It's no surprise that technology giants like IBM and Hewlett-Packard dominate the top tier in this year's list of the 100 best outsourcing service providers released by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals. Three-quarters of the way down the list is where the "Rising Stars" can be found, the small companies that get noticed for their rapid growth and quality of service.
Right there at No. 78 overall and third out of 25 total rookies is ReSource Pro, a New York-based outsourcing agency for small to midsize retail insurance agencies, managing general agents, insurance program managers, brokers and agents.
Taking a glance at the myriad of companies on the list, ReSource Pro's CEO Dan Epstein is proud of his company's placement when considering its narrow niche of a client base.
"I would imagine there are probably a dozen companies on this list besides us that touch on insurance, but I'm not aware of anyone that is only focused on insurance as a specialist, and certainly not aware of anyone who focuses on small and midsize agencies," he said. "Most of these big companies are only interested in the Fortune 500 clients."
The company's 25 clients share the same reasons for buying into the outsourcing process.
The first is the struggle to find staff--college graduates willing to do data-processing work at a high level.
The second is the difficulty keeping highly skilled employees productive in the process-heavy insurance industry.
The third reason is the need to find cheaper ways of doing business.
These reasons must be compelling enough for clients to entrust tedious but crucial tasks to ReSource Pro's data-processing center in Qingdao, China.
John Powter was one such client. President of Powter Insurance, a McKinney, Texas-based retail insurance agency whose niche is writing for the majority of the Domino's pizza franchises in the country,
Powter was convinced to trust a four-person "night shift" in China with his big Domino's renewal in May--but only after a mock renewal in January.
The mock renewal also reassured his current employees, who were apprehensive about outsourcing. Those employees were previously so swamped during the busy renewal period that they were processing paperwork at a 92 percent accuracy rate.
"Not only was ReSource Pro's accuracy rate 99.6 percent, but they did it in half the time," said Powter. "I had moral concerns about outsourcing, but I got over that very quickly once I realized we weren't going to cut any jobs, we weren't going to replace any employees--it just doesn't work that way. There was definitely a buy-in process for every employee. But once they saw it was an asset that would make their job and their life easier, then it worked very well."
Powter's biggest surprise was the quality and the efficiency of the work--beyond just data entry and spreadsheets--as well as the China staff's ability to communicate so well in English.
He's had a far superior outcome compared with the Web design work he's outsourced to India, he said.
According to Powter, his work with ReSource Pro has given his small agency an advantage. If a large project comes up, he can quickly add a person to his staff in China without having to make a lifelong commitment to an employee or going through the hassle of training a temp.
Epstein said more companies in this arena will begin to recognize this and get over their reluctance to outsourcing.
"I think more and more agencies are welcoming outsourcing, embracing it," he said. "In our segment of the midsize, small, independent agencies, they're not using it to downsize, and therefore they don't see it in the same light as, say, auto manufacturers do. I occasionally will read something about some big carrier or big brokerage firm who has signed a 10-year deal with one of the big outsourcing companies for $100 million. That's so profoundly different from what we offer."
ReSource Pro was formed in 2003 by The Distinguished Programs Group, a New York-based MGA that hired employees in China to relieve the company out of a processing backlog. The success clued DPG into how it could write more business at dramatically lower costs--a model they wanted to share with other MGAs.
Making the 2007 list of Rising Stars is significant, Epstein said, especially when considering it's only been four years since the company formed itself, essentially by accident.
"I think all of us at ReSource Pro would say that none of us is smart enough to have planned this and built it from scratch," he said. "It just evolved."
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August 1, 2007
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