Product FAQ March 2020

Questions for this FAQ were collected from our Inspectors, and where we had multiple questions on the same topic, we condensed those down. We have left the tough questions in for Mike and Paul. While Mike could not answer specific feature questions during the session, he contacted the Inspector who submitted the question for further information.

The notes below are a brief summary, and we would encourage you to listen to Paul and Mike answer your questions for more detail.

Q: Why do we believe HomeGauge is the best software company? Why do we think we have the best product?

  • The biggest thing we hear from our inspector community is our software’s flexibility. The ability to manage custom comments, create custom templates, and create a product that’s unique to the inspector is something that I think is very attractive to our offer.
  • We have work to do, though.

Q: As we think about development for the next 12-18 months, what are our future plans for development?

  • When I came on board, there were some areas for improvement, which is what we have focused on in the last ten to twelve months.
  • We’ve been trying to get the right infrastructure, putting together the right team to accelerate and a lot of those things are going to come to fruition over the next few months.
  • There was an update to the desktop writer in January. There are 2 more desktop updates in the pipeline for the summer.
  • ScheduleNow product will be released next month — I know that’s been a lot of people asking for that, but I can confirm next month.
  • We are not letting go of Desktop Writer — we will continue to update, and it can be used in conjunction with web-based writing.
  • Updating mobile app for now and launching new early next year.

Q: Will we be shutting down our platform or forcing everyone to migrate to our web or cloud-based platform?

  • No, we will not be shutting down desktop writer — we will be building Web Writer in parallel but supporting both.

Q: Updates for inspectors are not as frequent as we would like, why is this?

  • There was a period where we weren’t making updates as often as we should have and as often as customers expected. That’s part of merging companies together, part of the acquisition process, putting the right team in place, and making sure that all the right processes are in place.
  • I think the bulk of that is behind us — accelerating and moving forward.
  • We’ve already made some updates — 2 Android updates and we have an iOS HG Companion update which will be released very shortly.
  • We’ve already made a desktop update, and there are several more planned for this year, so hopefully, people are starting to see the improvements that are being made, As is true of the last 18 months, sitting on the outside, it looked like we weren’t producing new updates, but a lot has been internally focusing on right people and structure.

Q: People say the powers at HomeGauge have not been responsive to customer requests for fixing long-standing issues or features or helping improve user-friendliness. What would you say to that?

  • I think that’s a constant battle I’m going through, and the team is going through. We do monitor multiple platforms. We regularly talk with support and prioritize issues. There is a feedback channel directly to the product team. We read all the support feedback from social, only so many resources, support a lot of platforms, making choices of biggest issues that will produce the greatest benefits
  • We are focused on quality
  • We have recently addressed over 200 user report bugs and continue to do so
  • Always listening and looking
  • Individual items are a balancing act

Q: How much revenue will HomeGauge extract from inspectors for services over the next one to three years?

  • You know I don’t really view this as an extraction process of our customers. At the end of the day, our goal is to add value to the industry and our inspectors so we’re constantly looking at ways in which we can improve and add value to our offering.
  • I think we believe as an executive team here that will only be in business if we continue to add value to inspectors.
  • If you’re talking about the pricing of our products you know we are pretty affordable, we’ve done our comparisons in the market. We believe we offer a lot of value, and we do it at a reasonable price.

Q: Why don’t you tell us what’s happening with a cloud version? We’ve heard much about version five and version six cloud versus web-based.

Summary: Inspectors can choose between the desktop writer and the web-based writer depending on their needs. We will continue to develop and support both. “Web-based writer” and “cloud” mean the same thing, and we will announce a name in the future. The desktop writer will no longer have version names such as 5 or 6, and instead, everyone will have access to the latest version all the time.

  • Terminology like HG four, five, and six is very much tied to a particular way of selling software, which is installed desktop software. It’s like constantly trying to get you to get the latest version of the iPhone.
  • One of the things I don’t like about that is you tend to save all the best features for the next version, you hold out you’re locked into this cycle where you don’t get it for a couple of years. That’s not a model that we’re going to be going with.
  • We’re going much more towards the software as a service model where you pay for access to the software. That way, you can pay either on a monthly or annual basis. You get access to the very latest version – we’re not going to incentivize in any way to hold back the latest features to extract more money from someone for the next version
  • There will not be a release called version 6. That is not because we aren’t producing it. It is because we will not name it version 6 and instead just continue to release updates for the desktop version.
  • There are guys out there that still call support, and they have version three on a really old version of Windows, and they need support, and that’s not good for them, or for us. It’s very difficult to support
  • We’re going to release a new version of the desktop writer. It’s going to be focused on stability and future-proofing this platform and we’re going to make it easy for people to access that.
  • We will incentivize people to get onto the latest version.
  • We will move away from the terminology of HG 5 and 6, and a user will use either the desktop or the web-based version. Whichever platform you choose, because you will be able to use either, you can be on the latest version and that means you will get the latest bug fixes and the latest features.

Q: Will we continue to support and develop HG 5 in addition to migrating to our new web writer?

  • In a word, yes. Inspectors can choose their version based on how they like to work.
  • The web-based version focuses on simplicity and speed. And that will come at a cost where there will be fewer features initially, but it’s a deliberate decision. But we’re saying someone needs to do a report quickly and accurately. We’re looking at, for example, the way that photographs are taken and annotated in the field, the way that they’re associated with a report, how do we make that easier, how do we make it easier for someone to go system by system and just add all the essential comments, how do they preview it very fast in the field without having to go back to a computer, without having to worry about synchronizing.
  • One of the things that’s going to happen out of the gate is since it’s cloud-based, everything will synchronize automatically. You’ll be able to get a preview right there and then on whatever device you’re using.

Q: Will there be a live search from the main screen? “Search” and “find” should be much easier. Scribeware is awesome, as I’m currently test-driving their system and like it a lot.

  • That’s very specific to the desktop software. We are considering that for a future desktop version already.
  • Took that to heart with the web-based version, so there is a universal search where you can find any report, the date, any element of the report name, and any element of the report address. We can pull that up quickly.
  • We are also looking for ways for you to search for disclaimers and comments very fast within the web writer.
  • We are considering it for the desktop, however, I can’t promise any specific features on the desktop at this time, but we will provide updates as we get more information from engineering.

Q: What are the newest improvements that will help improve inspector productivity?

  • The big one about the web writer that already spoke about is making it faster and easier to take pictures and annotate them. So if you’re on any device, you can say that the workflow we’re looking at is perhaps you want to work at home on your laptop. You do some research, we pull in some basic information about the property, you can populate that at home, then you can go onsite, you can take a quick picture of the property and use it as a cover page.
  • One of the things we’re seeing is photographs are paramount; we need to make that as easy as possible. Secondly, people work across devices, so we’re making that as easy as possible without synchronization.

Q: Will there be a universal template with comments?

  • I’d like to dig in further with this one. We’ve got the details of everyone who’s asked any of these questions so we will reach out for clarification.

Q: When will you add the word “owner” to the cloud scheduler?

  • This has been on the docket for a while. The ScheduleNow will be out next month and we are already looking at how to incorporate this. Currently, there is the ability to log in as a buyer or realtor, and we’re always looking at the ability to customize it, but then we would have to make sure that it works for everyone
  • That’s something that we reviewed very recently, and will provide an update soon.
  • I want to incorporate that it’s just how to make it work and make sense for our Inspectors.

Q: When will the scheduler be launched, and why has this been in the works for several years?

  • The scheduler is going to be out next month.
  • We’ve had it in beta for two months and we got lots of great feedback from inspectors that helped shape what it is right now.
  • For the first iteration, people will get invite emails the first week in April.

