The Hungry Home Inspector by P Nathan Thornberry :: Why Some Inspectors are Always Hungry for More While Others Just Go Hungry

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The Hungry Home Inspector

Why Some Inspectors Are Always Hungry For More
While Others Just Go Hungry


Chapter 16

Contributions

If you hated everything you read in this book, we're prepared to redeem ourselves with contributions from leaders in the industry.  If you don't like what they have to say, then it would be fair to say this book is an enormous disappointment for you.  Our apoligies.


If you’ve ever heard the phrase “eating your own dog food,” you know that you can’t trust the advice of someone who doesn’t do what they are telling you that you should do.

Developing strong partnerships and relationships throughout the industry is crucial to our business, and not only do I rely on several people and organizations to help me promote my business, but I endorse theirs as well. We are affiliate members of any organization you’ve ever heard of- ASHI, NAHI, InterNACHI, CREIA, FABI, CAHPI, and everything in between- and I suggest you get as much information as you can from multiple associations but also tap the resources you’ll find in the vendor hall and in this book. Any one of the contributors to this book (mostly vendors) have a great deal to offer you- and that doesn’t mean you have to buy anything necessarily.

Just talk to them.

When I sent out an email to the industry’s leading vendors, I asked if they would put down on paper a few things that might help an inspectors business. The response was amazing.

There were a few people that I couldn’t get into the final version of the book, so let take a page or two to thank everyone that has helped me and thousands of inspectors, and tell you why I like them.

Bob Pearson (Allen Insurance) does more for the home inspection industry than you might realize, and if you have errors and omissions insurance, there’s a good chance it’s with him. If your insurance isn’t with Bob, there’s no doubt that your policy has been  modeled in some way after something he has done.

Carl Fowler (3-D Software) made the inspection reporting software business what it is today, and continues to be the leader in the inspection software business. Carl and his lead programmer, Charles, were the first report software company to incorporate into their programming our RecallChek integration module- which may or may not have affected you, but it speaks to their commitment to the industry and making your jobs easier.

Dan Steward (Pillar to Post) and Lenny Rankin (HouseMaster) are two of the true executives in the home inspection industry. I’ve nothing but good things to say about most franchise systems, but these guys are phenomenal managers delivering value to their franchisees every day. It would be impossible to mention either one of these gentlemen without saying a word about Kathleen Kuhn  (HouseMaster) and everything she did for the entire industry through promotion and media coverage.

Russ Colliau (IMS) showed me how to run a webinar- and after the first one I was hooked! I’ve seen him take an hour or even longer counseling an individual inspector (who wasn’t even a client by the way) on some troubles he was having in his business. He’s probably one of the more exciting people you’ll ever talk to. His business is automation, and you’ll find more about IMS in the resources section at the end of this chapter.

Dominic Maricic (Home Inspector Pro) is a teacher. He may sell you some inspection software or perhaps web hosting, but at his core he is a teacher and you can learn a lot from him- as many inspectors have. If your presence on the web is lacking, it’s “Dom” you should be asking.

Mike Crow (Millionaire Inspector Community) is the industry’s leading business coach and the very basic concept he instills in his  members most is being unique--it has been the basis for many of the elements we’ve built into our products and the one thing that has contributed most to our success.

Alan Carson (Carson Dunlop/Horizon Software) is a true home inspection innovator. John Kwasnik is the go-to guy at his Horizon software company that offers the only combination scheduling and reporting package you should consider.

Dan Huber (ISN) and Chris Schuld help inspectors automate their businesses and their marketing, and I’ve come to have great respect for the way they operate. You can learn a lot about customer service from them, and how to establish excellent communication.

Terry Howell (Radalink) is the expert you need to talk to about Radon testing. His Radalink monitors are more than just Radon  testing equipment- they are part of a Radon system that saves inspectors time and money and deliver the highest level of  professional reports to clients.

Hollis Brown (YadZooks) is inexplicably helpful. To everyone. His online solutions and applications are incredibly cheap (or free) and his network of linked inspection companies is probably the largest in the world.

Paul Zak (America’s Call Center) is the office manager for inspection companies all over the U.S. If you’re looking for your clients to have an exceptional experience when they call your “office,” Paul can deliver that.

Nick Gromicko (founder, InterNACHI) is probably one of the most brilliant marketers in the industry- love him or hate him, you can’t deny that! He’s built the largest organization of inspectors and taken it to international status. He is NOT someone to be ignored.

Jeff Donaldson (My Engineer on Call) is an Engineer and owner of a multi-inspector firm in Charleston, South Carolina. He was one of our first RecallChek users and his My Engineer on Call system is truly revolutionary.

Mike Casey and Kevin O’Malley (Casey O’Malley Associates) have trained a good portion of this industry to become inspectors in the first place--and continue to be the source for education. If you haven’t been to their Las Vegas or Atlantic City shows, you’re missing  out!

