Patra Employee Profile of Bobbie Fernandez

May 23 2016

Can you describe your role as a SAMS account manager?

“My role is to manage a book on behalf of my client. When I answer the phone, I use the agency’s greeting so the customer experience I provide is consistent with the other account managers in the agency. Insureds receive emails from me through the agency’s system and all of my work is done within their system. When we first partnered with them we determined a commission threshold of $2,500 on the book of business, so all accounts that are under $2,500 in commission are placed in the SAMS book that I manage. I then work on that book of business like any other account manager sitting in their office.”

Tell me about the book of business you manage?

“With SAMS, my book of business is a little over $400,000 in revenue, all accounts are smaller than $2,500 in agency revenue, and it includes everything from children’s circuses to auto dealers! My customer agency has stipulated that if an account gets over a certain size – part of my job is growing the account – they’ll bring that back in-house or leave it with Patra. We try to be flexible with the agency as far as what their needs are and what they want us to do.”

How can you manage such a big book?

“With a lot of support! SAMS account managers follow the agency’s protocols as far as answering the phones and expected turnaround times. Frequently, we have higher standards for ourselves as SAMS employees than the agency has internally.

“The thing that makes SAMS work is our team in India. For instance, my India team works with me on renewal processing. Ninety days in advance, they’ll get a renewal list and start working on it. They’ll send pre-renewal letters and do the policy checking and delivery for the clients. The cert team will do the renewal certificates and auto ID cards. So if it’s an automatic renewal, a lot of times, I check off on it from a quality standpoint, but I don’t need to do the work.

“Any time I can take work off my desk and push that to the team, the more efficient we are. My India team has more capacity, so work can get done faster, and that gives me the ability to be more effective as an account manager while talking to clients, rounding out accounts and finding E&O exposures.”

How many different agencies do you work for?

“Just one – I work for Ahmann-Martin in Minneapolis. I have 1,600 policies in my book with none in a service center. Though that all depends on the agency. Other SAMS account managers have larger books of business but may have accounts in a service center or a smaller policy count because their revenue threshold is larger so their polices require more attention. Every relationship is tailored to meet the agency’s need.”

How does using SAMS benefit an agency?

“Agencies get the benefit of a dedicated account manager for their small business accounts without the expense of having to hire/train/house an account manager. We’re truly extensions of the agency. Housing account managers is hard in a lot of metropolitan areas. Using Patra, an agency can get a very qualified person regardless of city or state. In my case, the agency is in Minnesota but I’m in California. Without Patra, they probably would have never found me or have been able to hire me.

“Using Patra also helps an agency’s bottom line. Agencies can now get a generous margin, guaranteed, on accounts they may have been barely making money on – without any personnel or management expense.”

Do some SAMS account managers have more than one client, or is it just one person/one company?

“We have some account managers who work on more than one desk. Generally, there’s a lead account manager on each desk, but we have clients who have such a large volume of business with us that they have several account managers. For example, one of our customers has a headquarters office and smaller satellite locations so they have four account managers. So it just depends on the situation and the needs to provide our high level of service on the book.”

How long have you worked for Patra?

“I was employee number five on the SAMS team. I started September 30, 2013 so it’s been a little over two and a half years. I had already worked with Patra at my previous agency, so I knew how helpful Patra could be and was familiar with their processes.”

What has been the most rewarding part of your job these past two years?

“I love working with my client! We have a close relationship and they really like working with Patra. On my second anniversary with them I got a package in the mail that said ‘Happy Anniversary!’ – they had sent me a big box of cookies, which were fantastic. That was so sweet of them. It’s been rewarding to work with them as they grow.

“Working for Patra has changed my career path in exciting ways. I’m now a team lead for a SAMS team and have fifteen account managers. I try to keep it fun among my team and find ways to connect since we’re so far apart. We don’t get to see each other regularly but we get to talk every day on Zoom and have regular meetings. Those relationships and getting to know everyone has also been a great part of my job.”

What’s been the hardest thing for you?

“Working remotely – there were times I felt like an island when I first started, but it’s gotten easier as I’ve learned to reach out and communicate with my team. Since I struggled with it in the beginning, I really try to make sure that new people know that they’re not alone. Patra’s been very supportive and we’ve been having annual meetings to bring us all together. That helps a lot so we can establish relationships with people outside of the work environment. Our SAMS meetings are such a great getaway – it’s fun to get to know each other and blow off some steam with our coworkers.”

What’s the best part of your job?

“I love the variety of being completely flexible and knowing a bit about everything. I came from an agency whose niche market was nonprofits and social service organizations. Now, I’ve got some of that, but my book of business is really all over the place. I have everything under the sun, so I’ve had to learn to be flexible and re-familiarize myself with various coverages. I have to be open to learning all of those things, and that’s really been key in working this desk. It’s work, but it’s a lot of fun.

“Another thing I really enjoy is training and working with the team in India. I also love working with my onshore team and reviewing their processes with them to help them find new, inventive ways to do things. For example, I was one of the first SAMS account managers to have the team start attaching emails. Every agency’s most relevant service or efficiency gain is different. It really depends on where their pain is. I can get hundreds of emails some days, so if I didn’t have the team helping me attach some of those, it would be overwhelming.”

Tell us something fun about yourself?

“We’re holiday people! I was born on Christmas, my daughter was born on Halloween, and her dad was born on New Year’s day.

“I also do freelance makeup and hair because my daughter does a lot of modeling and I had to learn to help her. I do specialized costuming, hair and makeup for different photoshoots. I do a lot of Day of the Dead makeup and have a calendar coming out soon.”

For more information about this or any other Patra service, please contact Dave Tight, SVP Business Development, at (415) 595-9987 or dtight@patracorp.com.