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Advertising at an Open House


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Will you be at the open house because the realtor invited you or gave you permission to be there? If so, everything about the situation reeks and makes you look like his/her puppet.

I'm surprised the homeowner signed off on this.

Just an opinion.

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I think we need a little survey.

Have you ever used an "Open House" as an advertising venue? What was the result?

I allowed it one time abt ten years ago and still am stinging! I couldn't seem to get adequate seperation between Real Estate Agent and my company.

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I will be having an advertising table at two open houses this month, but have no ideas as to what to display.

I have been doing inspections since '06, but this is my first Open House display table. Any ideas?

Gregg

a FRESH START home inspections

Denver CO

Send me a hundred bucks and I'll spend an hour yelling your name from the top of my tower. I don't have any neighbors and only about two cars an hour drive by but I bet it'll be just as effective for you and when it's all done you won't overwhelmed by an irresistible desire to wash.

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When I first got into this gig I went around to open houses, spoke to the realtor on duty and gave them a brochure. It was 100% exhaust and 0% horse power. Your mileage may vary (but I doubt it).

I did the same with slightly better results. 100% exhaust, 10% horse power. I'd rather be watching football (Go Bears!).

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If I walked into an open house and was confronted by a Big Hair Betty realtor shoving a card into one hand, followed by some inspector dude trying to chat me up and shove his card into the other hand, I'd spit on them both and run like a striped ass ape.

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That was one of the marketing techniques used by the franchise network that I used to belong to. They encouraged us to stop by as many brokers' opens as we could once a week and to sponsor one at least once a quarter.

They didn't market at regular open houses; only at broker's opens. At a broker's open, the inspector doesn't meet the public; only realtors. The idea was to arrange to co-sponsor a broker's open with an agent and either share the cost of refreshments or pay for the refreshments.

You're supposed to show up with a resplendent vehicle and equipment in your company uniform with lots of business cards and brochures in hand. To get the list of brokers' opens, you either have to be an affiliate member of the multiple or you need to schmooze a contact at one of the real estate offices - I used to drop off a little box of chocolates with a chubby receptionist at one of the local realtor's offices once a week. It wasn't hard to tell that she wasn't sharing those chocolates with anyone else in the office. She'd fire me the list every Tuesday and Wednesday morning - the days that brokers had opens in my territory - like clockwork.

Most agents coming through broker's opens blast right through and are in and out of the house in about two minutes flat; however, about 10 to 20% will hang around to ask you questions if you are co-sponsoring the open. I suppose they feel guilty about eating the food you've provided without at least talking to you. During those conversations, you are expected to emphasize your houseside manner and how you realize that they (realtors) are also your clients ([:-yuck])and how you know how to do an inspection without their clients jumping in the car and burning rubber away from the site. You are supposed to get the agents' cards and then immediately, and every week thereafter, fire off letters to them promoting your ability to do a good job for their clients without freaking the client out.

The theory is that an agent will not remember you unless the agent sees you or hears from you consistently over at least a 3-month period. I'm sure it works, because the guys in that network garner a ton of work in this region and around the country; the problem is that you as the inspector are not at arms length from the realtors and it makes you (at least it did me) feel dirty.

I did it once; about three months into this gig. My wife is a phenomenal cook and she's used to preparing meals for large numbers of people; so she whipped up a Korean/Mongolian barbecue that covered a 12ft. long buffet table. The agents came in, stopped in shock and couldn't believe that a home inspector had done more than bring a couple of boxes of donuts or a carton of Starbucks coffee, stuffed their faces, handed me cards and blasted away as soon as they were able to do so without looking too greedy. Out of more than 40 that came through in a 4 hour period; who completely consumed everything on that table, I only ever heard from one. After my first inspection with that agent, which took my usual 4+ hours (I only have two speeds - slow and careful.), I never heard from that agent again. There was probably $200 bucks worth of food on that table (cost before preparation). I chalked it up to "marketing expenses" but it stung. I never did it again, though I know that there are folks in that network that did it religiously.

9 months into this gig I got tired of feeling like a beggar walking into realtors' offices with a tin cup and said, "F**k this, I'm not doing this bulls**t anymore," and I stopped following their marketing model and adopted my own.

I would simply stop in at open houses, any open house, walk up the agent, introduce myself, stick a card in the agent's hand and say something like, "I know you've got your own stable of inspectors and you don't want to add any more; but I challenge you to refer me just once. If you do, you'll bump one of those other guys, I'm sure of it," and then I'd turn and leave without any more conversation. If they attempted to engage me, I always had someplace else to be ten minutes ago and I wouldn't stay and talk.

It made them curious enough that most couldn't resist the challenge and I'd get at least one referral from nearly every agent I came into contact with. By doing that consistently week after week I was able to garner enough one-time referrals to survive long enough for my name to start getting around via customers' comments to their friends, relatives and co-workers; plus I did manage to get some regular agent referrals out of it from agents who weren't looking for a suck-up artist.

