Parker Public Adjusting, Sarah Parker
Parker Public Adjusting is a licensed public insurance adjusting firm that provides first-party property insurance claim management, dispute resolution, and advocacy for policyholders, including HOAs, businesses, and commercial and private property owners. Public insurance adjusters are the only type of adjuster that represents policyholders.
I have always loved business. I grew up working in my mother’s companies and entrepreneurial endeavors, and I started my first business when I was 16. After years of work as an employee with various companies, as well as freelance and sales work, I felt it was time to start another business. My only problem was that I didn’t know what kind of business I wanted to start since I’m mainly motivated by things that I am deeply passionate about.
Around this time, a close friend suffered a fire loss – which was a devastating experience for everyone involved – and they told me that they had hired a professional called a public adjuster to help them with their claim. This was the first time that I had heard of a public insurance adjuster. After researching the profession, I was hooked. It was a fascinating blend of insurance claim adjusting, construction, meteorology, forensics, engineering, and more. I thought, “I can do this! Let’s go for it!” The largest factor in deciding to venture into this business was the advocacy piece. For me to be fulfilled in my work, I need to benefit and help people in some way.
I have a lot of wonderful colleagues in the public adjusting field, and in working alongside them I was able to see what worked very well, and what I wanted to innovate and do differently with my company to best serve my clients. Some of my company’s differentiating factors are that I’ve developed a proprietary process to assist clients in a claim with something called the mortgage endorsement process, which many companies do not offer, as well as implementing a highly-customized client on-boarding process and continuing to invest in client experience. My company is one of the few resident-licensed public adjusting firms which means that we are based in Minnesota, and we service both residential and commercial claims. I also feel that our social responsibility commitments on both a community and national level set my company apart. In addition to sponsorships and memberships with key insurance industry and policyholder non-profits, Parker Public Adjusting dedicates over 300 hours annually for pro-bono, volunteer, and non-profit policyholder advocacy; that’s an average of almost five hours for every week of the year!
The “firsts” are definitely high points: first client, first big “win”, first speaking engagement, and so on. The low point for me was when I experienced something that many entrepreneurs before me have chronicled in their journey: some of the people who were closest to me did not support me upfront, and came around only after I became “successful”. It can be hard for some of those around us to see the entrepreneurial vision and opportunities that we might see. I’m here to tell everyone that the American Dream is alive and well and that there is still abundant opportunity and social mobility in this country, even with the extremely challenging events of the last couple of years. Now, while opportunity is abundant, my successes were certainly not handed to me, and I’ve had to dig deep and put in monumental effort at times.
It’s important for every business owner to recognize their opportunities for areas they lack knowledge or are weaker. For myself, I recognized opportunities around business planning, delegation, financial planning, forecasting, goals, metrics, and reporting. A friend told me about SCORE and recommended that I reach out to them. I signed up for a mentor and eventually was connected to Bob Swygman, who had broad experience in the insurance industry.
SCORE helped me with business planning, and metrics, knowing the numbers, and tracking the reporting. I learned to improve and meet goals for metrics by setting specific and trackable quarterly goals.
He is uncompromisingly a champion of the process! The process is the cornerstone of great businesses that last.
Bob also understood and recognized that I needed to learn how to properly delegate in order to make my specific business dreams a reality. I am now able to focus on business endeavors that align with my strengths while delegating the rest of the tasks to others, and it works out great!
Bob also counseled me in business operations as it broadly relates to my industry.
There is a lot of good advice out there that is pretty universal and easily accessible, but having a vision and dreaming big is indispensable. If you have a lofty dream (and please, dream BIG!), write it down, create a vision board, and then start making it real by asking yourself very specific questions: I want an office; what do I need to get an office? I want 100 clients; what do I need to do to get 100 clients? And so on. I was able to be more productive and unleash the creative energies necessary to realize my dreams when thinking in these terms. The questions themselves guide the necessary actions and help to avoid unnecessary ones. When your “lofty dream” is approached in this way, it is easier to make it real bit by bit, rather than being stuck with a vision that seems wholly unachievable. Also, never give up. Ever.
It is a wonderful program! You can get the most out of the experience by putting a lot of effort into effectively communicating your goals, not just for your mentor, but for yourself as well.
Also, SCORE doesn’t do the work for you, but rather provides guidance, which will help you the most to grow and be an effective business owner or entrepreneur.
Top: Sarah Parker, owner of Parker Public Adjusting
Bottom: Sarah Parker attended a SCORE Minneapolis Event "Recipe for Success - A Woman’s Perspective" as a panelist in 2019.
Other than basic financial skills, interpersonal and soft skills are indispensable. “Learn to learn”, keep an open mind, focus on genuine goodwill in all of your interactions, and delegate. You have to delegate.