Marrs Insurance Brokers

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Marrs Insurance Brokers is a trading name of The Not Too Boring Company Ltd. Registered in England & Wales, Registered No. 09026225.

Marrs Insurance Brokers is an appointed representative of TEn Insurance Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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Marrs Insurance Brokers, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

SUMMER 2014 - Déjà vu, et vous?

There is a certain eeriness about setting off down the same road again, but 33 years later.

When I started the first incarnation of Marrs Insurance Brokers (which was itself an offspring of another Marrs, begun in 1936), things were very different indeed; Maggie Thatcher was PM, the Bank of England base rate was 12%, Charles and Diana were married and the first of many nations ill-equipped to join the then EEC nevertheless eschewed the Drachma for the Euro, costing many other countries a great deal of money. Probably the most expensive calamari and chips in history….

Myself, a youthful twenty something, had negotiated the purchase of the small unfashionable end of a bigger operation. Theirs was based in Lime Street in the City almost next to Lloyd’s; mine was based in Alderman’s Hill, Palmers Green, almost next to Dipali Indian Restaurant, a very fine curry house in its day.

As I reflect upon those heady, mad, frenetic days I find myself smiling at the unnumbered problems and crises we encountered: How, when we arrived at our new office in 3 Pickfords’ vans carrying the files of all the clients we were supposed to care for, we discovered 14 workmen still transforming the former sweetshop into an office (although on closer scrutiny it had a more than passing resemblance to a betting shop, the more usual commission for our worthy contractors).

I had some weeks before been asked by the foreman to decide on the height of the counter he was to build and install and so, armed with a foot rule, I dutifully took measurements against the side of a filing cabinet in our London office, imparting the information by telephone with an air of confidence.

When we finally gained entry to our new place, a structure resembling Beechers Brook greeted me. It greeted many a client over the years, some of whom had to stand on 3 copies of the Yellow Pages in order to complete their Proposal Forms, ah! Happy Days!

From the oversexed hairdresser above us to our infuriating landlord, the dry cleaners who allowed rats the size of dogs to thrive in their back yard shed 3 doors down, the funny, happy, sad, manic, jolly, garrulous, flirty and sometimes angry people who invaded our former sweetshop every day of the working week, we plied our trade, learned our craft. We made mistakes but always strove to learn from them and we grew, in the right way, by recommendation, by word of mouth, not with pipelines and funnels and wall charts resembling the D-Day landings, but by becoming good at what we did; looking after our clients.  We ended up with clients in Aberdeen, Casper Wyoming, Belfast, Switzerland, we were visited and had our ideas pinched by an insurer based in Paris. If not international, Marrs certainly outgrew its parochial roots.

What does Customer Service mean to me today? Same as it always has; looking after the customer. I fervently believe that we have lost sight of this and that given the opportunity to do away with it, most big companies wouldn’t give it another thought. It’s only a feature at all because their rivals offer a website with a hyperlink to yet another 8 hyperlinks with a connection to 22 more that may just get you through to an e-mail address or even better, a virtual guru called Valerie at whom you can vent about the issue they haven’t got a stock answer for but would you just mind completing a Customer Feedback Survey even though you still have the same problem, only now you’re 26 minutes older and your ‘phone bill has increased exponentially?

I would love it if we could speak that erudite language that only web tecchies can, the one which allows them to design a website that almost nearly fits the needs of their customers (the corporations and institutions upon which we rely for our communications, energy supplies, taxation, insurance etc) but NEVER for those poor fools who have to try and communicate with them - and you know who’s the worst? Communications companies! They actively discourage human interaction and prefer you to speak to Valerie, or even better, e-mail her.

So here we are again, 33 years later and Marrs is reborn. Having decided I am actually unemployable I find myself working harder than ever, up ‘til midnight, refining, designing documents, chasing insurers (and clients), e-mailing until my fingers bleed and my eyes crush the matchsticks holding them open.

And I’m having the time of my life….

Thanks to everyone who have shown their support, sent their good wishes, offered to deputise should I ever need a holiday (fat chance) and stayed with me as a client without a second thought. Insurance is and hopefully always will be, a people business and rather than having a so-called relationship with someone to whom you spend 10 minutes talking on the ‘phone, your paths destined never to cross again, I and others of what I depressingly suspect may well be a dying breed remember and value the people we represent this week, this month and this year and the years to come for as long as they remain clients and we can still write notes, use a ‘phone or flagellate a keyboard without our phalanges crumbling to dust.

That, Mr Telecommunications Boss, is customer service, now go and polish your pixels.

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