I understand this can be a controversial topic. Most home inspectors have very strong feelings about paying to play in real estate offices. Most of the inspectors I talk to are opposed to the idea of having to pay to gain access to a real estate office. I certainly understand their feelings but pay to play can get you a very positive return on your investment if you do it correctly, so that's why I want to discuss it here.
Below I'm going to share some of the pros and cons of pay to play.
First, The Pros…
1. Most pay to play agreements state that there will be no more than "X" number of home inspectors allowed to market the agents in that office. The number is generally three home inspectors. The real opportunity here is that all other inspectors would be denied an opportunity to get into the office and build relationships with the agents.
2. In most pay to play offices the broker will promote you over their Intranet system (their internal communication system) that the office has in place.
3. You can leave your material and literature in the office, generally in the agent area where they'll have easy access to it.
4. You get lots of opportunities to speak to the agents, via lunch and learns, sales meetings and continuing education classes.
5. You will have an opportunity to participate in their charity events and sponsor some of their other activities as well.
6. In many instances you will be able to attend their awards banquet and other celebration events like birthday parties.
7. Most pay to play offices will provide you the email addresses of their agents so that you can send them quality material that they can use with their clients.
Note: One of the things we do when working with our clients is ask them what else they would like to have from the pay to play office in the agreement. I've learned over the years that everything is negotiable and in many cases we can work with the person in charge of this program to get some additional benefits inspector wants.
Now For The Cons.
1. The fee to be in a pay to play office can be as much a $600 a month.
2. Pay to play is illegal in many states. Please know it's your responsibility to understand whether or not it's legal in your state.
3. The agents in the office are not required to use anyone on the pay to play list. They are independent contractors and remain free to choose the inspector they like best.
Okay, let's assume pay to play is legal in your state and you want to understand how you can get a positive return on investment from your marketing dollars.
This Is The Key.
Your goal is to move the real estate agents in that pay to play office from acquaintances into friends. When that happens your firm will see serious growth. If you effectively take advantage of all that's offered in the agreement you will get a positive return on your investment from this strategy. We have clients that get more than 1,000% return annually from pay to play.
Home inspectors fail with this strategy because they pay but then they never go in to the office. They don't build relationships. Or in many cases, they going to the offices and don't take advantage of everything that's available. Lots of inspectors will start off strong in the office but then fade out over time. They would have been better off never investing in the strategy.
For the strategy to be effective you have got to be in that pay to play office on a regular basis. Through this you can turn those real estate agents from acquaintances into friends.