I’ve been in the surety business for a long time. As a student of the industry, I have observed the dynamics that occur between bonding companies and their clients. My conclusion: Bonding Companies are like Girlfriends!
(My comments are written from a male point of view, but I’m sure you can flip this to be applicable if the reader is “non-male.”)
Think about relationships you’ve been in. Don’t they always have a “love / hate” aspect? Jokes about relationships often capitalize on this reality:
Marriage is a three-ring circus. First the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, then the suffering.
– Milton Berle
My wife is a light eater… as soon as it’s light, she starts to eat.
– Henny Youngman
“I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest sentence?
– George Carlin
And for the ladies:
What’s the difference between a boyfriend and a husband?
About 30 pounds.
– Cindy Garner
As very sophisticated types, we know how to deal with the technicalities of these relationships. It isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. Bonding is pretty much the same!
How does a construction company gain the support of a surety? It starts with a flirtation and then “getting to know you.” The underwriter receives information about a bond that is needed. If there is a spark of interest, an application and financial statements are submitted.
The construction company wants to look attractive:
- Here is what we’ve accomplished!
- This is how much money we’ve made!
- We can really perform!
Think of this as the dating stage. It is exhilarating and intense! There are probing questions and well-crafted answers. Both parties want to achieve success and avoid failure / embarrassment. The same as in romance, the underwriter (girlfriend) will walk away if they find that the contractor (suitor) is dating other underwriters. This is why bond producers may approach only one market at a time. No girl wants a playboy who may be disloyal.
If the relationship blossoms, wedding bells may chime! They tie the knot with a pre-nuptial / general indemnity agreement that says “We’re in this together. But hurt me and you’ll PAY.”
Eventually they become old married folks. The contractor gripes that “she is never satisfied.” More info, more questions, more money spent to keep the surety / wife happy. It NEVER ends. But the contractor needs the surety and works to keep things on track.
Is the underwriter frustrated? Yes… “I have to beat everything out of the contractor. It’s like pulling teeth!” The contractor may be slow in providing the answers and info the underwriter needs to keep the bond account in healthy condition. “I thought we were in this together!”
There is an element of pain in the relationship, but both parties gain if they keep it together.
Yente (Click for mood music)
So where does the bond producer fit in? We are the dating service that brings the parties together. We succeed when we match the contractor with the right surety. Our role as cupid continues as we shepherd the relationship forward, keeping the info flowing so bonds are available when needed.
The fact is, bonding involves more than paperwork. It involves people, their perceptions and preferences. The seasoned bond producer will make the match and guide the relationship forward for the benefit of all parties. Then we can be one big happy family.