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- Photo by Anthony Jinson
SuretyBonds.com celebrates 10 years in business and challenging the status quo.
Unlike many states, Missouri has few surety bond requirements, so it isn’t surprising that many people have no idea what a surety bond is or who needs one.
Josh Kayser, CEO and founder, was in the same boat when he founded SuretyBonds.com back in 2009 after purchasing the domain name. At the time, he had minimal knowledge about the surety bond industry, but he did know about marketing and the internet, and that would be a game changer for the industry.
Changing the Status Quo
Surety bonds, a form of insurance purchased by and often required for many professionals in heavily regulated industries for the protection of their customers, is an offshoot of the insurance industry, which has a reputation for being a bit antiquated.
“Insurance is always behind the times technologically. Surety is even further removed from that, so a lot of what we’ve been able to do is question the status quo,” explains Chief Operations Officer Danielle Burrow.
“We have definitely made bonds way more accessible,” says Josh. “When we first started, it was very difficult to get a bond. The consumer didn’t know where to go. There were some people online trying to do it, but they were traditional insurance agents who did bonds as one part of their job. They didn’t know what they were doing with the online thing, but they thought they’d give it a go. And they weren’t really good at it.”
SuretyBonds.com was really good at the online portion of the business, and because Josh and his team weren’t familiar with how the surety process went, they questioned each step of the process and changed the things that didn’t make sense, explains Josh.
“We like to think we’ve forced a lot of the change [in the industry] with our innovation,” says Danielle.
It used to take one to two weeks for a simple notary bond request to be filled, and the process was labor intensive on the person and agency issuing the bond. SuretyBonds.com has cut down that time to where now, if you send in your notary bond request during the business day, you may have it in as little as 15 minutes.
“It’s very fast and efficient,” says Josh.
Striving to Stay on Top
Danielle says their efficiency and quickness is what often surprises their customers the most. Other surety agencies out there only have part of the bond process online: They can take payment or receive an application for a bond, but they can’t do it all.
It’s SuretyBonds.com’s efficiency that makes them stand out, and they’re continuously looking for ways to improve the bond process for their consumers and employees. By the end of this year, they hope to knock that 15-minute notary bond process time down to mere seconds, all without an employee having to touch the transaction.
“We’ve come very far,” says Danielle. “We’ve had guidance and help from different avenues with marketing or business structuring, but as far as building the company and how we’ve chosen to build the software and build our teams and prioritize things, we were just making up things and trying to test ideas and move quickly. We wanted to learn as we go and make sure everyone’s comfortable learning as we go.”
Josh is quick to add that the experimentation was out of necessity. “We were making it up, but it was also deliberate in that we were doing what we were told people in surety did, and we’d get to a point where it just didn’t make sense and we had to change that part of the process,” he says. “Changing that was not necessarily making it up as much as we weren’t accepting it the way it currently was.”
They’ve maintained their employee base of 35 full-time employees and 15 to 20 paid student interns over the last few years, yet the amount of business they complete has grown. “We’ve been pretty stagnant on the employee count for three or four years now, but we’re doing three times more business now than three or four years ago,” says Josh.
“We’re utilizing technology to make the people that are here more efficient and work on more meaningful stuff than data entry,” explains Danielle. They want their employees to be engaged and to use their creative brain power. “Efficiencies and technologies are what drive our growth, not the employee count.”
They’re always looking for ways to save time and do more with the staff they already have, and that’s allowed them to see double digit growth in premiums, renewals, and profitability over the last four years, Danielle says.
And in addition to the quantifiable growth the company has seen over the past few years, the insurance industry as a whole has taken note of SuretyBonds.com’s work and improvements. The top insurance carriers continue to tell SuretyBonds.com that they’re the fastest growing agency year-over-year.
Danielle explains that this means “we continue to grow our book of business with them at a faster rate than our competitors. We generally attribute this to technological innovation made possible by our marketing and development teams to get both high-quality and high-volume leads [potential clients seeking bonding assistance] every day.”
Danielle also credits their customer care team with helping them stay on top. It’s a true team effort.
The domain name SuretyBonds.com is purchased and the website launches.
The business earns $1 million in revenue.
SuretyBonds.com is named Small Business of the Year by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
The site’s instant purchase portal launches, offering full bonding service without agent integration.
SuretyBonds.com expands their paid internship program to include up to 20 students per semester.
Staff increases to 50 employees and the company celebrates 10 years of business.
3514 Interstate 70 Dr. SE