“Success is one thing, impact is another.”
This quote from former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis serves as a sort of mantra for Jeff and Eboné Granger, the husband-wife team at the helm of Granger Financial.
Jeff and Eboné are dedicated to making an impact. Granger Financial’s focus on creating change in their community helped the agency win the 2021 Agent for the Future Award for Outstanding Small Agency.
Independent agents have a long history of giving back in their communities. According to Liberty Mutual and Safeco’s Independent Agent Community Giving Report, 92% of agencies donate their time and 94% donate money.
But for Jeff and Eboné, philanthropy is not just something they do – it’s part of who they are, and a crucial part of their agency’s success.
We spoke to both of them about moving from captive to independent, their advice for new agents, and how community involvement benefits their business.
How did you both end up in the insurance agency industry and when did you decide to start your own agency?
Jeff: I got into the insurance business back in 2009. I worked as a consultant for captive agents and then launched my own agency in September 2012. We did a year’s worth of production in four months. From there, it was kind of an onward and upward path to success in the agency.
Ultimately, that led us being called into corporate to replicate what we did in our market in the DC-Maryland-Virginia market, which was predominantly African American. Agents were struggling in those areas. We took that territory from, I think, number 270 out of 500 territories, to number 8. And we were number 1 in our market.
In 2019, I was unexpectedly terminated for failure to disclose an outside business activity. We owned two trucks – it was not egregious, it was an oversight. I got fired on a Friday. On Monday we opened Granger Financial and on Tuesday we took our first client. That’s just how we operate. We started from our kitchen table and just began building, calling carriers in the middle of the pandemic to get appointments.
Eboné: My background is in psychology and counseling, and I worked in several different environments with youth and adults. When Jeff opened his first agency, he asked me to come on. I was burned out and ready for a change.
I knew nothing about insurance at that point. I did the P&C and life and health exams a month before we opened. But it was great to see how my skillset from mental health and counseling translated into caring for clients, often during really hard times in their lives.
You started the agency at a challenging time, and you’ve been able to accomplish a lot with a small staff – what advice do you have for agents who are newer to the independent space and working with a small team?
Eboné: I would say be consistent in the way you run your business. Be well-versed in the products that you offer. And then know your clients so you can understand what they need.
Jeff: For me, it wasn’t about having a huge team, it was about maximizing the team we did have. You become a master of all trades in our agency very quickly.
Tell me a little bit about the work you do in your community. Why is that important to you and how does it fit in with your business?
Jeff: I was raised by a giving grandmother. She did a lot of groundbreaking work for the New Jersey community, especially for women. Her giving nature was critical for me in developing a giving heart.
We’ve adopted this quote in our family that “success is one thing, impact is another.” So many people think that success is tied to money, but we believe that success is tied to the impact we are having in our community. If you take our agency out of that community, will they feel it? We define our success based on our ability to answer that question with a yes.
Eboné: Neither of us are where we are without the support of community. As a result, philanthropy is just a part of who we are. As a therapist, I only wanted to work in the most at-risk and needing environments. That is just part of who I am.
When I came out of that space and started working with Jeff in insurance, one of the most important things for me was to use my position to make a greater impact. While I may not directly be a therapist anymore, I can contribute in other ways.
Our mission is to connect with people and help them. When we started Granger Financial, we made it a priority to get back into the community.
How has the work you do within your community helped your business?
Eboné: Early on in 2020, we saw all of these awful things happening across the country and we wanted to do something to help our community. Through a client, Jeff was connected to Breonna Taylor’s mom, and together, they created an event to honor Breonna. This event then turned into a peace march right outside of DC.
Our community showed up in the most amazing ways. The peace march led to a scholarship in honor of Breonna Taylor. We were able to raise over $40,000 in scholarships to send first-generation students to college. Through this experience, our neighbors started to see who we were and what our brand truly represents.
We just wanted to be a beacon of light in our community and not let members of our community fall through the cracks. Our neighbors and community see that, and they support us as a result of the work we’ve been doing.
What advice would you give to other agents who want to be an Agent for the Future?
Eboné: Be you. What is it that you can bring to this industry How can you have an impact? What is it that makes you happy and how can you connect that to your brand so that you’re working with intention and purpose? And don’t compare yourself. If you can stay the course and stay true to who you are, you’re going to be more innovative and creative.
Jeff: When you move from the captive world to independent, you quickly realize there’s no box. You can make your business whatever you want. A lot of times, people are trying to replicate what others are doing. But you have to set yourself apart. What would make a client come to Granger Financial? When we interact with people, we want them to leave thinking they want to do business with us.