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 12

How to Install a Toilet

It must be tough.
Have you seen what plumbers are charging these days?

The coolest guy in the home inspection business is Jeff Donaldson. You may not know who I’m talking about, so let me tell you about Jeff. He is the owner of a multi-inspector firm in Charleston, South Carolina, and he’s got a business that is kicking everybody’s butt in his market.

Besides being a home inspector, he’s also an Engineer, and he’s got a program for inspectors that allow them to offer certain Engineering services that you’ll find in the resources section of this book. It’s called “My Engineer On Call.”

All that makes him successful and a good guy to know if you’re a home inspector, but what makes him cool is this:

He’s one of the few people in the world who handled nuclear weapons.

If we had been put in the position of shooting one into Russia, he would have potentially been the guy to push the button from the nuclear-powered submarine he worked on in the Navy, or at least he would have been standing pretty close to the guy who did.

That’s pretty cool.

It’s surprising how humble he is about this experience, like it’s no big deal. He was a mile below the ocean’s surface in a nuclear powered submarine filled with enough firepower to wipe out a good part of the earth’s population if aimed at the right spot, and it’s  no big deal to him. I may have exaggerated on the “mile below the surface” part, and Jeff would probably say the reactor was really a lot more interesting than the weapons, but for all of us non-engineer civilians the whole thing is like a movie.

If I ever do anything half that cool, you will all know it. This might be the reason the U.S. Department of Defense entrusted Jeff with nuclear materials and not me.

Perhaps if this part of Jeff’s biography were in the program for the 2011 ASHI Inspection World in Phoenix, he would have had more than the 50-75 inspectors he did have in the course he taught.

Instead of taking Jeff’s course on marketing lessons he had learned in his business, the majority of inspectors headed down the hall to the larger room where they were teaching a course on proper toilet installation.

I actually don’t know if it was a course on toilet installation. It may have been, but if it wasn’t it may as well have been.

Inspectors in Jeff’s course got quite a treat. He gave them twenty or more things that he does in his business that have given his business the boost that took him from one inspector to four or five in a mid-level market like Charleston. He’s in the top 1⁄2% of inspection companies by volume nationwide and he wasn’t there to sell anything, only to pass on his knowledge to others seeking

I went to watch for a few minutes, and I was pleasantly surprised when he touched on RecallChek, 90-Day Warranties, and even the ISG Call Center. Come to think of it, I still owe him a steak dinner.

He talked about all sorts of other things as well. Things that like RecallChek and 90-Day Warranties work and get him more referrals from real estate agents and past clients every day.

Going to seminars and conferences is important and technical courses are important. Courses that teach marketing and business practices are equally, if not more, important to most inspectors, so take a look at the courses and pick at least two business courses at every conference you go to. It’s a sure-fire way to get out of the conference at least what you put into it in the way of airfare, hotel stays, admission fees, etc.

I’m proud of what ASHI has done over the last several years in the way of business courses. They’ve really stepped it up. Inspection  World Phoenix was one of my favorite conferences of all time.

Let me give you my top ten conferences in no particular order:

1. Inspection World Phoenix

2. Casey O’Malley Vegas

3. Southeastern Conference

4. InterNACHI Florida

5. NAHI Annual Conference

6. Casey O’Malley Atlantic City

7. Pro-ASHI (Pittsburgh)


9. Great Lakes ASHI Chapter


If you go to any of these conferences seeking some advice on growing your business, you’ll find it in the form of courses as well as a vendor hall full of the top vendors in the industry ready to demonstrate what they can do for your business.

If you don’t belong to more than one of the groups listed above, join. Go to at least two conferences every year with different groups. It’s what the most successful inspectors in the business do. I can tell you from being at more than fifty conferences a year that  anyone in Florida would benefit from going to NAHI’s conference even if they attend every FABI meeting. Inspectors in Pittsburgh who go to every Pro-ASHI meeting would gain incredible insight by attending a CREIA conference.

Many of the inspectors I work with belong to ASHI, NAHI, and InterNACHI- and why not? What is the real cost of getting the  information other inspectors in your market are getting from their associations as well as your own?  A small membership fee every year. That’s it.

I get that InterNACHI is the biggest, ASHI is the oldest, NAHI has some incredible benefits, and some of the state organizations are more specific to local needs. I know some of these organizations take issue with some of the others, but I don’t care and you  shouldn’t either. You need to do what’s best for YOUR business. That means getting everything you can from every available  resource, and getting your technical requirements out of the way quickly to make room for the business and marketing aspects of what some of these organizations provide.

After all, there’s only so much to learn about toilet installation.