- By Victoria Kidd
By some accounts, it's sort of a scary time to be alive. Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck at around nine percent. The United States saw its credit rating drop for the first time in history. The news is filled with uncertainty, and these are the moments where many find it difficult to know exactly how to protect their assets and plan for their futures. Gary and Tracy Kelley, of The Kelley Agencies, have been here to guide members of our community since 2004. It is a complete dedication to their customers, and the community as a whole, that makes them people to know.
Gary began his career twenty eight years ago, and always desired to own his own agency. Pursuant to that dream, he built The Kelley Agencies, and he serves our community, along side his wife, Tracy. Serving as a financial specialist for the agency, Tracy brings the full breadth of her sixteen years of experience in this industry. The result is forty-four years of combined experience, and a steadily growing local business that services customer accounts in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Both Gary and Tracy grew up in Ripley, West Virginia. When they moved to Martinsburg and purchased the rights to their Allstate agency, they had to build a relationship with this community in order to really see the type of agency growth they desired. Among other organizations, they joined the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce, as well as the local chapter of Rotary International. It wasn't long before they realized that this was truly an incredible community, and the two sought to do everything they could to contribute to the people of the Eastern Panhandle. Although serving customers of their business is their professional drive, serving our community is their passion. Through their business, they are avid supporters of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Salvation Army, the Special Olympics, June Jubilee, the Soap Box Derby, and several other public service organizations and activities.
"It's very important to us to stay involved with our community," Tracy says. Their involvement goes beyond a periodic financial provision, or special appearances. They actually invest their most valuable resource— their time. "I am a coach and advisor for the Special Olympics. I have also had a little sister for six years now, and we strive to raise money for the Salvation Army at Christmas time." The pair is not only invested in making this community a better place, but they are also committed to repaying the community support that has led their business to such success.
Gary explains, "It is absolutely our responsibility to give back to the community." During their first two years, the two experienced not only growth within their business, but also within their personal connections. Martinsburg opened its arms to them, and, as Gary explains, "In a short time, the area just started to feel like home." That feeling of community is, undoubtedly, the result of how the business serves its customers. "What separates us from other agencies is how well we take care of our customers," Gary relays. It is that service commitment that has allowed the agency to grow. Given their wide product offering, each customer account is different, and offers a unique set of challenges.
Gary and Tracy have supported grieving widows who need help understanding the life insurance benefits they will be receiving. They have helped parents through the confusing process of planning for college. They have also provided advice regarding retirement planning to customers of all ages. Tracy will tell you that she has actually seen Gary on the roof of a customer's home as he repairs a shingle that has become uprooted. This is a level of service that exceeds most people's expectation, but Gary says, "I just try to always do the right thing for the person first, and serve them as a customer second."
No matter what product a customer is interested in, The Kelley Agencies will work tirelessly to meet the customer's needs. Such efforts have garnered the business national attention. There are a little more than 14,000 Allstate Agencies across the country. Gary and Tracy's agency has a long track record of being recognized for having some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the country. They have been recipients of the Best in Company Award, the Allstate Financial Leader Award, The Agency Achievement Award, and many, many more.
They are also actively involved in the national and regional advisory boards for Allstate, where they use their expertise and knowledge to set policy for the enterprise as a whole. Perhaps the easiest way to define Gary and Tracy's leadership is to ask their team to describe what it is like to work with them. Amber Ritchie serves as the company's operations manager. "This is such an incredible place to work," Amber asserts. "Gary and Tracy put a huge emphasis on working together, and they have really built a great business by finding the right people and putting them in the right jobs." She describes an environment where teamwork is not just a buzzword, but also a mantra.
Another licensed agent, Ashlee Davis, reiterates Amber's assessment. "We work hard. An average day is very hectic and busy, but we all take care of each other just as much as we take care of the customers." That, according to both Amber and Ashlee is the proverbial secret sauce of the agency's success. Every agent is committed to growing the business, taking care of the customer above all, and supporting each other's endeavors. This support even extends to Gary and Tracy's community efforts. Nearly every agent donates a portion of his or her monthly bonus to a collective fund that is periodically distributed to a local charity. The philosophy of community service—as exemplified by the agency owners—has trickled down at all levels.
Service is at the heart of any business, but it is of particular importance to a company that helps people make decisions about their money. Gary has innovatively structured his team to maximize its ability to meet customer expectations. There is a dedicated sales team and a dedicated service team. Customers are served in accordance with their needs, eliminating any possibility for a customer to perceive being given the "run around." Gary assesses each agent and determines his or her strengths. They are assigned tasks that match their skills, and perhaps more importantly, their interests.
Cultivating an atmosphere where service is king, and agents are seen as valuable assets, is the hallmark of Gary and Tracy's business. Not only have they built a successful business model, but they have continually found ways to give back to this community. Their sense of service has been rewarded with continual year-over-year growth—so much so, that they have to bring on more staff. That is correct; this is a business that is actually hiring. These new employees will support the agency's objectives, including their desire to double their customer base within the next five years. Given that the majority of their business is gained through referrals, this should not be a difficult goal to reach.
These referrals, as well as the overall support of the community are something that Gary and Tracy appreciate. "This is home," Gary smiles. "We love this community, and we are grateful for the trust they put in us. We sell a promise that we will be there when you need us, and we stand behind that promise."
For more information, visit www.Allstate. com/garykelley. If you're in the area, stop by their office, on Lakeview Drive. Gary, Tracy, and the entire team will be happy to show you what their philosophy is all about.