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MORRISVILLE – Just before the financial crisis struck, setting off what was called “The Great Recession,” Scot Wingo sensed the coming crisis and made preemptive at ecommerce services provider ChannelAdvisor. Now, as CEO at startup Get Spiffy where he also is an investor Wingo is pushing the envelope but in another way.
He’s risking overextending the vehicle maintenance startup in the time of COVID by relentlessly seeking new business opportunities. On Oct. 7, Wingo announced a “complete car care initiative” with with Carvana, Gabi and Uproar.car in addition to SafeLite for windshield repair.
“[I]n addition to services Spiffy is providing directly, we’re partnering with innovators in auto insurance, warranties, car value/buying and windshields to expand the range of auto-services we provide for customers,” Wingo explained.
These additional services came after other expansion moves Wingo has made since COVID forced him to cut hundreds of jobs before a government loan provided cash to get Spiffy back into growth.
But The Skinny asked Wingo: Are you risking overstretch here with so many additions?
“Sure,” he replied.
“I call that ‘peanut buttering’ – spreading yourself so thin, you don’t do anything well. I know externally it looks like we’re doing a lot, but you should see the things we’re saying no to that never see the light of day – I’d say we say no to 90% of the ideas we have (really more ‘not yet, not right time’)”
We then launched into a Q&A about his aggressive thinking – and what advice other entrepreneurscan take from his obviously adventurism spirit.
- Why push so aggressively in the time of COVID?
Every crisis has a sliver lining and the silver lining of Covid is we have seen an unprecedented ‘digital acceleration’ – in e-commerce, for example, we went from 15-18% of goods being ordered online, to 30% in 90 days – that’s like 5 years of adoption in 3 months – crazy. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride this wave.
- How are you protecting your workers?
Very early on in the pandemic we moved to a full PPE strategy supplemented by social distancing (customers want this too, so it’s mutual) and every truck has hand wash/hand sanitizer.
- Has COVID turned from a threat to your business into an opportunity?
Yes, thats exactly what has happened.
- What was your mindset and that of your investors who are going along with you?
Around covid? In my experience navigating these crises the priorities are:
1. Survive – You have to make it through the other side, no matter what
2. Experiment – In a crisis, you oddly have time to do more experimenting of things than you do in a time where you are focused on scaling something that works. In the pandemic, we’ve experimented with and ramped up disinfecting, franchising and now the complete car care initiative.
3. Adapt or die – be resilient
We’ve been fortunate that our investors were very supportive during this time- the key there is communication -we went from monthly+quarterly comms to weekly.
What advice can you share with other entrepreneurs as we head into a fall and winter of COVID?
Hope for the best and plan for the worst – If you read the news and listen to pundits you have scenarios from a V shaped recovery to a K to a W and an L and a swoosh. Entrepreneurs need a plan A, B, C, D for these and know what you’re going to do. Our ‘A plan’ right now is based on the V we are experience. But if it turns out to be a slower recovery, we have a plan B we can move to in a matter of 48hrs.