IAOA is an exclusive Facebook group.  It stands for Insurance Agency Owners Alliance and was founded by Dave Jackson, Nick Ayers, Brandon Smith and Grant Botma.  IAOA is for independent agency owners throughout the United States and Canada.  These members collaborate together to make their agencies more efficient, innovate and more profitable.  IAOA is built on three principles:  Selflessness/Innovation/Collaboration.  IAOA wants to make each other stronger and better because #bettertogether is their fitting hashtag.  IAOA has grown from a handful of members to over 3,000!  And this year they had over 400 at their annual conference.

I think you’d agree that HUG shares the IAOA principles in that when the HawkSoft users selflessly share, innovate and collaborate together (which is really the basis of a user group) a stronger, more efficient and profitable agency will emerge as well as a stronger HawkSoft CMS system.   Several HawkSoft users attended the 2018 Conference.  We asked three to share their experience with the broader HawkSoft user base.


Malena Farrell, Cedar Risk Management, Flemington, NJ 

Innovat18n was my first IAOA convention, and I’m so very glad I went! The camaraderie and networking were fantastic and lead to many great conversations, but the thing that struck me most was the absolute selflessness of all the owners. These are people with their own independent agencies, some fairly close to my own, willing to give out the secret sauce of their success. It was a free-flowing exchange of information that still has me buzzing with ideas. We started implementing some of the new technology this week; we’re changing several processes; we’re flying high on all the support from the Facebook group. Best industry event ever!


Dan Sage, Machor-Sage Insurance Agency, Middleburg Heights, OH

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of the best conferences I’ve ever been part of.  It was hosted by Insurance Agency Owners Alliance (IAOA) in sunny Phoenix, AZ.  IAOA is a Closed Group on Facebook.  To be a member, you must be an independent insurance agency owner.  There are no company reps, vendors, or staff allowed in the Facebook group.  This allows for total selfless sharing of ideas and tips and honest feedback from other agency owners who have “been there, done that.”  If you are not a part of the group, I highly recommend you search Facebook and request to join – it’s free!

I left the conference with pages of notes and a head filled with all sorts of ideas to improve my agency!  Did you know that there is an app from Starbucks that you can add to your Outlook that would allow you to quickly email a virtual Starbucks gift card to your referral partners?  I LOVE HawkSoft and it was great to see them as a vendor at the conference.  It was even nicer to see that their booth was a flurry of activity with interest from agencies across the country.  Look forward to seeing you in Vegas!


Michelle Hancock, PNW Insurance Group, LLC, Puyallup, WA

I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to have been able to attend the IAOA Innovat18n conference in Phoenix.  Thanks Claudia McClain for the gentle nudge/encouragement to go! I really value #bettertogether.  IAOA and its members embrace that concept totally. The amount of “give back” by the founders and the members is evident by all that goes on in this group, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.  These events can take several different directions, flows and even “tones.” So, when I was asked what my biggest “take-aways” were – that is tough to narrow down, but here goes.

There was an overarching tone of “what can we do as independent agents to help bond our clients to us and provide value to them, while building lasting relationships?”  The message from several speakers was – STAND OUT! How? While we learned lots of ways to do that, the speakers that really resonated with me were those that talked about selfless acts of recognition or giving back to the community.

Mark Atkinson spoke about his thank you/notecard system.  He had some samples of cards he has sent out, it was not only a great idea to be in contact with your clients with old style handwritten notes, it was very moving. In just one of his stories he spoke of a client fighting cancer and getting to go to a father/daughter dance.   As his agent, he was able to reach out and share that joy. Amazing.  At the end of the day, our clients touch our hearts. We should work to touch theirs, by letting them how much we care, how grateful we are that they are in our lives and by being engaged with what is going on outside our office doors and making a difference.  Not just because it’s good for business but because it is the right thing to do. When we can build community in this way, we become unstoppable.

All the speakers were really great. Several spoke about giving back to the community and client engagement/experience. Here are a few of those ideas we plan to put in motion for our agency:

  • Recognizing members of the Armed Forces (we are adding first responders to this idea as well)
  • Volunteering time for non-profits
  • Getting involved and helping communities struck by disasters (hopefully we don’t have occasion to do this, so we plan on helping our communities that struggle financially by providing filled backpacks with school supplies in the fall)
  • Note cards/thank you cards – engage the team and send out cards on a regular basis
  • Additional community involvement – flag exchange, safety programs, supporting youth sports
  • Create a better connection with clients –welcome kits, major life events recognition, reviews, thank you calls

There is so much more that is in my idea book but these are the top of the list for now!  Thank you to all those involved with an exceptionally successful IAOA Innovat18n Conference!


If you attend an event and want to share what you took away from that event with other HawkSoft users, let us know at info@hawksoftusergroup.org.