Another day, another playbook!! This time we have the legendary Brendan Keegan, CEO of Merchant Fleet, with us to discuss the landscape of insurance and leadership!
We start with Brendan discussing the challenges of managing large vehicle fleets, offering a unique perspective on the risks and strategies to mitigate them. We also get into the challenges of managing large vehicle fleets, and Brandan offers a unique perspective on the risks involved and the strategies to mitigate them.
The conversation delves into the impact of remote work on professional development and underscores the competitive advantage of being present in the office, as well as the power of hard work, innovation, and adaptability as key components of a successful career.
📻 Tune in for a Fascinating episode with the Idudes and Brandan Keegan.
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Both agents themselves, they both have scaled to around $10 million in premium. After searching for years for a system to create predictability in their agencies, they developed the Telefunnel after their interviews with so many agents and business leaders.
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Bio of Brendan P. Keegan
He is the Chairman, CEO, and President of Merchants Fleet, a fleet management company that provides services to businesses of all sizes. Merchants Fleet helps businesses to manage their vehicle fleets, including acquisition, financing, maintenance, and disposal.
Keegan has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, and he has held leadership positions at companies such as Electronic Data Systems (EDS), HP Enterprise Services, and Worldwide TechServices. In these roles, he has led teams to develop and deliver innovative technology solutions to customers around the world.
Overall, Keegan is a highly successful and respected leader in the technology and fleet management industries. He is known for his innovative approach to business and his ability to lead teams to achieve success.
So the wildest thing I ever saw happen at an insurance agent agency is when I was running a 10,000 unit fleet and the insurance agency came out, they sat down with me and they said, based on the driving skills of your 10,000 drivers, you are uninsurable and took off and I needed to find a new broker. We had a lot of bad drivers, a lot of bad drivers a lot of accidents. And so that was that was the craziest thing I saw was finding out that we had a company that size that was uninsurable.Jason Feltman:
Oh, that is crazy.Unknown:
Why don't you introduce yourself to everybody? Yeah. So my name is Brennan Kagan. I'm an insurance steward and I run merchants fleet. Insurance dudes areCraig Pretzinger:
on a mission to escape being handcuffed by ourJason Feltman:
agencies. How? by uncovering the secrets to creating a predictable, consistent, and profitable agency Sales Machine. I am Craig Pretzinger. I am Jason Feldman.Unknown:
We are agents.Jason Feltman:
We are insurances. Whoa, boom. All right. Wow. Was there a gap?Unknown:
You know what? Here's here's what it was, like we had, we had 10,000 drivers out there and they weren't bad drivers. That's a lot of bad drivers all in one place. Here's the thing like at the company, like we reported everything as an accident. If there was a fender bender, that report is an accident, when in reality probably shouldn't have reported that as an accident. So it just it was just a baud rate was high. We were uninsurable. We actually had to self insure for two years. And, and, and then and then go back to market. So pretty crazy.Jason Feltman:
So yeah, yeah, go for it.Unknown:
You self insured the 10,000. I mean, I guess, I guess that's what county a lot of counties and cities will end up doing. Right, because they have the big coffers. But still, it's a lot of risk, especially if there's 10,000 Bad Drivers. Yeah, we have to we have to post a lot of money up. It was it was a it was a big challenge. We we got it, we got it under control, we went back and I can tell you one thing we did we in the company are now merchants fleet. We're a commercial fleet company. We have 200,000 vehicles on the road. And we're big fans of telematics, we want to, we want to proactively know, hey, what are those? What are the drivers doing on the road? How can we prevent it, create a point system, you get so many points for being heartbreaking? Speeding, whatever, you know, and you're out. You're out. So, but we didn't have telematics back when I just told thatJason Feltman:
stories. We happen to know a few large carriers will that really are into telematics? Mmm. No, actually,Unknown:
I Oh, you can't name one of theJason Feltman:
Yeah. Yeah. But it's interesting, though, because, I mean, we, as agents hear a lot about telematics. And usually, it's like, maybe it was a little apprehension from some of the agent force out there. But like, from your angle, especially having that many drivers Wow, how valuable that can be for you.Unknown:
Yeah, well, you know, I've got, I'm just thinking, you know, one of my clients, they drive, you know, big FQ 50s. And they're, they're pulling things, pretty heavy things. And every week, she'll get a report of, you know, all the bad drivers, and every week shall have somebody trailering over 100 miles an hour. Wow. Well, you know, that's just, you know, that's, that's just not good. And, and, and there's so many use cases for telematics and in driver behavior. And ultimately, it's, it's, you know, the, the companies want their drivers to be safe, but they also want the people on the road where they're driving to be safe. And I'm pretty confident that the the insurance agencies, you know, want that out there, you know, it's a lot less risky to to insure, but, yeah, the telematics, you know, you get, you get an exception report every morning at 8am comes in, tells you all the all the bad things that some of your drivers did, dude, I need a truck a to an F 250 pulling something going. 100 is like a death machine. Like that thing is whatever it hits is going to die. And here's what's crazy, it happens weekly, and they know there's a telematics device, and they still do it in a truck and they still do it. Well, it's because they've already drink five beers by then. So then it doesn't. I don't know. But yeah, that's pretty insane. Now, just a hopefully Elon is not listening to this. But I know that with the telematics, there are ways there are ways to beat it right? There's like ways to game it, like heartbreaking. You just you end up you know, you could drive through the neighborhood and go like get get get up to speed and then like just drag the breaking out so that so what, huh,Jason Feltman:
and how do you have the Tesla appUnknown:
and I have to, because I get you know, I know that I have a heartbreak so I have to fix them. That's why I hope he learns all this thing. Hypothetically, thank you. Of course, yeah, yeah. Have you caught any of that? Have you caught? Yeah, oh, there's heartbreaking, there's idling, you know. And, you know, getting off a little bit of the, with the telematics device, one of my favorite applications is, you know, one of our clients, you know, they get the report every day. And at the end of the day, they send it to HR, and ask them what, you know, help me understand why do you send this to HR, and they go, Well, you know, a lot of our guys are contractors, and some aren't the most honest. And they put their time cards in every day. And they say, you know, I work till five, but yet the truck left the job site at 115. O, or, you know, and then I think, you know, you know, I always a great thing, just, you know, emissions is something our clients are really focused on and, you know, heavy idling times when did the vehicle need to be idling and, and that will report back but, you know, there's the speeders the people that aren't where they're supposed to be, then there's route optimization, just getting people to where they need to be faster. And, and then there's, you know, heartbreaking, speeding, and then just, just just little things like idling, which is more, you know, environmental and you know, what's best for the vehicle what's best for, for for usage? Crazy. I'm assuming you didn't start your career with 200,000 vehicles rolling on the road now, right? Yeah. Yeah. Take us back to the humble beginnings, like, where are you? Where are you found your passion and kind of walk us through that experience? Yeah, so say, if I took you back, like high school, college, I always, always like student government, you know, always like, kind of being in the Student Government, went to an engineering school, learn how to program. I liked program, I like technology. And I started at a company that Ross Perot founded back in the day called EDS. I was a programmer. You know, and what's funny is, after a couple years, they said, Hey, Brennan, we really think you're good with people. Now, what I didn't ask at 23 was, does that mean I'm not good at coding? I really want to go back and ask them because I think I think they put a period at the end of the statement, you're really good with people when it should have been a coma? Because you're not as good. Yeah, but, you know, so So then, you know, I started my leadership journey. And, you know, from there on, I've, you know, actually, today's my 26th wedding anniversary, and I've been a CEO, President CEO now for 24 years, and incorrectly, really, really like leadership's my passion just going into companies and, and helping people grow, develop, you know, attracting good talent. Now, but the way I got to merchants, what's interesting about that is, you know, that 10,000 person client, the 10,000, yeah, fleet, that was 2009. I was actually merchants largest client at the time. Wow. And then, you know, being more from the technology side than the vehicle side, you know, they asked me to join their board and help them build out the technology at the company. And the only warning I'd give your listeners out there is, you know, hey, if you're a board member, and you keep making lots of suggestions, and you kind of bug them enough, eventually they say, Hey, buddy, you think you think you got all the answers? You think you're so smart? Why don't you come run the place? And then then you do then you do and here I am?Jason Feltman:
Super cool. It is funny. Like, how synonymous like leadership is with I mean, you being married for so long. Like that's that is a leadership role. That's probably even harder.Unknown:
Yeah, I would say my wife has the harder side of that of that journey.Jason Feltman:
But do you have kids?Unknown:
I do I do at 19 and 21 year old so so it's been fun journeys. You are one year it in all three things past me. So I'm 25 years marriage. I have my son is 18. And my daughter is well my daughter is 22. So okay, on that one. Yeah, that's fine. Yeah, I got you on that one. Yeah, whatever. Crazy. It's uh, we're both old. No, I'm slightly younger. Yeah. Yeah, I'm looking at you. You look like you're staying young. You're doing you're doing well over there. Yeah. It's just you know, all the knickknacks around me keep me young. Are you out in Huntington Beach as well. You know, I'm in Arizona. Tucson. Okay, there you go. There. Yeah. Keeping keeping you warm and young out there. Yeah, leathery skin. Yeah.Jason Feltman:
But it's so like, the reason why I asked you that is because that that whole, like being passionate about leadership and leadership is so important in the workplace. I mean, I just, it's like one of those skills and things that like when you are married and you have kids, you start taking a little bit more seriously because you understand how much it is needed, and what an impact you can make.Unknown:
Was there. I just wrote an article the other day, I think it just came out maybe, let's say once Monday and it It's time, you know, parenting and mentoring. And you know, how do you parent your kids, you know, but also how do you give them some mentorship? And it's just, you know, it's been interesting, you know, my dad called high school and college years as the Valley of ignorance. You know, when you're younger, you know, your parents are the smartest people. And as you go through high school, they're your parents IQ generally goes down until senior year, when, you know, they, they're, you know, the lowest IQ, and then it picks back up. But you know, it's been fun to just see with my own kids, as they're starting to, you know, my daughter, like, look for an internship, what am I going to do after school, and then their friends. And, you know, I just took my son to senior high school and took all a group of his friends away. And, you know, all of a sudden asked me, like, what do you do? And what should I do? And just neat when you start to, you know, see young kids, like, look to other people and say, like, you know, how did you get a job? How do you decide where you're going to school? And I love those conversations, especially with young people. Because if you invest in them, if you invest in them, you can legitimately change the trajectory of a 20 year olds life, we'll just with and by the way, not with magical advice. Sometimes the advice is absolutely so basic. It's almost always that way. Right? It is, it is, but like we were, we were just talking earlier about something I read in a book. And basically, it's, it's the whole, you know, keep your friends close your enemies closer thing, which it's like, this makes sense. But then reading through these examples, it's like, Ah, it's so obvious, you know, and just something that you don't like all these great things that are so obvious that just don't apply, right? And then you struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, and you're like, oh, maybe I should do it this way. And that was the original way that we should have done it when we're looking at the first time right. Now, why do we do that? Why can't we take the known thing that that the guru or the person that is mentoring us is telling us and just do it? Why do we have to go no, no, I got to do it this way. And then I'm going to fail, fail, fail, fail? Okay, I'll do it that way. You know, I think it's as simple as we're all units of one, you know, we're all on our own journey. And we're all like building up our experience and our knowhow. Now, I do think, you know, maybe people that get somewhere earlier, somewhere, could be college, it could be a first promotion, it could be buying a house, whatever it is, I think those are people that maybe we're better at listening to those around them. And, and I know, you know, I had mentors in my life. And, you know, I think one of my mentors at one time probably kept me out of jail for homicide when I was running hot after a meeting, you know, other mentors, you know, like, made things that were really big in my head, you know, like, Wow, I can't believe this is happening. And they're like, it's a blip. It's a day, it's a week, you know, you have 30 year career ahead of you. And but when you're in the moment, it's big enough to have perspective. You know, so I think that's something