Business Dos & Don’ts
In an online chat room recently, a struggling new inspector asked advice from the seasoned pros: “What are the three best and worst things you did to get your business started?” Here’s how a few answered.
- Went to ASHI/CREIA chapter meetings. It’s a great way to meet other inspectors and learn from them. Online forums are a great help but it’s not as good as a face to face.
- Recognized my limitations and got education in the areas I needed help.
- Did not pander to agents.
The three things I wasted time and money on when I first started are:
- Phone book ads.
- Marketing to Realtors.
- Advertising in real estate rags.
Marketing Tip: One big misconception about print advertising is that you can take out an ad today and get results tomorrow. That rarely happens. In general, for print advertising to be effective, it has to be a long term effort. People have to get used to seeing your name in a certain newspaper or magazine every time they open it. Then when they are ready for an inspector, they remember seeing your ad. I advertise in some upscale magazines in the Houston area and those ads didn’t pull until they have been there several months. Now I get regular business from them. If you only run print ads every once in a while, chances are you’ll be throwing away your money. Save that money to market your website or use mailers to send to a selected demographic.
- Got good training and interned with a respected, well-established inspector.
- Bought good tools, equipment and clothing/boots.
- Built a good web site and advertised it.
- Set prices too low.
- Marketed to “heavy hitter” agents.
- Advertised at agent events and trade shows.
- Learned as much as I possibly could before stepping foot in the field.
- Had a professional website built.
- Advertised on www.homeinspections-usa.com.
Note: This has been only real effective advertising I have done. (This is not a blatant plug for the company.) The ad I have with them continuously pays for itself over and over again.
Time, effort and money wasters:
- Newspaper advertising.
- Mass mailings of any type to agents.
- Phonebook advertising.
Business Tip: Sit down and figure what it costs you to do an inspection. Figure out what your profit margin should be. Work hard to be a good but profitable inspector.
Three top things that I did to grow my business in the first year.
- Join NACHI. They are by far the most helpful for new inspectors.
- Spent most of my time on marketing, meeting agents, attending Board of Realtor meetings, etc.
- Found a niche. In my area there was a need for an inspector who could provide top-quality professional services. That is how I market myself.