If you do it; you need to realize that you'll simply be perpetuating the inspector stereotype in the minds of every agent who's modus operandi is to use/manipulate inspectors and discard them the first time they don't toe the line.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I almost went to one recently just because the food sounded very good. Open houses are not popular here and I've never been to one. Seems the agents here think they're a waste of time and sellers are usually the one that push the agents to have them. I don't think I would spend any time at one, especially with a table and marketing. You'd be better off waiting for a trade show.

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I ask for a simple survey and get "War and Peace"!

Unfortunately it is the truth 'tho.

Not even sure I remember how to set up a poll. Seems to me I spent a couple of hours figuring it out the last time I did it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'm sorry, I should have given more details.

The "Open House" is actually held by an outside marketing company that uses about 10-20 local vendors to advertise their wares at little tables that each one provides on their own with all of their stuff they are selling.

As a home inspector, I thought that it might be a good idea, specifically for MY BUSINESS, (kind of a lame idea for all the other vendors, which are 99% in NON-related businesses), this way the majority of people coming in would actually benefit from my services, not the others.

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I'm sorry, I should have given more details.

The "Open House" is actually held by an outside marketing company that uses about 10-20 local vendors to advertise their wares at little tables that each one provides on their own with all of their stuff they are selling.

Maybe it's just me, but I still don't 't understand what you're talking about.

Where are these open houses held?

Who will be attending?

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I'm sorry, I should have given more details.

The "Open House" is actually held by an outside marketing company that uses about 10-20 local vendors to advertise their wares at little tables that each one provides on their own with all of their stuff they are selling.

As a home inspector, I thought that it might be a good idea, specifically for MY BUSINESS, (kind of a lame idea for all the other vendors, which are 99% in NON-related businesses), this way the majority of people coming in would actually benefit from my services, not the others.

Ok, so who are they? You must have a contract with them if you're participating. Details, Please.

I'm interested in how someone could pull this off, given the obstacles and possible liability of conflicts of interest. Maybe I'm going deep here but, those are my first thoughts.

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I'm sorry, I should have given more details.

The "Open House" is actually held by an outside marketing company that uses about 10-20 local vendors to advertise their wares at little tables that each one provides on their own with all of their stuff they are selling.

As a home inspector, I thought that it might be a good idea, specifically for MY BUSINESS, (kind of a lame idea for all the other vendors, which are 99% in NON-related businesses), this way the majority of people coming in would actually benefit from my services, not the others.

I think you should establish a side business as a "marketing company" and set these up yourself. They're the only ones who benefit from these shenanigans.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I think the Internet has replaced the Open House when it comes to marketing. Virtual tours, Zellow and other site surfing have replace the Sunday drive-about by buyers who want not to meet pushy agent as badly as we do.

If you want to market to agents, join the local real estate group as a affiliate and get on a committee that does something to help your local community. They may see you as a good guy and maybe, just maybe, some work will come your way.

Ezra Malernee

Canton, Ohio

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... If you want to market to agents, join the local real estate group as a affiliate and get on a committee that does something to help your local community. They may see you as a good guy and maybe, just maybe, some work will come your way.

Ezra Malernee

Canton, Ohio

And don't hold your breath. One thing FOR SURE ... is that you will end up on a list at the broker's office for them to call you once every month or two reminding you that it is your time to bring the coffee/donut/fruit/snack plate to their next meeting.

Took me a long time to get "off" the list of one local broker. The young lady at the front desk 'gate-keeper' slot did her job to call me monthly and remind me it was "my turn" to bring the food. I had never been to the broker's office. Found out one of the agents working out of this office had put my biz cards in their bucket. I had met the agent during an inspection and traded cards.

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A few (10+) years ago I participated in some first time "Home Buyers" seminars that were held in the local library. It took about an hour of my time and was organized by a local real estate agent.

There was a lawyer, real estate agent, home inspector, and mortgage broker.

We each spoke for about ten minutes and gave information about our particular part of the transaction. It was more of an education talk than a hard sell.

At the end of the presentation we offered to hang around and answer individual questions. We all left some business cards and brochures on a table.

The attendees must have appreciated what I said because I got a few inspections out of them. I think the fact that I was not hard selling my services was a better sales tool than explaining to everyone why they should use me instead of my competition.

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A few (10+) years ago I participated in some first time "Home Buyers" seminars that were held in the local library. It took about an hour of my time and was organized by a local real estate agent.

There was a lawyer, real estate agent, home inspector, and mortgage broker.

We each spoke for about ten minutes and gave information about our particular part of the transaction. It was more of an education talk than a hard sell.

At the end of the presentation we offered to hang around and answer individual questions. We all left some business cards and brochures on a table.

The attendees must have appreciated what I said because I got a few inspections out of them. I think the fact that I was not hard selling my services was a better sales tool than explaining to everyone why they should use me instead of my competition.

That's my approach. I don't try to sell them anything. Just serve them. Tell them what they need to know about the profession and the process. I use a powerpoint with handouts. Answer their questions correctly. Don't waste their time. Leave some business cards. It works. Been doing it for 4 years now.

Marc

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