Special thanks as well to the leadership of CREIA, for allowing me the honor of being the first vendor ever to speak at leadership day. Thanks to Bill Lewis and the staff at ASHI for all their hard work and the improvements they’ve made to their events over the years and for continuing to carry the torch they lit decades ago with such honor. Thanks to NAHI for putting together a marketing day preceding their annual convention and having the foresight to inject a marketing mindset into their membership.

And a very special thanks to those who have taught me more about this business over the years than I ever could have asked for- you know who you are- Hank R., Bob M., Dennis H., Liz R., Patty & Phil, Brian A., Darryl J., Arvil P., Preston S., Paul & Sharon, Gordon F., Chad H., Tim M., Rob & Michelle, Donna J., Donna & Jamie, Dawn H., Joe M., Randy S., Tony S., Tony C., Frank, Phil L., Michelle & Greg, Wally & Tonya, Al R., John V., Don S., my Friends at GLC, the whole community at MIC, Alan and the rest of the Executives, Steve & Pat and the rest of the WIN family, Roland & Bill at NPI/GPI, Kal Patel, and our friends at HomeTeam.

Needless to say, there are plenty of other significant people in the industry that I should mention...but this book can only be so long!

Without further ado...let’s find out what the experts in the industry with over 200 years combined experience have to say about  achieving success in home inspection.

Contributing Authors

Reality Check by Bob Pearson, p. 138

Franchises Make Sense for Many- Even Veteran Home Inspectors by Dan Steward, p. 140

Are you a Technician or Business Owner? by Carl Fowler, p. 145

Brutality Online by Nick Gromicko, p. 148

I Have Never Gone Hungry by Jeff Donaldson, p. 150

Zero to Hero by Kevin O’Malley, p. 153

Getting Sued by Micheal Casey, p. 156

Winning = Answering the Phone! by Paul Zak, p. 159

One Simple Fix by Mike Crow, p. 162

Streamline Your Company by Dan Huber, p. 166

You Should Have Multiple Websites by Dominic Maricic, p. 171

The Rising Tide by Hollis Brown, p. 174

Reality Check by Bob Pearson Allen Insurance

I have had the privilege to talk to/work with more inspectors than probably any one individual in our industry. Along the way, I’ve offered policies that appeal to seasoned veterans and policies that appeal to new inspectors where they pay “per inspection.” What  did I learn? It was shocking...

Only 5% of new inspectors are still in business at the end of their first year – absolutely great technicians but no marketing skills. They didn’t necessarily have higher claims for the number of inspections they did, they just didn’t have orders.

Getting those first orders and then establishing a referral base is important. I hope you take it to the next level.

I believe I have attended every annual meeting Mike Crow has ever put on and I try to sit in for at least some of Dominic Maricic’s presentations when I can – and I always learn something new that helps in my business. If you do a Google search for “Home Inspector Insurance” I always come up first and I do not pay for it! – thanks Dominic!

Beyond the web though, there’s an absolute need for real and evident sales efforts in your local market. I’ve worked with several large inspection companies and all of them had one thing in common- a marketing rep (at least one).

Regardless of whether you want to be a multi-inspector firm, or just go at it alone (and both are perfectly respectable by the way), if you’re a professional try to look like one.

Wear a uniform.

Answer your phones.

I would say 75-80% of the inspectors I work with regularly allow calls to go to voicemail. Those would be the bottom 75-80% of inspectors I work with (by volume).

Just a few thoughts from the gray-haired guy in the back of the room.

Franchises Make Sense for Many- Even Veteran Home Inspectors

By Dan Steward

Pillar to Post

 

The home inspection industry continues to mature and evolve and there are multiple ways that one can make a nice living in the business. The origins of the industry lay in the tradesman turned advisor. Now the independent, owner-operator inspector makes up most of the industry. However the multi-inspector and the branded franchise business model are rapidly gaining market significance. 

The franchise model has existed for about 25 years and gained rapid growth in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.  Companies such as Pillar To Post, Amerispec, HouseMaster and WIN have lead the way in advancing the branded franchise model. In some ways the franchise model can be characterized as being in business “for yourself” but not “by yourself”.

The history of the real estate business over the last two or three decades may provide some indication of the future for the home inspections business. While there continues to be many good and successful private real estate brokerage firms, a great portion of all real estate transactions are now done through the branded franchise real estate brokerage such as RE/MAX, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker and so on. The consumer’s desire and need for confidence, the increasing complexity of the industry, increased need for technology and ongoing education, the need for support for the front line practitioner, the need for powerful and effective marketing have all contributed to changing the face of the real estate brokerage business away from independents and toward strong franchise brands in recent years.

These same consumer preferences and demands will strongly influence the shift in the home inspection industry to a greater role and market share for the strong franchise brands and for those independents that do an excellent job of presenting their brand as  something bigger than a single inspector operation.

Standards established and exercised by professional franchise brands have been proven sources of trust for consumers and business opportunity for franchisees- and they pave the way for independents as well.

For business owners, the franchise model has brought significant benefits. Given the failure rate of new independent businesses or the inability of those businesses to build adequate income and wealth for their owner, the franchise model brings higher certainty for the unit owner.

The home inspection industry is evolving rapidly, long past the tradesman turned advisor days. Our foundation stills lies solidly in understanding building science. Increasingly however, other factors are becoming significant demands on an inspector as requirements for success.

• Consumers – at the heart of the home inspection business is the home buyer (generally) who is looking for information, education and peace of mind. As the cost of housing increases, the homes gets older, major systems become more complex and consumers become better educated and more demanding, the “clip board and flashlight” home inspector is no longer a viable service.

• Real estate agents and brokers – while the history of the relationship between home inspectors and real estate agents may have been a mixed one, today’s home inspection is an ingrained part of the vast majority of resale transactions. Professional REALTORS want to deliver a great experience for their clients and a great home  inspection experience is part of that. They too want predictability, reliability, quality and ready availability from their home inspectors. The old marketing expression that “loyalty is just the absence of a better offer” could apply to the real estate agent relationship. They rightly expect quality, integrity, current knowledge and technology to help them succeed in their role.

• Marketing – otherwise known as the acquisition, retention and management of customers is increasingly complex and challenging. The independent home inspector is faced with extraordinary demands ranging from using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs to communicate outwardly, to keeping a fresh and active website, to deciding on office sponsorships, media advertising and so on.  There are countless ways to spend (or blow away) marketing dollars and time. Acquiring and caring for new customers, be they real estate agents or consumers, is an essential everyday matter for an inspection business to succeed.

• Technology – how many inspectors have been intrigued by cool new bright shiny toys, such as infrared cameras to name one  example? Technology is a two sided matter. The first being how do you keep current with what’s available, learn it and build it into your business?  This could be infrared, or computerized reporting or indoor air quality assessments and so on. You only have to attend one industry conference to see the overwhelming offerings of new business and service technologies. The other side of the technology matter is how you generate a return on the investment in that technology. The often recited comment from the IR manufacturers that IR is just the new standard and you have to have one is craziness. Home inspection is a business, a business to serve our customers and generate PROFIT!

• Wealth – If you are in business to build wealth, can you sell your business when you are ready? Independent, personal services businesses have little resale value given the dependence on the owner and lack of brand identity and operating systems. The resale value of branded franchises has been well proven- if you’re on the independent side you need to dedicate significant resources to branding and systems if you plan on selling your business as an asset. Then there is the process of actually finding a suitable buyer- good franchisors help with the transfer process including helping to find a buyer, ultimately helping the operator realize the wealth  from the business they have built. Business brokers can serve that purpose for independents but beware...it’s a minefield.

Building a brand can be a lot of fun, but more and more even veteran inspectors are finding the franchise model appealing. It’s a complex world, find advisors you can trust and keep in mind that several of them come in the form of the largest franchisors in the  home inspection business.

 

Are you a Technician or Business Owner?

Carl Fowler

3-D


I’ve been an observer of the home inspection industry for many years, the first 20 as an active home inspector and the last 25 years as president of an inspection reporting Software Company. This put me in a unique position to be able to understand the inner  workings of the home inspection business and to know and observe the cycle that many owners of home inspection businesses go through, from their beginnings in the business to their exit into retirement. I personally know some who sold their home inspection businesses for millions, and I have known many more that simply disconnected their phone.

The difference between the ones who sold for big bucks and the ones who simply stopped working comes down to one thing... Were they an expert inspector or a company?

The typical home inspection firm starts as a one person operation. This “single man operator” answers the phone, sells the job, schedules the jobs, does the inspections, writes the report, and handles all related follow up, including marketing.

As one successful inspection follows another, the inspector gets a bloated ego and becomes so busy being an expert that he forgets to build his business. The fact that he can net $50K-$70K per year keeps him on track for doing it the same way his entire life. Eventually he wears out and retires.

That’s not the way it is in many other businesses. If you call a plumber or electrician or any other number of trades, the person who answers the phone is not usually the person who fixes your problem at any decent sized organization.  They offer to send an  employee to do the job. In the end the owner sells out to his employees or another firm. 

The guy who wants to grow a business ultimately hires others to do inspections. His job description is no longer to be the best inspector he can, but to be the best manager of inspectors. Next he organizes the work processes and work flow, institutes an in-house training program and hires an office manager to relieve him even more. Finally he sets about doing what he should be doing, and that is marketing. That means joining the Chamber of Commerce, the local REALTOR boards and the like, speaking to them at every opportunity and even attending some of their social functions. He finds that’s not such a bad job, being the ambassador for the business.

Yesterday’s successful inspection business owners spent equal amounts of time being an ambassador, managing customers, and dealing with inspectors and their schedules.  Gross income rose to the million mark and even higher in many cases; the opportunity to sell became possible.

Just like the internet made it possible for anyone to be in business, the release of cloud based reporting software in 2011 made it possible for anyone to grow an inspection organization easily.

The owner of the business now provides the functions of marketing, order capture and report review. The business owner hires someone to answer the phone, book new jobs and assigns them to inspectors based on their location. Remote inspectors receive their jobs via Android or Windows powered handheld devices of their choice, tablets, or phones. Employee inspectors can make their own schedules and then gather inspection data along with photographs in their handheld devices, and immediately upload them to  the main office. The business owner then converts the report, reviews it and sends it out to the client. The employee inspector gets  paid only for gathering the information, not writing the report, cutting down the time he would have invested in the job.

The business owner has several advantages. He controls the money. He controls the client. He controls the inspection wording and process via forms sent to inspectors. He controls inspectors and their reports more efficiently, as driving time is eliminated. He can devote more time to training and marketing, which builds his business further.

As I have seen so many times, single operator inspectors get so busy working in their business that they don’t have time or energy to work on the business. Software available today can help you change the outcome of your business, if you are open to changing your ways.


Brutality Online

Nick Gromicko

InterNACHI


The home inspection business is different than almost any other business in that you (the home inspector) never meet your client until AFTER you're hired. When you get out of your truck at the inspection site and introduce yourself to your client, they have already hired you. There is almost no salesmanship involved in the home inspection business.  Success relies almost solely on marketing.

Where then should an inspector market? Well, a home inspector’s clients are nearly always home buyers. And many of these home buyers are conveniently all in one place... online. They are online touring new homes, researching schools, emailing their real estate agents, shopping for mortgages, and looking for home inspectors.  And since you won't have an opportunity to sell your inspection services in person, it's important that your website be capable of doing your selling for you. To a potential client, your website is a  sample of what you and your report are going to be like. It makes little sense to drive traffic to a website that doesn’t represent you  well.  The door to your website is your homepage. It's the most important page of your website. Most of your visitors will never even click through to your other pages if your homepage doesn’t make them want more. As a home inspector, you might work on some of the most expensive real estate in the world, but no home is as valuable, per square foot, as your own inspection website’s  homepage.  The right homepage can generate you many thousands of dollars in inspection business, if it's designed properly. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Make sure your site doesn’t un-sell your inspection services.

For more on this topic, visit;

http://www.nachi.org/brutal.htm#ixzz215ulY784



I Have Never Gone Hungry

Jeff Donaldson

My Engineer on Call


There was a time I embraced many of the misconceptions that permeate our industry, and they held me back. It took a long time to shake the negativity out of my mind, but even now I still have occasional lapses that make me paranoid and overly defensive. I am  thankful that I found the resources to help me overcome my limitations, stay focused on being successful, and assemble a true  home inspection business.

I am a licensed professional engineer, which is somewhat of a rarity in the home inspection industry. You don’t have to be an engineer to do a home inspection, but it certainly has its advantages when it comes to gaining credibility.

Although I have never used a pocket protector, I used to be much more like the stereotypical engineer – introverted, analytical, and a bit of a geek. I had to overcome these tendencies to be a successful home inspector, especially the introverted part. I’m still not a party animal, but I have learned what I need to do operate and promote my business. This took a lot of focused effort, but let me encourage you – you can overcome your limitations once you recognize them and want to change.

Long ago, I realized the value of offering myself as a resource whenever anyone has a question or problem involving inspections, construction or problems with a house. Over the years I have helped many agents, mortgage brokers and closing attorneys resolve challenges. In many cases the solution did not involve a billable sale or use of the services we offer. People remember, however, that I was willing and available to help and that has paid tremendous dividends over the years.

As my home inspection business has grown, I added inspectors who were not engineers, and the engineer’s advantage I enjoyed began to turn into a liability. Everyone wanted “the engineer”, but there were only so many hours in the day. Customers would go elsewhere when I was not available. I needed to find a solution, and fast.

So we started emphasizing that even though all of our inspectors were not engineers, they were all trained by an engineer- exhaustively, extensively, and continuously. Customers liked the explanation and we continued to grow, but we still lost a disturbing number of jobs. So, in addition to the emphasis on training, I offered a free engineering consultation – if the inspector identified a condition that needed an engineer’s attention, I would personally review the matter with the customer to help them understand its significance and some basic repair strategies. Why not, I reasoned – I would do it anyway when they asked. Bingo – we were back in business!

All it took was offering clients something beyond what the competition was able or willing to offer. We added RecallChek, and we grew some more. Then we added the 90-Day Warranty.

Every time we add something to our services, clients choose us more often. There are dozens of things you can add into your service offering that will make you look more like a Hyatt Regency than a Super 8- and each one of them will impress not only your clients but also make those who referred them look good.

One of those things you might consider is engineering services- and yes, there is a way for you to offer them. From manufactured trusses and joists to laminated beams, with just a small amount of training you can gather data for an Engineer who can deliver the  results your clients are looking for at a lower cost in most cases than having an Engineer do a site visit.


Zero to Hero

By Kevin O’Malley

Casey O’Mally Associates


Feel like you had it and now it is gone? The game has changed, times are tough, life is hard, the economy sucks, real estate sales are down, etc., etc. Forget the past and prepare for your future.

I was asked to speak at an inspector association chapter meeting and they wanted me to talk about marketing. Well they were in luck because I love to talk business.

