Manchester, New Hampshire
Policies to Date:
7 and counting!
Thimble: What motivated you to go solo and transition into owning your own business?
Jamie Vanagel: I started my own company about a year and a half ago, after 20 years in the landscaping industry. To put it simply, I was sick of working for everyone else. I wanted to make a little bit more money, and the companies I was working with weren’t going in a direction that I liked.
Initially, I kind of fell into it. A friend of mine had started a company that ended up going out of business, and he handed all of his contracts over to me. I started out just doing small jobs like mowing lawns after my regular workday, and then it grew into full-time, 12-14-hour days.
T: What’s the best advice you’ve received as a first-time business owner?
JV: When I was thinking about opening the business, I thought, “I’ve got this, I’ve been doing this forever, I know everyone in the business.” Well yeah, it’s great when you know everyone in the business, but they’re busy doing their own thing. You forget that.
The best advice I’ve received: it’s a lot harder than you think it’s going to be. I thought it was going to be really hard, but it’s really really hard. The motor on my truck just blew, and my truck is pretty much my whole company. I’m driving right now, as we speak, a ‘99 Buick Regal with a tow hitch attached.
The worst advice I ever received: buy that truck.
T: Can you describe the ups and downs you’ve experienced in your first year as a sole proprietor?
JV: Being a business owner can be frustrating as hell! I’m a landscaper, so it’s all cash and quick deposits, not checks. I’m dealing directly with homeowners who just want their lawns taken care of.
But the reason I made the decision to go solo is because I enjoy the freedom to be able to work when I want, how I want, and where I want. I get to dictate my own day and write my own schedule.
Your coverage enables me to do something I wouldn’t have been able to do with my previous insurance provider and gives me the most bang for the buck. Where I live, my work isn’t year-round. With Thimble I can opt for monthly General Liability coverage, pay for eight months rather than 12, and save some money in the long run.
T: What have been some of the pain points you’ve run into with business insurance in the past?
JV: Before Thimble, I was going through another insurance company. I had an incident where I shot a rock through someone’s window and it took forever for them to pay the claim. I haven’t had to file a claim yet with you guys, but I’m sure when I do, you’ll be right there to help out.
T: What appealed to you most about the insurance coverage arranged by Thimble?
JV: The biggest draw was the ability to plug in for coverage over a set time period. The fact that you can select daily, weekly, monthly, and even hourly coverage is ludicrous and I love it! I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going to go with my business—you never really are when you start out. Of course we all hope for the best, but I’m a realist.
The flexibility of the coverage has been well-suited to the way I work. There are weeks when I go on vacation and don’t work at all, and there are some days when I work with a few different guys. One day it could be Tony, the next day it could be Frank, Mike, who knows. I have the ability to say, “Frank’s working tomorrow,” go right in the app, add him to the policy, and he’s 100% covered.
T: How has Thimble enabled you to accelerate your business?
JV: I work by myself, but I like the fact that I can add people daily to my policy—I’m actually going to be doing that for a job tomorrow, so that’s exciting to me. That saves me a lot of time and energy on my end. The idea that you can pinpoint exactly what you need and for how long is something that drew me in as well.
I very proudly put “fully insured” on my business cards. It’s one of the main questions clients ask: “are you insured?” I have a couple of customers who are very adamant about being able to see the Certificate of Insurance. With the Thimble app, I can send it directly to their email. It’s not a big to-do where I have to go find it somewhere. I have so much going on at one time that I wouldn’t even know where I put it, and every hour that I spend trying to get insured or prove that I have insurance is an hour that I’m not getting paid to work.
I’m also getting contracts that I wouldn’t normally get and am able to bid on jobs that I would not normally be able to bid on. Customers love the fact that I have $1 million coverage; that’s usually not the case for landscapers unless you’re working for a commercial business. That’s a huge plus for me.