Everything I Learned

There’s nothing like a relaxing vacation to get you back in the mood for returning to the daily grind. Unfortunately, my recent vacation was anything but relaxing, as my family talked me into traveling to the theme parks in Orlando Florida. After spending a “relaxing” week waiting in lines and paying exorbitant prices for mediocre food, I was more than ready to get back to work. After all, I now have to replenish the savings account after some hefty vacation expenses!

riding the train to get to your next home inspection

But my typical “Dad” complaints aside, I was quite fascinated by the level of customer service that’s regularly on display at the top-end theme parks. After observing such a consistent attention to detail throughout the week, I started trying to figure out exactly what it was that the park employees were doing and if there was a way that we might implement some of these techniques into our own businesses. After all, the attentiveness to customer satisfaction is so good that it (almost) makes you forget that you’re happily shelling out five bucks for a seventy-five-cent bottle of water.

I’ve broken down my observations into four different categories, with the hope that going through these items may motivate us (me, really) to put these lessons to good use. Maybe there’s a chance that we can make our clients so happy they would gladly pay us more for our world-class service too!

1. Being ready for the show

It’s really amazing that the theme parks can have so many people passing through them each and every day, and (for the most part) they remain spotless. Sure, there will always be the occasional neanderthal that thinks the world is his waste basket, but by and large, the grounds of the parks remain squeaky-clean.

The employees seem to take pride in having everything ready to go each day and work hard to keep it that way throughout the show. From the roving janitors all the way up to the supervisors walking about, every person is doing their part to keep up the professional appearance, doing all the little things to make sure that their guests (customers) have an enjoyable experience.

As professional home inspectors, our job is to make sure that our customers are impressed with everything that we do while we’re on the job. From the way that we dress, the impression that our equipment and vehicle give all the way to our hairstyle and personal hygiene, every bit of our appearance says something about us and the value we place on our customers.

If we don’t have enough self-respect to clean ourselves and our vehicles so that we make a good first impression, what kind of conclusions do we think our clients are making about how much we care about them?

2. Always be on stage

As part of the training programs for theme park workers, they are taught to remember that when they’re working in the park, they’re always on stage. They’re expected to remain in character during the whole time that they’re working and should make sure that everything they do reinforces the company’s brand. They’re expected to smile during their entire shift. They’re expected to cater to their guests’ every need, and to go out of their way to make sure that their guests feel like everything happening is about them.

Treating a client with respect. Giving them our undivided attention while conversing with them. Being attentive to their needs and concerns and addressing those needs as quickly and fully as possible. Treating them like they’re the only thing that matters at that moment. These are all easily accomplished tasks that can go a long way towards cementing a positive image about your business in your client’s memory.

Keeping (and presenting) a cheerful, positive attitude throughout the inspection can be contagious. We’ve got to remember that our clients likely have no idea what’s going on during the inspection process, and anything we can do to help lessen their stress will be welcomed.

3. Make your client feel important

The theme park employees are trained to be “assertively friendly” towards their guests. They are trained to go out of their way to make sure that the park’s visitors feel like they are appreciated and welcome. They will quicky approach someone who seems to be confused or lost, intervening to make sure that everyone has their questions answered and stress levels reduced.

They’re trained to address guests by their names (whenever possible) in order to personalize every interaction. The mission is to make sure that every guest leaves the park thinking that their visit was spectacular, the service was wonderful, and eager to return again.

It’s all about the customer and their experience.

As inspectors, all too often we get caught up in the repetition of our jobs, focusing so much on our routine that we zone out, forgetting that there are other people present during the inspection. Obviously, this laser-like focus helps us to minimize mistakes and reduce our time on task (both admirable goals) but increasing efficiency while ignoring our customers will ultimately come back to bite us in the ass.

We’ve got to remember that the only reason we’re at that house doing an inspection is because someone hired us to help them make an important decision. Being efficient at our jobs is wonderful but doing so while ignoring our clients certainly won’t win us any customer service points. Making sure that we go out of our way to reinforce the idea that our clients are the whole reason we’re there can help them feel more like a partner in the inspection process rather than simply a source of income for us.

4. Gather feedback whenever possible

Theme parks thrive on feedback, seeking it out from every guest at multiple opportunities. They send out surveys by email when you book your trip. They have workers stationed at the exits asking for feedback when you’re exiting the parks. They follow up with several opportunities for you to tell them how they’re doing. They certainly don’t let an opportunity pass by to gather insight on how they performed.

And they actually use that feedback to make improvements to their operation. While they certainly don’t make knee-jerk responses to every bad review they receive, they constantly monitor their feedback in an attempt to discover patterns. Repeated feedback about a specific item may expose something that’s in need of attention or highlight an employee (or process) that’s working correctly and is in need of recognition.

It’s never been easier for us to get feedback on our businesses than it is today. We can easily request reviews on Google, send out surveys on MailChimp or simply call, text, or message our clients to find out what they thought of our service. All we need to do is to reach out and the information will start flowing.

But it’s not enough to simply ask for feedback; we’ve got to actually pay attention to what it is our clients are saying and use that information to upgrade our processes. If they’re telling us that our report is difficult to read, then we’ve got to make it more user friendly. If it’s tough to set up an inspection online, then we’ve got to make our scheduler easier to use. If we’re getting complaints because we don’t accept credit card payments, we’d better start looking for a processing company.

Utilizing the valuable feedback that our clients provide is an easy way to figure out what we’re doing right and what parts of our business need upgrading. Companies used to have to pay expensive consulting companies to gather this type of information. Today it’s as close as our social media account. We’ve got to make sure that we’re putting this valuable information to good use.

Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.

Walt Disney

Successful companies are all around us, and we interact with them every day of our lives. These companies don’t flourish simply by luck; they typically have a well thought out business plan that leads them to profitability. And these plans are typically on display for everyone to see.

learning how to be a better home inspector from mickey mouse

Why struggle to reinvent every single part of our business when we can simply “borrow” from what other companies are doing? If it’s good enough for some of the most successful companies in the world, it’s certainly good enough for us.

Follow that mouse.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector