I try to evaluate situations from the ground up, working to recognize the problem and what might be causing it.”
David Disiere is the founder and CEO of QEO Insurance Group, an agency that provides commercial transportation insurance to clients throughout the U.S. He is a highly successful entrepreneur who has launched business endeavors in the real estate, oil and gas, agriculture, and automotive sectors. He’s an avid collector of classic cars, art, books, and Lalique hood ornaments. David is equally passionate about philanthropy, and he works to help underprivileged children through the David & Teresa Disiere Foundation.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea came from my parents, and I thought it was a great concept. When I started my own business, I wanted something that didn’t have a high inventory cost. Our highest inventory cost is paper, which is not very expensive. I wanted to be associated with something in the financial services business, and I wanted to sell a product that everyone needs. Considering that just about everyone I knew over the age of 16 had access to a car, had a car, or wanted a car, I thought transportation insurance seemed like a great industry.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I’m in the underwriting business. I have the privilege, honor, and responsibility of looking at various submissions that underwriters have prepared for my review. We have a massive group of underwriters here who look at transportation risks all day long. When they finish their write-ups, they’ve completed a submission, rated it, and analyzed it. Then, they bring it to me.
I get to look at those throughout the day and make the decision to either authorize or not authorize. That helps me take a very granular approach to our business, and I think it’s great to see that there are so many eyes and ears focused on the various opportunities that we consider. That’s part of my day.
Another part of my day is delivering on that promise of insuring clients. When there are losses, I get the opportunity to talk about the loss event, understand liability, and determine whether negligence was involved on behalf of our insured. We analyze those pieces and then come up with a plan of action that fulfills on the promise and the responsibility we have to our insured and to ourselves in terms of doing the right thing.
Those two areas generally divide my days in half. I stay productive by ensuring I have a talented team behind me. When you have a great bunch of leaders and a bunch of good people around you, you don’t have to work that hard.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Experience. Having seen problems before and worked through many of them, I have a unique perspective. I try to evaluate situations from the ground up, working to recognize the problem and what might be causing it.
Once I’ve identified the problem, I break it down into smaller pieces. I take things one step at a time, and I go in with the mindset that I’m going to change things and find a better solution. I get a deep understanding of the issue at hand, and I start by solving one or two seemingly small problems. In the process, I sometimes end up resolving the bigger matter.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to try something new. Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. There are countless innovators in the world who come up with great solutions for big problems every day.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The paramount issue in our world today is the use of technology to solve problems and create solutions that we never thought of before. Technology improves our lives in many ways, and I’m thrilled that there are so many brilliant and gifted people generating great ideas to make the world a better place to live.
If you’re going to be successful in business, you have to be a technology geek. It’s important to avail yourself of every possible opportunity to do things a little bit better, a little bit easier, a little bit more efficient. Look back to 10 years ago when we all thought we were pretty smart. In retrospect, we look like dinosaurs. The advances that we have made over the past decade alone are crazy. I’m really excited to see where the next 10 years takes us.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I never stop searching for new team members. Even if I’m just stopping at a gas station and speaking with someone I’ve never met before, I always try to get to know people and determine whether we could help each other out in some way.
Any smart leader is constantly on the hunt for talented people. I work to genuinely engage with people and look at their best qualities, determining whether there’s a spark that might indicate this person could be a great leader or a gifted team member to support my ideas.
We have a brilliant human resources team, but I feel like it’s partially my responsibility to always be searching for new talent. There have been two or three times that I’ve gotten into a deep conversation with an Uber driver and saw something special in him or her. I’m always looking for that passion, and I never let up regardless of the setting or time of day.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I go out of my way to praise people when they do something really well.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’m admittedly in a pretty mundane business. We generally do the same thing every day, though the factors involved definitely vary. We analyze, evaluate, appreciate, understand, comprehend, and research in a consistent manner, which helps us provide the right product for our agents.
Having a set daily routine works really well for us. It might sound boring to do the same thing on a daily basis, but the variable factors in each case keep things interesting. When there’s a loss, the individual circumstances are almost never the same.
The best strategy I can offer is to be equipped to do the same thing over and over and over while still maintaining high standards. It sounds pretty simple, but that sort of consistent repetition is no small task considering how bored some employees can become.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur?
This is actually a failure I’ve had throughout my career, but many companies in the insurance business struggle to retain customers. When we have a new customer, our team is visiting with this customer, going through the lengthy sales and onboarding process, and getting the customer approved.
There’s a flurry of activity at the start of the relationship, but about six months into the process, we look around and notice that perhaps our underwriters didn’t do the job they could have or should have done at the start. The customer decides we’re too hard to do business with, that we don’t have the right process, or that we don’t deliver what we promised.
I have struggled with this my entire career, and it’s an inefficiency I’ve constantly worked to correct. If we managed to improve by only 10 percent, it would make a dramatic difference on our bottom line. There’s nothing easy about it, and I’m aware that it’s impossible to please everybody. Still, we’re trying to do whatever we can to improve our process. I’m eager to see the results of our initiative over the next six months.
What software and web services do you use?
I use Google constantly. I like facts, and I think Google is the best repository of information that we have available today. It’s so much more concise and easy to use than the Encyclopedia Britannica or doing research at the library. We’re in the business of instant gratification, so it’s important to get information as quickly as possible.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read?
It’s not necessarily a business-focused book, but I’ve gleaned countless valuable lessons from the Bible throughout my life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost no one agrees with you on?
America is the greatest country in the world.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Regardless of what life throws at you, always follow your dreams. If you can dream it, you can do it.
What is your favorite quote?
“You can’t be stupid for free.”
David on Twitter:
David on Facebook:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.