Fishing for Success

Good news! We’re currently in a booming real estate market! While this information will come as no surprise to those of us that have been working as a home inspector for more than a minute, and the bottom is certain to eventually drop out (so be prepared), being in the middle of a boom time does make for some increasingly competitive markets.

arm wrestling for superiority in a home inspection territory

It seems like every time the real estate market is doing great, everyone wants in on the action. There are so many newbies in real estate and its related industries (like home inspection), it seems like you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting four new Realtors, three new home inspectors, and a new title company attorney or two!

With all these new home inspectors running around, things can quickly get a bit crowded in our local market. And when things get crowded, people start getting nervous.

Am I gonna be able to survive in this business?

Will there be enough work for everyone?

Is someone gonna take my piece of the pie?

Everyone is trying to get ahead, brainstorming about the perfect way to get an advantage over their competition. Trying out new and different tricks, with some inspectors crossing the line and doing things to the detriment of the future of our industry (“sure, I’ll get paid out of closing for doing that inspection!”)

Everyone is looking for the golden ticket; trying to find the needle in the haystack. It’s human nature to look for the easy way out. We all want to get the biggest return from the least amount of work.

We all want to know the secret to success in the home inspection business!

It’s always the same. We get a home inspection license, putting in all the hard work to take our classes, pass that damn test, ride along with some trainer, figure out the maze of insurance providers and policies, and pay our fees. Now we’re licensed! We buy our tools, trying to figure out what it is we’re really going to need to work in our local market. We look at a few different inspection software programs, finally settling on one we hope will be easy to operate and help us produce a nice-looking report for our clients. We set up our email, our corporate entity, and name our business. We even work out a cool new logo to show off our company to our clients.

And then we’re up against it. We’ve got to figure out how to get the phone to ring, and fast!

So, we start looking for that secret sauce. There’s gotta be a trick to this, we think. What are all these other inspectors doing that I just don’t know about yet? If I only knew the secret, then I’d be in the club; then I’d have all the inspections I want.

I’ve gotta learn that secret!

Well, you’re in luck! Today, right here on this website, I’m going to reveal the secret! I’m going to spill the beans; open Pandora’s box; let the genie out the bottle. I’m going to piss off all the other inspectors in the Successful Old Inspector Club (the name of this club may or may not be a registered trademark…)

And here it is:

The more people that know about you and your business, the more successful you will be.

I know, I know. Not exactly the earth-shattering secret that you were expecting. But it’s true. The more well-known you are, the better your chances of getting someone to use you to do their home inspection. It seems like a really basic statement, and it’s likely that I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but it needs to be said.

You’d be amazed to find out how many new inspectors spend their (all too brief) career whining about the fact that they can’t get any business because the existing inspection companies already have everything sewn up. They complain that it’s unfair, because the other companies are offering bonuses, discounts, or free add-ons that they’re not able to provide. They bitch and moan about the big inspection companies sucking up all the work and spend their time inventing reasons why they’re not successful instead of getting the word out about their own businesses.

Unfortunately, it seems like we’re living in a time where no one wants to take personal responsibility for their lives. It’s always someone else’s fault when things don’t go the way we’ve planned.

No one wants to take responsibility for their own failures… or their own success.

Many new inspectors believe that the only way to be successful in the home inspection industry is to get real estate agents to recommend them. And, unfortunately, because they’re new, the few agents that they get in front of are not going to work with them.

So, they get discouraged. Quickly. And soon they fall into the same trap that ensnares many new home inspectors. Unfortunately, this script plays out over and over again for new inspection business owners:

  1. Get your license
  2. Do a little bit of marketing
  3. Talk to a few people
  4. Wait for the phone to start ringing
  5. Don’t get any phone calls
  6. Get discouraged
  7. Stop marketing
  8. Start complaining about the big boys keeping you down
  9. Give up and go back to your old job

Rejection is part of starting a new business. It’s inevitable. Very few people are going to want to use a brand-new inspector. Yes, it sucks, but it kind of make sense if you stop to think about it. If you break your leg and need surgery, are you going to set out looking for a brand-new doctor, fresh out of medical school, who’s never before performed surgery on a broken leg? Or are you going to ask around and look for the older physician that specializes in fixing broken legs and has dozens of thank-you cards hanging in his office from all the famous sports stars that he’s helped get back on the field?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

Experience matters.

And if we need experience to get business, the question then becomes: How the hell do I get experience if no one will hire me?

It may seem like a stupid thing to say, but it’s really just basic math, 5th grade stuff. If one out of every 500 people needs to hire a home inspector within the next week, then getting your product in front of 500 people doesn’t give you much chance to make money. But making sure that 5000 people hear about you? That ups your chances of success by a factor of 10. Market to 50,000 people and now there’s potentially 100 people that will utilize your services for their home inspection needs.

If no one knows that your business exists, then your chances of success drop like a rock thrown off a cliff. In order to be successful in any business, you’ve got to get your product in front of potential customers. In the inspection industry, you’ve got two main choices when it comes to marketing. You can spend money to market to a small group (of real estate agents) who know where the customers are that need your services. Or you can cast a wider net and market to the masses, hoping that you reach the home buyer that’s just signed a purchase agreement and is in need of an inspection.

Both of these strategies can be successful, as there are many successful inspection companies that employ one strategy or the other (or some combination of both) in their marketing plans. But neither plan works without effort.

If you’ve ever been fishing, you know that you can’t just throw out a bare hook into the water and expect a fish to jump on your line. You’ve got to use some bait, and you’ve got to be patient and persistent. Casting over and over again. Trying different baits. Moving to different locations. Fishing at different depths. Using all your experience and knowledge in an attempt to catch some fish.

Marketing your home inspection business is no different. No one is going to bite on a bare hook. You’ve got to use some bait. You’ve got to keep casting. You’ve got to move around to different fishing holes. You need to have a marketing plan and you’ve got to keep working it, modifying, shaping, and expanding it as needed.

fishing for more business for your home inspection company

We all get into the inspection business to be a home inspector. We hope to spend our days checking houses and helping our clients. We do our best to provide them with information about the biggest financial decision most of them will ever make in their lives. We didn’t become inspectors so we could spend our time marketing and schmoozing around at real estate functions so we can (eventually) make a buck.

But that’s the reality of being a business owner. If you want the business, if you want to do the fun part of inspecting a house for your paying client, you’ve got to make sure that someone is willing to hire you in the first place. And that only happens if people know you’re out there. No presence, no business. So, we all need to do it: we need to bite the bullet, suck it up, pull up our big boy (or big girl) pants, and get out there.

The three most important things that we need to do to have a successful home inspection business are easy to remember: marketing, marketing, marketing.

I welcome all feedback (both positive and negative) on this post.
Please take a moment to leave a comment below. Thank you!

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector