MAKING INSURANCE HIS BUSINESS
With dark brown eyes that sparkle with a hint of mischief, Justin Rampersad is the kind of guy who doesn’t stay contained for long. Ambitious, determined and full of ideas, he’s always ready for a challenge, and eager to find solutions. This sort of drive has undoubtedly fuelled his ten-year journey through the trenches of the insurance industry, and now, as the Managing Director of his company J. Rampersad & Co. Limited, which is an agent for Sagicor General, handling flood and motor insurance policies, it’s what keeps this entrepreneur focused on his goals.
I try to provide an all-round service, which includes, explaining all the insurance jargon so people are better equipped to make informed choices about what is out there,” he explains. “The thing with insurance is that you have to spend a lot of time advising. It’s not about closing the sale. It’s about educating. You also have to be frank.” It helps that he understands the dynamics of his generation, who he admits aren’t always the easiest to educate about insurance. Riding the social media wave, he’s an avid user of Facebook, not just for personal entertainment, but also to connect with younger clientele. “We young people trust our friends, so if another young person is trustworthy and is selling insurance they might be inclined to consider it,” he explains. “It also helps helps that I speak their language.”
However, he concedes, you cannot force the horse to drink water and notes that sometimes it is considerably more difficult to ‘sell’ the idea of insurance to younger clients, as it’s not something they think about. With ten years of experience under his belt, he’s had enough time to develop a gut instinct about how to approach clients – something he had to develop in his newbie days, working in claims. “I took a lot of cussing from clients in the early days,” he says, reminiscing about his newbie days. “Claims is a lot of work, but you learn a lot about insurance. I soon got the hang of things, and it really gave me a solid foundation.” Most akin to a baptism of fire, Rampersad was literally dumped into the claims department at a large, insurance firm. Claims isn’t the easiest of positions, as it calls for some serious customer relations savvy, with clients sometimes prone to being emotional. Armed with his good-boy charms, he soon learned the art of customer relationships, and sought to expand his knowledge of the industry. Still Rampersad’s entrepreneurial spirit was searching for an avenue. So to keep his sanity, whilst satisfying the underlying need for extra cash, he started his own side operation. Using ingenuity and charm, he became quite the DVD salesman. “I used the tools at my disposal to promote the business,” he says. “I purchased movies from my uncle and started using the Internet to contact people, letting them know about the DVDs for sale. I saved the e-mail addresses of those who bought and e-mailed updates of new movies.” People who bought DVDs from him soon started purchasing insurance. A true salesman, Rampersad was always searching for new ways to educate people about the need for insurance. In chatting to friends, family, and prospective clients, he realized there was a need for more education. “I realised that a lot of people did not know much about insurance and this is a problem,” he says. “The insurance industry does not do enough to educate the public. So I wanted to change this. I would send out newsletters about little jargons via email, and people would forward it to their friends. I had already established a relationship with these people, so they knew me as the guy who sold good DVDs and gave good insurance advice. This made talking business easy as many of them were already seeking my advice on insurance and forwarding my e-mails to other friends. I was constantly being recommended. My reputation and client base grew and my success was eventually rewarded with titles for Top Sales and Rookie of the Year.” With his DVD venture blooming, he was enjoying growth in his professional life.