One of the many
benefits of getting away from agent referrals is that you will have more
control of your fees and be able to charge appropriately (more) for your
Marketing Without Real Estate Agents
By Dennis Robitaille
I will be the
first to admit that it is difficult for a new inspector to obtain enough
business without the assistance of real estate agents. Although, now in
every inspector is equal from a marketing standpoint, since real estate
agents are prohibited from directly referring inspectors. Inspectors who
work in the best interest of their client do not have to look over their
shoulder worrying about what the agent thinks and can concentrate on
performing a beneficial service for their client, the home buyer.
There are many things a new inspector or even a
veteran can do to market his or her services to avoid or reduce the
dependency of agents. For new inspectors, unfortunately, it may take a year
or two for the marketing to produce profitable results. This is some of the
advice I give to new inspectors who want or have to work without real estate
agents; most of these suggestions, I have used myself with success.
As a new
inspector you should be prepared for:
1. Days without work.
2. To spend a lot of money on advertising your business.
3. Work very long and hard hours.
One of the
first things to do, if you haven’t already done so, is to create a website
for your company.
well done website is one of the fastest ways help steer prospective
clients to you. You can reach more people with more text for less money than
any other advertising media. Seek out professional assistance in building
your site. Do a search for “home inspectors” and a search for “(your state)
home inspectors”. Look at the top 10 returns. Get some ideas from these
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To build for
the future, the following should be considered.
1. Join your
local and regional Chamber of Commerce.
2. See if your local cable TV station offers any type of programming geared
towards consumer protection. If so, offer your services, if not, suggest
such programming to the station management.
3. Drive around your neighborhood checking out houses for exterior problems,
such as aging chimneys, roof defects, poor grading, etc. (Whatever is
visible from the street or sidewalk) When you come across something put a
card hanger on their door knob (or anyplace the owner will see it, except
don’t put it in the mail box) that has an informational letter telling the
homeowner what you saw while driving/walking by. In the letter suggest they
visit your website for further information. The letter should also tell them
that you are trying to build your inspection business by word of mouth,
without soliciting real estate agents, and that if they know anyone in need
of an inspection to please pass along your name. Include a brochure and some
4. Look for "open houses," drop off a brochure to the homeowner or mail one
out. (Many of these sellers will be buyers as well.) Send post cards to new
home purchasers offering warranty inspections. Send post cards to every
house you know of that is for sale (FSBO or otherwise). Most of these people
will be potential inspection clients for other properties.
5. Produce a monthly or quarterly newsletter.
a. Send it to every attorney in your area.
b. Send it to the addresses on the open house advertisements.
c. Ask your clients if they would like to be e-mailed a copy of it.
(Keep a database of your client’s e-mail addresses.)
6. Look for "for sale by owner" magazines, place ads in them. Be sure to
state that you work independently of real estate agents.
7. Conduct homebuyer seminars. Invite an attorney and mortgage person to
join with you in the presentation. You could rent a hotel room for it, or
you could obtain a hall from a civic organization. Your hometown / city may
also have a first time homebuyers program that might give you the
opportunity to make a presentation.
8. Write a column for the newspapers (such as "ask the inspector") it may
cost you a few dollars, however, if it is not too self-promoting they may
run it for nothing.
9. Your inspection vehicle should have your company name, phone number and
website address on it. (I use to use the magnetic type)
10. Go to your City/Town Hall and get the addresses of people who just took
out marriage licenses, and the ones who just got a divorce. Do a mailing to
11. Offer to do "free" inspections for friends and relatives to start
building up your client base or offer free phone consultations for first
time buyers looking to avoid buying a problem house. Turn every friend and
relative into a salesperson for you.
12. When you get paying clients, turn them into salespersons for you. (I
like to think of my 6,000 plus past clients as my sales force.) Take a look
at my own client comment page
here. In addition to getting testimonials reward them for referring your
service. Send them movie passes or gift certificates.
13. Keep your name in front of your past clients. When you come across an
article on the Internet that your past clients would find informative /
helpful pertaining to their home, e-mail them the link to the site. (People
have become a bit intolerant of unsolicited e-mail, so I would limit this to
fairly important articles and would limit the number of e-mails to no more
than 2 per year.) If you have the time, print out the article and mail it.
There is always at least one good article every year in major newspapers
pertaining to home ownership.
14. Not marketing to agents can be an advantage. You can let everyone know
that you believe it is a potential conflict of interest for real estate
agents to refer home inspectors. Let the home buying public know that you do
not solicit real estate agents for client leads.
15. Don’t reject real estate agent referrals. Just don’t let the source of
your business influence how you do your job. A small percentage of real
estate agents appreciate honest, full disclosure type home inspections
without the sugar coating. You will also discover that agents who don’t
refer you, calling you for their own home inspections or for their family
One of the many benefits of getting away from agent referrals is that you
will have more control of your fees and be able to charge appropriately
(more) for your services.
About the Author
Dennis Robitaille is founder or Independent Home Inspectors of North
America. Being a member of
IHINA is one way to get you recognition from the educated homebuyer.
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