State Farm Agents Near Me Reviews - "I'm always looking for great people," Bakala said. He added that he enjoys giving others a chance to succeed. Image courtesy: Jessica Hoppe.
Everyone needs insurance, it's just one of those things you can't do without. But when it comes to choosing which company and agent best suits your needs, the answer isn't always easy. With so many different options available, the business can feel like a chore, always opting for the lowest price. However, buying the price may not always be the best option, said Melanie Bakala, a local state agricultural agent. "We are trying to help people realize that there are other things that insurance agents can really help with," Bakala said, indicating that insurance is more than just price.
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Local State Agriculture Agent Melanie Bakala is from Olympia with extensive experience in banking and insurance. Image courtesy: Melanie Bakala.
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Bakala said he entered the insurance business after working in marketing at a local bank for nearly 16 years. He planned to stay until retirement when the 2008 recession hit, and he found the bank couldn't make it. "I gave my heart and soul to someone else and I have no control over success." With a recent marriage and some breathing room, Bakala was able to explore other career options and the insurance industry showed up. "I met the recruiter at State Farm and from the moment I sat down with him I knew that was where I was going," he said.
Before a potential agent is even granted an interview, State Farm requires all potential agents to write a business plan and pass various tests. But Bakala says it's worth staying with a company that has such strong brand recognition, is financially secure, and offers endless opportunities. It's not so much about making more money, but about controlling your income, he told me. "What you put in is what you get out."
You can find Melanie Bakala's first State Farm office in downtown Shelton at 821 Railroad Ave. Photo Courtesy: Melanie Bakala.
In 2010, Bakala opened the Shelton State Farm office when the opportunity presented itself. Although it's not her hometown, Olympia, she says she appreciates the close-knit community and that it's allowed her the freedom she craves. It was quickly successful. In just five years, Bakala was able to grow his business to include a second State Farm office in the Lacey's Hawks Prairie community. The doors opened in January 2016. “I'm very excited to be back in Thurston County and just to have this opportunity to grow as an entrepreneur and businessperson.
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Bakala said that as a businessman he was able to do things that he could not do before. “I love the fact that I can offer career opportunities to people. It's like I'm looking for diamonds in the rough. It's finding people who see this as an opportunity. People who want to take advantage of the opportunity. "Although all of his agents earn an hourly wage, they have unlimited earning potential.
Melanie and her staff try to participate in many different community events throughout the year, including the Mason County Forest Festival. Image courtesy: Melanie Bakala.
However, this is only the first thing Bakala wants about running his own business. With a background in marketing, working in the insurance industry allowed him to apply these skills by finding creative ways to interact with the community and develop his brand. His company participates in everything from the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest to the Community Bucks Program, which donates to local nonprofits when people show up for a free, no-obligation quote. Since he is just one person, Bakala encourages all his agents to be active in the community as well. It's not always easyto get people to look for insurance, so Bakala strives to be a name they remember when they are ready to make a change.
Bakala points out that the meetings with his clients are not always about the details of the insurance policy, but they often start with difficult conversations that many people do not like. “If things don't go as planned, if there's a bump, like a car accident, we want to make sure your car is covered. If something happens to your home, we want to make sure it's covered. If a person does not exceed the threshold, what about the family? If you are sick, injured, or unable to work for a year, what happens? "Bakala said they often send clients to other insurance companies because they cannot meet their needs." If we're not a good fit for a client, then we're not. It's about doing the right thing." This is also why Bakala makes sure his business grows with agents who truly care about their customers and want to put people in better situations.
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"I'm always looking for great people," Bakala said. He added that he enjoys giving others a chance to succeed. Image courtesy: Jessica Hoppe.
Sometimes, all this means explaining the details of the policy to its customers. "It's exciting when you explain something and the person says 'no one explained it to me before,'" he said. While price is very important, there is more to insurance policies and Bakala says you need to make sure you know your coverage before an emergency happens. “You can insure your laptop for a few dollars a month, with no deductible. Why not you? But nobody knows, so it's our job to tell people how these things work. "
"I am very proud of how my company has organized all of this, which has put us in a position to be there when our customers need us. This is exactly what we do," he said.
Whether you're looking for insurance or not, Bakala has these words of advice for everyone. "If there's one thing I would encourage people to do, whether it's me or their insurance company now, it's go through your policy. Take ten or fifteen minutes and slow down and ask for information. Understand what the you have.You need to make sure it works for you when you need it.
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Melanie Bakala opened her second State Farm office last year in the Hawk's Prairie area. His first office was in Shelton. Photo credit: Jessica Hoppe.
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