Thanks (Giving)

As we bring Thanksgiving week to a close, and I’m finally finishing off (most of) our leftovers, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on some of the things that I’m most thankful for in my home inspection career. All too often, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, trying our best to keep our businesses on track and growing, we forget to take time to stop and smell the roses. What better season to stop for a moment and ponder the gifts that we’ve been blessed with in our professional lives?

sharing Thanksgiving dinner with your friendly neighborhood home inspector

I’ll start by saying that I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunity I’ve been given to work as a home inspector. It’s likely that I could count on one hand the number of personal friends that I have who actually love their career. Most people that I know work in their chosen professions simply for the money, enduring their jobs so that they’ll be able to feed, clothe, and house their families. In today’s world, it’s rare to find someone who really enjoys what it is they do for a living.

Most professional home inspectors that I know really do take pleasure in their jobs. We get to work in a new location with different people every day and aren’t stuck inside the same cubicle looking at the same coworkers 40 hours a week. The reality is that our job provides us with constant variety, and that’s quite different from most other occupations. Throw in the fact that we make good money, are (usually) not in a situation that could cause us harm, and get to help people for a living, and it’s a wonder that we don’t have to deal with more competition out there in the inspection industry.

My competition is another thing that I’m thankful for in my line of work. I know it seems crazy to say that I’m thankful that there are other people who can negatively impact my earnings but give me a minute to explain myself. While lots of people believe that another inspector’s success means that there are fewer inspections available for them, I prefer to look at it a different way. I don’t think of it as someone else taking a slice of my pie; I believe there’s enough pie out there for everyone.

If I’m doing my job properly, providing a quality product at a fair price, serving my clients, and meeting their needs, I shouldn’t be the least bit concerned about my competitors. If I’m doing these things, and meeting the needs of my clients, no one is going to take away any of my business. Now, if I’m slacking a bit in one of these areas, then yes, I had better be prepared to lose my clients to someone who’s doing it better than me. It’s business 101: meet your customers’ needs or someone else will.

“But what about those inspectors that are offering their services for bargain basement prices?” is an often-heard refrain in our business. While most inspectors hate the $199 inspection cheapos, I prefer to take a different approach to this situation. No, I’m certainly not thrilled by the fact that these bottom-of-the-barrel inspectors are contributing to the devaluation of our industry as a whole, but I realize that no matter what business you’re in, there are always going to be those that are fixated on the race to the bottom. They have so little faith in their abilities as a business professional, that they believe their only way to garner any share of the industry is to undercut the prices of their competitors.

As crazy as this may sound, I’m thankful for these bottom-feeders. Knowing that there’s someone out there who’s offering a dirt-cheap inspection is a real blessing in my book. I place a high value on my time and abilities and would rather not waste either one dealing with a client who doesn’t appreciate what I’m bringing to the table.

Those who spend the least and ask for the most before ordering will do the same after the sale.

Tim Ferris

I follow the mantra that some people’s money is worth more than others. When faced with a client who I can clearly tell doesn’t place value on what I’m bringing to the table (i.e., they’re grinding me on price before we even start talking about my services), I’m quick to move them on to a different inspector. Quite often, I’ll explain that I just checked my schedule and I’m booked for the next 3 months, apologize for the inconvenience, and recommend that they call another inspector, gladly providing them with the phone number of my local “low-priced leader.” Poor-quality clients deserve poor-quality inspectors, and I’m more than happy to facilitate an introduction of the two.

I’m also thankful for the real estate agents that I work with in my job. It’s a sad fact of the inspection business, but (as evidenced by the trash talking that happens on our industry message boards) many home inspectors do not care for real estate agents. The most common complaint I hear is that agents do everything in their power to ignore the information provided by the inspector in their attempt to sell a house. While I cannot deny that things like this happen to homebuyers, it’s more often a function of the inspector than the fault of the agent.

Just like every industry out there, there are real estate agents at both ends of the quality continuum. There are some at the lower end of the spectrum, who care about nothing else but their commission check, while those on the other side are genuinely concerned about the well-being of their clients and would rather do the additional work involved in searching for another home than see their buyers end up with a house that’s not quite right for their needs.

The truth is that, as professional business owners, we’re solely responsible for who it is we chose to work with (and for). While some inspectors may try to argue that we don’t get to choose our clients (agents and/or home buyers), the fact is that we’re able to control the quality of our clients by the quality of the inspection product that we produce.

Looking for better clients? Try offering a better inspection.

I’ve made the business decision to provide my clients with more than the minimum amount of information required by my state’s standards. I choose to spend more time on site, inspect more items, go more in-depth in my reporting, providing my clients with more information and proof-reading everything I do. I choose to continuously educate myself, logging way more continuing education hours than required by my state licensing agency. I go above and beyond in everything I do that relates to my job, and all that extra effort pays off in the quality of clients and agents that I’m blessed with in my business. While it’s not a guarantee, the more you do for your clients, the fewer problems you will have.

happy homebuyers after their home inspection

I’m also thankful for you, the reader. I’ve been blessed with the amazing opportunity to help others succeed in the home inspection industry. As I stated earlier, not many people in this world get the opportunity to do a job that they love. And as much as I love being an inspector and helping my clients with the biggest financial decision of their lives, I really get a charge out of helping other inspectors become true professionals. We’re in the unique position to have a positive impact on the lives of our clients, and I appreciate every opportunity that I’m given to be able to play even a small part in the fact that you’re out there working, making a difference by choosing to help your clients.

I will end with a quote by Oprah Winfrey: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Thank you.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector