by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Rich Carlisle
Effective marketing is the most critical aspect of a home inspector’s ability to get business. The people you are targeting are Realtors -- not their clients -- since they know very little about home inspections. Home buyers and sellers will trust their Realtor and they will judge your abilities based on how well you presented yourself to their Realtor. The client has a small window of time to make their decision, and you want to stand out when the Realtor makes their recommendation. Since this all happens in your absence, your marketing material will speak for you and will determine whether you get the job.
Many inspectors rely on the same marketing techniques as their competitors. They don’t understand the competitive edge they will gain if they put just a little more thought and money into their presentation. InterNACHI’s Home Inspection Kit, available to InterNACHI members through Inspector Outlet.com
, includes everything that a Realtor wants to see in a presentation kit: a place for an inspection summary; the inspection report; a pre-closing checklist; a home inspection agreement; a copy of the Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics, and Glossary of Terms; and a copy of “The Homeowner's Handbook,” all in one attractive package.
Follow the instructions below to learn what to do with the kits once you receive them.
- Call all of your existing Realtor contacts to tell them you have just updated your entire inspection package and would like to stop by to show it to them and leave a sample package. You can tell them that you need only five minutes to show them your new system. They may be hesitant to give up their time, but it's important that you see them in person. You likely get most of your inspection referrals from about 20% of the Realtors you know (following the "80/20 Rule"). Even though you get referrals from them often, you probably do not actually see them much in person. This is a great opportunity to have a little face-time with them. Just calling to say “Hi!” is great, but you really should have a reason to see them and take up their valuable time. To the 80% of the Realtors who give you 20% of your inspection referrals, it's even more important to see them, and this gives you a great reason.
- Now that you have confirmed some appointments, you need something to say when you get there. If the Realtor is pressed for time, get right to the point and keep it to about five minutes. The longer you're there, the better your relationship will be. The better you know someone, the more likely they're going to recommend you. What you need to show them is that you have upgraded your entire presentation package. You now use a printed binder that includes easy-to-read tabs, a Glossary of Terms to help their clients better understand their new house, and a pre-closing walk-through checklist for them to use after the inspection and just before they go to the closing. Of course, your new report presentation package also includes “The Homeowner's Handbook," a full-color guide on how to preserve the value of their home (a gift for them to keep). Ask for some business cards and offer to put one in the binder so their client will always have it on hand. Point out that, unlike other inspectors who just staple their reports or put them in a 10-cent folder, your new inspection kit is way too nice for someone to discard, and because it has “The Homeowner's Handbook” inside, they will probably keep it on their bookshelf.
- You should offer to leave the Realtor a copy as a tool for him to show the different inspector options that are available to their customers. Most likely, you will be the only inspector with enough forethought to have given a sample report with a full presentation kit.
- You should point out that one of the main reasons you upgraded to this new package is your belief that whatever the inspector does reflects on the Realtor, and you want to bring your image up to the highest level possible so that everything you do makes the Realtor look even better.
- Ask if there is one other Realtor in the office whom s/he respects -- a professional like himself -- who might like to see the benefits of your professional presentation kit. Ask if that Realtor is available and if you could you be introduced right now. If that's not possible, just leave an entire kit with the front office and then follow up with a phone call. When you call back, you have a reason to call; it’s to see if he got the package that you left for him and to tell him that the reason you left it was because, of all the people in the organization, your Realtor friend thought that he was the one person in the organization who might appreciate this upgraded professional package the most.
- Also ask if you could leave a copy in the lobby so that the public can compare the different inspectors in the area. If you're given permission to do so, write “Lobby Copy -- Do Not Remove” across the binder with a magic marker so it will stay there and not walk off with someone. For this presentation binder, glue your business card inside so that it stays there permanently. Always be sure to leave plenty of your brochures and business cards in the front and back pockets of the binder. Stop by on a regular basis to replenish the brochures and cards. That also gives you another opportunity to interact with the agents in the office.