Many of the inspectors there had been my students in the past twenty-five years (Mike Casey and I have trained round 15,000 inspectors throughout the U.S.) and were now grumbling about the downturn in business. Most of the inspectors attending the talk would be considered veterans with ten or more years inspecting. A few were newbies. The vast majority had no significant plans in place to create new business.

The most interesting thing happened in the first fifteen minutes of the talk. I asked everyone in the audience to tell me one thing they did that past week that got them an inspection job that past week. Only one inspector in a group of about fifty inspectors could  really pinpoint something they did that caused the phone to ring for work.  The others were saying things like they did a thorough inspection, word of mouth and other non-tangible events.  It was amazing to think that these very good inspectors had been overlooking what to do about marketing their services. I then asked what they thought made them different or unique from the rest  of their competition. This again was a big surprise with responses similar to the first question. They thought because they were thorough that made them special.

I have been preaching for years that the most important thing in your home inspection business is to have a unique selling  proposition. Simply put, be different. This is important now more than ever. Sitting back and thinking that business as usual will produce the desired results is ludicrous. It will not. You must create a very appealing, unique product offering. Offer incredible benefits to your customers. Give more than expected. Make people wonder why other inspectors are not doing as much as you are.

Once you have a product you can sell, work on your marketing plan. When you are not inspecting you must be marketing.

I met P. Nathan Thornberry a number of years ago when I returned to the inspection training profession after a brief hiatus. He has created a number of products which will help inspectors create their unique selling propositions and stand out in the crowded inspector marketplace. Dominic Maricic is another individual to get to know. He has incredible knowledge that will help inspectors with today’s online marketing needs and social networking skills. Just don’t forget that you are in a trust and relationship business- and that  means delivering on your promises and  being in front of referral sources (real estate agents) constantly.

You must get people to know you before they will trust you, so stop sitting in your office wondering why business is not coming in. Get out there.

Always remember: People do business with people they like!

I am available to any inspector anytime to talk business. It is my passion.

 

Getting Sued

By Micheal Casey

Casey O’Malley Associates

 

Why do good inspectors get sued? Here at COA (Casey O’Malley Associates), we have been retained as a consultant and/or an expert in over 600 inspector related claims. We talk to a lot of inspectors who are personally disturbed by the inference that he or  she did not perform per industry standard (negligence or even gross negligence), committed fraud or even worked in collusion with  the agent and seller to conceal defects (yes, we’ve seen this allegation several times).

While it sucks to get sued; that’s why there are ways to protect yourself.

Getting up every day is a risk. You risk falling in the shower or choking on your breakfast, you risk a lawsuit when you drive your  vehicle and you risk a claim or suit when you do an inspection. I got sued when I was a plumbing contractor back in the 70’s by a client who alleged I killed her greenhouse flowers- the judge agreed with me that it was probably the Connecticut weather. Clearly not my fault – but she believed it was or at least wanted to believe it was my fault.

The typical lawsuit which includes the home inspector also names the seller, the listing and selling agents, and pretty much anyone who stepped on the property during escrow or prior. Any attorney worth his or her hourly fee would be negligent not to try and get restitution from anyone possible – in particular anyone with insurance. So get used to the risk. There is risk in any profession and Home Inspection is one of the lower claims ratio professions there is. Try being a roofing contractor, attorney, or even better, a physician! These practitioners pay way more than we do for insurance than home inspectors. Yes you can be the best inspector out there, but sooner or later the numbers will result in a claim, no matter how farfetched it seems. Many claims we see are regarding items that were clearly reported. However, there is a cost to defend and attorneys know this.

Most inspectors who are sued never hear anything from the clients indicating their dissatisfaction until the summons arrives at their door. Don’t take it personal; you are a target because the clients are unhappy and you might have some level of donation to be released. Don’t call the attorney or client and ask why. Do contact your insurance representative and report the claim; they will handle it. If you don’t have insurance - call an attorney to respond to the claim. In most states if you are incorporated an attorney must handle the claim if it’s for more than $1000-$1500. But I don’t want to get too far into details here.  The key is getting used to some risk in any profession, in particular if you are the company principal. The other key is knowing it’s not usually the cost of the repair that is big ticket- it’s the cost to defend. This is why insurance is so important- you contain your risk by knowing the maximum out of pocket for a major claim is your deductible (unless you subscribe to the Inspector Services Group’s 90-Day Warranty program and/or COA’s Support Network wherein your deductible is likely nothing). I don’t mean the occasional small claim for a minor “missed” item. In these cases you might just report it as an incident to your insurance company and negotiate a settlement yourself.  Best is to just refund the fee and always obtain an unconditional release (not something written on the check) to dispose of the claim and the client forever.

Despite simple ways to deal with risk, many in our industry live in fear of liability and often forget that the ultimate risk is not offering service and not getting paid at all.

 

Winning = Answering the Phone!

By Paul Zak

America’s Call Center

 

You want to know the difference between an inspector and an inspection company?

It’s the impression your prospective client gets when they dial your number.

Do you answer the phone and risk annoying your client and their agent at an inspection? If you don’t, the caller will move on to the next inspector on their list. If you do answer it, your client and agent may repay your rudeness with a glare and fewer or no referrals.

The caller may leave a voicemail message or may not, but in all cases they will likely move on and call the next inspector on their list. Inspectors can dance around this question all they want- there’s no right answer. It doesn’t matter if you quietly sneak out to your truck, or if everyone is in another room, it is not professional and everyone notices.

Even one missed call or one hurried call that does not impress the caller is a potential lost inspection. What is the cost of losing that job...$300, $400, $600, more? Potentially thousands when you consider future referrals?

The math is painful. Miss a call, miss an inspection job worth a lot of money, plus miss the ongoing referrals from that job. Research shows that if callers get voicemail, fifty percent of the time they will not leave a voicemail message.

If you’re interested in going multi-inspector at some point you might try taking all the calls. Wise business people know they can’t do everything. They know they need to find others to help.

Most of your local competition are answering their own phones and sounding like it. The way to differentiate yourself is to stand out as being more professional, more established, and of a higher caliber by having your phone professionally cared for- whether that means a full-time staff in your own office or an outsourced call center is really a matter of budget.

How much sense does it make for you, an inspector that bills your time for anywhere from $100 to $300 or even more per hour to do an administrative job worth $10 to $20 per hour?

If you’re planning on being successful, you have to figure out what your “A” time is- which for you might be inspecting, it might be marketing, or it might even be training a new inspector. If your “A” time is answering the phone, you have a very basic structural problem in your business.

This is what successful inspectors do...they are there when their clients and agents need them, and they win because of it! They win with more inspections, more revenue per inspection, an enhanced professional image, and they get their life back.

You won’t find an inspector in the top 5% of revenue producing home inspection companies answering their own phones- and that’s not a coincidence.


One Simple Fix

By Mike Crow

Millionaire Inspector Community


When I see an inspector go hungry it bothers me – because it is easily fixed and there are just a couple of things they need to do to fix it... they need to market – properly. They need to promote- with the right message.

You need to make sure people don’t choose you on price alone. I bet you deal with low price inspectors – in our market (Dallas/Fort Worth) there are people that will do inspections for $125, any size home (up to 4000 square feet), includes pier and beam  foundations, swimming pool, sprinkler, and even the termite inspection. You don’t want to market on price or you lose – so how do we fix this?

So, the first thing everyone thinks about is to market – but if you do it wrong (or market the wrong thing) – it won’t work. Believe me, many think they already market or know how to market, but they really don’t do it right.

We can look at something for a lifetime and take it for granted. I’ve done so on many occasions, and we’re all guilty of it on some level in our businesses.

Here is a great example of this - I met a man while I was on the road. He was struggling to get inspection business, and he signed up for one of my programs. He never implemented anything, didn’t join us for any of the calls, and probably never even opened our new member package when we sent it to him. Very shortly after signing up, he cancelled his membership in my coaching program. He wasn’t the first, won’t be the last, but then the unexpected happened...He joined again. (A friend of his in the business had joined at the same time he had originally and was doing quite well with our programs I later found out)

This time he came up to me personally at an event and asked if I would review his brochure and business card. He was much more open to new ideas and ready to take his message and market it heavily. I told him I would try at lunch and asked how his business was doing – he said lousy– and I made a commitment to get with him that day.

When we met, I reviewed his brochure and business card as he had asked and I found a fatal flaw. They looked great. The color was wonderful. He even had testimonials and had utilized both sides of his business card. He had followed almost everything I suggested in my sessions. Almost.

I realized he had NO USPs (Unique Selling Points). Everything he said was generic in nature – even the testimonials. When I pointed this out he asked me – “USPs? Give me an example...”

Without these you can’t hope to win against the price shoppers. He had the general concept of what a USP was, it’s a differentiator. He just needed some ideas for USPs that he could use.

Now I want to share with you some of the Top USPs being utilized in the industry today and what I shared with him...

- 90 Day warranties

- Discount coupons (i.e. Lowes and Home Depot)

- Reports delivered on-site

- One-stop shopping (i.e. termite, sprinkler, pool, Radon, mold)

- Uniformed inspectors

- E & O Insurance with referral protection

- Free maintenance booklet with each inspection

- RecallChek

- Free alarm inspection

- Online scheduling

- WiFi hotspot at every inspection

This was a basic list, there’s dozens more where these came from, but this inspector picked up on four or five he could implement quickly and easily and add to all of his marketing materials and it worked.

The following year, his business was up over 40%. The year after that, it was up yet again an additional 30%. No other change in his business other than adding a few USPs and routinely marketing them.

You should have at least 3 USPs (Unique Selling Points) that set you apart from most of your competition and you must have at least one USP that makes you different than most all of your competition – for the record that is four USPs – and there are more than four on the list above that cost little to nothing at all.

The more successful members of the Millionaire Inspector Community have 10+ USPs.

Of course, what’s the point in being different if nobody knows? Get the word out! Tell people what makes you different when they call, brag about why you are the better home inspection company in your brochures and on your website, and just watch what happens when you go to a sales meeting or meet with an agent and say something more than the typical, “I do a really good inspection,” it will change your business forever and the way customers and clients view your business forever.

Figure out what makes you unique, and if there isn’t anything fix it!

Just remember– you still have to do a good solid inspection. If you aren’t delivering a top notch service you will get the business once – if you are lucky twice from an agent – after that, inferior service gets what it deserves.

Be Successful and Be Around Those That Are Successful.

 

Streamline Your Company

By Dan Huber


Over the last 20 years the industry has evolved. Basic hand written reports, lack of inspector licensing and the limited existence of support services are no longer problems. Now the professional property inspector has access to software solutions, licensing programs and numerous support services. There is a wealth of information and resources out there to help you manage your company whether you are a single inspector, part of a multi-inspector firm or part of a national franchise system.

The question is: are you spending enough time educating yourself about what is truly available right now with today’s technology?

Automation comes in an assortment of forms. It does not mean less service to your clients and agents. It simply means making more money in less time. It means being able to add another inspector to your team so you both benefit from your business model and systems.

I am a former owner of an independent inspection company with nine full-time inspectors. With automation and a complete business model utilizing the new technologies the sky is the limit. You can capture more time with your family and maintain the same amount of inspections you already perform or choose to increase volume.

Let us break down the different aspects of the inspection business and explore the idea of fine tuning your business so you can seize your share of business.

1. Receive inspection orders as efficiently as possible:

Agents and clients should be able to order an inspection 24 hours a day on your website. Make sure your online calendar integrates with your office calendar and your mobile calendar. When someone places an order online make sure you are automatically receiving an email on your office computer or phone when an online order is placed.  Next, make sure an email is automatically sent to the agent and/or client to confirm the online order. In addition, when your administrator or your call center takes an inspection order the agent and real estate office information should be available to you immediately. Look for a process which allows you to enter the information once and use it over and over again. Receiving orders should be a painless process for everyone involved.

2. Electronic Field reports:

There are amazing electronic field reports that will save you time and improve your report presentation. If you are not up to speed on what the new reports can do for you, you owe it to yourself to see what is possible and what suits your market and style. That does not mean three minutes on a website. Ask the company for a webinar to show you what they can really do for you. The new reports of today can look and feel completely different with a few clicks.  Check boxes, narratives or a blend are possible from the same report system. If you are using a paper report you are losing market share to your competitors. If you are using an old electronic report without great technical support now is the time to upgrade. If you have not reviewed the top 4 or 5 software companies in the last 12 months you may not know what you are missing. All the information taken on your order form should auto populate into your electronic report. Do not spend your valuable time with unnecessary typing.

3. Send out agreements, invoices and reports automatically.

You really should automate the delivery of your agreements, invoices and reports. Make sure you can send them out with a few short  "clicks" with no need for additional typing. You want to deliver a great presentation every time in the same manner: ready to print or be emailed in an instant.

4. Your schedule should be prepared for you including maps and drive time:

Make sure your daily schedule overview is delivered to you in an automated fashion. The perfect example: receive an email with your inspections for the next day including all the details you need and a driving map. You do not need an assistant, family member, or worse, yourself to do these tasks when you can automate it!

5. Automate confirmation and 24 hour reminder emails:

Your automated system should send out confirmation emails and SMS/texts to the agents and client. How about 24 hours before the inspection send another email and or SMS/text to remind them of the inspection and remind them about the utilities being turned  on? Email and SMS/text automation should be customizable and limited only by your imagination.

6. Are you a tracker?:

No, I do not mean deer or moose.

With today's automation you must have information gathered for you that will assist you in decisions about running your company. How many inspections has Bill Agent done with you this year? How about his RE/MAXTM Company? How many inspections have you  done in a particular zip code or town? How many Radon (or other environmental) inspections did you do versus regular residential inspections? What is your average inspection fee amount? Did you know today is Jill Agent's birthday? If you are properly automated all these statistics will be at your fingertips. With this kind of powerful data you can shape your company to be all it can be.

Can you go to one screen on your computer and see a complete timeline of any inspection? It is powerful on many fronts to quickly view when the order was taken. When the agreement was sent and signed. This not only reduces your potential liability but will help you effectively answer any questions from agents and clients in a positive and professional manner. You should not have to do any of this manually. Not only is this great information to have available for running your day–to-day operation but could help reduce your liability in litigation.

7. Are you using a system that protects your data?:

Storing reports and business documents in your office or garage is a problem waiting to happen. Online storage allows you to access your information from any internet connection in the world. No more digging through boxes for an old report or worrying about a fire, flood or where to build more shelves. Protect yourself by placing your information in a safe environment. A terrible scenario to recognize: if your office burned to the ground could you go to work tomorrow? Where is your calendar? How about your hard drive backup? Did you really back-up your laptop last month? All of these terrible scenarios are avoided with high-quality automated and protected systems.

8. Are you using technology to offer other services to your clients to be more of service and make more money?

Offering extra services such as discounts on alarm systems, RecallChek, “We have moved labels” and postcards and more are important parts of today’s inspection marketing platforms.

Whether you are just getting started in the business or have been inspecting for years, I hope you make the best of the tools available today. Automation will save you time and create better relationships which will equate to more money in your pocket.

Spending some time to truly see what is possible is the key.

 


You Should Have Multiple Websites

By Dominic Maricic

 

When I first started giving talks on website optimization, marketing and social networking in 2008 less than 20% the room had a website. Today, over 90% have a website. So my first goal of making sure every inspector has a website is almost complete. Now it’s time to spread the word of the next goal for home inspectors...having more than one website!

If you’ve heard my talk before you’ve heard me mention many times that your site needs to be targeted to at most 5 specific keyword search phrases, revolving around 'city name home inspector.' Many of you have expressed the great difficulty in choosing JUST 5 names. But if you ask any of the people who have listened to me and limited the focus of their site, you will hear them tell you that they rank towards the top of the search engine in those cities.  Inspectors that have listened and implemented what I talk about, many of whom also host their sites with us have the top sites in almost every major city in the country. I’ve worked with  thousands of inspectors on their websites.  Those that work the hardest have gone from 0 inspections a month from their website to 30 or more inspections a month directly through their site (the top inspector I’ve seen was able to document over 60 inspections a month through his site found through search engines).

So, why get more than one website? To get to the top of the search engines you have to convince the search engine that your site is the most relevant site for that city. The best way to do this is to focus on one area or service throughout each site. If your site is only about being a home inspector in Chicago then the search engines will clearly know what your site is about and raise its rank on the search engines.

Can you target more than one city on each site? The answer is, “It depends.” If you’re in a more rural area, the answer is yes. If you are in a densely populated area and there are tons of inspectors in the area then you need to concentrate that site on one specific city to get to the top of the search engines faster.

The other important thing to remember is that you can't use the exact same content on all the websites or Google (the main search engine) is going to look at your site and determine that you're a copycat and lower your site rank.  Your content can be similar, just  don't copy and paste it all.  Use those high school skills of rewriting things you found in a book to avoid plagiarism (your English teacher told you they would pay off!).

Multiple sites doesn’t stop with focusing on different inspection sites for different cities. It also extends to different ancillary services that you offer. If you offer services like mold, radon, and pest inspections and you want to be #1 on Google when someone searches for a mold inspector in your site, create a separate site focused on mold inspections.

All this may seem like a lot of work for those of you getting started on your first site but you’ll find that the task actually gets a lot easier after you finish a site. More importantly, once your business starts to take off due to your website, you’ll be driven to work on  more sites to increase your business even more!

Buying multiple domains at once? Save some money by going to www.economicaldomains.com.

 

The Rising Tide

By Hollis Brown

YadZooks

 

Home Inspectors gain from their competitors’ successes to some extent, whether they realize it or not. 

Most inspectors don’t market themselves in a way that harms competing inspectors in the first place, which may seem counterintuitive to marketing experts in  other industries. Home inspection isn’t a zero sum game- it’s an expanding marketplace.

Consider the state of the profession in the early 1980’s when few homes sold were inspected. Inspectors across the country found very real benefit in banding together into organizations that built credibility of the home inspection process and the inspectors who provided the service. This important gust of credibility put wind in the sails of many of the skiffs that home inspection professionals were launching across the country. As word got out that a home inspection could help a home buyer avoid unpleasant surprises after settlement, demand for home inspections grew- and as much as some in our industry might not believe it, this came mostly from real estate agents wanting to protect their clients. Credibility was key. Strict adherence to standards of practice and codes of ethics  kept the reputation of home inspectors positive. We home inspectors owe considerable debt to the pioneers who fostered good will with the entire real estate community.

Today, the real estate community is the reason that most all owner occupied resale homes get home inspections. The inspection is mentioned in the purchase contract, and most agents have a referral list that might have three inspectors on it- it might only have one and I hope that is you.

At this point, where there is so much business out there and real estate transaction inspections are so commonplace, we need to be reminded that there are two ways that business is generated—conversion and creation.

Some competitors strive to convert. They enter the market place with their eye on the business that the competition is doing and devise a marketing strategy designed to reconfigure the stream of business from other businesses to their own. They adjust their prices. They put on sales and promote featured products. Let's call them Converters.

The home inspection profession was launched on the premise that, “All older homes should be inspected.” The inspection focused on age within the context of life expectancy, damage and deterioration. Converters worked diligently to capture market share.

Other competitors, however, suggested that new homes should be inspected too. Let's call them innovators.

Innovators went after the 11-month inspections for new construction homes before the walk through with their builder.

Innovators created the multi-stage new construction inspection.

Innovators added services like pool inspections and sprinkler systems.

Where will the next innovation be?

I encourage you to participate in that discussion and it’s happening right now in online groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s happening on forums like Brian Hannigan’s and it’s happening on the InterNACHI forum as well.

The power of all this is yet to be realized and I’m excited about the future.