But keep in mind, when we say “use your home inspection to market”, we don’t mean to say “Wait until they see how much I know about the house” or “wait until they see how thorough and professional I am”. People expect those things of you already. When they hire you, they expect you to know a lot about a house, to be through, and to be professional. So that is not going to set you apart.
So what WILL set you apart? How can you effectively use your home inspection as a marketing tool?
Not enough could be said about branding. And branding is not just about having a logo and a catchy name. Branding is about having a brand, and then making it recognized.
First of all, be sure that your logo, website, vehicle, shirts, hats, everything, all match. Color schemes, logos, and more. Don’t hide your logo in a lot of words either. Everyone recognizes NACHI in our industry. No one wonders where you work if you live in Orlando FL and where black mouse ears on your polo. Most people grab their soda of choice without ever reading the words, but they recognize the logo.
You may never be as recognized as those brands mentioned above, but you can do that to a certain degree. For instance, when I started my first home inspection company, I branded right away. So good or bad, when the agents saw my vehicle pull up, they knew who I was. When the listing agent came into the basement to see who I was, they saw my logo on my hat and shirt and knew right away. All of my guys wore those logos.
I once hired a home inspector who did not like to wear the polo and hat with the logo on it, but he did anyways. He stopped complaining once when he ended up doing a septic inspection, and another inspector from another company did the home inspection. When the home inspector pulled up, he wondered who this guy was and thought it may be his client. He was dressed like a construction worker. Even our client didn’t know he was the inspector. Even though one of the agents knew him, it took her a minute to figure out who he was and that he was the home inspector. After he saw that, he called me and asked for more polo shirts and hats and said “branding is everything – I get it now”.
Business Cards and Contacts
Every home inspection is an opportunity. If you are an experienced inspector, you may know every agent on site. But as a new inspector, every home inspection is an opportunity.
We all like to carry business cards with us. But do you utilize them? Do you leave one with each agent? Each client and everyone that came with them? Do you leave one on the kitchen counter with a note for the seller thanking them for allowing you to inspect their home?
In addition to that, take the business card of every agent you meet. When I first started, I took the business card of every agent I met and put it right in my system. Even the cards of agents who showed the house earlier who left their cards on the counter. Every email and contact was like a piece of gold.
Remember in an earlier blog that we mentioned that you need four points of contact before someone remembers you? Well, use the home inspection to do that. If you use Inspector Toolbelt Home Inspection Scheduling Software, be sure to get the contact information for each agent before the inspection (easy to get off of multiple websites). Program Inspector Toolbelt to send reminder emails before the inspection. Then you meet and greet on site, take their card, and send them a thank you email afterward. Then 30 days later, send them another thank you
So when you count them up, it is four points of contact. If you don’t use Inspector Toolbelt, you can always do that manually – it is just more work.
Be Clean and Respectful
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but it is important. Too many home inspectors get complained about by agents for not taking their shoes off, tracking mud in the home, getting insulation everywhere, or otherwise just not being respectful of other people’s homes.
I have won over more agents and clients by just changing my shoes when entering the home. You can also where shoe covers. When coming out of the attic, did you vacuum up your mess? Did you protect their clothes and personal items when entering? Bring a small 1 gal shop vac with you so that you can clean up small messes. If someone says “don’t worry about it”, insist on it politely and clean your mess. Most people won’t say anything, but you just won someone’s respect there.
Then there is personal cleanliness. Everyone expects you to get a little dirty during a home inspection, but they don’t expect you to show up to a home inspection already dirty. Have two or three inspections in the same day? Bring extra clothes with you to change into. Also bring face masks and coveralls for dirty areas – everyone will appreciate that.
Then there is the matter of “respect”. I have seen a lot of my competition use fowl language on site, make inappropriate jokes, or otherwise not present themselves as a professional. Even if your client and the agents seem like they appreciate it or that is how they are talking, take the higher road and stay professional.
The Home Inspection Report
The home inspection report is a critical marketing tool. It is what gets left with everyone. It is how attorneys and others who never met you get to see how awesome you are. But can they tell who you are?
I teach home inspector courses in the State that I live in. For one of those courses I had to rummage through hundreds of home inspection reports (in full or in part). One thing I noticed – I didn’t know who wrote the report most of the time….
Almost every report had a huge picture of the house on the front, the client name, and then somewhere inconspicuous I would find a logo and a name, but I had to search for it. So if you had someone who thinks you are just the best inspector in the world just by reading your report – they would have no idea who you are.
I had an attorney call me one time because he thought my reports were awesome and he started to refer me. I met an agent who referred me because of my reports too. I had an entire real estate attorney office get to know my company because half their transactions had our reports that month.
But why did they so readily recognize me? On the cover page of my report I put our company logo and all our contact information. We had the inspection address as well, but we made our contact information and logo the highlight. That way, even if you glanced at the report on someone’s desk as they walked by, our logo would jump out at you.
We also put all our information at the top of each page of the report. Think of your home inspection report as a large marketing brochure. If you write an awesome report, let everyone know that you wrote it.
And that brings me to the content of the report itself. Your report will likely pass many hands, so make sure it is good. If you don’t include pictures, start today. Grammar errors? Never, ever, have grammar errors. Proper punctuation, a nice layout, and photos are extremely important.
Then there is the matter of turnaround time. Not too much, and not too little. Everyone has their opinion on this, but here is just mine: I hate on-site reports. It makes it look like you didn’t put any effort into it. Even if you can do it, maybe wait until the end of the day to send it out. It makes the client feel better – like you worked harder to do it for him.
Then too long is not great either. People want their information, and they don’t want to wait a week for it. I have always found that the sweet spot was same-day reports, or at least within 24 hours. Keeps the client and agents happy, keeps the transaction moving, and gives you time to write your report properly.
So those are just some ways to use your home inspection and report as marketing material.
So those are just a few ways to help start or boost your home inspection business. I have started and run 3 successful inspection companies, and these are all suggestions that I have personally used.
There is obviously much more to being a successful home inspector, but we will cover that in future blogs :). Happy inspecting!