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I'm sorry this just cracked me up


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Oh Pillar to Post, ok. They suck also. Pillar to Post company inspected my home on a realtor referral about 5 years ago. I'm still finding crap they missed. They are one of the reasons I got into this biz. To try and run them out of biz in my area.

The above quote was written by a home inspector that bought a house and had it inspected by a Pillar to Post Inspector.

What's funny to me is that after living in the house for 5 years, this home inspector still hasn't found all the problems, but chastised the Pillar to Post guy for not finding them all in three hours.

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I don't know much about P2P, but someone once posted a link to one of their webpages where they explained how an inspection wasn't really a search for defects...pretty "friendly" stuff.

After reading a Jowers post on the subject of contracts I added a line to mine that says I cannot do a perfect inspection and will not be able to find every single defect of any size. I've had a few clients bring it up at the signing. I tell 'em "I only get one chance, one good look, and have to do the best I can with it. If you buy the house and live in it you're almost certain to find some little thing or other that I missed, but it won't because I wasn't trying or didn't really care." I have yet to lose anyone on account of it.

Brian G.

Listen to the Jowers [:-graduat

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I overheard a new P2P franchisee at an inspectors' trade group meeting telling that all you needed was $22,000 to buy the franchise.

My only encounter "in the field" was when a realtor called me to cancel a job because P2P offered them a $75 coupon that they could present to their client for a P2P inspect. This was a case of "money talks", while "quality walks".

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With all due respect, I have not heard of a franchise company, especially in our profession, whose primary concern was anything other than selling franchises; or whose buyers are not typically inexperienced. Not a criticism, everyone has to start somewhere, just an observation based on the real world situation.

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Hi Crusty,

I'm an independent now, but I used to be a franchise. I sold my franchise just over 4 years ago. To be fair, I think you're making a mistake to generalize franchises as being inexperienced or not properly trained.

Franchisers have to be careful about who they accept as a franchisee, because one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel. I definitely don't think that it's a truism that franchisees, as a whole, are less experienced than their independent brethren.

As a matter of fact, despite their penchant for inflexible control of their franchisees and, in my opinion, "too" realtor friendly business practices, the franchise network I used to belong to had inspectors who were mostly from the trades and had a better understanding of construction and building science issues than most of the independents I've encountered.

As you say, everybody has to start someplace. At least the franchisers have some sort of training program born out of experience. Most independents don't get that.

Franchisers are only interested in selling franchises? Well, duh, what do you suppose a franchiser should be interested in? The franchiser gets a nice up-front fee, puts the franchisee through a couple of weeks training, which is more than most coming into this profession get, and then turns him/her loose. After that, the franchiser gets a percentage of the franchisee's gross for the life of the business.

The franchiser doesn't have to pay the E & O - that's the responsibility of the franchisee - but the franchiser is indemnified by the franchisee's E & O carrier. The franchiser doesn't have to hire and manage employee inspectors or pay the associated insurance and taxes that come along with having those. The franchiser doesn't pay for advertising expenses - that's the responsibility of individual franchisees.

The franchiser sells the franchisee proprietary software and marketing materials at a profit, and charges franchisees yearly dues to pay for the franchiser's marketing of their franchise concept in national publications and for technology upgrades. All-in-all, being a franchiser can be profitable if you do it right, so why not?

In exchange, the inspector gets an out-of-the-box business system and a built-in support network - something that most independents don't have. Marketing research has been done for them, the advertising slicks are already print-ready and a certain amount of ground-breaking in the area has already been accomplished by the franchiser and previous franchisees, so there is less flailing around and loss of time through trial and error like many independents have.

For instance, I moved to Seattle from Colorado Springs in mid-April, found an apartment, moved in, began operations and got my first inspection on May 3rd. I did 127 inspections through the remaining 8 months of the first calendar year, nearly 300 the following year and over 300 the year after that, without having known anyone locally. I did my 1,000 inspection just shy of my 4th year in the business.

I did that when my inspections are not realtor-friendly and I rarely finish an inspection in less than 3-1/2 hours. Also, I did it despite the fact that after 9 months in the business I refused to even go near a real estate office to do any marketing, and haven't since. Something else that sort of irked the franchiser.

The franchisee gets, to a certain degree - depending on number of franchises locally - a certain amount of 'brand' recognition. Now, I've heard lots of non-franchises scoff at the concept of 'brand' recognition in this business - saying that the business is too personalized for a brand to work - but I know from experience that it exists and is a large part of what makes franchises so successful at home inspections.

I can't tell you how many times I was told by a client upon arriving on-site, that the reason that they chose my company was because they'd seen so many of "our" vans around town. The flip side of that was that occasionally a job would be referred to me by another inspector, because he couldn't work it into his schedule, and the client would keep referring to the other guy as my 'boss' which kind of irked me.

That aside, the consistent look of the vehicles and uniforms definitely works to a franchise's advantage. Remember that we are dealing with a largely uneducated consumer base that knows very little about the profession, so they tend to hire those whom they 'think, have the most experience and the deepest pockets and will be around for the long haul. Franchises definitely give that impression.

It's also a mistake to think that franchises aren't properly trained. With my background, the ten days of training I went through at the franchiser's headquarters didn't provide me a whole lot of new information about the inspection process, but I was definitely better educated about marketing in general and, being totally ignorant of all things computer related, I was able to hit the ground running using a computer to produce my reports instead of a chintzy, scribbled-on carbon-paper checklist type report. Since I was trained on it at the HQ, I didn't have to learn the program by trial and error, like most in the business, and I was able to produce very nice reports immediately.

Annual training is also part of those systems. Franchisers mostly hold their own annual training conventions. Franchisees have to pay for the training and attending costs about the same as attending Inspection World. That's why you don't see that many franchisees at conventions for the major HI organizations. The training can be good or bad - depending on the trainer chosen - just like at regular conventions, but it is usually tailored to what the franchisees say they need and want.

There is a downside, all it takes is one franchise to screw something up royally and the whole network in a given area can be 'burnt' by scuttlebutt among their primary referral base - the real estate community.

Also, in the network I was in, our entire network once had our E & O revoked, because of one terminated franchisee who continued to operate under the same name for several years, while continuing to screw up. The plus side of that was that the franchiser, not the franchisees, went out and spent weeks and hundreds of hours located a new insurance company and negotiated a price that was acceptable for the entire network. If the same thing happens to an independent, the independent hasn't got the time, numbers or leverage to negotiate a better price with another insurance company and E & O can easily be doubled.

Another downside is that you aren't always free to make your own business decisions, despite the fact that your are supposed to be an "independent" franchise. If you make a business decision that pisses off one of your fellow franchisees, who complains to headquarters because you are "hurting" his/her business, or a popular real estate office that sends a lot of business to the network complains, you can find yourself being lectured and threatened with the loss of your franchise by someone who was not present for the incident and has very little appreciation of your point of view. That can make for a pretty tumultuous relationship with the franchiser, as I well know.

Herner vs. Housemaster has probably had some impact on the way that franchisers train their franchisees and the way that franchises market their individual businesses, but I don't think it was emblematic of all franchisees - just one inspector who might have had his head tucked up his butt at the time of the inspection and a flawed realtor-friendly marketing philosophy of the franchiser. It's a black eye for franchises and for the profession as a whole, but there are plenty of other things about this profession we can point at as being flawed. Franchises definitely do not have the "franchise" on those.

My view, for what it was worth.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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All valid observations Mike and there are exceptions to all generalizations. If I were to glean a point from my remark it would simply be that in a profession where knowledge, education and training are paramount, franchising and all the inherent good and evil that comes as the nature of the beast, the franchise process in general places marketing way too far ahead of the curve in relationship to training, creating a lot of people in risky positions doing a lot of business without proper training.

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Originally posted by crusty

the franchise process in general places marketing way too far ahead of the curve in relationship to training, creating a lot of people in risky positions doing a lot of business without proper training.

I can't agree. I don't think making marketing as the highest priority is a mistake for any business that must rely on distinguishing itself from a large pool of others in order to do business. Without some form of marketing we'd all be toast.

Although, my own experience with that particular franchise did find that they make what I think is an inordinate emphasis on marketing to a certain segment of the population - real estate folks - and that their methods seemed to cross the line, all-in-all the training was about evenly balanced between all aspects of running a business.

Because of my background, I didn't get a lot from it technically. However, I think that the average person coming into the business without a background in construction - at least with that franchiser - is well enough trained when he/she hits the street, to be able to inspect on a par with most independents that I've seen who never had any formalized training before starting and have been in the business for a number of years.

I dunno, I just think that taking pot shots at franchises and big companies is kind of narrow-minded. Especially when the vast majority of those in this profession probably don't have any sort of formalized training in this business anyway, and kissing up to realtorzoids is as common as maggots on a 10-day old corpse.