and you don't have perspective, because you don't have perspective, you don't have experience, you haven't been through it. You know, we have interns here at the company, and, and, you know, you talk to them, and you realize, you know, well, you know, a 20 year old is a 20 year old, you know, they're they're learning, they're learning things for the first time they, you know, it's what do I wear in the office? You know, like, they don't know. It's amazing, the like, because we were all there, right? Like you, you see them do it and you think back, you're like, oh, wow, I remember when I learned that thing. And it's just nuts that they don't know it. And for the last 30 years, we have right, like, yeah, yeah, and you know, in some ways, the environment now I think, for a young person with aspirations, I think with the hybrid and remote, I think it's harder, because you know, like, sometimes you just you being at home, and in remote if that's your job, like, I look at some of the lessons I learned, they were just by being in, like, watching the person next to me struggle. I remember at one point, you know, they said, Brennan, we want to put you in sales. I had no idea how to sell whatsoever. But I remember listening to this guy, Jeff, I sat next to like listening to him on calls with clients and and asking them how do you prepare? If I were remote, I just wouldn't have had those, those learning experiences. So you know, one thing I tell young people in their careers is is whether you can be remote or hybrid go to the office. There's just Duff. And by the way, it's really tough. Getting the next promotion or next assignment when you're not known. In when you're remote. It's very easy to forget a young person fat feminine or anybody with a remote. Yeah, versus who's the guy that sits in the third row. He's a really hard worker. He's hear all the time? Who's that? Yeah, sometimes that's the person that gets that little break. And it's just because they were there. They were known, when one of my mentors called it the law of physical presence. He was, you know, you got to be there to show up. If you want to play the big game, you got to show up. Yeah, you can't play in the Super Bowl remotely. But just think of that just do all physical presence. Just show up. Like, it sounds easy. But you know, like, it's, it's sometimes it's not, the hardest part of going to the gym is just going there. There you go. Right.Jason Feltman:
It is funny, though, like, that is, that is the thing, right? And the default is to not go into work, because the benefit is that you can work remote but like, then it's like, what's your competitive advantage to your peers, I mean, definitely going in, because right, because at least 50% of them are choosing home, that already puts you in the lead in the lead above 50% of the employees at work. So that I think that's a that's one of those great leadership pieces of advice for younger people. Because I feel the same way. Like if if my employees are eager to come into work, it's like, wow, thank you like, I mean, it, there's a there's a certain level of confidence and buy in that you feel when somebody actually wants to come in. Well,Unknown:
also what I just think of like, just think of my day today. So you know, you get your calendar, it's laid out, and then there's things happen. Well, if you want those things to happen, somehow maybe land on your desk with more responsibility or more whatever. Like, sometimes it doesn't go to the most qualified, sometimes it goes to who's known who's available. Who's around who's got it again, if you're not there. Well, you know, you know, I'm a big Patriots fan on the East Coast. You know, Bill Belichick used to have a line, the best ability is availability. You know, if you're on the injured report every week, it doesn't matter how good you are, I can't play you. So you know, the best ability sometimes is showing up sometimes being present being available. And that, you know, we just when we had our interns, we did a little thing a couple of weeks ago, and when we were saying goodbye to them, they said hey, Brandon, you know what some advice now it's one of the things I said is, you know, be known, and also know what you want, like, I can't help you get where you want to go if you don't know where you want to go. But if you if you're if you're if you're 23 year old, and you come to me to say, someday I'd like to work in finance. And I'd really like to understand more about accounting, and I can put that in the back of my head, a project comes up and I go, Oh, what about Charlie? But if I say hey, what do you want me to do? I don't know. Right? Yeah, I can't help you get to I don't know. AndJason Feltman:
it's funny. It's like full circle, it goes back to what you were saying earlier of how you became chairman of the board was because you were there and you kept chiming in. And they're like, Well, have youUnknown:
squeaky wheel baby? Yeah. Yeah. And just, you know, I, you know, I say that and now let's go to the boardroom, let's go to the boardroom. So we were just at in terms of go to the boardroom, you know, as a board member, you've got a responsibility to kind of, you know, listen, absorb, but also give back. And, you know, in, you know, too many times in thinking nonprofit boards, you know, whether it's with your kids soccer team, or school or or public company, or private company, it's, it's, you know, are you showing up in governing? Are you showing up and adding value? And, and it's not, you know, it's like, let's say you have four board meetings, you're showing up to the board meeting, that's the minimum. That's like going into practice, if you're a high school athlete, that's the minimum, you know, do you want to do Do you want to start from varsity? Do you want to make Varsity? Do you? Do you want to play college practices of the minimum? You know, what are you doing outside of practice? Are you are you lifting? Are you conditioning? So you know, if you're now a board member, so we'll go from intern to board member, show up to the meetings, that's like going to practice like, of course, you go to the meetings, but you know, i Are you learning about the industry that the companies in Are you researching their competitors? Are you thinking of ways they could improve their top line, their bottom line? Are you are you at a conference and you network with somebody and you go, you know, what, I want to put you in, in touch with this company that I'm on the board of, and it's no age, think of it, it's no different one might be a 21 year old, one might be now a 50 year old, we're kind of doing bookends there. But you know, it's it's, it's shown up but then it's like, now it's defining, what is my value add? What more can I What more can I do? What more can I offer?Jason Feltman:
I wouldn't bet. So. It seems to me that if somebody isn't showing up, there's some level of of maybe fear uncertainty unsure, like not not feeling good about themselves self doubt. I know in your book flood factor, which is back there behind you, you talk about like overcoming these things, how to overcome these things and why we'll kind of why they're roaming around in our head. Could you could you go into that a little bit. Yeah, so you know, like, when we were all born, we actually didn't have fear, uncertainty and doubt, and then unintentionally, the world started imprinting it on us. So, you know, one example I use in the book is, you know, as kids, we probably all skateboard. And yet, you know, parents will say, hey, put a helmet on. Well, no way. But the kid was this kids, like, the kid was not thinking I'm gonna get on the skateboard, I'm going to fall, right? Like, that was not in a five year old attend, it wasn't even in their thought process. But we injected it. And you know, and finally, we do, you know, all sorts of this. So, it next you know, so I'm gonna saying like, you know, Hey, am I gonna make the team and then it's like, you know, I'm not going to try out, because it's easy. If I don't try out that I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna fail. And I'll tell you today, I think there's more expectations on people than there's ever been social media puts, like, pressures? Where are you? Cool, you invited to the party? Are you doing fun things with your family? You know, I like that shirt that you say once? Well, I wish my life was as good as yours is on Facebook, you know, there's this, there's this, you know, expectation out there. So that actually creates that accelerates fear, uncertainty and doubt. And, you know, as you look to overcome it, one of the first things is, you know, I have a saying, Have the courage to fail in the faith to succeed, you just have to say, I'm willing to fail, I'm willing to fail. And, you know, short of, of, you know, certain jobs, like, if you're in the military or in law enforcement, you're, you're in health care, you know, most of us have day to day jobs, that if you fail, things are gonna be okay. Things are gonna be okay. So I'm not suggesting that, you know, if you're the receptionist at the hospital, you try surgery, not going that far. But you know, if we don't have surgeons that are that are pushing for new procedures, we're never going to solve, you know, diseases and illnesses. But there, what I find interesting is, is culturally, companies can take that fear away, where you talk about your failures, your talk about your successes, and I know here at merchants in the last five years, you know, we're a six year old company, we went from 500 million to two and a half billion, we have this tremendous growth. But we talk about our failures, we talk about businesses we entered that just failed. And what that sends a message to others that you can start a business or you can have an idea, it's okay, if it fails, as opposed to well, you know, that team is no longer here, you know, you know, or sweeping under the rug and not talking about it, but, you know, I've never met anybody in any profession doing anything. That's great. That didn't fail. Well, yeah.