Brightway Insurance agency owner Mike Tarzia remembers writing his first policy for his first customer 14 years ago. A customer who—to this day—still has active coverage with Brightway, The Tarzia Agency.

Mike’s ability to build and keep relationships is one of the reasons why he’s become so successful as an agency owner. His career journey with Brightway had an interesting start and gradually grew over the past 14 years.

A background fit for Brightway

Mike started his insurance career in 2006 at a captive agency. One year later, he was considering moving on, and was encouraged by his colleagues to speak with David Miller, one of Brightway’s co-founders, who encouraged him to join the company at the corporate office. Eventually, he recommended agency ownership as a next big move for Mike.

“David gave me the confidence I needed at the time, and I loved his vision, so I took a shot at agency ownership. I just loved the concept from day one and I bought in 100%. I knew Brightway would become something big,” said Mike.

In 2008, Mike opened Brightway, The Tarzia Agency in Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Supporting staff and the community

Throughout the past 14 years, Mike has grown his agency’s business and built a stellar reputation in the Nassau County community. Most recently, Brightway, The Tarzia Agency earned a Platinum Sales Award for their success in 2021 as part of Brightway’s annual awards program.

“We’ve earned the respect of a lot of customers here on the island,” said Mike. “The first customer I wrote a policy for is still with us and has been proud of what we’ve built here in Nassau County over the years and how we’ve expanded. Our customers can trust in us and know that we are experts in the insurance industry.”

But Mike refuses to take full credit for his agency’s success and emphasizes it couldn’t happen without his agents.

“I measure my success by the success of my employees,” expressed Mike. “When my employees buy a house or a car or start a family, those are the things that matter to me. They know I am committed to them and their work-life balance, goals and achievements.”

Always learning and growing

In addition, Brightway’s experts on the Onboarding and Training team and the Carrier Relationship team equip new agency owners with plenty of support and resources to accelerate their understanding of the industry and build their business.

“The importance of understanding an agency’s market is critical to success,” said Matthew Smith, Brightway’s Agency Onboarding and Training Manager. “Each market is unique, and carrier underwriting guidelines vary. During our New Agency Training, the Training team plans time to explore the unique properties of each individual agency and their carrier portfolio. When a new Brightway agency opens, the owner and agents are the local experts, and understanding the local market is a key to success.”  

Mike encourages those interested in becoming an insurance agency owner to understand and embrace how much learning is involved. This includes learning the insurance market, along with guidelines for quoting and underwriting. He also stresses learning from and correcting your mistakes. Mike emphasizes that the first few years involves a lot of learning and relationship building to develop your book of business.

“I tell my new employees to dedicate time to reading and studying the insurance market,” explained Mike. “That is how you become an expert and trusted advisor. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more insurance details you will understand and be able to find the best product for each customer’s needs.”

Mike’s success over the years and connection with others in the community has allowed him to expand his agency presence in North Jacksonville, as he recently assumed ownership of another Brightway agency location near the Jacksonville airport. The former owner since 2007, Frank Lullo, is a long-term friend of Mike’s, to whom Mike attributes a lot of his own success.

“Frank has been a mentor, a best friend, an uncle to my kids and aconfidant, said Mike. “It was a natural progression and transition to take ownership of his location and bring it to the next level.”

Mike’s accomplishments as a business owner are a testament to how the right mindset and ability to connect with people, along with Brightway’s model, can produce winning outcomes for franchisees.

 

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