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During isolation and social distancing, the Secret Life of Entrepreneurs will be produced weekly.
Tune in to 91.3FM Tuesday at 1:00 or our Facebook page Wednesdays for a new episode. If you are a local business owner, and would like to be profiled on the show, please contact us. This is not an exclusive, by invite-only show; we rely on local business owners who are willing to share their story.
Today’s guest is Erin Caleval from Erin & Associates, a Co-operators office here in Regina. Erin and her team are changing the face of insurance; they’re making it comfortable (think “not insurance-y”) and they’re making it personal (imagine getting to know your broker by name).
Connect with Erin
Barb McGrath 0:02
If you’re out in the harbor lending neighborhood, there’s a new place you can stop in, you actually might enjoy stopping in to talk about insurance, or at least stopping in once you can. Believe it or not, there’s an insurance agency out in harbor lending here in Regina. And they, they’re bringing the warmth and friendliness back to the insurance and financial planning industry. So I’d like to welcome our guest today. It’s Erin Caleval from the Cooperators and Associates Insurance out in harbor landing, and they’re located just off Gordon road. If you’ve been out there, you’ve probably seen them. And if you haven’t seen them before, now that you’ve heard me talk about it, I guarantee you’ll see it. Alright, so welcome, Erin.
Erin Caleval 0:47
Barb McGrath 0:49
It’s such a pleasure to have you here today. Let’s start off tell us tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your time in the industry and, and your agency.
Erin Caleval 0:59
Well, I mean, I certainly didn’t grow up my entire life thinking oh, I cannot wait to be an insurance owner. And salesperson it wasn’t sort of hard to believe but wasn’t a lifelong dream. But I did get into the finance industry, actually through Canada Revenue Agency, if you can believe that. I worked as in you know, in accounting for many years and and what I loved most about accounting was the ability to help people to walk people through a situation or something complex about their finances and and I loved it. And that sort of led me to getting my financial planning designation. And then this really amazing thing happens where a cooperators franchise was available for sale, I was working for the cooperators at that time doing commercial insurance for business owners. my other favorites thing that I love about the industry, and these kind of, you know, these two worlds kind of came together at the right time. And I bought the franchise in 2012. So we’re in our eighth year in harbor landing.
And and that’s the story if, like I said, maybe not a lifelong dream, but certainly my passion today and a wonderful, wonderful career that that I love.
Barb McGrath 2:23
You know, isn’t it funny? Isn’t it funny how it may not have been particle plan, but when those opportunities present themselves? They seem like such a natural fit? Of course, that’s what I want to do.
Erin Caleval 2:37
Yes, that’s right. And I don’t even know how like looking back, I feel like, you know, I just sort of went with the flow. And like you said, this opportunity came up. And I thought, well, you know, if not me who like, really is not me who and I had a wonderful support network, amazing staff, a wonderful sort of back end company supporting my business. And there have been a few bumps along the way of being a business owner, you know, even especially today with with all things happening around us today. But certainly, looking back, I think, wow, I really I made a great decision. And like I said, it’s become my passion and business owners out there will know that these small businesses we have they really do become are. They’re just in our blood, and we just sort of sleep and eat and breathe these businesses. And and, yeah, I love it.
Barb McGrath 3:32
You know, and I think it’s times like this, that we really realized that small business is the backbone of our entire community. Right? You always hear things like that. But it’s not until that that belief is tested, that all of a sudden you go Yeah, without all of these businesses, where would we as a society near would be without, you know, the local insurance agents, imagine if, you know, it was something that was federal government run, right, you can be guaranteed, they’d have government hours, and they’d be in government locations. And so from a from a consumer standpoint, we absolutely have to support these businesses, so that they remain viable, and, you know, continue to be a part of our community, because they’re so active in the community. Right.
Erin Caleval 4:27
Right. And I think too, you know, as a as a franchise owner, and I’d love to speak a little bit to other franchise owners in Regina, when you when you when you have a franchise, I think there might be the perception there that Well, there’s a big corporation behind a franchise that’s helping them through some challenging times, which is absolutely true. And first, it’s sort of like a startup or a mom and pop that isn’t necessarily a franchise but franchise owners here in the city are small business owners, they, they bought and paid for a franchise, they employ people in that environment to work and, and when I drive, and this is just something that not just related to our current economic times, but just in general, when I drive up to my office and I see, I have five staff, and I see their part of the I see their cars parked in the parking lot of my agency, I pull up and I immediately am filled with a great sense of responsibility that this is my business and I am I help make those car payments or those mortgage payments or whatnot. And, and it fills me with a lot of responsibility. But it also makes me incredibly proud and an incredibly blessed to work with some amazing, amazing stuff. So for the small business owner in our community is is important, regardless of the structure, whether it’s you operate out of your home, you have a storefront, you know, got your own manufacturing or your own bakery or whatever it is, there are real people from our community working and, and paying their bills by being a member of that team.
Barb McGrath 6:13
So, yeah, I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I think, you know, too often we forget about how those small businesses in a richer community. Right, and I guess that, you know, with five stuff, you’ve got to know them well, you know, their spouses, you know, their children’s name, you know, birthdays are right, you actually become kind of a family unit, or
Erin Caleval 6:37
Sometimes dysfunctional, sometimes fully functional thing. Yes, we are. We are very close to family. Yeah, we spend time together. And and, yeah, we Yeah, so we absolutely get to know what’s important to each other to personally like in the community. So a lot of my staff have, we’ve really been blessed over the last few years to partner up a bit with Sofia house in Regina, which is a second stage transition house here in Regina. And we’ve done a lot of work with them over the years. Because that was a community, a community organization that we all felt needed our help. And just knowing that, you know, you’re my little team of five staff, we come to work every day. And we and we try to do all the things and we still carve out some time to make sure that we’re giving back to the community. And I saw this interesting post on I think it was on Facebook the other day that was sort of like, you know, all those times that you asked a small business owner to support your son’s hockey team or your daughter’s baseball team or buy a raffle ticket or put an ad in the newsletter. Well, those business owners are calling in those favors now. Right, and now more than ever, making sure that we’re supporting each other, as well as not forgetting about nonprofits and charities in our communities that need our help now, as well. So, so yeah, your little family within a family at your office can certainly make a huge impact.
Barb McGrath 8:06
Oh, absolutely a huge impact. And I think, you know, you talk about charities and nonprofits in our communities right now. It’s incredibly difficult for them, because, you know, they relied on volunteers who could go out and do. They relied on funds that, you know, were being donated. And you know, just given some of the things happening in society right now. We can’t, we can’t just go out and do door knocking, we can’t just go out and you know, tend to the swim meet. That’s not happening anymore. So, you know, you and I talked a little bit when we were getting started, when this difficult time is over, we’re going to come out of our houses or out of our businesses and look up and be like, what’s this new world that we’re dealing with? Right? Right. And
Erin Caleval 8:54
Hopefully in business, hopefully, how we’d reacted as an insurance agency in Regina how we’ve reacted to these challenging times, I hope tell us a story for when we are out on the other side like you mentioned when we kick open the front door and you know when we’re able to not social distance from our family and our neighbors and our colleagues, how we treat each other now and how we conduct business now I believe is a real you know, it’s really telling on on how we can come out the other side. So we have spent a lot of time the first few weeks of the shutdown. And we are all working from home right now. We just went through a phone list in our agency of all the clients we have that are over the age of 70.
All we did was call them just call them and said hi I’m Erin, I’m your you know I’m with Erin and Associates. I’m your insurance agent here in Regina just checking in to see how you’re doing and I think the our clients were sort of surprised that boning? You know, they’re thinking, I’m sure I paid my insurance, I’m sure.
You thought we were just kind of, yeah, we were just kind of checking in to make sure you know, they had someone that could help them out with groceries or if they were isolated, you know, they had some, they knew we were open and they could phone us. And of all the things that happened the last few weeks, Barb, that was my favorite thing to do was just spend 10 minutes of my day and phone, some clients in my book and and phone, some seniors and just say how you make out. And it sounds a bit some? I didn’t know, it may sound a bit. I don’t know, like, cheesy, I guess. But really, it was like, my favorite thing. If you ever want to feel good about yourself, pick up the phone and call your grandparents or call someone in their 70s. That’s that self isolating, or in a bit of a lockdown right now. And it sure it did a world of good.
So hopefully that certain stuff when we do come out the other side will remember how that felt. And we’ll remember to incorporate that in our business practice forever.
Barb McGrath 11:06
Yes. And that’s where I agree with you 100% some of the lessons that we’re learning right now about building relationships, talking, otherwise, we would have never talked to you unless you and I somehow cross paths, we would have never been having this conversation. If it weren’t what’s happening right now. I hope that’s what people take away is a support your local business be like, don’t be afraid to talk to people will don’t fight. Right and and we get in this team where you know, Oh, I know this person or I know this business. And so we just keep going to that same business. And you know, the Walmarts of the world. They don’t care about your business at all. It does nothing for our local community, when you’re shopping at Walmart, or you’re shopping at any kind of big box store. And I know, I think all of us, there’s their stuff that you feel like you can’t get anywhere else. Wait, I get it from a consumer standpoint, right? Yeah, but I think you know, this is a really good lesson in you know, we we need to start changing how we do what we do in life. But let’s jump back to your business for a second. So eight years ago, you bought the agency in your own home. So yeah, so tell me about that. Because I suppose if you didn’t buy it, someone else would have quit. But tell me about that decision, because that was a big decision on your part. Owner, and the cooperators is a very well known and respected at so yeah, me about, you know, kind of that decision making process for you. And, you know, coming up the other side of that?
Erin Caleval 12:54
Well, I think in the insurance and financial industry as a whole, I’m senior management and business owners, to be honest, aren’t women don’t represent a large number of franchise owners, sadly. And I think that exists in the finance and insurance risk management landscape quite a lot. So I sort of I think 15 to 20% of industry leaders are women. And not that I felt like I had to blaze a trail or be I just wanted to be a really good finance and insurance professionally, it didn’t matter to me. You know, at that time surrounding myself with a fantastic company. I have the skills I have. I’m getting longer in the tooth. So I had lots of experience. And I thought that I just I just felt like if if not me who and like you said before someone else would have bought it. And I’m sure I’m sure they would have found success. But the very first thing I knew I had to do was surround myself with a great team. And we started out just with a couple associates in my office and now we’ve grown right we’re up to five staff. But I have an office manager that that that came that I knew sort of personally and professionally before. And as soon as she found out I was buying the franchise she said I want to come work for you. I want to come in. Yeah, and I’m not sure we should get her on the line. I’m not sure how she feels about that decision eight years later, but I we’re still together, we’re still we’re still have a fantastic work relationship. But someone had that confidence to leave a career and say I want to come and work for you. And I thought oh geez, I better. I better do this. I better be really, really good at this. And so, that same, the same reason that that staff work with me in the agencies is the same way And that clients do business with us, we’re authentic. We’re there to help, we’re there to serve the members of our community, and take care of risk for them. If ever, there’s been a time in my career where things have been so uncertain, especially in the markets, I do investment planning with a lot of my clients. So just a small tax free savings account right up to a full retirement plan, I’m doing that with my clients. And this market is so challenging and so uncertain, even if you’re just entering the market, or if you’re trying to live off your funds that are in the market and having having sort of developed a relationship with my clients that’s as strong as it is with my staff. Just to sort of trust that we can get through these times we can have some strategies together that will get us through this challenging investment environment. It really speaks to why I started doing this in the first place. And that was just to help people just to answer some questions. Hey, Erin, what should I do? What should I do with my RSP? What should I do with my commercial insurance? Should I cancel it now? Because I had to shut my doors. What should I do about this boat that we bought last summer? Am I even going to get out to the lake on my boat this year? You know, Erin, what should we do about our farm? What should we know? And that’s why I started this eight years ago was just to answer those questions. And here we are testing our resolve in the middle of
Barb McGrath 16:31
Yeah, middle of pandemics young.
Yeah, exactly. You know, and that’s, um, that’s really interesting to me. Because when I think about back when I started investing, and so I was really fortunate. My parents taught me from a young age, the importance of, you know, planning and saving and things like that. Yeah. As I got older, I realized how far ahead I was from, you know, many of my friends and colleagues, and in fact, even my husband when he and I got married. So I started my first RSP when I was 16. And, you know, the banker sat me down and said, you know, if you do this, here’s what retirement looks like, or here’s when, you know, you could practically have enough money for retirement. Okay, yeah, that sounds good. And then real life happens. And, and we have kids later in life, and yada, yada. And it’s like, yeah, that original number that ain’t happening.
Right? I know. But yeah, you know, still I look at from a savings standpoint, I’ve been self employed, or work for most of my career, so didn’t always have, you know, pension and some of those larger business creature comforts. And, yet, and yet, he and I are kind of neck and neck, even though he had somebody else contributing for him. So I mean, it all as paid off, and of course, will end up in a good spot in the end, I’m sure. Um, but but definitely times like this, make that number just go a little bit farther away. Yeah.
Erin Caleval 18:12
Well, I think like starting out when you’re 16, gosh, if I could just sit a bunch of 16 year olds down and, you know, wag my finger at them and say save money, you know, that would be ideal, but I feel like investing or that the routine habit of saving money is much like, you know, anybody out there who sort of struggles with like diet and exercise they’re living eating well, or, you know, quitting some of our bad habits. I feel like saving money is the exact same as as eating, eating well, or going to the gym regularly do? Do we need to put every single dollar every single day into an investment? No. Do we need to spend eight hours at the gym every single day? No. I mean, I guess unless you’re a bodybuilder or something I thought but if we’re just in the habit, you know, sort of that’s like 80% of the time we stay on track and 20% of the time we move maybe we dip in maybe life gets in the way, maybe there’s a pandemic I mean, but you have to be able to say okay, that but this is my habit. This is my pattern. This is my just like diet and exercise. 100 bucks a month is better than zero dollars a month. So if that’s my habit, I’ll withstand these market corrections, much more than if I either pull out of the market at this time, or I decide just to jump in, you know, sort of headfirst into the market this time. It’s that habit of repeat and routine investing that that saves us just like it does, you know, when you habitually go to the gym or add an apple to your breakfast every day or whatever that looks like right?
