It’s one of the most common complaints that I hear from real estate agents about home inspectors is “they always scare the hell out of my clients.” As an industry, we all get a bad reputation for the actions of just a few bad apples. Maybe if we’d all just stop and think for a moment before we opened our mouths, we’d all be better off.
I’m sure that most of us can remember growing up, being told to “think before you speak!” It’s an unfortunate human trait: talking before we’ve given enough thought to the words that are about to come out. I’m just as guilty as the next person for having opened my mouth before thinking about what I’m about to say. Hell, with all of the dumb things that I’ve said over the years, I’m amazed that my wife hasn’t left me 20 times over.
But, regardless of the effects that our words can have on our personal relationships, saying the wrong thing can certainly have a negative effect on our business. It doesn’t matter how great your business is or how good a job you do for your clients; say the wrong thing at the wrong time and all your hard work can disappear in an instant.
Words have power.
If you think back to the last argument you had with your significant other, you can probably pick out a point in the conversation where things took a turn for the worse. One of you probably said something that pushed the other person “over the edge.” (And if you’re anything like me, it was probably you that said something wrong!)
Now think about the specific language you used that caused everything to go south. If you had phrased it differently, used some different words to say what you intended in a better way, you probably could’ve changed the outcome of that discussion. Instead of finding yourself in the doghouse (again), you could have (maybe) even gotten your way.
Too bad we can’t hit the reset button and change our words after we’ve had time to think of a better way to say them!
Minding Your Business
So, we’re all on the same page regarding the effect that our words can have on other people. But what kind of influence can the language we use have on our business? Can what we say to our clients really make a difference in the decisions they make? Can just a few words make someone change their mind regarding whether or not they’re going to buy that house?
We have to remember that while we’re inspecting and reporting on houses every day, our clients aren’t. What may seem like just another miswired breaker to us, to an already uneasy home buyer, it sounds like you’re saying that the house is about to burn down!
On the Stage
There’s always more than one way to get your point across in a conversation. The best thing you can do is to remain cognizant of who you’re talking to and how you explain things. Obviously, if you’re inspecting a house for a Realtor who’s been through almost as many inspections as you have, you can describe things differently than if you’re working for a young, new home buyer who’s never even changed a light bulb before.
Remember to keep things in context for your client. Always play to your audience. Sometimes you can breeze over your findings and sometimes you may need to explain things in great detail, taking time to make sure that nothing gets blown out of proportion.
Now, I’m not saying that you should minimize the things you find on your inspection. I’m simply saying that you should work hard to make sure that your client understands the significance of your findings. It’s a fact that some “problems” we discover during an inspection are more important than others. If you fail to make sure that your client understands the difference between everyday maintenance items and significant issues that should affect their decision to purchase a property, you’re not doing your job.
We’re paid for our knowledge. Make sure you do a good job in relaying that knowledge to your clients. If not, you’ll be spending a lot of time alone with your thoughts while someone else is doing those inspections.
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