan Evans, with Enterprise Training School. Enterprise Training School is a father and son owned business, which means it’s the definition of a successful family-owned and operated business here in the United States.
Learn about how Ryan got started in the family business and how father and son built Enterprise Training School and built it into a successful business.
Ryan talks about his transition from selling insurance to selling insurance and training people to sell, to focusing entirely on training insurance professionals to get their licenses.
Enterprise Training School is registered and able to teach students all across the United States. Learn about why Enterprise Training School is focused on Webinars, and how they can help people get their licenses to work in the insurance business.
Since this is a business in all 50 states you’ll learn about the scalability of the business and how they’ve managed to build such incredible success with a small team of only 6 or 7 professionals.
Of course, building a business isn’t just about creating success. Eric talks with Ryan about how to scale the business and how they’ve managed to stay relevant and continue building their business. Learn about how Enterprise Training School stays relevant and attracts new business, and keeps their students back for continuing education courses.
If you’re interested in building an online business in almost any industry, Ryan Evans has some insight you want to hear.
Eric: All right. And we are back with Becoming Legends. I’m your host Eric Grundhoefer, today with me is Ryan Evans of ETradingSchool.com. Ryan, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate it. If you want to do me a favor, introduce yourself. Let everyone know what you do, what E Training School is, and then just what you’re all about.
Ryan: Eric, thank you so much for this opportunity. I greatly appreciate it, was looking forward to this. So, I’ve been in the insurance business for, going on 19 years. And in about 2005, both me and my dad, Tom Evans, we purchased enterprise, what was, insurance training, and then we built it to Enterprise Training School. We provide insurance education for those getting into the business. So, to actually get a license, as well as those currently in the business in the continuing education side. And we are approved across the country for both of those options right now.
Eric: That’s absolutely amazing. So, father and son-owned business, that’s really cool. I like that a lot. I have two boys and a daughter, so I’m really, really hoping that anything I do will eventually tie them in and make it kind of — I’ve always had that fantasy of family-owned and operated. So, that’s amazing. I absolutely love it. How is it working with dad every day?
Ryan: So, it started as a summer job working with my dad. I graduated high school 2002 and started working for his insurance agency just answering phones. And then slowly I eventually got my insurance license, started selling life insurance, then health, then property, then casualty. And then he was in the business for I guess at that point 20-plus years, and he wanted to make a change. And we decided to get into the education side. And for a while we actually did both. We sold and we did the training for about two or three years. And then we decided just to pivot, I guess it was about 2007 where we said hey, let’s just see where this training thing takes us, and been doing it ever since.
Eric: I love it. I absolutely love it. So, I actually had a friend, I don’t know much about exactly what you do. I had a friend that started with, I want to say State Farm. I don’t know if he owns the franchise, or if he — I know that he was doing one thing and it was marketing. And then he jumped in from over that, he was miserable, and he started doing insurance. And then he had to get all these certifications and stuff. Now, with that person is that the person that you’re teaching and grooming to jump in and get certified to be able to deal with these insurances? And then so he could be kind of like a distributor, I guess you could say, or someone that’s authorized to be able to sell those things?
Ryan: Yeah. So, we work with a lot of companies, all the companies that most people would know. You mentioned State Farm, the All States, Nationwide, you know, across the board. And what we do on the initial side is we prepare them to pass the state exam. So, every state requires an insurance license; life, health, property and casualty. That would allow you to sell auto, home, commercial, workers comp and all that jazz. So, they have to first pass the exam. So, that’s our job. We teach them how to pass the exam. And we offer both online self study courses where people can go at their own pace. I always like to say there’s no wrong way to do it. It’s all preference. So, we also have like the live webinar format, which we were kind of, I like to say inadvertently prepared for 2020, because about eight years ago, we started converting all of our courses to the webinar format. So, last year, the transition was seamless.
Eric: That’s good. That’s really good.
Ryan: And in certain cases, people need that extra push. It’s tough for someone to just sit down and start studying on their own. They sometimes need that instructor to take them through it. So, that’s what we do. We take them through to get their initial license. And then once they get the license, they start selling for whatever carrier or company they’re going to be working with. And then every two years, they got to come back to us for the continuing education, because that’s required by the state as well.
Eric: Okay, cool. So, now, and this is almost just for me, and I don’t know if anyone else may have the same question. So, would State Farm be the one that hires you or that individual specifically?
Ryan: Yeah, so great question. So, every company in order for an agent to — For someone to sell insurance, they have to be appointed by an insurance company. Like, you could get a license, Joe Schmo could get license, and that’s great, you have an insurance license. But that doesn’t mean you can sell anything. You have to sign a contract, work with a carrier. A company like State Farm, they wouldn’t be considered an exclusive or captive company. So, you could only sell policies through that carrier.
But there are certain carriers that would allow you to write with others. Like I’ve many friends that work for companies like Aflac, and Transamerica, and Travelers and all these different companies where they’re considered a brokerage, because they represent the multiple carriers. But they have contracts with each company in order to do that. So, they get the state license, and then they get appointed, where they can actually sell.
Eric: Okay. No, that’s fantastic. So, that makes perfect sense. So, then, if he wanted to, my friend named Chris, that I keep saying he. He’s the only one I know in the business. So, he ended up, I think, opening his own chain or got promoted to open his own chain. Now, is that a different sort of level of certification? Does he need to go through you guys for that? Does everyone need to do it every two years? Is it mandatory to brush up every two years?
Ryan: Yes. So, unlike mortgage or real estate or anything like that, on the insurance side, every state regulates the insurance industry. So, again, you have to get the initial license. So, if you wanted to do business in all 50 states, you would need to get 50 licenses. You only have to pass a test in your home state, your resident state, and then it’s just a matter of paying a fee. Years ago, I remember I got licensed in New Jersey, it cost about 300 bucks. And then I got licensed in Ohio, and it cost me $9. So, every state is different in terms of their requirements.
But to answer your question, once they, in your buddy’s case, once he was in the business for a while, he probably got promoted to getting his own insurance agency or brokerage, whatever he refers it to. And I believe that’s how State Farm operates, where they promote from within. So, as you produce, you get people under you, they produce, you make money off of what they sell. But again, if they’re licensed, we provide the education because that’s regulated by the state where every year — most states require some form of — a number of hours, like 24 hours. Or Arizona is like something ridiculous, like 48 hours every three years. And we provide that training.
Eric: That’s amazing. That’s absolutely amazing. And you mentioned this earlier, and I apologize, I missed it. How long have you been open?
Ryan: So, we’ve owned Enterprise Training School, it will be 16 years, I believe in July.
Eric: That’s great.
Ryan: Yeah. So, initially, we were just in Maryland. We were just in Maryland, just doing classroom training. And then we started developing online courses for other states. And there used to be a requirement where you had to do half of your CE hours in classroom. And then eventually, the states got rid of that where they said you can take it any way you want. So, that kind of got our wheel spinning a little bit of okay. Well, we make more money with the classroom, and we do the online, what’s a good balance?
And again, about eight years ago, we’re like, what if we did it virtually? Is that a thing? Could we host live class over the internet? And the answer is yes. And that’s pretty much all we do. Literally, I don’t think you can hear but we have another class going on in another room right now. You know, we offer morning, afternoon, evening. We even have a Saturday class this week all providing continuing education.
Eric: That’s amazing. That’s absolutely amazing. I love this. I love stories like this, like father and son doing it, you guys pivoted. You’re like, oh my God, we’re training. This is exactly what I love. To me, this is like the equivalent to — just being an entrepreneur, it’s equivalent to like a rocky movie. You know what I mean? It’s like the come up. You’re like training and you’re doing all this stuff. So, in my head, I’m playing like a B roll footage of like, that’s what’s going on.
But tell me about the early days of starting this, and what made you guys want to pivot to do education versus insurance that your dad was in. And then building that and kind of creating something that, I mean, I personally, maybe there’s others like this out there. I’ve never heard of this. So, I think that this is really, really cool. It’s really fascinating. It’s very nice. So, tell me about building something in that and what that whole entire experience was like when you guys first started out.
Ryan: So, in 2005, my dad went to an insurance CE course. He was the only student. The lady that owned this company prior to us, she had just a conference room table in a small room, and she was retiring. And he asked her, “What are you going to do with the company when you retire?” She asked, “Would you want it?” And he said, “Yes.” So, I think the initial investment was about $30,000.
Eric: Oh, dang.
