An interview with Abby Michael, co-owner of Turner Insurance
Many small businesses are being hit hard in America right now. Small businesses that are considered “unnecessary” are being forced to shut down as the COVID-19 epidemic spreads across the country. Being forced to close doors for countless businesses has become a major obstacle in these unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, it is important to support small business owners in this time of economic hardship.
I am delighted to speak with Abby Michael, owner of Turner Insurance Agency, about her reaction to Covid-19 and how it has affected the business. Turner Insurance Agency is a family-run business based in Harrisville, PA and has been serving the communities of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio since 1954.
Abby Michael says that from a professional point of view their business is much busier than they expected. Turner Insurance Agency was one of them when Pennsylvania Governor Wolf announced that all unnecessary business would be shut down. Originally, all insurance companies were considered non-essential, but Governor Wolf later decided that insurance was essential. Turner Insurance has already purchased laptops so that they can travel remotely and some of their employees had an underlying health condition, so they have decided to continue this plan. He said it was most understandable to continue working from home. They plan to continue working from a distance until the “stay order” is lifted on May 8. And they’re hoping to return to their office by May 11th, but they still don’t know what it will look like.
In the interview, Abby expressed difficulty working from home. He says working on a laptop is definitely harder than working on a desktop computer in the office. Their pace has certainly slowed, but they continue to serve their customers with hard work and perseverance. He told me that he did not realize how much he relied on multitasking on a daily basis until they started working from home and it became even more challenging to do so. At home, there are many more obstacles, such as the kids finishing school at home and a new dog. He said it has become normal to start work early in the office and finish work one day later. The work now tends to be more expansive and seems to have lost all of its boundaries where the work begins and stops. He explained that you are constantly splitting your time and it is not being very effective. He believes that work is not meant to be and that is because when working in an alternative environment, it has become difficult to pay 100% for something.
Because they expected Turner Insurance to be less busy during this time, their response was to split employees in half and rotate them throughout the week. Many of their employees have young children who now have to take care of them since they came home from school and there is no day-care available. They are trying to give grace in this difficult time. Their employees only have to work half the week, but are being paid full time. Abby said that cutting people off is a really scary feeling. This is one of the worst days of being a boss, and he’s extremely grateful he didn’t have to.
Changes in the future
Every business, especially small business, is experiencing changes right now due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Abby suspects that the insurance industry will change with this. His prediction is that we may see a change in auto insurance that is even more so in a pay-as-you-go agreement. Many insurance companies are offering rebates and discounts for those who are not currently driving. He thinks the industry is moving towards a system that is based on the actual use of your car on the road and your price will be charged accordingly. Another change that he has predicted is that many more people will work remotely after it is over. It is his belief that it is always best to work together in a community as a team, but they now know that it is possible to work from a distance. Abby believes that although many people are struggling at the moment and it is a difficult time, there must be a positive change once the epidemic is over. There is now a greater sensitivity for people to adapt to medical problems, more people will want to go out of their way to have a positive impact on their local community and there will be a shift towards supporting small businesses.
This is a difficult time for everyone. One of the biggest ways to do your part is to support local businesses in your community. Every business is essential in some way and it is important to thank the businesses that have worked hard to serve our community. Thank you Abby Michael for being willing to talk about the experience of being a business owner during this challenging time. Feel free to visit his website for more information about Turner Insurance Agency! http://turnerinsurance.com/