Thanks for reading my most recent article on Constant Marketing. As a bonus, I wanted to finish the article with some additional information just for home inspectors. (So, if you’re not a Professional Home Inspector, you can stop reading now!)
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In the article about Constant Marketing, we talk about offering a discount to a home inspection client. Now, those of you who had read my other posts will know that I am not in favor of discounting your prices. With the exception of military and repeat-client discounts, I am strongly against the use of discounting your inspection fees as a marketing strategy.
Never forget, someone always wins the race to the bottom.
What I advocate is strategically taking advantage of an opportunity to offer a discount to a client while in the field. Just because that extra HVAC unit was missed when the inspection was scheduled doesn’t necessarily mean that I immediately jump on them for the extra $40 up-charge (for inspecting the extra HVAC unit.) Step back to that 10,000 ft view: assess the current situation that you find yourself in.
Does this client seem like someone who’s likely to spread the word about your professionalism?
Is this agent (or real estate office) someone you would like to see more of?
Is this an opportunity to increase your standing in their eyes?
If so, then don’t worry about the up-charge. If you think about it, you were already headed to do this inspection at the original price, anyway.
Now, while you are discounting your services, that doesn’t mean that you quietly go about your business, not even mentioning the fact that you’re not getting paid to be in this nasty crawlspace. Remember that by giving this discount you are (basically) paying for a marketing opportunity. Just as if you had paid $250 to sponsor a real estate event, you need to take advantage of the situation and extract maximum value for your marketing dollars.
Obviously, you need to make sure that the client and agent are aware of the situation and what you are doing for them. In this example, I first approached the agent, letting her know that the fact this house is raised was not conveyed to my office when the inspection was scheduled. I let her know that this was going to add some time to the inspection, and that we charge an extra $100 for the crawlspace inspection. At this point, I let her know that (because of a reason that applies in this situation) I am not going to charge her client for this additional service. I make sure that she knows this is not our normal procedure and ask her to please not let anyone know that I did this for her, as I don’t want to get in trouble with my office!
We then proceed to explain to the client what’s happening, with me typically saying that because of my respect for their real estate agent, I am not going to add in the extra fee. We are certainly helping our client by offering the discount. But, at the same time, we are getting maximum value for the marketing dollars that we are spending.
Simply think of it as advertising. Make everyone involved aware of what’s happening; making sure that they are cognizant of the fact that you are doing this for them. It’s very nice to help other people, and your client will surely be happy about the discount. However, there’s nothing wrong with getting twice the benefit by taking a few moments to market your business at the same time.
Yes, I am losing a little “now money” in the hopes that my investment will grow, and will eventually lead to more “later money.” Just like investing for your retirement, putting away a little bit of capital now can lead to greater gains in your future portfolio. Invest some business capital, and this type of interpersonal marketing can lead to a better business future.
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