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Putting the Pro in Professionalism
by Kate Ivey, HomeGauge
As an inspector, you have an important job. Not only do you help people decide on a huge investment but you also help to ensure their comfort and safety. Knowing the ins and outs of a home’s systems is the most important part of the job, but you must also know how to run a business in a professional manner. Here are some ideas to help you freshen up your company’s professionalism.
Make a Great First Impression
The majority of your clientele are going to hire you before they meet you. This means that you need to make a great first impression without being present. How do you do that? The first place most people look for an inspector is online. In this day and age you need to have a quality website if you want to be found and contacted. Your website should have information about who you are and what sets you apart from the other inspection companies in your area. It’s important to include a picture of yourself (and your team if you have one) so that your client feels comfortable and confident about who they will be meeting.
Your website should have information about who you are and what sets you apart from the other inspection companies in your area. It’s important to include a picture of yourself (and your team if you have one) so that your client feels comfortable and confident about who they will be meeting.
Once they’ve made the decision to contact you, make sure they have a pleasant experience. When you answer the phone, do so in a kind and professional manner. Say hello and let them know who they are speaking to so that they know they’ve called the right place. Make sure your voicemail has been set up and that the message clearly states who you are and when they can expect to hear back from you. If you have a non-descriptive voicemail message, or it is full, they are likely to go back to their search and reach out to someone else. If you aren’t able to answer the phone or have office staff do so, consider hiring a call center to pick up the slack when you’re unavailable.
Keep the Conversation Going
Now that your client has hired you, continue that positive experience by staying in touch with them regularly throughout the process. Make sure they know what to expect and when to expect it. Before the inspection, send them information about what your inspection does and does not cover in accordance with your state’s or association’s standards. A lot of first-time homebuyers aren’t aware that you cannot see through walls or go digging through things looking for issues and that a home inspection is not a home warranty. Any lack of clarity from you, in your agreement or even in your marketing, can lead to upset clients and agents, bad reviews, and potential lawsuits. Make sure you send a pre-inspection agreement to your client for a signature ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page. Some E&O providers require a pre-inspection agreement to be signed prior to the inspection as a condition of coverage.
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You also want to keep your clients and agents notified about the upcoming inspection. A recent survey by HomeHubZone found that 93 percent of agents said they are more likely to recommend an inspector who proactively communicates with them via text or email. So, send them a reminder of the date and time and any other information they may need prior to the inspection. Make sure that they know if you need utilities on or someone present. After the inspection, let them know when they can expect their report and how to address follow-up questions.
Presence and Demeanor
Be on time for the inspection! If you get caught in unexpected traffic or are delayed for any reason, communicate that to your clients. They’re much more likely to forgive you if you let them know versus them waiting around wondering if you’re going to show. As for your ride, you don’t need a brand-new, fully- wrapped pickup truck to prove you’re a good inspector. But you should have a decent and clean vehicle. Uber requires its drivers to have a car that is 15 years old or newer, and that’s a pretty good rule of thumb to follow. You should generally avoid political or religious bumper stickers on your business vehicle.
You should also be wearing branded clothes with your company logo and have a neat appearance. You should have shoe covers available if needed. There’s a lot of debate whether or not inspectors can or should wear shorts, but if you are in a climate like South Florida, no one will bat an eye at your khaki shorts. During the inspection, you’re in charge. Be polite to the seller and agent and do what you’re trained to do. If you don’t know the answer to something, let them know that you’ll look into it and get back to them. In this business you never stop learning and it’s okay to not know everything.
Report Delivery and Post Inspection
After you’ve completed the inspection, impress them with your report. These days, most people expect an online presentation for their report rather than a printout or emailed PDF. Choose your report writing system wisely because your report is your final product. Having an informative and interactive report will keep your clients and your real estate agents coming back for more. Include videos in your report to capture defects that are hard to describe or see in an image, such as a slow leak or a strange sound. You can even use video to explain a finding or show a unique feature of a home or property. New technology such as 360-degree cameras are a great way to reduce your liability and eliminate hundreds of extra pictures in the report. You can also add a bonus home tour with 360-degree images of each room that your clients will appreciate. Providing a thorough inspection and interactive report, with tools your clients can use to create a repair list to negotiate the purchase, is sure to have you looking like a pro — and will lead to you being recommended as one, too.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Reviews
Your clients and agents can help spread the word about your business for you. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get and reviews are a part of that process. Why do some inspectors have so many online reviews? The answer is almost always that they ask for them. Ask for a review after the inspection in person or by email. Building some online reviews in different places (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.) will have a positive impact on your business and will give you great SEO benefits. If you interact and respond to your online reviews, that’s even better — it’s one final step that shows you are responsive to your clients.
Being a professional inspector is more than just knowing your trade. You need to make a good first impression, keep your clients and agents informed, and deliver a great report. Buying and selling a home is already confusing and complicated but being confident and professional will make your clients feel at ease. Best of all, happy clients leave positive reviews and refer you to their friends, family, and social networks!
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About the Author
Kate Ivey has been working with inspectors for nearly 7 years and has spent a lot of time helping them start and grow their businesses. Kate is the Marketing Manager for HomeGauge and previously managed the web development and SEO teams. She has spent hundreds of hours researching and testing the best marketing practices for inspectors. You can check out all HomeGauge has to offer at homegauge.com.
Note: The Summer 2019 issue of Working RE Inspector is mailing now to over 20,000 home inspectors nationwide. OREP Insureds enjoy guaranteed delivery of each print magazine and many more benefits.