An Interview with Abbie Michael, Co-Owner of Turner Insurance
Many small businesses are suffering severely in America right now. Small businesses that are deemed as “non-essential” and are being forced to close while this COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping through the nation. Being forced to close doors has been a major roadblock for countless businesses during this unprecedented time. Now, more than ever, it is so important to be supporting small business owners through this time of economic hardship.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Abbie Michael, owner of Turner Insurance Agency about her response to Covid-19 and how it has affected the business. Turner Insurance Agency a family operated business located in Harrisville, PA and has been serving the community of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio since 1954.
Abbie Michael said that from a professional standpoint their business has been much more busy than they expected. When Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf announced on March 20th that all non-essential businesses were to close, Turner Insurance Agency was one of them. Originally, all insurance agencies were deemed non-essential, but Governor Wolf later decided that insurance was essential. Turner Insurance had already purchased laptops, so that they could go remote and a few of their employees had underlying health conditions, so they decided to continue with this plan. She said that it just made the most sense to continue working from home. They are planning to continue working remotely until after the “stay at home order” is lifted on May 8th. and are hoping to go back to work at their office by May 11th, but they have yet to figure out what that will look like exactly.
In the interview, Abbie expressed the difficulty of working from home. She said that it is definitely harder to work on a laptop than a desktop computer at the office. Their speed has certainly slowed down, but they continue to work hard and diligently serve their customers. She told me that she didn’t realize how much she relied on multitasking on a daily basis until they began working from home and this became much more challenging to do. At home, there are many more interruptions, such as kids completing school at home and a new dog. She said that it has become normal to start working earlier and end up working later than a day at the office. Work tends to be more spread out now and it seems as though work has lost all boundaries of where it starts and stops. She explained that you are constantly splitting your time and it ends up not being very efficient. She believes that work is not supposed to be like this and the reason why is that while working in an alternate environment, it is has been difficult to give 100% to anything.
Because they expected Turner Insurance to be less busy during this time, their response was to split the staff in half and rotate them throughout the week. Many of their employees have small children that they now have to care for since they are home from school and there is no daycare available. They are trying to give grace in this hard time. Their staff members are only required to work half of the week, but are being paid as full time. Abbie said that it is a really awful feeling to lay people off. That is one of the worst days of being a boss, and she is extremely thankful that she is not having to do this.
Changes in the Future
Every business, especially small businesses, are experiencing change at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Abbie suspects that the insurance industry will change along with it. Her prediction is that we might see a shift in auto insurance to more of a pay-as-you-go deal. Many insurance companies are giving rebates and discounts to people who aren’t driving currently. She thinks that it is possible the industry is moving towards a system that is based on the actual usage of your vehicle on the road and that your price will be charged accordingly. Another shift that she predicts is that many more people will be working remotely after this is over. It is her belief that is always best as a team to work together in community, but they know now that it is possible to work remotely. Abbie believes that although many people are struggling at the moment and these are difficult times, there definitely will be positive change when this pandemic is over. There is now a greater sensitivity to accommodating for people’s medical problems, more people will want go out of their way to have a positive impact on their local community, and that 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 by supporting local businesses in your community. Every business is essential in some way and it is important to thank the businesses that are continuing to work hard to serve our communities. Thank you Abbie Michael for being willing to speak about your experience being a business owner during this challenging time. Feel free to check out her website for more information about the Turner Insurance Agency! http://turnerinsurance.com/