Austin Watts

Panther alum ‘likes, knows, trusts’ career in business

Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill+grad+Austin+Watts+during+his+time+working+at+the+Fayetteville+Chick-fil-a+Dwarf+House.+After+initially+just+seeking+a+job+as+a+dishwasher%2C+Watts+was+employed+as+a+manager+for+the+organization+before+becoming+an+insurance+agent.+
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Austin Watts

Starr’s Mill grad Austin Watts during his time working at the Fayetteville Chick-fil-a Dwarf House. After initially just seeking a job as a dishwasher, Watts was employed as a manager for the organization before becoming an insurance agent.

Starr’s Mill grad Austin Watts during his time working at the Fayetteville Chick-fil-a Dwarf House. After initially just seeking a job as a dishwasher, Watts was employed as a manager for the organization before becoming an insurance agent.

Courtesy of Austin Watts

Starr’s Mill grad Austin Watts during his time working at the Fayetteville Chick-fil-a Dwarf House. After initially just seeking a job as a dishwasher, Watts was employed as a manager for the organization before becoming an insurance agent.

Courtesy of Austin Watts

Courtesy of Austin Watts

Starr’s Mill grad Austin Watts during his time working at the Fayetteville Chick-fil-a Dwarf House. After initially just seeking a job as a dishwasher, Watts was employed as a manager for the organization before becoming an insurance agent.

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During his time at the Mill, Panther graduate Austin Watts was fascinated with sports. He played football all four years in high school and ran track his senior year. Although Watts didn’t have an exact career in mind, he decided to follow his passion for sports into college. He just did not plan for where his passions would take him next.

I got an internship and some work lined up after school, but it didn’t work out how I wanted it to.”

— Starr's Mill graduate Austin Watts

“I knew I loved all things sports: playing it, running it, working it,” Watts said. “And I wound up studying and majoring in sports management at Georgia Southern where I played football. I got an internship and some work lined up after school, but it didn’t work out how I wanted it to.”

After graduating from the Mill in 2006, Watts attended Georgia Southern University where he landed an internship with the PGA Tour. This gave him the opportunity to experience what a career would be like in the sports industry.

“I interned with the Tour up in Maryland,” Watts said. “They put me in an operations internship where you basically set up and break down the event, but you have to be there the whole time.”

Courtesy of Austin Watts
Starr’s Mill alumnus Austin Watts poses in front of an insurance display at a convention in Tennessee. Watts is currently an agent for Arroyo Insurance Services.

Through his college experience in sports management, Watts realized it wasn’t his place. A career in such a large business industry wasn’t what he was looking for. Watts desired a job with stronger relationships and more of the hometown feel he grew up with.

“Fayette County is a small community that everyone knows a lot of people and I liked that relationship aspect,” Watts said. “And sports is a big business centered around one event, whether that was a NASCAR race or a football game or a basketball game. They’re one-offs, so you see somebody for a couple hours and then they’re gone. You don’t see them again for a week, three or four days. It didn’t have the relationship aspect that I thought it would. It’s just really big.”

As Watts’ golf internship wrapped up in the middle of a college semester, he was left to find a part-time job since he couldn’t enroll in classes for four months. Watts set out to secure a job as a dishwasher at the Fayetteville Chick-fil-a Dwarf House, but ended up working in marketing and staying with the organization as a manager for several years.

“I was a marketing intern, like a marketing assistant, and that started me down a secure path of learning and growth and selling lots of chicken,” Watts said.

After working his way up to a management position at Chick-fil-a, Watts wanted to be able to have more influence over his career. Without the option of becoming an owner and operator at the restaurant, Watts decided to alter his career path yet again.

I wanted something I could have more control over. If the sales went up at Chick-fil-a, I did not get a bigger paycheck, and I didn’t like that.”

— class of 2006 graduate Austin Watts

“I had determined that the next step I would take I would be more responsible for my income. And that included sales,” Watts said. “I wanted something I could have more control over. If the sales went up at Chick-fil-a, I did not get a bigger paycheck, and I didn’t like that.”

This time, Watts decided to give the insurance business a shot. With some convincing from his father, Watts started a career with Arroyo Insurance Services in California.

“My dad has been in insurance for forty years at this point and he kept whispering in my ear about every six months: ‘Hey, you oughta try insurance… Hey, you oughta try insurance.’ So, I did and I really liked it,” Watts said.

As an insurance agent, Watts has a lot more jurisdiction over his success, which comes with both risk and reward. Ultimately, this position suits what Watts has been working toward since college — conducting his own business and creating relationships with his clients, just without the massive industry of sports involved.

“In insurance, I’m responsible for everything, so I’m responsible for my personal branding. I’m responsible for what I say on social media,” Watts said. “I’m responsible for how I appear to clients, the dress, the language, the results. It takes a lot more energy to do what I’m doing because it’s very risky. Because there’s no second place in insurance. In my mind, second place is okay in the restaurant world because eventually, you’ll get somebody. In the insurance world, if someone goes with me then they have chosen to fire their previous agent. That guy gets zero and I get the money. And that is very risky because second place sucks.”

My job is to get people to buy insurance through me and they first have to know me, then they have to like me, and then they have to trust me before they’ll buy.”

— Panther alumnus Austin Watts

To make sure he doesn’t fall to second place, Watts focuses heavily on building strong, trustworthy relationships with his clients. Without the approval of his clients, Watts has nothing to fall back on. To create this connection, Watts relies on branding the motto: “know, like, and trust.”

“My job is to get people to buy insurance through me and they first have to know me, then they have to like me, and then they have to trust me before they’ll buy. So, I call, visit, and write people all day long,” Watts said. “And I work them through that ‘know, like, trust’ credo every day. Do they know me? Do they like me? And do they trust me? If they say ‘yes’ normally writing the check is much easier. If they say ‘no’ to any of those, they don’t write me a check.”

Even though each of Watts’ career choices revolves around extremely different topics, they all relate through the interaction and connection with people they involve. Strong personal relationships were key for success in every field Watts has conquered thus far.

“The people part never changes,” Watts said. “A lot of people will say they’re in the people business and really that’s what it is. You’re trying to meet and know and help different people.”

Looking back to current students of Starr’s Mill, Watts’ greatest advice is networking to gain internships in areas that interest you.

“Go do what they [those in your field of interest] do and when you’re there rock it out,” Watts said. “Be awesome. Whatever little inch they give you, take it and grow with it, run with it. Don’t let fear stop you.”

Though your initial career choice may not hold up to your expectations, Watts proves that through experimentation one can always find a place to belong. By figuring out exactly what you want to do through trial and error, it’s possible to end up with a job you fall in love with even though you may have never expected your success in it.

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