Small talk is a part of everyone’s’ lives. It’s defined by Wikipedia as ”polite conversation about unimportant things.” On most days, we all engage in some form of small talk, whether in public or in our jobs, and most of us have our go-to questions at the ready, just in case some small talk breaks out. One of the most common ice breakers that we all use whenever we meet someone new is to ask them about their profession. It’s such a commonly asked question, and we’ve all answered it so many times, that we’ve got our elevator pitch down pat.
For most people reading this post, we all like to say that we’re in the home inspection business. But, quite often, that answer is met with a puzzled look, as most people have no earthly idea what it is that a home inspector does. (We could make an argument that many inspectors have no idea what it is they’re doing either, but that’s a different conversation for another day…)
So, what exactly is the business of being a professional home inspector?
Most businesses are built around the fact that someone is going to buy something that a business is selling. The business produces a product and the customers pay them for it.
But we’re not selling a physical product. We don’t have inventory to track, boxes to pack, or stock to rotate through. We’re selling information. We’re selling knowledge. We’re selling our intellectual property. We’re selling peace of mind to our clients.
In the home inspection industry, our clients are (typically) home buyers, and they’re hiring us to inspect their new home. Our job is to attempt to lessen the chances that they’ll be stuck with a big surprise or a major expenditure soon after they’ve purchased their home. None of us are perfect, we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, and things are always going to break when someone owns a house. So, we’re not there to give someone a guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to their home, but we are there to make sure that they know the roof on the home they’re thinking about buying needs to be updated, the drainpipes below the house are pouring sewerage into the crawlspace, and the HVAC system looks like it was manufactured during the Eisenhauer administration.
We’re there to help keep them from being surprised as soon as they move in.
That’s what it is we’re selling.
Peace of mind.
The reality is that, eventually, something is going to break in their home and need repair or replacement. It’s simply part of owning a home; a fact all too familiar to anyone who’s ever been a homeowner. Stuff breaks and, as homeowners, we’ve all got to spend our own money to make it right again.
Professional home inspectors all wish that we could predict the future. We all wish that we’d be able to tell our clients exactly when they’ll be faced with repair expenses in their new home.
Mrs. Homebuyer, be sure to start saving now, as your dishwasher’s pump is going to die the day after Christmas and you’ll have to replace the whole thing, as the repairperson won’t be able to get any parts for it when it does. Your roof’s going to start leaking next summer, about two weeks after the big hailstorm we’re going to have right after the kids get out of school. And be prepared, because your AC is going to crap out in August year after next, the night before you’re going to have 30 people over for your daughter’s big sweet 16 birthday party…
Until someone perfects the crystal ball, it’s unreasonable to think that we can forecast the future for our clients. But that’s not what we’re there for. It’s not what we do. It’s not what we’re selling.
We’re in the business of selling peace of mind.
Our job is to keep our clients from being surprised. Certainly, we can’t predict that someone’s AC is going to die six months from now, but we can tell them that it’s not working properly now. We can let them know that it looks like someone’s been keeping it together using bubblegum and duct tape. We can recommend that they have a professional check it out, because it’s likely not long for this world.
That’s what they’re paying us for. Peace of mind.
Are the big money things doing what they’re supposed to do?
Do any of them look like they’re gonna crap out any time soon?
Are there any things that we think a new buyer should know about this house?
Do we think any of them will adversely affect their decision to purchase this property?
Those are the main questions we should be answering while we’re doing our job. As long as we take care of these major points and take the time to explain our findings to our clients (in person as well as in our inspection reports) in a clear and concise way, then we’ve done our job.
Anything else we’re doing for our clients is gravy.
And while we’d all like to believe that we do our jobs perfectly, we all know that’s not a reasonable expectation. As humans, none of us are perfect. We all wish we were, and most of us strive for it in our jobs and in our daily lives. But the reality is that we all make mistakes. We all screw up sometimes. We all fall short of perfection. The most we can ask for is to keep doing the best we can for our clients, and on the occasions when we fall short, make sure that we do what we can to remedy the situation.
And keep trying to provide them with that peace of mind.
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