Over the past couple years, I have been keeping a mental record of the things that growing inspection firms do, to ensure growth year after year. The industry has came a tremendously long way especially when it comes to technology, networking, education, and outsourcing. Growing businesses in every industry are constantly evolving, and that is no different in the inspection world. These are some items to consider when striving to grow your home inspection business.
1. By far and away, the easiest step to accomplish in today’s world, is AUTOMATING PROCESSES. It is imperative to not waste time on simple tasks that can be automated. Inspection Support Network (https://www.inspectionsupport.net/) has done a tremendous job ensuring that almost all administrative processes can be automated. Whether it be taking payments, scheduling inspections, or preventing the infamous retyping of information 7 times with every inspection, their platform can help! You also want to make sure that you report writing platform integrates with any value added services/or software you use, in the business. Ideally you want to something up once, and then forget about it and know that it is working on your behalf in the background. The days of writing reports on paper and through a word processor are over, and inspectors that leverage today’s software can be 90% + done with the report by the end of the inspection. In fact that should be the goal of all inspection firms today. This is also something that clients in today’s world expect. Everything in their life has shifted to technology so they are not going to be impressed with a printed out word doc with a bunch of text on it or having to wait for a report.
2. Working with your PEERS in the inspection community is essential. Now by no means are we suggesting that you and your competitors talk strategy, but with everyone in the country being so connected through technology, it is incredibly easy to learn from other inspection firms that are outside of your market. There are many organizations out there like InterNACHI (https://www.nachi.org/), and ASHI (http://www.homeinspector.org/), that host events every year where you can meet other inspectors and learn with and through them. There are groups like Mastermind Inspector Community (http://www.mikecrow.com/), or the Savvy Inspector (https://www.thesavvyinspector.com/) that are specifically built to help you grow your business. And there are popular inspector communities on both Facebook and LinkedIn where you can connect digitally with other inspectors to discuss best practices. We have worked closely with some of these groups in recent years and have found that inspectors in these communities are heads and shoulders above many of their counterparts. The primary reason is because they work with other inspectors to find out what is, and what isn’t working and what today’s best practices are. Further, we all learn from making mistakes, but if you can prevent some of the standard speed bumps, and hurdles, by learning from others mistakes, you will continue a growth trajectory without too many hiccups.
3. Some inspection firms have excelled at capturing value through SATELLITE BUSINESSES. The concept is relatively simple; you have clients who need services and you have a ‘sister company’ that can service them instead of handing off to another firm. These offerings can be simple to complex and can also allow you to capture revenue from even competitor businesses who wouldn’t use your inspection business but would use a company under a separate name/brand. doing radon tests/mitigation. Other examples of companies could be sewer scoping, training, software, pest control/mitigation and even fairly simple/mundane tasks like gutter cleaning. The important part is to make sure that the offering fits the geography and the need so look for sectors that are underserved for the demand within your locale.
4. If you want to grow you have to have THE RIGHT PEOPLE. Companies are people when it comes right down to it. You need to find qualified individuals who mesh well with your process, your culture, your vision, and be there for the long haul. Training schools can be a phenomenal network to accomplish this. If you talk to any successful multi inspector firm, they have a very specific process that they like to go through to hire and train an inspector, but at the end of the day, what they are looking for is very straight forward. You want to hire individuals that share the same goals, that are driven to learn, driven to grow, and driven to do the best possible work they can. Many inspection firms don’t want to hire people that have been inspectors for 10 years, they want to get a passionate individual that has the personality, charisma, and drive to become the best inspector they can. It might be that someone who doesn’t have a background doing inspections could be significantly easier to train and coach into a successful member of your team. One closing point: It is important to think about your brand when hiring someone, even if it’s a marketing person in the office. All it takes is one mistake with personnel to burn a bridge that costs you a relationship. Every employee is a reflection of your business.
5. OUTSOURCING is absolutely critical. In order to grow any business, you need the right building blocks. You need to have efficient processes. You need a system that runs flawlessly. It’s also important recognize where your strengths are and where they are not. If you aren’t the best sales person, and you don’t do well at office meetings with agents, then hire someone who excels at that. They will pay for themselves in a matter of a few meetings. If you aren’t of the digital age, you can outsource social media and website curation! One of the biggest flaws I see from some unbelievably knowledged inspectors is an outdated website that doesn’t clearly illustrate the quality of their inspection Full View Digital (https://fullviewdigital.com/), ran by Ian Robertson, specializes in website curation and social media marketing. Ian works closely with inspectors and markets and has a true digital marketing mindset. He works closely with the firm during the process, making sure they are on the same page, and can even help inspectors to build video content!
Another item to consider outsourcing is a call center. Every missed call can be a missed job.. It is that simple today. Further, you can’t be answering the phone 24/7 and be doing a great job at your inspections and giving your clients attention. It usually isn’t cost effective for single and small multi-inspector firms to have a full time person for this and may not even make sense for larger multi-inspector firms. Many of our clients are huge advocates of America’s Call Center (http://americascallcenter.com/) as a resource that is worth every penny. You will have a team of folks that become experts in your process, your services, and can answer questions from clients and agents, and even book inspections for you. There are other companies in the space that provide a great call service, like Perceptionist. There are so many great companies out there to take advantage of, and at the end of the day they are all there to help you succeed.
(BONUS) 6. The other topic to consider is how to PREVENT THE ONE TIME CLIENT. This frankly is mind boggling to me, are inspectors really content with having a one time client and that’s it? Some inspection firms have over 10,000 previous clients, that is an entire market of people that you have already built a relationship with. What if there was a way to monetize them further, and ensure year after year revenue? Possibly through doing something like wind mitigations if you’re in Florida, or pest inspections, or maybe it’s something a lot more simple like an Annual Home Inspection, that you can start marketing and doing immediately. Many businesses start to flat line when the season gets a little slower, and there are way in which you can augment your revenue, like wade has, to eliminate seasonality, that aren’t reliant upon a transaction. Something to think about moving forward…
As you can see in all the above, there are a number of ways in which you can grow an inspection business but you need not do all of them from the start. Think about where you are limited at the moment: People, Operations, Sales, Marketing, Technology or Knowledge and find just a couple ways to begin to make improvements to grow your business. As is often said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with just a few steps.