But while many of my clients seem to have a meteoric rise to greatness, others… not so much. But why is that? I recently had several home inspectors call me asking for marketing advice. They were in areas that I knew well, and I knew the market was hot. So why weren’t they busy? I talked with them at length, and I learned some things about them that I have seen before in other inspectors.
So I compiled a list of some of the top things that hold inspectors back – in other words, why they don’t have as many home inspections as others do. Some of the items are a bit blunt, but I think they need to be. Other items are out of the inspector’s control, but others are well within their control. So let’s take a look at why you might not have any inspections, and then we will look at how you can correct it.
You’re Not Willing to Change
This is a big one. Just as one small example, so many inspectors call me and say “I want you to SEO my website”. When I look at their site, I go over all the things they need to change or tell them they need a new website altogether. Many times they respond “I don’t want to change my site, I just need you to make what I have now work”. Unfortunately, if what you have now doesn’t already work, we can’t make it work either. Also, that attitude toward any part of your business is not good – and those same inspectors usually don’t want to change anything else either – not just their website.
There was an inspector in my area that went out of business years ago in his prime. He would complain all the time that work was disappearing. Feeling bad, we tried to help him. He still did his reports with pen and paper, but he said: “I have always done it that way!” and didn’t want to change. He didn’t have a website – “People already know who I am!” and didn’t want to change. He didn’t have any drones, infrared, voltage testers, online schedulers… nothing. He wanted what worked before to work now – but it doesn’t
So “don’t be that guy”. We don’t drive a horse and buggy and expect to go 60 mph. We don’t sit in quicksand and expect to float. Not being willing to change is a business killer.
What You Can Do
Change. Even if you don’t need to right now, find something you can change today just so you don’t get into a rut like that. Have you used the same software for the past 20 years? Try a new one. Not just for the heck of it, but to keep you on your toes. Hate online scheduling? Try it out for a while. The more you learn to change, the more clients you will get over time.
You Already Know Everything
This one still baffles me. I have had several phone calls where an inspector calls me and says “I have tried everything your company does already – the internet doesn’t get me work, agents don’t send me referrals, and open houses/business cards/email marketing/ anything else doesn’t get me anywhere – so I don’t think your program will work”. My first question is usually “then why did you call?”.
As a real-life example, I had an inspector call me and basically say the sentence above. So I asked him if he has tried Adwords (because I knew that it was effective in his area). He said he did – and it didn’t work. We went through the whole thing – open houses, office presentations, etc. He said that it didn’t work. But he did all of it the wrong way…
That is like walking into a field, pointing your gun in the air, firing, missing, and then saying that hunting doesn’t work… On the other side of that, I have had inspectors tell me how the market SHOULD work (even when it doesn’t), so they build their business around their idea of their market. My favorite one is “I refuse to have any agents around me and to ever take a referral”. And I prefer to have a donut, but never bake or go to a donut shop, but that’s not how life works.
What You Can Do
We can’t force our market to change for us, so we need to adapt to our market. Don’t assume you know how things work already. Talk with reliable sources, really listen to them, and apply what you learn. Whether we are new or experienced, this is important.
You’re Not Responsive
This is probably the most simple one. Most of us would never say that we are not responsive, but the data shows otherwise. I used to do a market survey in my area every Spring. We would have someone contact all the home inspectors we could find in our area. We would send an email and/or call. We would ask for a quick quote on a 2,000 sq ft house. Interestingly, over half of them would never respond. Some would respond a week or two later, well after a client would have hired them.
This happens a lot though. I had a client sign up for a website once and he said that he couldn’t get any work and hoped a new website would help. I emailed him with a quick question – no response. Days passed and no response. I emailed him again – nothing. Turns out his email doesn’t work properly, but he didn’t want to switch email providers. I called him, but he never answered and his voicemail was not set up. I tried everything to get a hold of him for almost a month – but he never got his emails or voicemail, and his phone apparently never rang. It was then that I understood why he didn’t have any work.
Most of us would not say that we are that bad, but we find that it happens quite a bit. I had a home inspector who would not answer my calls because “he didn’t recognize my number”. But if I were a client, he wouldn’t recognize it either. No one likes spam phone calls, but if you let all of your calls go to voicemail, most people just move on to the next inspector before you can call back (f they even leave a message).
What you can do
Always answer your phone. If you can’t or don’t want to, then hire a call center like ACC. Use a phone script like this one: Home Inspector Phone Script – Close More Phone Calls. If you can’t get to the phone each time – ALWAYS respond ASAP. Every email, every text, every call. If you are going to be out of reach for a couple of hours (we all have lives) set up an auto-responder.
You’re Not Very Nice…
I told you this would get personal. Now before you get upset and shut off your phone or turn off your computer, consider this point just a little bit. There is a home inspector in my area who is fantastic – top notch. The problem is that he went out of business. No one would refer him because he had an abrasive personality.
On the flip side, there is an inspector in my area who is just terrible. Been sued more times than I can count. He misses all sorts of things and makes me question how he goes about his work. But he is as busy as could be. In fact, he is one of the busier home inspectors in my area. Why is that? Because people like him, and he is nice.
The example above is extreme, and I do not want anyone to do a terrible inspection. But it makes a point though. A smile, being nice, small talk, all of that goes a long way. Agents will refer you more if you are nice. People will hire you more if you are nice. You will enjoy life more when you are nice.
What You Can Do
We don’t have to overhaul who we are to insert being nice into life. We can make small changes though. Be sure to make a point of at least 5 min of small talk on each inspection. Try to find a way to compliment your clients and even agents. Treat others how you would want to be treated. It is easy to say “they pay me to inspect, but not to make small talk and be nice”. That is true, but the attitude of “we have a job to do” without taking in the human element can lead to people not liking us as much, and not referring us as much.
You’re Not Willing To Work For It
This is where we get really personal. Are you really willing to work for it? I had a client one time who was not getting any inspections and didn’t really have another job. He called and asked for some advice, so I questioned him about what he was doing. Turns out, it wasn’t much.
I asked him how many agent offices he stopped by – none. I asked how many open houses – maybe 1 or 2. I asked about the trade show he was supposed to go to a couple weeks ago – he didn’t go because his family was in town. It made me wonder what he was doing with his time. Nick Gromicko of InterNACHI said one time that if you wake up and put 8 hours a day into your company every day like it was your 9-5 job, then you will find success – and that is incredibly true.
There is always something you can be doing (even if you work another job). I remember my first inspection company. I would take days and drive to every real estate office in town. I would meet and talk with agents, mortgage brokers, attorneys, and anyone who would listen. I would hang my cards everywhere I could, I would go to events, I would market hard online and do anything else I could. I would put in 10-12 hour days and not see an inspection out of it – at first. Eventually, it broke through and now have 3 inspection companies.
What You Can Do
You have to be willing to work for it. Do you work a 9-5 job? Can you wake up early and do online marketing? Can you visit some offices on your lunch break? Want time with your family on the weekends?
Your Bedside Manner Needs Work
What do we mean by this? Let me illustrate with a real-life experience: My wife had health complications one time and we rushed her to the emergency room. We waited for hours with my wife in agony. When the doctor finally arrived he walked in and literally yelled at my wife for not coming in earlier. He told her she could die and rattled off a bunch of technical data that we didn’t understand. my wife (still in agonizing pain) was in tears. I am a pretty calm guy – but that doctor almost got more than he was expecting from me.
A couple of hours later a different doctor came in, smiled at my wife and I, and he pulled up a chair. He asked how my wife was doing and really listened. He went over what was going on and explained what all the technical terms meant. He assured us it was fixable, but that we would have to consult with a specialist. He smiled again and then left. We were so relieved.
So which doctor would you want to see again? Which kind of home inspector are YOU?
What You Can Do
The point of the story above is that it was the same issue, but how it was presented made a difference in the emotions of the one receiving the information. We don’t candy-coat things as home inspectors, but we shouldn’t make people more upset when they are already stressed. Explain things clearly, nicely, and help people understand.
Have good bedside manner by considering your audience and the pressure they are under. The issue will be the same (bad roof, bad septic, bad foundation, etc), but everyone will be more prone to like you and your services if you have a good bedside manner about presenting it.
You May Not Have a Great Market
This happens. I have seen great inspectors do everything right and do a fantastic job – but live in a town of 200 people in the middle of nowhere.
This happened to a client of mine years ago. He had an awesome campaign and worked tirelessly to market. But there were only about 50,000 people or so within a 1-hour radius of him.
Another thing that can happen is a consolidated market. The inspectors who are there have been there forever, and maybe even have large companies. They can be hard to compete with since most people use them already.
Homes may not sell as much in your area either. Perhaps you live in an area that people are moving out of instead of into. Maybe you are in a small pocket of real estate decline. Whatever it happens to be, it can be tough to deal with.
What You Can Do
Get imaginative. Try doing different ancillary services. People moving out more than moving in? Try marketing pre-listing inspections. Not many people in your area? Try doing commercial inspections and traveling farther (this works because commercial inspections usually pay more). Add inspections to your arsenal that people would hire you for when they already own their home and not just when buying a home. For instance mold inspections, radon testing, termite inspections, wind mitigation inspections, maintenance inspections, and anything else you think someone who already owns a home would like. Rise to your market and work with what you have.
We bring out some points in this blog that may make some inspectors upset, but also some points that may help an inspector win more inspections. We are here to help, and we encourage other successful home inspectors to help as well. please leave your comments below and ask questions or offer suggestions as well.