Quick to make a joke and with a dry sense of humor, Dan McBrayer is well known throughout West Georgia for providing quality life and health insurance products to the community. Although he jokes that he started his insurance agency in the 7th grade, he became a small business owner 40 years ago in 1976.
Although Dan has sold many different insurance products over the years, he specializes now in numerous types of life insurance, health insurance and disability insurance for everyone. Several years ago, he also began providing Medicare Supplements and long Term Care insurance, and enjoys serving the retiree community with these types of products.
Dan received the CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) designation in 1991, is an RHU (Registered Health Underwriter) and in 2011 he received the CLTC (Certified in Long Term Care) designation.
Dan lives in Carrollton with his wife, Sue, and they have two children, Mary Kate and Joseph, and two granddaughters. They have one dog named Roxie, who also happens to be Dan's vice president of advertising for the insurance agency.
Dan enjoys traveling, hunting, fishing and loves to watch college football and basketball.
Early Role Models
Dan grew up in Temple, Ga., where his dad, Paul McBrayer, owned a service station/grocery store in Temple. Dan grew up at the store working every day after school and in the summers for his dad. It was while working for Paul that Dan learned how to run a business importantly, how to treat the customers.
He credits his dad for having the most impact in his professional life. "My dad taught me so many things about running a business that have helped me over the years," he relates. "The most important was to thank the customers and tell them to come again."
Dan graduated from Temple High School in 1969, then attended college at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he received his bachelor of science in general management in 1973. Dan says his decision to start his own insurance agency was influenced by a meeting with Gene Asher, a well known insurance icon in Atlanta, Ga. Dan says Mr. Asher had started a General Agency with New England Life, and he was able to convince Dan that he would be successful in the life insurance business.
His Support Network
Dan has been in business long enough to know that he can't do everything himself, and he has a large network of friends, family and people in the same field he relies on for advice, to bounce around ideas and to offer encouragement. "In any business, you need to have people and friends to help with ideas," he shares. "My number one mentor is my wife Sue. She is always there to help me if a need arises. I also have two other insurance agent buddies, one I have known since I started and even though he is a UGA grad in risk management, he is solid for good advice. Another one is a lady who is a CPA, a Clemson grad who is very smart and we bounce ideas off each other all the time."
Dan is also grateful for the support of many friends and clients who send referrals for new clients his way. His wife, Sue, is also involved in his business in an official capacity, helping Dan run the ship as vice president of miscellaneous operations.
Dan credits Sue for having the greatest impact on his personal life and says Sue is his biggest fan. "My soul mate, Sue, has had the greatest impact on my personal life," he says with a warm smile. "One of our friends told me she has a heart as big as a washtub. She should write a book about living with me. It has been anything but dull."
The Heart Of The Matter
As a small business owner, Dan is in the insurance business to be profitable, but that is clearly not the motivation behind his life's work. It is important to him for his clients to know that he will be straightforward and honest with them regarding what products and services his firm offers that will benefit them the most. Dan operates with the utmost integrity, making sure that every client knows he would never sell them a product that he wouldn't purchase for himself.
He is also well aware of the importance of ensuring that loved ones are taken care of after the death of a spouse or a parent. "Giving an insurance check to a widow is something that is always heartwarming to me," he relates.
Dan has had many humorous moments during his 40 year career, and he recalls one in particular that stands out in his mind. "About three years ago, I had a retired couple here at the office and they were about to get into a fight over what to do with their insurance – they did not agree on exactly what to do," he shares. "Realizing this was just about to get out of hand, I asked the husband, “Now how did you meet your wife?” He stopped and it seemed like magic as he recalled the first time he saw his wife as a young nursing student studying on the beach in Virginia. He told me that he kept running by her and she would not notice him, so he finally just stopped and asked her out. They later got married and I believe they had been married for about 52 years."
After 40 years of being a business owner, Dan has learned many valuable lessons. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and determination to be successful. His advice to others wanting to start a business in this field is to work hard and smart, have a game plan and to realize that you are not an 8-5 employee when you own your own business.
There will be good times and bad, and sometimes bad decisions will be made, but at the end of the day, it's yours to do what you will with it. Dan shares what he likes best about owning the business. "I am the captain of the ship. I have no partners and get to make all of the business decisions, both good and bad." He also shares that making those bad decisions is his least favorite part of owning the business.
Realizing there will be difficult moments is also important in business ownership. "Everyone has bumps in the road," he relates. "I think the best way to move forward is to have the faith to help you through the hard times. It’s like that old saying, 'When the going gets tough, the tough will get going."
Dan says his greatest challenge as a business owner who provides insurance products to the public is all of the new federal government regulations in effect. He also shares that if he could do one thing over again it would most likely be to specialize in selling just two or three products, but in general, he has offered many different products to clients over the years.
The Female Influence
Although all of Dan's insurance products he offers are available to men and women, Dan recognizes the buying power women have in West Georgia. Over half of his clients are women, and he understands that many women control the wealth in the United States, which is why it is important to him to reach out to women through advertising in West Georgia Woman magazine. "Women control about 70 percent of the wealth in this country," he says. "And in West Georgia, we have a lot of very sharp business women."
Dan says when a woman walks into his business, she will be greeted with a friendly and warm atmosphere, with a willingness on his part to help solve whatever problem she may have and she can be sure he will always offer her the best advice possible.
In the case of a married couple, he believes it is important for both spouses to work together to be involved in the financial decisions that affect the family.
Dan sees retirement on the horizon, but he has no timetable or plans for leaving the business. He says his motivation for coming to work every day are the people he is able to interact with on a daily basis. He says he really enjoys working with people and helping them solve problems.
Dan believes that customer service and knowledge are key factors in running a successful business. "Outstanding customer service and unique insight into solving financial problems is what sets my staff and I apart from others," he relates.
Dan is quite happy living and working in Carrollton, and feels very fortunate to have met so many nice and friendly people over the years. He is also making a difference in many people's lives by offering sound financial advice and insurance products that meet their needs, to ensure his clients and their loved ones are prepared for whatever the future may hold.