Brightway Franchise Is the Insurance Agency Reinvented

Founded in 2008, Brightway Insurance agents represent the best national insurance companies that have a wide variety of products available to meet clients’ specific needs. Lead today by David Miller, Chairman and Founder, Michael Miller, Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder, and President Talman Howard, Brightway reinvented the insurance agency model.

We recently spoke with Howard to learn more about the franchise, including how it compares to its competition, what Brightway looks for in potential franchisees and lastly, what words of advice he has for aspiring entrepreneurs.

What’s special about the franchise?

Brightway is a national property/casualty insurance independent agency that sells through franchised locations. There are three things that make Brightway a special franchise: One is that we’re a franchise that pays you when you sell an insurance policy, and also pays you every time that policy renews. So, it’s a franchise with residual income opportunity.


Second is the number of insurance companies, or carriers, we have access to. According to the leading insurance agent trade organization, the IIABA, on average independent agents have access to 6.7 insurance companies in their offices. In Florida, our agents have access to dozens of insurance companies. In other parts of the country, they have access to more than twice as many as other independent agents. This wide choice of carriers helps our agents be able to meet their customers’ insurance needs throughout their lifetimes. And last, but certainly not least, a key Brightway difference is service after the sale.

It’s estimated that independent agents spend 60-90 percent of their time servicing existing customers. This is activity that typically doesn’t generate incremental revenue for the agent. In the Brightway system, our agents focus on selling, while all after-the-sale service happens centrally in our Service Center staffed with insurance professionals. This allows agents to focus on selling. As a result, Brightway agents consistently outsell independent agents, and, by their fourth year in business, Brightway agents sell more than twice as much Personal Lines business than their independent agent counterparts.

What is the idea behind the franchise?

David and Michael Miller, Founder and Co-founder, respectively, knew that being a trusted insurance advisor in your community — being an independent agent — was a terrific way to make a living. They wanted to introduce a business model that could help others enjoy the American dream—owning your own business with which you can support your family, and, as you grow, help others support their families.

They knew that, in the independent agency business, the way to do this is to provide our agents more choices of carriers with which to write business and to free agents up to focus on sales by providing centralized service. And, in the Brightway system, we offer our agents turnkey support — from technology, to reporting, to accounting, to marketing, to sales training. We support them in all critical parts of their business.

How does it compare to its competition?

We believe Brightway offers the most comprehensive independent agent franchise solution. We have a solid record of financial success and growth, which puts us ahead of our competition.

What do you look for in a potential franchisee?

There are two types of franchisees we look for. One who wants to own a franchise and hire a Principal to run the day-to-day operation, and one who wants to be an “owner/operator.”

For the investor who wants to hire a Principal, we look for:

  • A business professional with an appreciation for using a turnkey system to build a successful business
  • Ability to build strong teams

For people who want to buy a franchise and work in it, we look for people who:

  • A business professional with an appreciation for using a turnkey system to build a successful business
  • Love to sell and are great at it (hunters vs. farmers)
  • Are highly effective at managing sales teams
  • Are great at building strong, long-lasting customer relationships
  • Are honest and focused business professionals

Where do you see it in five years?

We started franchising in 2008 and today we have 117 locations in ten states. We are the seventh largest Personal Lines independent agency in the country. Our plan is to continue to grow in number of agencies, written premium and revenue with business people who live our values of Smart, Accountable and Trustworthy, and who want to build businesses that are integral parts of the communities in which they live.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of a franchisee?

Our franchisees (agency owners) are focused on selling property/casualty insurance. Their days are a mixture of networking in their communities, following up on existing sales leads, rounding out their existing accounts by ensuring they have the coverages they need, handling the needs of customers who walk into their retail space and networking via social media.

What’s your background?

I started my career with Liberty Mutual. Then, for 25 years, held positions at market-leader Progressive ranging from Claims to Product Management to General Management. Most recently, I managed our 15,000 or so independent agents in the eastern half of the U.S. In between I consulted with one of the country’s largest carriers, then held an executive role with a 100-year-old brand in property/casualty.

Leading a large agency allows me to use my carrier background to build deep, fruitful relationships with the more than 120 carriers we have access to.

What motivates you to keep going?

Helping our franchise owners, our agency owners, be as successful as possible motivates everyone at Brightway.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

There are a lot of experiences that, having gone through them, you come out on the other side wishing you were as wise then as you are now. We’re grateful for those experiences — they help us learn and grow. So, in thinking through our evolution as a learning organization, there is nothing we would have done differently.

Please tell us your secret to success…

At the end of the day, it’s having a plan and working that plan. Whether it’s a Home Office plan for making our turnkey offering more robust, or an individual agency’s written premium plan. First, you need to make the plan, then you need to work it so it becomes reality. What gets measured gets done, so we set out measurable plans, hold ourselves accountable, and deliver.

What is the worst job you have ever had and what did you learn from it?

During a summer break from college, I had a job planting planting scrub pines in southern Georgia. And, boy was it hot! My lesson was that I’d better spend more time studying to get through college.

What is one thing that really excites you?

When Founder and Co-founder David and Michael Miller talk about starting Brightway, in part, to help others achieve the American dream, that is really exciting to me. It’s also exciting to be an integral part of a successful, growing company.

Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

There are a lot of franchise opportunities out there. Look for one that has a residual income stream and one that provides you all the support you need to be successful.

Where can people get more information on Brightway Insurance franchise opportunities?

Visit the website here.

Where can people find Brightway Insurance on social media?