Late To the Party

I have been extremely fortunate to find myself in a very unique position in the home inspection industry. I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of a multi-inspector firm with my friends and business partners. I started doing inspections, growing business to 40 inspections a month and then hiring and training my replacement for those inspections. And then we would do it all again: building, growing and replacing. As our business grew into double-digit inspectors, I did fewer inspections and more management, marketing, educating and problem solving.

is the home inspection business too crowded?

We eventually built a franchising company, which currently has franchises operating in 10 states. I continued my role (a few inspections each month and lots of oversight) for several years and was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the New Orleans North Shore franchise territory when the original owner retired. I continue to provide guidance for our family of home inspectors, as well as own and operate a successful, multi-inspector home inspection franchise.

I have been providing pre-licensing as well as continuing education for home inspectors since 2004, and count some of the most successful inspectors in the country as my students. I certainly didn’t envision this career path when I started in 2001, but I have been fortunate in my career.  I now have an opportunity to help other people avoid some of the pitfalls that I have witnessed (and experienced) in my career.

I consider myself extremely blessed to have found myself in this position.  Unfortunately, most small businesses do not get to start out in such an enviable position as this.  It’s difficult to start a new business from scratch, and even the best of us can lose confidence when things don’t seem to be going our way.

Everyone struggles with confidence at some point in their lives, and business owners are no exception. When thinking about starting a business, or during the painful (and often deadly) start-up phase, confidence in their abilities is a trait that is lacking in most small business owners. As soon as a bit of difficulty occurs (and it certainly will), they begin to question if they made the right decision about starting a small business; about becoming a home inspector.

Is it too late to get into this industry?

Is the inspection industry already a crowded playing field? 

Is my company going to be faced with a tremendous amount of competition?

My answer to these often-asked questions is always the same: yes, yes and yes.

Unless you are lucky enough to be the first person to come up with an idea for a new industry or unique product, then yes, it’s already too late to start. Unless you are the first person in your area to start offering a specific service to the public, then yes, the playing field is already crowded. And unless everyone simply shudders at your sight, running and hiding with their tail between their legs when you show up on the scene, then yes, there will be competition.

Yes, it’s crowded out there in the home inspection industry.

Having to face these issues is a reality for anyone starting a new business.  Unless you are rolling out something brand new that no one has ever thought of, no one has ever done, and no one has ever marketed, you will be faced with competition and adversity.

Working in my home inspection school, I get to speak with a lot of people about becoming a home inspector. I attempt to provide as much information as possible to all potential students, so that they can make an informed decision about their future as a home inspection business owner. Inevitably, it always seems to come down to one basic question: “Can I make a living as a home inspector?”

Now, there are certainly many different definitions of “making a living.” Different people have different needs and desires that determine their target income level. There are also many variables that affect a business’ profitability. Unfortunately, this makes it nearly impossible to speculate on the level of success (or failure) that someone will attain in their business. But I feel compelled to offer some guidance, as that is typically the main reason that potential students contact me: for information about being an inspector.

I try to run my school in the same way that I run my home inspection business: I provide information and allow my clients to make the decisions. I don’t try to hard-sell my products, as I know that this industry (home inspection) is not for everybody. I do make it a priority to provide each potential student an overview of my observations of the inspection industry.

We have met the enemy, and he is us

I always tell the same story about being an inspector:

The home inspection industry is a wonderful way to make a living. You are in a new place every day.  You meet different people every day. And for the most part, everyone involved in the real estate transaction is happy.

Unfortunately (there’s always an ‘unfortunately,’ isn’t there), the home inspection industry can be a difficult field to break into, with as much competition as you would have entering into any new business venture.

In my home state of Louisiana, about three out of four people that get their home inspection license will no longer be performing home inspections after two years. This is a hard realization, but there is a tremendous amount of competition in the inspection industry, and I want my students to be prepared for reality.

To be a successful small business owner, you must be willing to put in the hard work necessary to be successful. Unfortunately, without having confidence that you will attain success, human nature takes over and we simply start taking short cuts, trying to get away with not doing the hard work.

To be a successful small business owner, you must be willing
to put in the hard work necessary to be successful.

However, you must bear in mind that no matter what industry you are in, there is always room at the top.  There will always be a market for someone that does a specific job better than their competition.

There will always be competition, and it will be a difficult road.  However, if your goal is to provide the home inspection consumer with a better-quality product than the vast majority of your competitors, then, given enough time, the odds are pretty favorable that you will achieve success in the home inspection industry.

not too scared to get her hands dirty to become a professional home inspector

I will leave you today with a quote from American statesman and retired four-star general Colin Powell.  He said “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

If you want to be successful, expect difficulty, expect pain and expect setbacks. Then lift yourself up and try again.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector