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 5

The Myth of the Bad Inspector

Do not think of a money on a surfboard.  See?  Now you're thinking of a monkey on a surfboard.  You're way better at tricking yourself into seeing things than I am.

In late 2010, and we launched a new feature for RecallChek. Today it’s the most utilized e-mail marketing platform in the real estate industry, and basically, without telling you too much, it’s a feature where the client is automatically enrolled in an on-going e-mail campaign with his real estate agent getting the credit.  The agent’s name goes at the top of the newsletter, the inspector’s name to the bottom, with a “Monthly Maintenance Minute” and it’s all done for you. It’s easy, which is a big part of why it’s been a huge success.

As we do with many features, we launched the concept via Webinar. This allows us to get instant feedback from clients and prospective clients, and the Webinar environment allows us to hear objections from inspectors. It prepares us to talk to other inspectors. It costs around $500 per month just to have this service available, but I’d pay  $5,000. Don’t tell Citrix that please.

I don’t remember every Webinar I’ve ever done, but this one I remember very well.

I was explaining the new feature, how to utilize it in sales presentations, and I gave a specific example of how it had already been used by The Elite Group in Southern California to get more sales presentations, and how it was opening doors that had been locked shut for years.

Out of nowhere, an inspector made a comment via the chat/question box about how he was familiar with The Elite Group, and how they did “really bad inspections.” It was not a particularly unique comment; I get negative ones about inspectors all the time from their competition.

But this comment didn’t come from Southern California.  This statement was made by a home inspector on the East Coast.

Usually I just let the ignorant comments go, but in this particular case I went ahead and brought the comment up publicly.

What this inspector didn’t know is that I have spent time with each of Elite Group’s 35 home inspectors, spent more than a full week in their office, and worked directly with their inspection manager for years on quality control. They were also the first major home inspection company in the country to include RecallChek in their base inspection- only after a thorough discussion and market testing.

In other words, I know a lot about this company and I’m happy I do. They’re the #1 inspection company in the country by volume from a single location. Nobody else serves more than 15,000 clients annually.

I went ahead and gave this inspector on the Webinar a chance to say his piece. I read his comment, didn’t use his name, and then offered to unmute his microphone so he could enlighten us about how “bad” The Elite Group was personally. He didn’t have a microphone on his computer (big surprise).

So I responded to his comment after reading it to the webinar attendees;

“You know guys, this is the kind of bullcrap that really hurts our industry. Here’s an inspector, more than 2,000 miles away from another one, saying that an inspection company doesn’t do a good, thorough inspection when he likely has no idea at all what’s involved in an Elite Group inspection. He’s almost certainly never seen one of their reports, never even possibly heard from one of their clients, it would be the same as me saying that he’s an incompetent idiot and a walking liability, which he could very well be, I don’t know, which is why I don’t say it. I tend to think he’s probably a good inspector, and I only hope he’s as good as The Elite Group. Just to set the record straight, my company issues a 90-Day Warranty on every inspection The Elite Group does, and they have one of the lowest claim rates of any inspection company in North America. They’re insured to a level most inspectors can’t even afford and they haven’t had a claim for as long as I’ve known them. Not only do I see their inspection reports but also I’ve personally been to an inspection with every single one of their more than 35 inspectors, and I would say they do as good a job as anybody out there, if not  better. Oh, and by the way, I send out a RecallChek report to every single one of their clients and I have a folder in my Outlook full of responses from satisfied clients  marked “The Elite Group”. So unless you can show me 50+ e-mails from satisfied clients in your business from just last week alone, I’d suggest we take some important lessons from big, successful home inspection companies- because, let’s be honest, the only reason this guy could have possibly had this opinion of The Elite Group is  because he got it from another inspector who’s in the same market as The Elite Group and he is getting his butt kicked.”

Yes, our Webinars are very entertaining at times, but they are a “No B.S. Zone.”

That night was the first time I truly understood how powerful the myth of the “bad” inspector was.

If you ask most inspectors what a “bad” inspector is, they’ll likely start rattling off things like, “Inspectors who don’t follow the Standards of Practice,” or “Inspectors who do walk-through inspections.”

You won’t hear things like, “Inspectors who put out inspection reports that agents can’t decipher.”

You will hear, “Inspectors that miss things.”

Well, show me an inspector who says he’s never missed anything, and I’ll show you the biggest liar in the room.  We’ve all missed something.

This is why I have a slightly different definition for a “bad” inspector. I think an inspector who doesn’t have a profitable business model is a bad inspector. I think an inspector who doesn’t have the resources to resolve issues when they arise and provide a great life for their family is a “bad” inspector. I think an inspector who refuses to fix a $1,000 issue for a client referred by an agent who refers them $5,000 in business every year is making a bad business decision and is, in fact, a “bad” inspector. I think an inspector who thinks it’s a good idea to offer the minimum service they have to and worries more about liability than growth is a “bad” inspector.

As an industry, we don’t focus on the health of our businesses, but rather on how well one inspects.


Nobody goes into home inspection for the money. They do it because they know about things mechanical and structural, they do it because they love inspecting, and almost nobody walks into the business with zero experience.

As I write this, I have more than 3,400 home inspectors on one of my programs. I see their reports, I hear from their clients, and I’ve worked with their insurance companies. I can’t name you an inspector I know whom I wouldn’t have inspect my own house.

If the way you promote yourself is that you’re a “good, thorough inspector” and you are on a quest to save people from getting a bad inspection...I have an idea for you. This may be the best investment you could ever possibly make;

Get an inspection.

It may sound crazy, but this line of thinking that you are going to succeed because you are a good inspector and “everyone else sucks” is toxic. It will cost you literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over the remainder of your career.

So spend the $200-$500 now, and get a home inspection.  Find a friend or family member, someone you can trust but has a different last name that has preferably purchased a home or several homes. Inspect their house, the same way you inspect every day. Produce a report. Then have your friend hire the other inspector to inspect the house. Have them tell the inspector that they are represented by a real estate agent, that they are currently renting the home and have made an offer to purchase it.

When you’re done, put the inspections side by side, in front of your friend, but with all identifying marks taped over. Just sit there, listen as they go through the reports.

Of course there are exceptions, but I would say more than 99% of the time this experiment will result in both reports having every single major item ($500-$1000+expense to repair) in common.

If every inspector did this, the myth of the “bad” inspector would be dispelled, and maybe we’d stop debating the proper way to install a toilet and start the discussion of how we take inspections to the next level.  I’m not just referring to things like warranties, guarantees, RecallChek, or anything else I offer. I’m referring to things like new ways we could use IR and market it as a service, extended service and support for clients, and systems to keep in touch with past clients.

Maybe we could actually have the discussion as an industry of how we truly work better with real estate agents. How more of us could become a part of the real estate  transaction without losing our integrity, our identity, or our desire to be thorough in everything we do.