Protecting your projects with Tony Ravenstahl

Welcome to “The Better Way: A podcast by Buildertrend.” Here you’ll learn to simplify and establish processes that will make meaningful changes to your company and help you achieve your goals. Because there’s a better way. The Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as Zach Wojtowicz, Pro Services education coordinator, chats with several experts about risk management.

On today’s episode, Zach’s discussing the importance of Builder’s Risk Insurance. Get the latest BRI insights and advice from Tony Ravenstahl of SilverStone Group, a HUB International company.

WHAT IS BUILDER’S RISK INSURANCE AND WHAT DOES IT COVER?

“Builder’s risk insurance is truly just covering the structure of a project while it is under construction. While these companies have subcontractors, individuals in there doing work, we are covering the structure of that project in case of a fire, a hailstorm, a windstorm or even any vandalism or theft on the job site.”

WHY IS IT BENEFICIAL FOR BUILDERTREND USERS TO SIGN UP WITH SILVERSTONE GROUP?

“I mean, what I always say is it’s completely free. I mean, you’re already paying for the software, you’re paying the monthly subscription to Buildertrend. Since you’re paying that, you get the advantage of getting a free quote from us. It’s a free application, about eight to 15 questions long. I always like to mention, I do not like talking about my homeowners insurance. I do not like talking about my car insurance, so I understand insurance is not something that builders want to sit there and talk about. We make it really, really easy for you guys to get a quote and at least get rates and coverages over in front of your eyes to compare with any other local quotes you would get.”

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Tony Ravenstahl | SilverStone Group, a HUB International company

Intro:

Welcome to “The Better Way,” a podcast by Buildertrend. Here you’ll learn to simplify and establish processes that will make meaningful changes to your company and help you achieve your goals. There’s a better way to run your construction business, the Buildertrend way. Tune in this season as Pro Services education coordinator, Zach Wojtowicz, chats with several experts about risk management.

On today’s episode, Zach’s discussing the importance of Builder’s Risk Insurance. Get the latest BRI insights and advice from Tony Ravenstahl of SilverStone Group, a HUB International company.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Welcome everybody back to “The better way,” a podcast here at Buildertrend to discuss all things. Buildertrend as well as the construction industry. My name is Zach, and I’m here with Tony Ravenstahl here from SilverStone Group. He is our builder’s risk insurance representative. Tony, how are we doing today?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Doing great. Thank you guys for having me on.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Absolutely. Thanks for coming. Really excited that you’re here. And in this episode, and in the series in general, we’re focusing on risk and risk within the construction industry. And so, we brought Tony on because he is involved with builder’s risk insurance. Tony, let’s talk a little bit about your company, your relationship with Buildertrend. Just give me your backstory. What’s going on with builder’s risk brought to you by SilverStone.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah, yeah. Like I said, thank you guys very much for having me on just wanted to hop on here and give a quick little overview on what SilverStone is. I am not sure a lot of Buildertrend users would understand or even know SilverStone.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It’s confusing.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yes, it is.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I mean, they have these partnerships and there’s a lot of them. It’s kind of hard to keep track.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly. So, SilverStone Insurance Group, we are based here in Omaha, Neb., which made it really easy for us to partner with Buildertrend. And SilverStone has been around since 1945. We actually just got acquired by a bigger company called HUB International, don’t know if any of the listeners are familiar with that, but got acquired by them back in December 2019. And just a lot of positive atmosphere, a lot of positive vibes. I’m not only within SilverStone, but also what we can maybe add to our partnership with Buildertrend. I actually started with Buildertrend back in 2016 as an entry-level salesperson, BDR on the Cowboys.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So, you were an employee of Buildertrend?

Tony Ravenstahl:

I was, yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You worked for us.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Correct, for about a year. And then, I was fortunate enough to be approached by three individuals at Buildertrend. Obviously, everybody knows Dan Houghton, Josh Kaiser and David Arnold, all terrific.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just small names.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Very small names in the Buildertrend world. All terrific, terrific individuals. And, they approached me with an opportunity to partner with SilverStone, actually transition over, become a SilverStone employee and sell builder’s risk insurance to their clients only.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Awesome. Well, we chose this topic because obviously, when you’re building a new home, there’s some things you have to keep in mind to make sure that you’re mitigating some potential risk. And, we specialize with SilverStone and builder’s risk insurance. For our listeners out there, they probably know what that is. And, what we want to focus on today is how does that work with our partnership in program and what comes along with why you should explore SilverStone a little bit. When we think about construction, just generally, what is builder’s risk really looking to try and prevent, just for people who maybe aren’t as familiar with it?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yep. And more of a spectrum, builder’s risk insurance is truly just covering the structure of a project while it is under construction. While these companies have subcontractors, individuals in there doing work, we are covering the structure of that project in case of a fire, a hailstorm, a windstorm, or even any vandalism or theft on the job site.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Those things never happen.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Never, exactly. And, you can always tell when they are going to happen. So, it’s just really five things. Like I said, fire, hail, wind and then vandalism and theft, as they are building new structures.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Gotcha. So, for our listeners who maybe are in the remodeling industry or specialty contracting, is this something they have to be concerned about? Is it required for those types of individuals

Tony Ravenstahl:

Not necessarily.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Gotcha.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. If you’re doing bathroom, kitchen, basement remodels, you’ve got your general liability, that’s going to cover you guys.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Sure.

Tony Ravenstahl:

When I’m describing builder’s risk insurance as a broad term, that’s kind of what it is to a lot of builders. If you’re in the commercial, the industrial industry, but really within our partnership with Buildertrend, we have really found a niche market. So, our builder’s risk insurance is truly based for just new home builders.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Gotcha. Awesome. Well, when we think about for those new home audiences out there, and they think about their builder’s risk insurance, what is SilverStone bring to the table that maybe they’re not aware of, that maybe they should explore more to learn about what SilverStone brings by partnering with Buildertrend?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly. So one thing, and I always tell builders, as you can get builder’s risk insurance anywhere you go, I mean, any insurance agent can offer builder’s risk insurance. So, what separates us from a local agent?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Sure.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. And what I always tell builders when I talk to them is, we’re lucky enough with SilverStone being based here in Omaha, we were lucky enough with Buildertrend being based here in Omaha to partner with them. And, what separates us from any local agents or anybody else is within that partnership with Buildertrend, we do not look at the builders as an individual builder. We look at them as a group.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh, interesting.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yes.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So, you’re not … an agent in their local market, they’re just kind of doing it based off their policy, whereas we put them all into one risk pool.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Okay.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yep. So, a local agent may look at Tony Ravenstahl Custom Homes, and as just as one builder, there’s a lot bigger of a risk. Now, when I’m looking at it, I’m looking at it as a Buildertrend user as in a pool of clients.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Gotcha.

Tony Ravenstahl:

We have been able to pool all Buildertrend’s homebuilders together, so we offer what it’s called a group rate.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Okay. So, if I were to get a phone call from you, Tony, and you were trying to get me to look at the builder’s risk insurance offering, how much money am I looking to save here on average, if you had to put … Sorry to put you on the spot, I don’t know if you could share that information, but this is important for people to know, right? We’re talking about money savings.

Tony Ravenstahl:

100%. And it really varies, so it depends on what your policy is currently …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Sure.

Tony Ravenstahl:

… who your underwriting is, there’s a lot of things that factor into it. From my experience doing this for the last four to five years, the numbers I see per home is anywhere, they’re saving anywhere from $200 all the way up to about $900 …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Okay.

Tony Ravenstahl:

… per home.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nice. So, what other selling points do you go after? Like, what do people say to you when you give them a call, and I’m interested in learning more, how do you kind of get them to take a bite?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. I mean, what I always say is it’s completely free. I mean, you’re already …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Okay.

Tony Ravenstahl:

… paying for the software, you’re paying the monthly subscription to Buildertrend. Since you’re paying that, you get the advantage of getting a free quote from us. It’s a free application, about eight to 15 questions long. I always like to mention, I do not like talking about my homeowners insurance. I do not like talking about my car insurance, so I understand insurance is not something that builders want to sit there and talk about. We make it really, really easy for you guys to get a quote, and at least get rates and coverages over in front of your guys’s eyes to compare with any other local quotes that you guys would get.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nice. So, how does … You say it’s easy, it’s convenient. How so? Are you talking, it’s in program? Are we able to do this integrated with our software?

Tony Ravenstahl:

It is.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh.

Tony Ravenstahl:

And, I would even call you out and say, if I told you, it took you two to three minutes to get an application filled out and get rates over to you guys. What would you say?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Why not, right?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Let’s give it a shot.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly. And I do get a little kick or a little pushback on some builders and they’re not 100% for it, but really, when we get into the meat and bones of it and I get them on the phone or even via email, a phone call is about three to five minutes long asking about eight to 10 questions. If you don’t want to contact me, as you mentioned, everything’s going to happen in Buildertrend in program. I can never talk to a builder and they can get an application filled out on their own and get our rates, and they’ll have everything from a $0 new home job, all the way up to a $3 million new home job. And they would know exactly what they’re paying on each individual project between those ranges.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And my understanding of it, too, is you can pick and choose which homes you enroll inside of Buildertrend and on builder’s risk side. Correct? So, if I am a remodeler and a new home builder, I don’t necessarily have to go through it, this process for everything I’m using within the program, I can kind of pick and choose which homes I enroll into the BRI through our software.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly. I always say use it as you want to, if you’re doing maybe two homes, but you’re mostly focused on remodels, maybe on those two homes, we can help you out, save you some money. You can put those two homes in place through Buildertrend, all your remodel projects can stay with a local agent or they’re covering probably just the GL and the worker’s comp on that. So, you don’t need to switch all your businesses over. I have had clients reach out to us and say, hey, on the lower tiers, you’re not as competitive, but if we have anything over 450,000, you’re very competitive. You’re saving us money, we’re going to go with you. And if that’s the case, on anything that’s over 450, go into Buildertrend, and you can easily get it in place. Anything under 450, you can stay with a local agent as well.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nice. So, more options, it never hurts.

Tony Ravenstahl:

That’s what I always say.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Tony Ravenstahl:

And it’s completely free. It never hurts to get a quote over anyway, so.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And can I fill out the application in program as well?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. So, I mean, I’m always here. I mean, this is what I do Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just grinding.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Just grinding. But if not, like I said, some builders, they’re very computer savvy.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Sure.

Tony Ravenstahl:

They can go in there. I mean, like I said, whether I fill it out for you, or you fill it out on Buildertrend, it’s going to take at most five minutes to get that application filled out. And then, we will send you over rates and coverages.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And Tony, you got this started, how long ago did you say, four years, five years ago?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yep. So, I got hired on by SilverStone in April of 2017, so about four to five years this program has been live and ongoing.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So, this is your baby. You’ve grown it, it’s getting there. That’s probably pretty exciting to see that something go from ground zero to where we are today. How many customers do we have using our builder’s risk insurance? Do you know off the top of your head?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Off the top of my head, I cannot throw out a concrete number.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Mm-hmm.

 

Tony Ravenstahl:

I know we’re over at least a thousand Buildertrend users that are approved.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Fantastic.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. And I can tell you, as of now, we’re averaging about anywhere between 160 to 180, 190 policies per month.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. So, it really has grown from when we first started to here and right now. And even in 2021, I mean, I think February of this year was our best month. Not only with applications, getting people approved just to get the rates, but even with policies that have been bound with us, I think that was a really high number. I’m looking back in 2020 of February, so.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, so it’s growing.

Tony Ravenstahl:

It is. It’s hitting a stride, it’s really awesome to see.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. It just goes to show that Buildertrend itself has grown exponentially, and SilverStone’s is right there with us along the way. It’s really exciting to see that. One thing I kind of want to circle back to is the client experiences with BRI and Buildertrend, what are your customers say about the experience of using SilverStone for builder’s risk insurance?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. I mean the first little feedback we always get, I mean, we always catch them with the rates. They get the application, why are you going to switch to an insurance agent here in Omaha, Neb., if you have a local agent?

Zach Wojtowicz:

You’re super nice.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Thank you.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nebraska nice.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yes, but I mean, that’s a big competitor of mine is why I switch to you …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Tony Ravenstahl:

… if I can go to my local agent? And what I always tell people is we’ve got a lot of great feedback, the rates are what sells everybody. When you compare to your local agent, it goes back to that partnership, us being able to pool all Buildertrend’s homebuilders together. Offer a group rate, look at it as a pool of clients, that’s what entices a lot of Buildertrend users, is our rates and how much they can save on each individual home. The second part is once they see the rates and they want to get moving forward with us, get a policy in place, the second thing is ease of access. To be able to get policies in place through each individual specific job in Buildertrend whenever you to is another great feedback we have gotten from a lot of Buildertrend users as well.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I can imagine in my typical local experience, I want to go get my policy for builder’s risk insurance, I’m going to have to get a hold of my agent, get the paperwork filled out. Do I have to go through all that in program? I mean, it should be pretty seamless 24/7, right? I mean, if you can log in, you can get your policy.

Tony Ravenstahl:

It is. And with my day-to-day tasks is, I chase these builders, I get the rates in front of them via, again, that application filled out. Once they get those rates, they have a chance to look over it. I will schedule a time with them to sit down on a phone call, go over any questions they have, go over the coverage limits, and if they’re ready to move forward with us, I will sit down and walk through that first policy with them, get it in place through Buildertrend. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to get that first policy in place. And the reason it takes that long is because we have to do a little backend, set up a bank account to pay for it, then get the policy in place.

