CARY — Donna Stoyanovich took a cue from the local food truck scene when she sought to cultivate her insurance business in the stagnant economy.
The owner and principal agent of Cary Insurance Group, a Nationwide agency that offers homeowner, auto and life insurance policies and services, wanted to reach more customers, but didn’t think it was a good idea to sustain a second location as other agencies were shutting down their satellite spots to save money.
Instead, Donna Stoyanovich, 54, turned to a red Ford Transit Connect van and wrapped it with bright colors, logos and phone numbers. Donna’s husband, Slav Stoyanovich, who manages the office’s operations, transformed the backseat and cargo areas into a very, very small office.
“There are a couple of things that we wanted to be able to use it for,” Donna said about the mobile agency. “As a tool for agents to be able to expand their boundaries from being right here in Cary and as a mobile billboard for us.”
The Stoyanoviches rolled out the “Insurance on Wheels” model in February 2012, marking a first for Nationwide in North Carolina.
Since adding the van, revenues for the Cary agency located on Fountain Brook Circle have increased by 20 percent, Donna said. She linked the spike to the mobile agency, the acquisition of another firm and the improving economy.
Donna and Slav Stoyanovich moved to Cary from Miami in 2009 and acquired the agency from Mitchell Parks, who was retiring.
The year before, Donna sold her 20-year-old Miami Allstate agency.
The Stoyanoviches spent the first year getting to know the Cary agency’s book of business, Donna said.
Revenue was flat the first year, with a slight increase the next year after the couple increased the company’s staff from two to four, Donna said.
In 2011, the Stoyanoviches explored other options to expand their customer base.
“That is when the idea was born,” Donna said of the mobile unit.
After the van’s rollout, the Stoyanoviches purchased an independent insurance agency, Charter Insurance Group, on Walnut Street in Cary in 2012. The sale essentially centered on acquiring the agency’s customer list, Donna said.
The second office stayed open for three months, long enough to give the Stoyanoviches a chance to learn about the operation. She then turned to the portable office to address the mobility issue for a fraction of the cost of another location, Donna said.
Cary Insurance Group now has six insurance agents and one customer service representative.
Agents use the van as an added layer of professionalism to the mobile transaction, Donna said.
“We believe the customer feels like they are actually doing business with a business instead of someone sitting there with just a laptop,” she said.