Home Inspection Marketing
Poor Marketing Is the Number One Reason Home Inspection Businesses Fail
When we ask people, "Why did you join The Savvy Inspector?" they usually say, ""I'm not very good at marketing my business. These new home inspectors coming out of the schools are running cheap prices and I'm finding myself losing business.
Do Home Inspection Schools Prepare You For Real Success?
According to Coach William, "the schools don't share a lot of effective marketing strategies or tactics. They say, 'Just go around to the real estate offices or the lenders and drop off your business card.'"
He adds, "I did that. I made a little one page document saying, 'I'm the bomb because I've got XYZ certifications and construction experience,' all that good stuff that everybody says.
I went around and dropped them off—and I think I did about twenty inspections that year.
"But I saw the potential and the opportunity. I just needed to find somebody who knew how to get the word out and market correctly, because I was clueless."
Coach William started like any other home inspector. But he and Mrs. Sherri have implemented what they've learned at The Savvy Inspector, and today they have nine inspectors. They'll have a seven-figure revenue stream this year.
The most beautiful thing he's done is set up a management committee. The managers of the different departments now handle the day-to-day stuff, which frees up Coach William and Sherri to work more with The Savvy Inspector and have the life that they've earned.
But different people want different things. So, first, we have to find out more about you.
Who Are You?
Are you new to the business?
Are you a one-man shop and happy that way, a one-man shop that wants to hire other inspectors, or do you already have inspectors working for you and need growth?
Your marketing tactics depend on where you are in these cycles.
In our Facebook group, Coach William mentioned doing some price matching for our inner circle agents. Another person said he didn’t agree with that. He said you need to hold your price. He’s the highest priced agent, and he's booked out a full week in advance. Coach William said he agreed 100% with that. "It depends whether you're looking at it through the eyes of a multi-inspector firm or a one-man shop. If I were one-man shop and booked out a week in advance, by all means I would hold my prices. I'd probably need to raise my prices."
"If I were one-man shop and booked out a week in advance, by all means I would hold my prices. I'd probably need to raise my prices."
You have to know where you are and where you want to go. If you're new in the business, you're going to need a little time under your tool belt before you can do certain things.
What Is Your Dream Business Like?
Coach William says, "I think most folks are like me. You come in to the business flying by the seat of your pants. You start doing inspections, and then you realize, 'Hey, I can’t keep doing this day in and day out, crawling through crawl spaces and answering the phone and trying to market.' It takes time and effort, and if you want to step back and let your business run itself or someday to sell it for a profit, then you need to start with those kinds of things in mind. If you don’t know where you’re going, you could end up anywhere."
"If you want to step back and let your business run itself or someday to sell it for a profit, then you need to start with those kinds of things in mind."
I'm the exception to the rule. In 1997, I started a home inspection company called The Southern Home Inspection Services. I wasn’t a home inspector for the first five years; I owned a big launch company in the financial services industry. I brought in eight inspectors and we had three divisions: new construction, residential resale, and EIFS or synthetic stucco. We had a very successful first year and went from there.
My friends were saying, “You’re going to own a home inspection company? Do you even know what a home inspector is?” But I’m a business person first—a marketer and a business person. I want you to move from being a home inspector to being a marketer of home inspection services. When you’re a great marketer, good things happen to you.
When you’re a great marketer, good things happen to you.
Coach William agrees. "You start out in the mindset of an inspector, technical stuff. How can I inspect better? Are there better gadgets I can buy? Other gadgets I can offer services with? But when you step back from that, you say, 'I don't need those things. I need to be thinking about how to get that next job and secure a week’s worth of jobs.'"
He added, "When you have that mindset, even the way you inspect changes. The number one goal is to get another job out of it. It could be from the client or the agents or the seller of the home. There are golden opportunities to capitalize on to ensure that you have a job tomorrow from the job you’re doing today."
In other words, where you are right now doesn't matter. What we want to know is, where do you want to go?
At first, even Coach William didn't dream big enough. "I thought, 'Man, if I could just get one inspection a day, I could pay my bills and we could survive.' Now our goal is to maintain 200 a month. Next year, I hope we’re going to be sitting here saying, 'Man, if we can just hit 300 a month.' The tools to do that are here."
If you dream small, you will get small. But if you dream big and fall slightly short of that, you're still a winner. Some people say, "I can grow only 12% a year. That’s all I’ve ever done." Well, we've seen people grow 44% in a month.
We have two mastermind groups at The Savvy Inspector that report their business results at the first meeting of each month. They report how much they were up in the previous month in two ways, number of inspections and revenue. One of the beautiful things is, even though they’re not up 50% in units, they’re up 35% in revenue, because they’ve engaged in strategies that allow them to get more per inspection, to sell more services, and so on. The growth is unreal.
We call it the Law of Attraction: What you focus on most, you get more of. Focus on your goals. A lot of people say, “Oh, that’s hocus-pocus.” No, it's simply this: What you focus on most, you get more of. In working your way through this, you’re focusing on your business, and you can get tremendous results from that.
What you focus on most, you get more of. Focus on your goals.
Most people want to make some serious money. How many inspections do you want to be doing in three to five years? What do you want your company revenue to be? What do you want your personal earnings to be? Where do you want your business to come from? How many employees do you want? What do you want your role in the business to be?
We can develop strategies together to get you there.
Even if you're a one man shop and happy, you need to put systems in place to keep you at one man shop and happy. Sometimes employees can be a pain in the neck.
What Is Your Dream Role in Your Dream Business?
Coach William believes that if you want a larger business, you need to design it before you begin. "It needs to be structured like a corporation and run that way. Who’s going to be CEO? Who’s going to be the manager? Who’s going to be the tech on the floor putting the gadgets together? Who’s going to be the marketing person? What is my market segment?
"Sherri's and my jobs are to create things and delegate them, to try to be hands off as much as possible. That doesn’t mean it always works that way. Life happens, and that straight road to success can take a quick left or a quick right all the way up the ladder. You’ve got to be prepared to do whatever, but knowing our goals and having things in place to work towards them gives us purpose when we get up every day."
"Knowing our goals and having things in place to work towards them gives us purpose when we get up every day."
At this point, Coach William can take multiple weeks of vacation, and the business runs itself. He tells what it was like when he hired his first inspector. "We were sitting on the beach in Fort Myers, Florida, and I’m taking phone calls scheduling my newest employee. That was such an awesome feeling that I’ve never looked back. I don’t worry about getting sick. I don’t worry about having to take off if there’s a family issue. The business goes on."
Perhaps you want your role to be even more limited, so that you can take a permanent vacation, or so that you can groom somebody to take it over.
Some of Coach William's family are in the business with him as managers. Could they run the business and William and Sherri just be members of its board of directors? He could give the leadership and guidance—"Here’s where we want to go in 2017, 2018, 2019"—and then meet with the staff once a month so they can report their results. He doesn’t have to be out of the business, and he’d still be earning a significant income from it.
Unfortunately, permanent vacation may be the least profitable way to run the business. Imagine if one of the owners were the primary lead generator, bringing in all the new leads. If this person gets run over by a bus, potential buyers for the business may say, "If she’s gone, those leads won’t be coming in. Why would I want to buy that business?"
Our smartest clients build systems that bring in leads. Going directly to the public brings in leads. Having a marketing rep brings in leads. The business owner doesn't have to do it. So a potential buyer says, "If he leaves, the leads still come in. This is a viable business opportunity."
Wave that magic wand and dream big. Don’t dream small. Don't make it easy stuff.
Set Up a Plan to Reach Your Goals
Coach William says, "Get your plan in place. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan. Don’t change your goal. Change your approach to get to it. It puts a whole different perspective on your business and yourself. Your reason for getting out of bed every morning is enhanced because you have a goal that you want to achieve."
"Get your plan in place. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan. Don’t change your goal."
"A really pleasant surprise for us for this year was that our team has really jumped on board with us. In the past, we shared our goals, but they didn’t resonate with our team. But we’ve been sharing what’s in it for them if we hit these goals. My phone schedulers actually took the initiative to set their own goals—so many home inspections, so many radons, so many five star packages—and put them on sticky notes in front of their phones. How awesome is that? Now it’s not just me pushing this, trying to make it happen. I’ve got a team on board with me, and that feels so good."
"Now it’s not just me pushing this. I’ve got a team on board with me, and that feels so good."
If you're a one-man shop going multi, add a human resources component to your plan. Know you're going to hire, and know what kind of person you're looking for.
Understand Market Segments
Another part of your plan involves your market segments, and how many inspection units you expect to get from each.
For example, there are top producers. Top producers are anybody who’d give you a minimum of one home inspection a month or twelve a year. Top producers have lead-gen strategies in place.
Coach William cautions, "If you're a new one-man shop, top producers will be tough for you to get. Top producers have surrounded themselves with successful people. They’ve built a relationship with somebody. The best you can hope for is to keep yourself in front of them and hope for an opportunity when the inspector’s sick or on vacation or too busy."
"If you're a new one-man shop, top producers will be tough for you to get. The best you can hope for is to keep yourself in front of them and hope for an opportunity when the inspector’s sick or on vacation or too busy."
Think of a funnel. Top producers keep that funnel full at the top, so the bottom sales drop out each month. With top producers, we’re trying to position ourselves as number two.
In an office where they pay 100% commission, the agents have a big overhead, the fees and the rent. Those agents are out there working every day to fill that funnel. They have lead generation strategies in place. That’s what allows them to keep the funnel full at the top.
Non-top producers have one lead generation strategy. It’s a four letter word: hope. They hope they’re on duty when somebody calls in looking for an inspector. Hope is no marketing strategy.
Hope is no marketing strategy.
Coach William doesn't spend much time or money on non-top producer marketing these days. "It comes with being established. New agents come on, and we have programs for them because they’re tomorrow’s top producers. But we do very little marketing there."
If you’re brand new to the business, you’re going to need to do non-top producer marketing before you jump up to the top producers. But if you’re getting the majority of your inspections from non-top producers, you’re in jeopardy.
In 2007 and 2008, many non-top producers didn't last. If we have a housing shortage all over the US, people are afraid to sell their homes because there’s nothing for them to buy. Who’s going to be affected most by that shortage? Non-top producers. They've got nothing to sell, and they’re not great lead generation producers. If you’re dependent on non-top producers, how you going to replace those units?
You’re going to replace them by going directly to the public. The times demand that we have a strong online presence, to build your reputation and online body of work.
When you type Coach William's company name into a search engine, it dominates the first nine or ten pages. There are reviews, and review video commercials that we’ve produced. There’s Twitter. There’s Facebook. There’s Linked In, and all kinds of things.
"That speaks volumes to that client," he says. "They’re not going to find that on our competitors, so it’s a no brainer that we must be the expert in our marketplace. Price then becomes less of an issue. They see the value."
"They’re not going to find that on our competitors, so it’s a no brainer that we must be the expert in our marketplace. Price then becomes less of an issue. They see the value."
Going directly to the public is at the top of my list for a reason. Things are happening in the market. If it's ruled that real estate agents can no longer be 1099’s but are W-2’s, the brokers are going to get rid of everybody who doesn’t produce. Coach William cites an example. "This was a large franchise that has reduced its size pretty dramatically. Yet at their awards banquet, the stats they shared were all up from a year ago. That says to me that they got rid of dead weight."
Other things are happening, too. A home seller can list a home for free on the MLS now. Brokerages are doing a la carte services, holding open houses for the public on Sundays. Virtual brokers—Zillow, Red Fin, Zip, Trulia—are making sales without brick and mortar offices. These external things affect real estate agents, and they affect you if you’re getting business from them. They're happening now, and you don't want be a dinosaur.
These external things affect real estate agents, and they affect you if you’re getting business from them.
I love prior client marketing, because these people already think you’re the expert. They know you, like you, and trust you.
Many home inspectors never touch this group, and originally, Coach William didn't focus on it. "We’d always had some emails or something silly, but nothing that really tried to capture that market. It’s a different strategy than other market segments. It opens the door for ancillary services, annual services—you know, pools, spas. You can open and close them, inspect them for termites, because you’ve already got a rapport.
"It requires the online presence as well. A prior client makes a recommendation to someone, and where do they go? Right to their mobile device to check you out.
"We've provided some good incentives to prior clients, like our frequent-referral program. They'll keep you at the top of their mind. If they’re getting a haircut and somebody says they're buying a home, the prior client can say, 'I know a great home inspector.' Then they go on and on about all the good things about you. That has a lot of power. We hear it more and more: 'We chose you because our agent did not recommend you.' We do the same inspection whether there’s an agent involved or not, but I understand that mindset. Millennials are savvy about doing due diligence to find out if it's a good referral or not.
"Once you’ve satisfied a client and impressed them with your services, if you keep your name in front of them, they will come back to you—no matter what the agent says."
You should get a third of your business from prior client marketing. If you start it from the very beginning, when you’re in the driveway, you are setting expectations for what’s going to happen. Then you can move right through fulfilling them.
Mortgage brokers can be another market segment. Coach William observes that they're "not flooding the gates" at his firm, but "almost everybody has to get financing for their home. As agents go out of the picture, the lender becomes more valuable."
At the awards banquet he mentioned, he was seated by CEO of a local bank. The CEO "asked me for my card, because he’d heard great things about us and wanted to share that information with his chief loan officer." If you’re new to the business, mortgage broker marketing wouldn’t necessarily be right for you. "It's like going after top producers, identifying the influencers within branches or mortgage lending offices who can make referrals. Some inspectors do really well with this."
One of the things I like about mortgage brokers as opposed to agents is, you can’t kill their deal. Their interest is the same as their clients'. They want clients to get a good home, so they’re happy with it and pay for it. They don’t want somebody to move in and find $40,000 worth of trouble they can't pay for. Then that’s a bad loan. You can’t kill the mortgage broker’s deal, and that’s a good thing.
Other market segments are smaller. Consider network group marketing. "As real estate agents become less involved," Coach William says, "the more value there is in other segments. If you get involved with BNI [Business Network International] or some of these groups, it takes a little time. Typically, the longer the you’re in it, the more homework you have to do to stay in the group. I did well in a BNI group as a one-man shop, but I was there to get referrals, and it got to where I was losing referrals because I was there. But in a multi-inspector firm, I could see having an inspector plugged into a couple of these groups as the market changes. It might be more valuable now than it was then."
"I was there to get referrals, and it got to where I was losing referrals because I was there."
Learn Strategies to Increase Business
Here's a strategy that works like a champion.
You go directly to the public and get a home buyer. In may cases, the home buyer's agent will be there too, and that agent has never worked with you. Here's how you conduct the conversation. "I know we haven't worked together before, and sometimes home inspectors cause real estate agents a little uncomfortable feeling. Are you feeling that way?"
They'll say, "Yeah, a little uncomfortable."
You say, "This is what I'm going to do. First, the client wants to know the condition of the home, and I’m going to be thorough. If I miss this or that, they’re going to call you back, and you might never get another referral from them. I’m going to be thorough, so you don’t get call backs.
"Second, I'm going to communicate my findings in a neutral, non-scary manner. Those are my commitments to you today. If I live up to my commitments, I would like for you to put me on your approved vendor list. Could you do that?” And then you hush.
"If I live up to my commitments, I would like for you to put me on your approved vendor list. Could you do that?"
They say, "Sure, that’s a reasonable thing."
At the end of the inspection, when the client’s doing something else, you say to the agent, "Okay, did I do it or not?"
They'll say, "You sure did."
And you'll say, "Can I count on you to put me on your list?"
If they don't do it right away, you can follow up with a nice note. "Hey, when we met, this was our agreement. Love you to put me on there."
What you've done is leverage marketing directly to the public to get a new referral source.
With the current inventory shortage, you need every piece of business you can get.
Another strategy is to almost demand that the client be there from the minute you start.
"Truth be known," Coach William says, "every inspector would rather the client not be there. It makes things go more quickly. You can focus and go. But the fact is that you want them there. We don’t demand it, but we highly recommend it.
"The first reason is, it’s hard sue a friend. If you can turn the client from an acquaintance to a friend, somebody who trusts you, you’ve reduced your liability substantially.
"Second, not only are they able to gain the knowledge of what you’re pointing out to them, but they understand the due diligence that you gave things. All the nooks and crannies and what you couldn’t see and all that good stuff. It eliminates those questions after the fact. Our number one complaints come from people who weren’t there. It’s almost a guaranteed call back.
Another strategy is to almost demand that the client be there from the minute you start. Our number one complaints come from people who weren’t there. It’s almost a guaranteed call back.
"I want to get future work from them and that’s hard to do if you just produce a report and never say anything to them. In 90% or better of the inspections we do, the client’s there."
Another reason for them to be there is that we want to make that client a raving brand fan. We train our inspectors this way: "Here’s what you do, and here’s how you do it. Here’s how you look, and here’s how you act." Referrals from their prior clients are part of their performance evaluation, because I need everybody on the team to help with that.
If you get a third of your business or more from prior clients, you wake up every month and say, ” A third of my goals are already met.” How positive is that?
The Savvy Inspector has all kinds of advanced, intermediate, and beginner strategies. You can’t implement some advanced things until you get some of the fundamental things in place. Underneath each segment are strategies that you can engage in for success.
Take The Savvy Inspector Approach
Everybody’s busy, and not everybody has the same background and experience. The Savvy Inspector shares with you what you need to do and why you need to do it. We give you the tools to make it happen.
But here's is the most important thing: He who implements wins.
Here's is the most important thing: He who implements wins.
What was Coach William's key to success, in going from a struggling one-man shop, praying this thing would go forward, to nine home inspectors and growing?
"Implementing things, one bite of the elephant at a time, and perfecting them. I'd grab a piece that looked like it made sense or that would be fairly simple to implement. I'd grab that strategy, that market segment, and start implementing it. If I got great results, I'd improve on it and keep working. If I didn’t get great results, I'd yank it back, tweak it, and try it again."
He concedes that taking some workshops was like "drinking from a fire hose": "We were so blown away by the information that came from the stage, and then from the after-hour mingling. Sherri and I filled up two college-bound notebooks. Our heads were down most of the time; we were scratching, trying to keep up.
"After that workshop, we weeded through the information and picked two or three things that we thought were simple to start implementing. You can’t do it all at once. We implemented one thing, perfected it, and went on to the next thing.
"You would think that, over time, you would use up all the strategies. But being in the group and in mastermind groups and being involved… Everybody’s got something, and if they don’t have a brand new thing, they’ve taken something old and tweaked it to make it new. Or they’ve done something you’ve done but done it a different way. So it never ends. And the market’s always evolving, and our marketing has to evolve with it."
Today our workshops have breakout sessions, so that you can focus on a particular topic, if you want. Maybe it’s financials, or hiring, or training, or marketing to top producers. You’d come to the workshop and then focus on that one aspect. Everything from the workshop would still be available to you afterwards, so you'd be able to put all your attention on that one thing while you're there.
Choose your strategy, and implement it until you perfect it. Then move on to the next one. That’s what we’ve done and we continue to do everyday.
You don’t have to dream up strategies. We have them. We've proved they work. Things that didn’t work don’t land on the website.
The first thing to do is implement what we teach you. Many people say, “Oh, I’m going to do it this way,” instead of the way we taught it. Then they come back and say that the strategy didn’t work. We say, “Show us what you did.” Then we say, "The strategy didn’t fail you. You failed the strategy, because you didn’t implement it correctly." When they go back and do it correctly, then they win with it.
People pay us to give them tough love.
So be an implementer first. Then, when you're Coach William's size, with the big staff and the number of inspectors he has, you can become an innovator. He's been here so many years that he can take the strategies and say, "We can do this better this way at our firm."
You have everything you need on The Savvy Inspector website. Our inner circle group is very inexpensive, and there's no contract to sign. We have to earn your business each and every month. As long as we’re providing tremendous value and you're growing your business, you'll be with us.
We have clients like Coach William who have been there since the door opened. "I learn something new every time, because we’ve got mastermind groups and different folks of our caliber doing the same thing. They can’t wait to share. That’s the kind of thing you get when you’re a Savvy member, versus at your local association meeting, where everybody's scared to death they’re going to share their little secret with a competitor.
"I learn something new every time, because we’ve got mastermind groups and different folks of our caliber, doing the same thing. They can’t wait to share."
"It's a whole different paradigm at these workshops. There’s real camaraderie. These folks are my friends, and I continue to add new friends. We go there to visit with our friends and catch up. It's a great time, great group of people."
Between workshops, we have a private Facebook group called TSI Engage for our coaching clients. It has a lot of interaction, day in and day out. Everybody’s helping each other, and Coach William and I and the rest of our team answer questions and help them as well. But they’re really helping and sharing with each other. There’s no holding back.
Write These Things Down
Let me leave you with two things.
First, the Law of Attraction: What you focus on most, you get more of.
The Law of Attraction: What you focus on most, you get more of.
One of the things that makes The Savvy Inspector clients so successful is their focus on their success, on achieving their goals.
Second, the saying you see all over The Savvy site: He who implements wins.
He who implements wins.
We can give you great information. We can tell you what to do and why to do it. We can give you the tools to do it. But if you don’t do it, you will not win. And that would be sad.
You need to become a marketer of home inspection services, because of the external factors in the market. It’s never been more important to understand where you are, what your goals are, and how you’re going to get business. We don't want you to go out of business. We want you to thrive and gain market share, while everybody else goes out of business.
That's why we maintain the focus we do.