But once you get your first policy in place, whether it’s six o’clock in the morning or 10 p.m. at night, you can log onto Buildertrend. Once you’re approved in Buildertrend, you will see a green request coverage button, any builder can hit that request coverage button, and they will essentially fill out a job site request form. And what that job site request form consists of is start date, address, value, if there’s a bank that’s giving you a loan, they will want to be on there, the policy holder, which is the builder’s information, they’ll go down, they’ll sign, submit and pay for it all through Buildertrend. And that automatically in a matter of seconds, they get that binder certificate through Buildertrend that they can pass off to the bank, or they can pass off to their home owner.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s a great point that you and I have talked about before. We get a lot of questions that can my homeowner take the policy out on behalf of the builder, and you would not recommend doing that, right?

Tony Ravenstahl:

No. So, another big competitor of mine is custom home builders. You know, I get them on the phone, and they say, hey, you know, it’s my client’s land. They’re the ones purchasing the builder’s risk insurance. You guys are welcome to do that. Us on the insurance industry don’t suggest that. Not a great idea. I would say no, trust the experts and the reason for it. If you’re a custom home builder, and you’re doing eight to 10 homes, you are trusting, you’re trusting eight to 10 of your clients to go get a builder’s risk insurance policy on your behalf to make sure you’re covered. When you’re actually doing the work in that project, that’s kind of risky.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Talking about managing risk.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Exactly. And you’ve got to have trust on your clients. They’re going to get you the best deal, the best coverage to cover you. And I’m, can’t speak for a lot of builders, but I would assume as busy as some of these guys and gals are, I don’t think they want to sit down and go over five to eight different builder’s risk policies. So, what I say is, sit down with me one time, let’s get an application filled out. Let’s talk through the builder’s risk insurance. Let’s talk through the coverages. And if it all looks good and possibly even saving your clients some money, why not give them another option on builders, risk insurance.

Therefore, they know what’s covered with the builder because they’ve worked with me. They can pass off to their client. Their client is still covered. Whether they get it on their own or through us, the builder can add them as additional insured. Sure. Pay for it. Pass the cost off. Everything runs smoothly. But if they do eight to 10 homes, they know they’re getting the same exact policy on individually and every individual home. And they’re not getting eight or 10 different policy.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Yeah. Consistency, much easier to control the variables. You don’t have to worry about as much. You have someone to contact for every job site. So, it’s universal across your entire account. And just for our listeners out there, if you’re using a feature in Buildertrend like owner invoices, you can pass it off. Just I’ve seen it in people’s accounts. And my own experience, working with our clients to where you can just build it as a line item or a standalone invoice to pass off that expense.

Tony Ravenstahl:

And, a lot of other conversations I’ve had with custom home builders is let your clients go get their own builder’s risk quote. I mean, there’s no harm, no foul. And then go into a local agent or their homeowner’s insurance agent and getting a quote. Sure. Let them get their own quote, but then you can provide a quote for them. And what I’ve also told other builders is if the value, if the at the group rate can save their client X amount of dollars, why can’t they add on a little fee that they’re going to secure it, maybe profit three, $400 still saved their client within our group rates, still saving their clients. Six, seven, $800. Let them choose what they want to go with. Do they want the one that can save them some money, or they want to go with a local agent? If they go with a local agent, no harm, no foul. You don’t put it in through Buildertrend. They want to go with you, put it through, Buildertrend add this medicinal insured, possibly add a little profit money in your pocket. Everything’s going to run the same way as they would through getting their own homeowners insurance builder’s risk policy.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Tony, it sounds like you know what you’re talking about a little bit. How these conversations before, huh?

Tony Ravenstahl:

Yeah. In four years, it’s kind of, it gets a little repetitive as well.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, you’re doing a fantastic job. The numbers show it. And thank you so much for joining us today. I think we’re going to wrap it up there. Tony Ravenstahl, everyone. Continue to listen to “The Better Way.” We’ve got more content for you in the future. Thanks for joining us today. Have a great rest of your day.

Tony Ravenstahl:

Thank you so much for having me on guys.

Outro:

Thanks for listening to “The Better Way.” If you’re a Buildertrend customer, schedule a training to learn more. All listeners, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to “The Better Way” wherever you get your podcasts. Also, visit buildertrend.com/podcasts to sign up for the email notifications when the next season drops and explore our other podcast, “The Building Code.” Don’t miss our next episode focused on how to protect your revenue.


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