Growing a home inspection business is a daunting task, particularly for newly certified inspectors or those just starting plans for expansion. There is no shortage of advice online, and most experts stress the importance of reliability and trustworthiness as core qualities of any successful home inspector. But most understand that other business practices are necessary in order to win and keep work in the home inspection industry.
Define Metrics and Set Goals
Working RE suggests employing the SMART method in establishing your business’ goals. SMART here means Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, and is a common tool for businesses across industries in assessing their goals, as it forces strategists to really think about what it is you they to achieve. Make sure the goals you come up with pass the SMART criteria test before pressing onward.
The ASHI Reporter lists increasing the number of clients and customers as a top method for inspectors to grow their businesses; however, it can be difficult for new home inspectors to find customers in competitive marketplaces, especially when services they provide only allow for infrequent interaction, often without recurrence. Finding ways to increase conversion rates, improve lead generation, and diversify methods of customer acquisition are all viable ways of gaining new work. Beyond that, effective communication with potential clients through marketing efforts has great potential to accelerate the growth of your business.
Differentiate Your Service for a Target Market
Marketing a service requires you to create value for your clients, but identifying and communicating that value requires you to understand what your clients are looking for. You must define your target audience (for example, new home buyers) and figure out what that group wants in a home inspector. Working RE suggests that an inspector who targets new home buyers may find they are more interested in an inspector who is able to guide them through making an informed decision on their property, rather than one who provides the most comprehensive reports. Alternatively, the growing number of young tech-centered buyers have come to expect digital reports and online web applications like HomeBinder to help manage their home.
Create a value proposition based on the conclusions you’ve learned to about your target audience. A value proposition is simply a summation the services, qualities, and features you plan on attracting your clients with. Once that’s in place use these values to create marketing materials to be distributed to potential clients based on their interests. Don’t focus on price, rather the things that make you and your service unique.
Differentiation goes hand-in-hand with your value proposition. After establishing your goals, defining your target audience, and doing research on what exactly they’re looking for, you may find that you offer what they want! You may also find that your competitors do as well. Finding a way to separate yourself from the crowd will make it easier for interested people to find your service, and make you seem more valuable than the rest of the marketplace. Equipped with this knowledge of your target audience and value, produce marketing materials that make clear why you’re valuable and distribute them through means and in places where your audience will be most receptive.
Knowing about the person you’re selling to and being able to quickly explain why your service is perfect for them in particular is arguably the most important aspect of the sales process. Nobody can tell you what to say here because only you what makes your service unique, if you’ve chosen the right target market and thought hard about your value proposition then writing an effective sales pitch should be no problem.
Build Your Referral Network
The Reporter also suggests that inspectors turn to social media, an underutilized promotional tool for this industry, to facilitate growth. According to the article, the three F’s (fear, futility, and frequency) associated with social media are primary reasons why most inspectors stay off of services like facebook and Twitter. But they need not. With proper confidence, flexibility, and willingness to learn, any inspector can make their presence online a key asset in marketing efforts. There are plenty of resources online to ensure your time online is being used effectively and efficiently, don’t be afraid to use them. Social Media can be valuable but it requires a significant time investment to earn a positive ROI, so be prepared to spend 5-10 hours a week.
While these strategies may prove effective for incremental growth, most inspectors rely heavily on a referral base made up of past customers and real estate agent partners to generate the majority of their work. Even established inspectors can benefit from showing local agents how their service exceeds that of their competition. The authors of InterNACHI’s How to Quadruple Your Inspection Business make the case for this referral base being nearly the only marketing tool required for explosive growth, and outlines methods to prompt referrals from past clients.
One such method is to supply past customers with several copies of a home maintenance book along with a business card, encouraging individuals to give these items to friends and family who are on the market for a new home. Another inspector claims they earned over 100 inspections in two years due to branded tape measures he left at the property. A similar strategy they suggest is to record and distribute an online video outlining your business and services, once again encouraging customers to share the materials with friends and family who may be interested. Of course, this sort of prodding for referrals from customers is only as effective as you are as an influencer – the books and tape measures won’t do you much good if they’re just sitting on a shelf collecting dust and the video won’t be worth the investment if hardly anybody views it.
Focus on Agents
Successful home inspectors often depend on real estate agents to supply the majority of their referrals; in fact, for many inspectors 80% of work comes directly from real estate agents. Real estate agents are usually some of the first individuals prospective homeowners contact when entering the buying process and control the flow of recommendations for buyers. Unlike inspectors, agents are also able to pool resources under a brokerage, gaining capital that allows for aggressive advertising campaigns to broaden their reach further still.
Even though home inspectors draw from the same client pool, they lack similar access and marketing means. To put it lightly, agents have the market access inspectors need: consequently, the majority of established inspectors maintain their practice through referrals from agents. Despite the occasionally contentious situations, it’s clear that agents are the most valuable relationships for inspectors to grow their business.
It can be very difficult for newly certified inspectors to wedge themselves into these agents’ short lists. With very limited opportunity for product differentiation, home inspectors must often go out of their ways to build strong partner relationships with agents. Because of important RESPA rules that somewhat limit the services that can be offered, inspectors must find ways to make their business stand out from the crowd – motivating agents to refer their practice over others’.
Use HomeBinder to Grow Your Business
HomeBinder helps bridge that gap for inspectors in need of differentiation. HomeBinder is a complete online home management system, and through maintenance reminders and recall notifications allows for indefinite interactions between the system and the homeowner. All of these interactions can be branded with inspectors’ and/or agents’ logos and signatures, providing a low cost and low maintenance trickle marketing campaign for both parties. The binder can either be co-branded or simply fully handed over to the real estate agent for them to brand fully themselves.
Agents have a lot of interest in keeping in contact with their past clients, and any means to do so without seeming intrusive or desperate is quite simply a must-have asset to them. Hence, access to HomeBinder communications is a strong tool to reinforce agent-inspector relationships.
Inspectors using HomeBinder as part of their service can download this presentation, put their logo on it and have a reason to go in to speak at a weekly brokerage meeting. By offering affordable marketing opportunities to both inspectors and agents, this is a simple tool to provide just the incentive recently minted inspectors require to earn more work.
To set up a Binder is simple and quick, yet can make a material difference in an inspector’s ‘funnel’ size moving forward. In taking just a few minutes to populate a new HomeBinder during normal procedures, inspectors can provide value to the buyer, the agent, and themselves all while earning more work and distinguishing their service over the competition.
HomeBinder currently offers a free trial to inspectors and agents interested in harnessing this powerful online tool. To access the trial, navigate to our Inspectors page and hit the Request Free Trial button. After filling providing name and email address (no credit card info required!) you will receive an email from the HomeBinder service.