Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Everyone had a first time. We’ve all suffered through our first day of school, that first dance, the first time we had a date, our first kiss, and eventually, our first home inspection. Some of us remember each of these experiences in vivid detail, while the rest of us try to block them from our memories. Whether they were good or bad, we’ve all had to endure these types of experiences. Being a beginner is often the most difficult part of a new experience. However, starting new things is an integral part of personal growth. New experiences are an important part of life, and a necessary part of growing as an individual. If we never try anything new, we never advance; we never grow as a person.

trying to hide away from our experience as a new home inspector

Unfortunately, starting something new often proves to be a difficult task. While the unknown can be new and exciting, the fact that we’re inexperienced in whatever venture we’re trying can often cause us fear and anxiety. The questions and self-doubt come at us hard and heavy.

Will I do a good job?

Will they think I know what I’m doing?

 Am I going to make a fool of myself?

All too often we build up so much anxiety over these situations that our fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re so sure we’re going to screw it up that we end up screwing ourselves. We’re often our own worst enemy when it comes to having the confidence to try something new.

We need to stop for a minute; take a break and get out of our own head. Pause the end-of-the-world narrative that’s overwhelming us. Take a few steps back away from the ledge. Calm ourselves a bit and try to have a more realistic view of the situation. Quite often, simply taking a bit more commonsensical approach can help us to better navigate our fear of the unknown.

The last thing we need to do when we’re trying something for the first time, especially when that thing is starting a new business, is to look like we’re trying something for the first time. Looking like we know what we’re doing is always a good thing, and can often mean the difference between success and failure.

The image that we present to the public has a significant impact on the opinion that people form about us and our abilities. The advice to “fake it ‘til you make it” is often bantered about on the internet, in blogs and podcast espousing business advice, and it certainly applies to us in the home inspection industry. The importance of presenting yourself as an experienced, competent professional inspector cannot be overstated. Our clients are hiring us, often on the advice of their real estate agent, with the assumption that we’re experts at what we do.

Humans evolved to be social creatures. We typically choose to do business with people that we’re familiar with, people that we know and trust. All too often, making the choice to hire a home inspector throws this thread of familiarity out the window. Home buyers typically hire us without ever meeting us. They usually come into this business transaction (the home inspection) without having had any personal interaction with us, their inspector. And right or wrong, they quickly form an opinion of us as soon as we meet.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

attributed to Will Rogers

Think about it: if our clients view us as competent and authoritative, the odds dramatically increase that the inspection will go well. However, if our clients view us as incompetent and unreliable, the odds that we will (eventually) have problems with the clients and their inspection increase dramatically!

Our clients are paying us a considerable sum of money for our opinion, and look to us for advice and reassurance regarding (what is often) the biggest financial decision of their lives. If we stop to think about it for a second, the fact that these people are entrusting such a large decision to someone they’ve never met (us!) doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

at home in our house that was checked out by our professional home inspector

The fact that we’re often complete strangers to our clients is not a great way to get thrown into a budding business relationship. It’s not like when we try to start dating someone. There’s no time spent getting to know them. We don’t get to feel them out for a while before we ask them to meet us for coffee. There’s no chance to spend a little time together in a non-threatening environment, asking each other questions to see if we have anything in common. It doesn’t work that way.

It’s like we’re going from being introduced by a mutual friend straight to the altar! No spending time together. No getting to know one another. No chance to meet the family. Nope. Boom, straight to the wedding.

Not the best situation for building a successful, long-term relationship.

If we think about it, time is not on our side with our home inspection clients. We’ve got very little time to convince them that they’ve made the right decision in choosing us for this critical task. We’ve got to impress the hell out of them, and we’ve got to do it fast!

If we’re seen stumbling through our inspection, or we’re faltering during our verbal interactions, our clients will quickly lose confidence in our abilities. If we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to take charge of the situation. If we’re successful in presenting a professional and experienced demeanor, we’re more likely to be able to gain their confidence.

Find out what you do well and do it better than anyone else

It’s imperative that we’re able to lead them to the realization that they’ve made a good decision in choosing us to be their home inspector.

All too often, our clients are first-time home buyers and are incredibly nervous about the whole home buying process. We need to take time to get them involved them in the inspection process (asking leading questions, explaining our methodology, discussing and alleviating their concerns). If we’re able to help them, acting as a kind of tour guide for their home inspection, we will generally be able to win their confidence and earn their respect.

This earned confidence can go a long way toward smoothing the interaction that is the home inspection.

It’s a given that every home buyer will eventually have problems with their home. Things are always going to break; there’s no way around it. How good we are at developing some type of relationship with our clients during (and after) the inspection has large impact on whether our clients’ problems also become our problems.

It’s imperative that we nurture those inspector/client relationships. We’ve got to work to ensure that our clients have some level of confidence in our abilities as an inspector. We’ve got to demonstrate that we understand and genuinely care about their well being. We’ve got to prove to them that they mean more to us than a paycheck.

Developing a relationship with our clients is key to developing our business. Problems are going to happen, and things are going to break. When they do, it’s much better for our clients to reach out to us for advice than to contact their attorney.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector