Our VP of Partnerships Zak Pines recently interviewed Ian Callander, the Founder of IMC Brands, as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. Zak and Ian discussed Ian’s work with small business customers, including local insurance agencies, and how he discovered Formstack. Here’s an abridged transcript of the chat.
IMC Brands Background
Zak: Can you start by telling us about IMC Brands.
Ian: I started IMC Brands as an operational management consulting firm, coming out of the wireless and telecom industry. I saw a gap in that small businesses didn’t have a lot of support at their scale to furnish quality, branded, consistent customer experiences.
I’ve focused on creating tools to give businesses access to the right tools, and then teaching them to fish, so to speak.
Zak: Who are your typical clients?
Ian: Insurance agencies are one, which is how we met. I work with a variety of business types and industries from restaurants and fitness training to architecture and logistics.. I’m focused geographically in the “i-4 Corridor” of Florida—Tampa Bay, Sarasota, and towards Orlando.
Zak: Do you have a key philosophy around your business?
Ian: Our slogan is “You can run your business better than anyone, and we’re here to help.”
That comes from our finding that there is a general distrust of consultants from small business owners. There can be an apprehension to seek out subject experts that are good at what you need to get done.
We show our customers that we can provide resources to help them learn. And then once they reach a growth point, they can hand off to others. The key message is that small business owners shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help and trust that we believe it is their passion for their business that makes them the best at it.
Zak: How do you find your customers or they find you?
Ian: 80% is word of mouth or referral, and then the remainder is through my own marketing and social media.
Zak: What is your most effective social media channel?
Ian: For IMC Brands, it’s LinkedIn. For clients, it depends on the industry and market. For example, restaurants thrive on Twitter and Instagram. For professional services firms, it’s LinkedIn, and some Instagram. So it varies based on the type of business and who the target audience is. Often it’s a blend of multiple channels.
Zak: What are examples of the types of tools that you help customers with?
Ian: An example is using online resources for content creation and managing multiple social channels. I teach a customer how they can spend an hour on a Saturday afternoon to create and schedule a week’s worth of social media posts, and I give them the tips and tricks on how to do it effectively for their business.
Zak: Are there any specific customers that you’d like to highlight?
Ian: Daniels Solutions is an insurance brokerage house located in Oldsmar servicing the state of Florida and beyond. The owner has a great vision, and I was invited to partner with him and others to help him execute that vision. They have now expanded to accommodate almost any insurance need for businesses and individuals. I am watching him grow from a bootstrapped agency to what will under no uncertainty become a national leader in the industry. At its center, this vision is all about an intense focus on customer care.
Zak: How did you discover Formstack?
Ian: I was familiar with the name in other products I was using—you know, forms powered by Formstack. Then I came across it with a client, Academy Insurance Agency, who is using HawkSoft as their insurance agency management software. And then I found out that Formstack Sign is the preferred eSignature software provided by HawkSoft to their customers to manage digital signatures of documents.
Zak: Yes, Formstack and Hawksoft are longtime partners.
Ian: From there, I realized there was a full Formstack platform that also included forms and document generation. With my marketing hat, I started to see all kinds of use cases for capturing data from customers.
Zak: Anything specific that you can share?
Ian: Formstack Documents can create a custom birthday card for every one of your customers if you want it to. That’d be a pretty neat customer relationship management play.
Zak: And how about the digital signature component?
Ian: Yes, back to that use case. That is incredibly valuable for an agent to be able to manage digital signatures out of a system like HawkSoft. You need those signatures—especially considering the “No-Fault” insurance policies of the state of Florida. And in today’s virtual environment, you don’t want to be scanning documents back and forth. Huge time waster.
Zak: One of the most loved features of Formstack Sign is the text-to-sign option. An agent can get a document signed from their customer via text message.
Ian: I like that a lot!
Zak: Let’s wrap up with our lightning round. What are some of your personal interests or hobbies?
Ian: Golf. Piano. History.
Zak: Do you have a favorite productivity tip?
Ian: You have to make your bed as the first thing you do to start the day. No exceptions. No days off. Start with a win. Or you’ll regret it. And that win gives a gift back to you after a hard day and you return to a made bed.
Zak: What’s your favorite TV show, past or present?
Ian: With full humor and sincerity, it is “South Park.” It’s the greatest satire of the modern era, without question. They know how to get to the root of an issue—and even in controversy, it seems to be impervious to criticism. I suspect that is because of how much truth there is in the satire.
Zak: What’s your go-to lunch during the workday?
Ian: Chicken caesar. Wrap or salad. Not picky.
Zak: Last question to wrap up: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Ian: Yes! I can’t justify the answer; it’s just something you feel.
Looking for your next step? Check out Formstack’s partner program for consultants, agencies, and tech partners.