There’s one thing that Mike Bulow has never thought about, and that’s what he would do for employment if he wasn’t in the insurance business.
Career-wise, insurance is “the only thing I’ve ever done,” said Bulow, who, with his brother, Tom Bulow, co-owns The Bulow Group in Tinley Park, Ill. It’s “fascinating to me that it’s something that you have to have to operate a business. Really, the world doesn’t work without it.”
Plus, he said, he likes “the fact that you’re selling yourself, not a product. You’re selling yourself and what you can deliver on service, what you can deliver on your way of doing business, whatever that may be.”
The Bulow Group, which was named one of Insurance Journal’s Best Agencies to Work For in the Midwest in 2018, has been growing at a “pretty good clip,” having added seven new employees in recent months. The company also has opened a new location in Chicago, about 30 miles from its headquarters. The long-term goal is to become a national broker and expand the firm’s footprint across the U.S.
One of the trademarks of The Bulow Group is its culture of caring, and that starts at the top, Bulow said. He and his brother, Tom, “care about people both in and out of the office … We care about them both personally and professionally.”
On a personal level, Bulow said, “I make what’s important to other people important to me. Whether that is personal or professional. Whatever their passions are, whatever makes them tick. I make what’s important to them important to me. That’s kind of the ethos we have in the agency.”
He said three driving forces — or hashtags, in social media terms — characterize the agency: innovate, donate and deliver.
Innovate — to keep the enterprise moving forward with products, technology and the agency’s way of doing business.
Donate and give back — with time, resources — whatever that may be.
Deliver — on what you say you’re going to do. “Do it. Deliver on superior results, deliver on customer service that’s unparalleled.”
Bulow said he received a couple of great pieces of advice as a young agent that still resonate with him. One: “Always do what’s right for the client. Period.” Another: “Bad news doesn’t age well.” If something goes wrong, address it, even if it stings. “Sleeping on it doesn’t do any good … bad news just doesn’t age well. I’ve remembered that since the beginning.”
To those who are just starting their career in insurance, he would say: “Don’t get too high or too low when it comes to sales, when it comes to service. Just do what’s right for the client. And communication is key.
“Communication is key for all facets, whether it’s sales, service, carrier relationships — that’s probably the biggest takeaway. … Keep the client, the other party, informed at all times. I feel like that’s a huge component of what makes us successful,” Bulow said.
Beyond work, bicycling is one of Bulow’s passions. In fact, after his family, his Peloton (a type of training bicycle used indoors that can be connected to the internet) is one thing he wouldn’t want to do without. Weather permitting, he and his family “go on bike rides almost every day. Admittedly, sometimes that might be to get ice cream, but we’re doing it,” he said.
And what might he do if he weren’t in insurance?
A pro golfer would be great, Bulow said, or maybe a professional traveler, “if there is such a thing.”
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