First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jim Gardner: Everyone is healthy and staying close to home. One of our employees just had her son test positive, so that will be a new situation. However, we are virtual.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ViewSpection
Jim Gardner: I have been involved in loss control for the last 30 years, operating the Gardner Group, an insurance inspection company in the Northeast. 7 years ago, I co-founded ViewSpection to expand digital options, including self-service, for inspections.
How does ViewSpection innovate?
Jim Gardner: We work in the loss control market every day, so ideas and direction to innovate are everywhere. We tend to iterate quickly, use minimal viable products to find effective solutions, and work with our carrier partners to get it in the field.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jim Gardner: I think the “whiplash” of back and forth restrictions was most difficult as we tried to direct our people in the field. Dealing with people devastated by COVID was overwhelming; however, we were glad that our physical inspection team could utilize our digital self-service solution for a contactless experience.
Our traditional inspection company dipped 50% in business but has recovered to 15% of pre-COVID numbers. ViewSpection has seen an increase in business.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jim Gardner: We learned we were not doing enough digital marketing. Inbound and outbound. When conferences and meetings ceased happening, we had to build out our marketing chops. It was quite a daunting process, but after a few months, we started to feel more confident in our abilities. Thank goodness we like to learn new things. We were underutilizing HubSpot, and it has been a great tool.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and ViewSpection in the future?
Jim Gardner: I don’t mind working 10 hour days or 7-day weeks, but the stress for me is my mind does not release the company at the end of the work time….so 24/7 is tough with very few distractions when we are basically sheltering in place.
Meditation, exercise, reading is what helps me tune out a bit.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jim Gardner: Flyreel, LossControl360, CoreLogic, and others.
They are larger than us and offer quality products. We have identified our markets where our loss control expertise is differentiating, and we are constantly building new major functionality.
Our configurable app is a recent upgrade, and we have a web app coming out next.
Your final thoughts?
Jim Gardner: The normal is gone, and it leaves so many options for new development and approaches.
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