Dear Barry: As a marketing and advertising professional, I have been assisting my husband to build his new business as a professional home inspector. But it has been more difficult to market his services than those of my other clients. How do I crack this nut and get him more inspection referrals and inspection customers? Do you have any suggestions? –Karen
Dear Karen: You have made a rare discovery, usually known only to successful home inspectors: Marketing a home inspection business is different than marketing any other product or service. It cannot be done with public advertising because homebuyers seldom select their own home inspector. In most cases, they rely on referrals from real estate agents.
Marketing, therefore, must be targeted toward Realtors, and it must be done on a personalized basis.
Marketing to Realtors requires an understanding of the differing interests that motivate agents in their choosing of home inspectors. Some agents appreciate highly detailed inspections, but some do not. Referrals from either group are welcome, but marketing should be approached as though every agent desires total disclosure of property defects.
Real estate agents with high standards of ethics — the ones who honestly represent the interests of clients — would walk away from a deal rather than compromise the truth. They prefer home inspectors who are highly experienced and provide detailed, comprehensive disclosure. These agents typically do not recommend new and inexperienced home inspectors.
Agents who are ethically challenged — the ones who represent their commission check — would rather bend the facts than lose the sale. They prefer home inspectors who are less experienced and less thorough, who disclose fewer defects and make the closing of escrow more certain.
This is where entry-level home inspectors often obtain their first referrals. Agents of this kind will proclaim the virtues of home inspection and total disclosure. However, give them a thorough report and you may not hear from them again. …CONTINUED
But that’s OK, because inspectors gain experience one inspection at a time, and thorough reports will attract business from the better agents, the ones who appreciate a quality inspection.
In the meantime, you and your husband must market his services in a straightforward and honest manner to all agents. This must be done on a daily basis, face-to-face and by e-mail, one-on-one and to groups. He should visit real estate offices at every opportunity, introduce himself to agents and brokers, and provide promotional materials that are informative and interesting.
Agents are busy people. You must remind them repeatedly that you are here and that you are interested in working with them. They must know your husband by name, face and reputation. The results will not be immediate, but little by little the trust of one agent and then another will be gained.
If an agent’s regular inspector is suddenly unavailable, your husband’s name will come to mind as an alternate because your marketing efforts will have caused him to be remembered.
Referrals will gradually increase, and so will your husband’s abilities as an inspector. In the end, the work he does for each client will become his most effective marketing tool.
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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