Q: Please, can we choose an alternate email for notifications and report emails sent from HomeGauge support? All those emails are not used often but must be accessible for those rare occasions. All they do is clutter our business email inbox, especially because we send four documents for every inspection report, so that’s eight emails for every customer.

  • That’s a really good point. How do you separate the genuine work emails from what could be marketing, it could be a promotion, or it could be a general alert from HomeGauge, so we’re already looking into that.

Q: Has the glitch when merging reports in version five been addressed?

  • We did an update in January. Update to the latest version that’s available, and if this is still causing an issue, contact our support team because we’re working already on the next update, which is coming out in the next couple of months. If it is, this seems like a photo locker issue, which would affect quite a few users, so please confirm if it’s happening in the latest version.

Q: Can you embed the CRL video in the buyer dashboard? They put a link in the report notification email, and it seems logical to have it in the buyer dashboard since the CRL box is so big, and my customers continue to click through CRL before they view their reports, which isn’t ideal.

  • This relates to a larger question about the buyer dashboard. I think this is a great idea however, I do get a lot of questions from inspectors about the placement of CRL and why it’s so prominent. We are looking at reducing it based on the feedback we received, and we are listening to that
  • When we first started designing the new dashboard, we looked at how people use it on both desktop and mobile. So, if you are on a mobile device, “view your inspection” is at the very top of the page, and you may not even get to see the CRL out on the first window. You might have to scroll down a little bit to see the CRL.
  • I do get it; however, when you’re on a desktop, it’s way more prominent, so I think what we’re going to do before we start refining and embedding videos into CRL is to look at how that dashboard is laid out.
  • We will be reaching out to members of the beta program.

Q: When will the Mac version be available?

  • We are not going to have a Mac version of the desktop writer
  • The option for people who want to work across platforms will be our web-based solution.
  • At its initial launch, we can support desktop, then move to tablet, mobile, and then a mobile application, and that should give us coverage across all the desktop environments and all the mobile and tablet configurations.

Q: When will the iPhone Companion work properly?

  • I understand our companion’s iOS version has had some reliability issues, and we’ve been working on that over the last couple of months.
  • We have an update that is in the final stages of testing, which is going to be released at the end of this month or early April. That’s going to address some of the largest reliability problems.

Q: Picture editing screens need to be much larger — what do you think, Mike?

  • That’s one of the things that we’re building into the web-based writer and we’re ensuring that you can still make all the annotations you need and it’s very fast to do that.
  • For desktop we are looking at that for a version later in the year (because there’s a lot more heavy lifting from a development perspective).

Q: What about an ETA for the calendar that allows a date and time to be selected?

  • Reaching out for clarification.
  • If they’re talking about a calendar and having the ability to allow someone to schedule, that’s something that’s coming with ScheduleNow.

Q: Have you ever considered having a small cache of one’s most common text boxes inserted in the pictures like in a sidebar or drop-down, so you don’t have to keep trying the same thing in almost every report?

  • Great idea.
  • A good example of why signing up for our beta programs can be a big help for us, and therefore our customers.

Q: Can we have a way to instantly see our calendar like a small check if the client signed out our pre-inspection agreement or on our dashboards seeing the list sorted by next inspections rather than the default last report opened?

  • Yeah, that’s a good one.
  • Based on this kind of feedback we added some filters on the new web writer to enable you to either sort by date, or the status of a report.
  • I really like the idea of like a simple check or just something really visual and easy to just skim down the list and see the status.

Q: We need a way to update client info for those who perhaps years ago used an HG inspector — it always shows obsolete info.

  • This is a tricky one because different Inspectors want different things.
  • The answer to this is moving much more to a world where customers control their own information.
  • (This is more in line with current privacy expectations. We also advise consulting the product bulletin on this topic too.)

Paul McIntyre

President, HomeGauge

Mike Rogers

Director of Product Development, HomeGauge

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