First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Jesse Loomis: We’re hanging in there. My wife and I welcomed a second daughter a couple of months ago at a time when COVID-19 rates were very high in the Washington DC area. It was a scary process at times (and obviously very different from our first daughter’s birth), but fortunately. everyone is doing well, thanks.
Tell us about you, your Career, and how you Joined Bid4Assets
Jesse Loomis: I came out of college in the post-9/11 recession and was working office temp jobs and interviewing, hoping to land an entry-level marketing position. At the time, I supplemented my income by selling collectibles on eBay and in Spring 2004, I came across a posting for a marketing job at an online auction site called Bid4Assets. The more I researched it, the more I liked what I saw, and I joined the company as a marketing assistant.
From 2004 to 2014, I was promoted a half dozen times and in early 2014 the board asked me to take over as CEO. At that time, I was the youngest employee in the company. Our previous few CEOs came from other industries and had never worked for Bid4Assets prior to stepping into the role and I felt that at times they were a bit disconnected from what our clients actually wanted.
Working your way up through a company, you have a lot of interaction with customers and you get a deeper understanding of what they value. I have a highly collaborative management style and I focused on empowering my team to work together to provide better service to clients and grow the company. Together, we’ve grown the company and employee retention and morale have been high.
How does Bid4Assets Innovate?
Jesse Loomis: We innovate by listening to clients instead of telling them what they want. Bid4Assets helps government agencies, particularly at the county level, take public auctions of real property online. I have two rules when we innovate our services: try to keep it from costing the government anything and have it fit with the agency’s current processes as closely as possible.
The decision-makers we sell to are often elected officials. They have a different set of values than if you were selling to say a tech company. If you’re not thinking of the audience you’ll be serving when you design your products or services; you’re going to have an uphill battle to be successful. If your service is the answer to someone’s problem, the cost is reasonable, and your company conducts itself with integrity, you should be successful.
How does the Coronavirus Pandemic affect your Business, and how are you coping?
Jesse Loomis: As a federal contractor, we’ve always been required to have a business continuity plan for situations like COVID-19. When things “started getting real,” my immediate focus was to put the plan into effect and get everyone safely at home while remaining productive. Fortunately, our team adapted very well. An online auction site has to be simultaneously marketing to two audiences: buyers and sellers.
Our sellers are usually counties and the current health crisis has encouraged counties to seek out online auctions as a safer alternative to cramming people together at the courthouse. On the buyer side, more real estate investors are home on their computers and looking for properties. Our website traffic just reached its highest level in years.
Did you have to make difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Jesse Loomis: We were fortunate in that we were able to weather the shorter-term cash flow issues. I think many companies will place greater significance on having a comprehensive business continuity plan going forward.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and Bid4Assets in the Future?
Jesse Loomis: I’m thankful that I’m in quarantine with my family and that we all try to support each other. My wife and I often remind ourselves how fortunate we are to be healthy and have jobs (and that we like each other)! Whether it is Bid4Assets, the U.S. economy, or the world in general, my message would be one of hope and optimism. We will get through this pandemic; we will learn from it and we will try to grow from it.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Jesse Loomis: There are a few other auction companies in this space and while Bid4Assets has the greatest market share, the majority of counties in the U.S. are still doing their auctions the old-fashioned way on the courthouse steps. In other words, we are usually not battling other auction companies, we are battling to get public agencies thinking about innovating processes that have been unchanged for hundreds of years. A few counties recently took their process online solely because of COVID-19 and they each were surprised to see all of the other benefits that came with it. The current health crisis is increasing the push for public agencies to bring processes from the courthouse to the internet, so I project our company will steadily grow over the next few years.
Your Final Thoughts
Jesse Loomis: Another interesting conversation that COVID-19 has brought up is the efficacy of telecommuting. With all of the technology to allow people to telework, plus the added benefits of cost savings on reduced office space and a reduction in emissions and air pollution, I would predict that far more employees will be working from home over the next 10 years.