Exploding out of its home base of Jacksonville, Fla., Brightway Insurance is bringing its new model of insurance brokerage and franchise opportunity to Arizona. It plans to follow its recent opening of one store in Scottsdale with 52-68 stores throughout the state in the next few years.
Calling Brightway an “insurance retailer,” David Miller, co-founder and CEO, explains that, being able to offer different carriers for different needs, the focus is on providing customers the widest choice in the convenience of a single location. “They get the best value possible because Brightway has all the options in one place.” With greater scale than a single-shop independent agent, Brightway can focus on helping customers “identify the coverage they need, and what they don’t need.” Drawing a parallel to the emergence of fast food as a category within the food industry, Miller says, “We represent a new sub-industry.”
Brightway has grown from one store, three employees and 2,000 customer policies in 2003 to its current 100 stores, 500 associates and 130,000 policies in five states, with a success rate among its franchisees of 94 percent. Arizona is one of 17 states in which Brightway has plans to expand. Population density was an important consideration in determining where to grow the company, according to Miller — who characterizes Arizona as a growth area that more people are moving to than leaving from — because “where people are able to interact, talk to each other [about their experience], it’s better for us.” Brightway plans to open four stores in the Scottsdale area, with similar concentrations in other population centers such as Phoenix and Tucson.
The model is also designed to be a convenient entry into business for entrepreneurs. As a franchisor, Brightway offers its franchisees broad support in all aspects of operations: managing the service, accounting, mail, marketing, brand development and carrier relationships. “All the franchisees have to do is build relationships with customers,” Miller says. Brightway does not require franchisees to have any past insurance experience, but they must earn an insurance agent license in their state before they can open for business.