Barb McGrath 19:56
Yes, no one I think that’s a great point because if you get in the habit of You know, saving that hundred dollars a month, you don’t even miss it after a while, right? It’s gone. And it’s interesting, of course, because right now we’re kind of stuck at home quite a bit, and my 11. So he decided that every day, we should make something like, oh, how’s this gonna work to write. But he now has a very simple oatmeal cookie recipe that he makes almost every day because it’s a pretty small batch by the time you’re done. And four of us we finish it off, and then he makes a new batch, but he’s doing it totally on his own. Yeah, right. Yeah, that’s fantastic. Exactly. So, um, we’re not running to, you know, the corner store for a snack anymore. And we’re not running out to just grab something that’s not healthy. And he’s replaced that with his cookie, bought it. Like, I mean, it’s a totally cool habit, because he’s much more confident in the kitchen. Yeah, um, my birthday is coming up. My birthday is next Monday. And the last couple of days, he kind of kept saying, I’m going to make a cake. I’m going to make a cake. And I was like, okay, whatever I thought nothing of it didn’t even clue in to this whole concept of a cake. Well, this morning when he said it, my daughter got mad at them and made you know, kind of a grumbling noise and gave them a dirty look, which then clued me in. Oh, okay. Great. Now I with you. So, into this thinking, discussion, you know, he’s like, why did you do that? Because no one knows what you’re talking about. She’s like, anything you say? Oh, my God. Hey, guys, you’re actually making this worse. Not better. Oh, you’re killing it. But you know, they both have these confidence skills in the kitchen. Yeah. Because her stuck at home. And I’m like, Okay, well at least you know, from a habit perspective at least we’re not running out to you know, yeah, work for the chocolate bar to quit now and think
Erin Caleval 22:14
You know, when we’re when we are stuck at home and this is kind of an interesting time and and I’m glad you brought that up. Because when we are stuck at home, and we’re using less gas although gas prices are fairly favorable right now by or you know, maybe we’re eating out last maybe we’re shopping for you know, non necessity kind of items less and we’re we are more homebound. I think it’s a really good time to look at the money that we’re spending when when things are normal and good and everything is right in the world. How much money are we spending on things that are a little bit needless and then we say oh, I don’t have any money to invest. I and I don’t have any money to invest right now because the markets are so uncertain Well, about that 50 bucks that you’re not spending going to the pub or commuting like just the commuting costs or or whatever that looks like and say you know, maybe this isn’t the worst time to start saving money at the markets are on sale right now. The markets are down so so so the markets are on sale right now. And if you wanted to start investing now just because it’s a pandemic does not necessarily mean a you don’t have the money or be it’s a poor time to start saving. If you’re a 16 year old now, and someone is sitting down like me saying save some money. Why not? No.
Barb McGrath 23:41
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I agree. Erin, we only have a couple of minutes left time. Everybody says they’re like gentle rain. Awesome. Um, tell tell everyone how they can get a hold of you.
Erin Caleval 24:03
Where they can find Oh, my God. Yeah, well, I’m currently sitting in my basement so you’re not going to pop in and see me but when the doors to reopen on the other side, we are in Harvey landing at 46 away Gordon road. In the meantime, all of our phone calls are coming right to our computers. So my staff are answering phones all the time seven to 17140. You can find us on Facebook, Erin and Associates. thecooperators.ca website has tons of information on how to find me. And yeah, I can’t wait to meet some new clients and see us all on the other side of this.
Barb McGrath 24:40
Exactly. Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. Okay, that is awesome. I will wrap this up and don’t go back to having coffee. So thank you to everyone who joined us here today for the Secret Life of entrepreneurs. A 91.3 FM CJ tr. We’re done a community radio. Thank you Erin for joining me for me your basement to mine. Thank you. It’s a it’s quite interesting actually seeing everybody’s basements. Oh my goodness. So if you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at Barb at Google girl.ca or just reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Above the Fold. Just a reminder, you can submit your questions in advance of our live shows on our Facebook page. I’m your host thermograph. local business owner, console girl. Remember, you work hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.