The profession has a lot of other issues to deal with that are a lot more important, such as the need for consistent standards for entry into the profession, education, standards of practice and how to actually perform an inspection.

What most of us don't seem to recognize is that these large players are the ones who are most able to quickly bring about changes needed to apply a uniformity to this business that the chaotic flux created by thousands of independents doing things by the seat of their pants has thus far prevented.

I'm not saying that we all need to be franchisees or employees of larger companies. What I am saying is that we need to begin to establish some control over the direction the profession is headed and work harder on setting the bar at an appropriate level for everyone.

There's plenty of business out there for everyone - competent or not. Independents really shouldn't fear franchises and large companies, because any company, large or small, that has a good business model, good ethics and does competent inspections will always be able to find work.

If we can reign in the chaotic entry into the profession of those that are unprepared and ill-equipped to do the job properly, and establish consistent standards, I see the profession as eventually being a whole lot more profitable for everyone. That's where we should be addressing our primary concerns and the large players, if willing, can help us to get there more quickly.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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First of all Mike, don't characterize my posts as attacks on the franchise system in general. That's not what I said and I am offended to be categorized as such by your filibusters. My comments were not designed or intended to make comparisons of methods of entry into the marketplace or condemn any system as a whole. Knowing your sensitivity when it comes to dealing with controversial issues on your board, I strove to portray an objective point of view but my efforts were obviously fruitless, at least where you are concerned. Nor were they intended as a personal attack on your background. It appears that I unintentionally struck a nerve. Sorry, I had no prior knowledge and frankly don't care. You are what you are regardless of where you came from in my book. It was not intentional or judgmental.

"I can't agree. I don't think making marketing as the highest priority is a mistake for any business that must rely on distinguishing itself from a large pool of others in order to do business. Without some form of marketing we'd all be toast."id="blue">

id="black">[:-bigeyes DAAAH. Please re-read what I said. The key word to bear in mind is PRIORITY. If we want to split straws and get into a pissing match should I interpret your remark as saying "knowledge, experience and training are not necessary." I will give you the respect due by not even going there.

I dunno, I just think that taking pot shots at franchises and big companies is kind of narrow-minded.id="blue">

id="black">I certainly hope you don't think that was the intent of my posts. If so, you need go back and re-read them, impersonally. They are an accurate assessment of the current mean state of affairs of the average franchiser and franchisee today. Not all are bad, and I did not say that. Not all are good either, just like anything else, nearly (there are exceptions), on the face of this earth; but there are inherent shortcomings in the system that need to be addressed if we are to reign these players into the fold. Sticking one's head into the sand and taking stances designed not to offend anyone has never accomplished much in this world. There is a fundamental need to offend those that need to be offended if progress and unity are desired.

As we all know, the blood suckers truly exist, and the lowest bottom dwellers in the franchise system can be characterized by noting their blatant exploitation of franchisees promulgated by (again,some, not all) franchisers who are in it for the quick money. They do exist and they run ads that lead unknowing pigeons to believe that they can get rich overnight with no experience necessary. Their systems are inflexible. Their support sucks. Their canned comments have all the appeal and informational content of a comic book dialog. Their reports are more designed not to offend or alarm anyone, especially referral sources, and they are rarely informative or educational, Mostly smoke and mirrors. Frankly these people need cerebral implants containing a conscience before you can even hope to reign them in. I want to be counted as saying... change or die a well deserved and long overdue death!

The profession has a lot of other issues to deal with that are a lot more important, such as the need for consistent standards for entry into the profession, education, standards of practice and how to actually perform an inspection. id="blue">

id="black">This is exactly the point of my comments. Chad, I didn't think that judgment of franchises was your point either. I thought it was humorous as well. The thread just kind of drifted there. I wonder why. Maybe there really is an issue hear that bears objective discussion without personalized bashing Mike?

If we can reign in the chaotic entry into the profession of those that are unprepared and ill-equipped to do the job properly, and establish consistent standards, I see the profession as eventually being a whole lot more profitable for everyone. That's where we should be addressing our primary concerns and the large players, if willing, can help us to get there more quickly.id="blue">

id="black">Well stated and I couldn't agree more. If you truly desire to accomplish this, and I believe you do, learn to recognize your allies in the cause and quit defending those that deserve to be offended.

Sorry Mike, but you struck one of my nerves.

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