Ryan: He came into my office, I was actually filling out a life insurance application for a client. And he said, “We now own a school.” I had absolutely no idea what that meant. No clue, no clue. True story. So, for the first two years, we did both. We sold insurance and we did the training. And I would help out with the school occasionally, but I was still just focused on the insurance side. I was selling. And then we started seeing the numbers pick up of like, man, the number of people that are getting into this business, the number of the residual income of people coming back that need continuing education because they have to take it. It’s required by the state.
And of course, we have to be approved by each state as well, which is a cost for us too in terms of getting — we have to be approved as a provider. Our instructors have to be approved, all our courses have to be approved. So, it’s not easy to get started, and that’s why we just started in Maryland, and then we gradually, gradually like, okay, we’ll go to Virginia. Okay, we’ll go to Delaware. We’ll go to DC. Hey, this group in New Jersey wants us to train that, guess we got to get approved in New Jersey. So, that’s how we started growing.
And then eventually we realized, okay, we just need to focus on this. I’m sure you’ve been there and others have been there where you try to do too much, it never works. It never works. Something’s always going to suffer. Literally prior to jumping on this podcast, I was in a meeting with my dad and we’re like, all right, what are we going to do? What’s priorities? And we’re like, well, we got to do this, this, and this. Like, okay, well what’s first? And sometimes sitting down and figuring that out is the hardest part of like, okay, look, I think we just need to focus on this.
And fortunately, we have a ton of great people that work with us. We’re a big company in that we’re in all 50 states. We’re providing training to thousands of people across the country, but we really only have like six or seven people here. We got a great team of people that we’ve had for, I think our admin’s been here for like 12 years and it’s just — All of our success is to credit of the team that we built, and it’s pretty cool. It’s pretty exciting and it’s a great story too, and I’m excited to see where we’re going to go because it’s not over yet. It’s not even close.
Eric: Absolutely. No, that’s amazing. That really is, to me, that is the coolest, honestly one of the coolest — and I’m not just saying that. I think that’s one of the coolest, funniest stories I’ve ever heard. Like, hey, we own a school. And you’re like what? What do you mean? Like, dad, go sit down. And you text your friend, you’re like I think that’s losing it a little bit. Like, what is going on?
Ryan: Yes, for sure.
Eric: So, no, that’s fantastic. So, my question is with something like this, like obviously, if everything’s virtual you rely heavily on internet traffic and found for that stuff. So, what I do for Royal Reputation is we help people get found within the search results, whether that’s something — and I promise this is coming back to you. I’m not just showcasing myself here.
Ryan: Oh, for sure.
Eric: If people want to be promoted in the search results we help them with that, and if people want to be like, if they have bad press, like you had one bad client that got mad and went on a site, we can help get rid of or suppress that if we want to take the case. There’s some cases that I refuse to help people. They deserve what is said about them.
But that being said, what did you go about doing when you first started this to make sure that you were found and getting those clients online? So, that’s my entire thing about this is I love reverse engineering what people are doing and like really and I think that my audience is listening right now can actually use all that information to get their brand out there for online reputation management. So, what are the things and like the things that you recommend that you were doing in the early days to get there, the things that you’re doing now that still works to make sure that business stays consistent and grows?
Ryan: Yeah, so first off, the way we started was direct mail. That is exactly — So, we always had a website. Obviously, I think our original website name was InsuranceTrainingSchool.com, which by the way, we still have. And then we finally simplified it to just ETrainingSchool.com. And we’ve had so many other domains that you’ll eventually get to our website. Over the years we’ve accumulated like, oh, that’s a good domain name. We have CE.Training, which I bought. I was like yeah, that sounds good.
Eric: You guys, are you trying to do a rebrand? Is that what you’re trying to do? Like thinking about doing a rebrand, or it’s just something off of like what your name is?
Ryan: Yeah, it was more of — So, we switched to Enterprise Training School, I can’t remember what year that was, but we were thinking about getting into the real estate side or mortgage side of the business, because they need continuing education as well, and we never did. We dabbled in the mortgage side, but just, we always circle back to what works. Okay. The insurance works, we know this. But with the pandemic in 2020, what it has allowed us to do is to streamline the insurance side, and it has given us the freedom to look in other areas. So, we are in the process of developing HR programs and diversity programs, virtually, that we can offer to corporations. So, we’re hoping to roll that out in the fall this year.
But getting back to your original question, we started with direct marketing by mail. It was easy for us because each state has a database of insurance producers. In some cases, we would just get it, in some cases, we had to pay for it, and we would mark it that way. As the years go, by we dabbled with sending letters or sending postcards. And then of course once email was always around, but we started just accumulating email addresses.
And over the past, I would say five or six years, that’s predominantly how we market. We market directly via email, sending email blasts to millions of insurance agents every single week, just advertising what we do. We also do a lot of social networking posts, whether it be Twitter, Facebook. We’ve dabbled in the pay per click, with the keywords and all with Google. Never really got the big return, though on that. And I’ll gladly take the blame. Maybe I didn’t do it right or something like that.
So, we always circle back to the individuals and contacting them directly. And fortunately, that leads to a customer base. And it leads to building relationships. And I can’t tell you what just having conversations with people, what that creates. Like, we have this group in Iowa, which we’re really big in Iowa for some reason. But that all came from someone taking our class, calling us up and saying, hey, I got a group of 50 agents. Could we set up a program too? And it’s like, yeah, absolutely. So, a lot of our growth has been organic, and has been through relationships. But we’ve certainly dabbled on the SEO side with, I think currently, we have like — my IT person speaks better on this than I would. But I think we use something with our GoDaddy account or something with SEO management with keywords. But predominantly, the way we get our clients is through direct marketing via email.
Eric: That’s fantastic. I absolutely love that. And then what’s cool is like you just said, you do — and this is with any business. But like with yours, it’s pretty neat, because if you get a class of people, and then in two years from now — and they all like you. Two years from now, they all come back, and then they all come back, and then the place that they work, they’re going to need that to happen again, right? Like, everyone’s going to need to be re-registered in two years. So, then it’s like full circle. So, it’s really just — I mean, I wish some — There’s some businesses out there that they need to understand, like, just do right by people, and then they’re going to come back to you.
Ryan: And there’s also been some of that, like we’ve invested in things like Trustpilot. If you pull us up on trustpilot, we’re like 4.9 stars or something like that. And that’s, again, something as simple as asking people for reviews. You know, it’s such a simple concept that not every business does, but asking for reviews. And say, hey, you like this please share your thoughts. And we send it out and people give us the five stars. And that only helps us with getting us seen more.
Like, if you were to Google insurance continuing education webinars are probably first or second on the page. And it’s stuff like that, and that’s a process too. You probably could speak better on that than I could, in terms of keeping up with that and making sure you have the proper terminology on your website to be seen. It’s a challenge, but again, that’s why you hire good people to get you out there.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. And then so what’s your — I agree with everything you said. And it’s a huge process to continuously do it. What do you have going for you and just as you were talking about getting the different domains, that’s why I asked in there if you were thinking about rebranding, because the domain you stick with, the age has a lot to do with your rankings. So, you could get an old domain and do nothing with it. But if you have an old domain plus a lot of content and a lot of keywords and historically, your website has performed well, you’re going to do well. So, be careful if you ever decide to switch that it might mess some stuff up for you.
Do you guys deal with a lot of like video and stuff for — you said you do virtual classrooms. So, like, picture I’m coming to you for the first time, what does that look like? So, you guys putting these classes together yourselves? Are you having someone put these courses together where it’s video? Are they live? How does that work?
Ryan: Yeah, so all of our classes are live. We don’t use webcams or require webcams. We always joke that our instructors have faces for radio. No. So, generally, they just hear the instructor, they see their screen, whether it’s through PowerPoint, or will incorporate videos that are content specific. But they’re all live in terms of the interaction we get with our clients. Like, they have the ability to chat and answer questions, ask questions. We’ve taught webinars that would rival some classroom courses in terms of the feedback we get from customers, like especially just imagine teaching a class on the subject of ethics, and you got 50 people from across the country, it never fails, there’s always going to be someone that’s going to mention politics, or religions or something like that. Of course, then we have to step in, guys. It’s an insurance CE class, we’re not talking politics, we’re not talking religion. Like, come on, let’s just — But also, we try to keep the topics interesting.
Like this past Friday, I taught a course that had about 40 people on cannabis insurance, which is it’s not talking about cannabis or insurance, it’s talking about the businesses and the types of insurance policies a cannabis business would need, and how an agent can look at a client’s needs and explain what coverages they should purchase. So, we try to create niche subjects like that. And we’re always, that was again, prior to jumping on here, that was a big topic. What other topics are we bringing on this year? Because we want people to come back, and we don’t want them to just sit through the same stuff every two years. We always have to mix it up.
Eric: No, I absolutely love that. I mean, keeping content fresh with anything is like exactly what you want to do. Like, I can’t go on here and every time I do a podcast, I’ll do the same thing over and over again. No one will listen to me. So, no, man, this is incredible. I absolutely love this. I mean, what’s your ideal client? If someone out there is listening right now, what’s your pitch to get them in?
Ryan: Well, first pitch is if they’re someone that, and you mentioned an important word, entrepreneur, right, being an entrepreneur, and I hope there’s a lot out there because it’s such a need. You need to have these entrepreneurs — having that entrepreneurial spirit, it’s such a cool thing to explore, and to find a thing and to make that thing, and to sell that thing. And it’s really — I love that story. And being an insurance agent, getting into an insurance business, that’s what you are. Like, it’s not just a job. I know people that work for State Farm, and work for multiple companies. I know people that are super successful in the insurance business. I know a lot of people that are not super successful. And there’s one common thing, it all comes down to that individual.
So, what we can do is we can help people get that insurance license. And we do have the ability to direct people to companies, if they’re looking for a job. We don’t do job placement or anything, but we can certainly make recommendations for them. For someone who’s already in the insurance business, we can definitely help them with their education side, as well as working with them to make sure they have exactly what they need, that they’re complying with all the state requirements, and not just for them but of course any company or any other agents that work with them.
Eric: That’s fantastic. Now do you offer some sort of — like, that’s to get certified from the state. Do you offer any sort of classes on continued education as far as like I just started, I’m an entrepreneur. I want to do what you do and I want to sell insurance? Do you offer anything that can make me successful as a small business owner and entrepreneur to do that, and the steps I have to take to do those things?
Ryan: So, it’s something we’ve dabbled in, in the past. We’ve offered some type of sales training, and we try to incorporate that into our CE courses, especially when you get into product specific, like if someone’s selling an annuity. We provide an annuity course where we talk about different aspects of it. But one of the rules that we have to follow, and this is sometimes challenging, is you can’t make recommendations to a specific company while doing a CE course. You can’t make it sales oriented because it has to be education based.
So, we try to tow that line, the best that we can, and most importantly, educate the people on why something works this way and how it could help someone in this particular instance. And what we found is when you take that education approach, and I think this is with anything, you automatically become a better salesperson when you’re actually explaining what something is. I’ve talked to a lot of people within this business, in the mortgage business, real estate, and when you take that education approach, being an expert in your field and educating people on how something can be achieved and how it works; you’re not only going to get a sale out of it, but it’s rewarding too. Because guess what, you’re good at what you do.
Eric: Exactly, exactly. 100%. I could not agree more. Actually, I am not a fan of sales. I never have. But, in my opinion, everyone is almost a salesman, if you own your own business, your salesman. Whatever you’re doing, you’re selling something. It’s just I don’t — I hate the high pressure sales tactics and I’m just a, hey, this is what I’m doing. Like, I’m pretty — I think some people would laugh at the way I do it. I’m like, this is exactly what I want to do. What do you think? And that’s it. Like you just said, though, it’s all about being informative, and just educating them, and then it makes the sale super easy. So, I don’t even think, in my mind, I really don’t ever feel like I come across salesy, because I think you hit the nail on the head there.
Ryan: And you’re just talking to people, right? It’s just a conversation and if they end up buying something from you, fantastic. But I run into that every day when I answer a phone call from someone. And if at the end, they end up buying something, awesome. But I’m just telling them what they need, how our program works, and that’s it. The decisions in their hands at the end of the day.
Eric: Yeah, basically you’re a live form of Google at that point. You’re like, what do I need — It’s like, why am I here? We bought a school. [crosstalk] Ryan, thank you so much for — I’m going to wrap it up here. I really appreciate it. Everyone, for those that are listening, you can find Ryan at ETrainingSchool.com. Ryan, thank you so much for being on today’s show. I really, really appreciate it. You’ve been a pleasure. And I look forward to talking with you more.
Ryan: Thank you so much, Eric. This was awesome.
Eric: Thank you. I appreciate it.