Since I operate a school that trains students to become home inspectors, I often get the chance to talk with people who are considering making a career change. Most of them are excited for the opportunities that the inspection industry provides, but as with any life-changing decision, they’re often filled with apprehension. They typically come armed with a long list of questions for me. In addition to the standards (like what the hell do you guys actually do and how much money do you make), they all eventually get around to asking the same question: Is there a need for new inspectors, or is the market already too crowded?
It’s natural for us to want more information about our competition; it’s hardwired into our DNA. Since the start of our species, nature has programmed us to be cognizant of our rivals. Early man needed to know exactly where he stood when it came to the struggle for survival. If there was too much competition for food, shelter, or companionship, the best thing to do was to find somewhere else to live; another place where he could be top dog and not face so much competition for resources.
So, if we stop to think about it, it only makes sense for us to want as little competition as possible when we’re going into our new home inspection career. Common sense tells us that it’s better to be the only option in the marketplace. If we’re the only home inspector within a 50-mile radius, it’s only natural to think that it’s going to be easier for us to get business!
But the unfortunate truth is that’s not how things work in the real world. If there are no inspectors around, there’s got to be a reason. Quite often, that reason is there’s no business for them in that area. If there are no home inspectors within your 50-mile territory, it’s quite likely there are also no home sales occurring in that area. And that doesn’t bode well for your fledgling home inspection business.
Home inspectors go where the home sales are, so it only makes sense that the markets with lots of home sales also have lots of home inspectors. While having to contend with already established competition is obviously a draw back to a new inspector, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Walking into a real estate market that already has a mature inspection industry can present us with many things that can be advantageous to our new business.
If the home inspection industry in an area is already crowded with inspectors, that also means it’s crowded with home buyers. More homes being bought and sold means more potential clients for our business. And all things being equal, it’s always better to locate our new inspection business in an area with lots of customers eager to hire us.
An area with a mature inspection industry presence also means that there’s already an established expectation between the inspector and their customers. It’s a whole lot easier to sell your product when a potential client already knows what to expect when they hire you. While it sucks having to compete with all those other inspectors, having them around marketing and flogging their wares helps to boost the awareness of our industry, making it easier for everyone to get business.
And possibly the most important benefit of walking into a crowded marketplace comes from having all those other inspectors to learn from.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…Oscar Wilde
Just like people in other industries, home inspectors are not above copying what’s working for their competitors. Like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Having numerous successful home inspection business owners in your area to copy (I mean learn from) can be a welcome bonus to a new business owner. While it’s always a good idea to try new tricks to set your business apart from the competition, there’s nothing wrong with duplicating what’s working for others, all while putting your own spin on things.
While it’s always difficult to break into an already crowded industry, knowing that others have been successful doing it before you can help to ease our mind. If we’re able to do something remarkable enough to get us noticed and have the resources to withstand the inevitable dip that accompanies the opening of every new business, then being right in the middle of a crowded market just might be the best place we can be.
This article is based off a recent blog post from Seth Godin. Please check out all his work teaching others how to be better at marketing. You’ll thank me for the introduction.
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