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Les
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Originally posted by Les

When I first sign on, it will show 9 topics active and only show me 4. Since last week I can't seem to have the active topics shown, only a portion. Are you guys talking behind my back?

Well, um, er...... QUICK EVERYONE, HE KNOWS! LET'S GET OUTTA HERE!!

Actually, I think it's due to some forums that are private, like those stuck up Washington guys, not being shown on the list, but it shows up in the main header.

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Just so's youse know's, I was just teasing ya'll w/ the "stuck up Washington guys". Things is slow as molasses in January (er, February) here, so I got too much time to fiddle around on the internet.

The jobs trickle in daily, but it's a trickle compared to the last several years. It's what I'm hearing from everyone.

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This is all well and good - but Donald is the only one I trust! As far as business goes - it went abt the second week of january and is lingering somewhere around Oklahoma, sure as hell not in mid-michigan. Been in this business 386years and done 238,974 inspections and this is the most goofy year yet!

Regards - "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"

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Wow, you guys are bumming me out!

Jan and Feb have actually been busier than normal for us. We did have one slow week in Jan., but other than that, we've been pretty much doing all we want. Jan-Feb 04 was dead for us though.

It can be only one thing...

BIZZARRO WORLD!!! [:-batman]

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I stayed busy right up until Christmas, but it has flat-out sucked since then. All I'm getting is a straggler here and there. Lately I'm a carpenter again. [:-indiffe

Jack, congradulations on the Pats (again). [:-footbal

Donald, who the hell asked you anyway? [:-irked] [:D]

Brian G.

In Doldrumville, USA [:-sleep]

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I have a question for you guys, that doesn't really fit anywhere else.What kind of value have you attained from your web sites? I've considered launching one many times, but with my sorta wacko-neurotic personality I fear that I'd spend waaaaaay too much time tinkering and playing with the darn thing. One idea I've had is to upload bunches of photos that explain defects mentioned in inspection reports---like the rusted-out single-wall flue pipe in the crawlspace or the "T-ed" condensate lines beneath an attic furnace. Also, to avoid the time involved burning photos onto a CD for a client, I could merely tell him or her to check out the website and open up their own file using a last name as a password. This also, of course, eliminates the "I can't open your .pdf file!" or "I don't know what a zipped file is."

Also, and perhaps more importantly, do you receive much business from your sites? Most of mine comes from client or realtor referrals and keeps me plenty busy, 'course there never is enough when one is, uh, a tad wacko-neurotic.

Best,

John

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I think it comes down to predicting humans. There are any number of triggers that cause people to buy. I use to think that the state of the Nation, the National and Local economies, time of year and current events (to name a few things) played into when people bought homes.

Now I think I can add weather to that mix.

The last two months we've had spells of several days where we'd have cold weather(for Houston) and rain. Just nasty stuff. Our phones would hardly ring. If we got 2 or 3 calls a day, we'd be lucky. As soon as the weather broke and the sun came out, our phones would ring off the wall.

I at first thought it was a fluke. However, last week was another nasty weather week until Thursday. Thursday broke nice and sunny with warming temps. By that evening we'd booked 6 inspections. Friday was about the same.

I've stopped trying to predict when people will buy homes. I just want them out there all the time picking a house to buy!

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Bain,

Our website accounts for about 60% of our business. It comes down to your market area. If you're in a market with a lot of computer savy consumers, it MAY do well for you. On the other hand, if your market is a bunch of retirees or deep rural consumers, it won't be as effective for you.

If you throw up any ole web page to say "I got a website", it won't pay off for you no matter which market you're in.

If I had to start over again, I'd have the folks over at Inspector X sites (www.inspectorxsites.com) make me a web site. I think they have the most professional and informative canned sites out there. I played around with one of their sites a while last fall and it was easy to edit and personalize.

Good Luck,

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Until last November 2004, I could predict how many appts we would have in any given month +- 3appts. Of course this is very market specific. Since November my "predictions" are off by abt 20% for Dec and Jan. As of 2-11-05 we are exactly where we were for 2004 end of January. Appts for next week will put us at a 5% increase over 2004 for same date. In other words, we will be ahead of last year by next friday.

Our web site gets us next to nothing in a very metro sophisticated area of Mich. It will within the next year tho'. Everyone has to have one sooner than later. I hear animation (movement) is the answer.

Having started out with a Commodore 64, I was surprised when a client liked the idea that our office was computerized.

I know Chad and Donald are talking behind my back!

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I'm not sure how many jobs my website "gets" me, but having a sophisticated web presence is a baseline requirement. Not having one is equal to not having a business card. I "close" appt's. by telling folks to go to my website, and then call back w/questions.

I've found that those that want to talk interminably, & run down their list of "questions to ask your inspector before booking an appt." to be those that never book me anyway. I hate those calls; they think they know more about the process because they read "how to" in the local newspaper article written by an associate editor who had to fill 8 column inches that day.

I looked @ my #'s, & last year was my best year ever. January was = to '04 January within a couple hundred dollars. I don't know why I'm sweatin' it. Maybe because I know that the biz person who is comfortable is the biz person who's gonna get is ass handed to him when he least expects it.

Only the paranoid survive.....

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From what I can tell about 50% if not more of my business is a direct result of my website. It is not fancy in any shape or form but it does get people to call and book appointments. As you can tell it is a do-it-yourself website made with Microsoft Frontpage. I just have a problem paying for a monthly service to keep my site updated when it is working just fine for me and serves my needs.

Now with all of that said, I have never been able to figure out how to upload my clients reports and password protect them. But I have not spent much time on it either.

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Thanks for the sage advice, everyone.

60% is a ton, Donald, and reading your note makes me want to cancel my afternoon appt. and sign up for a web site immediately. Lexington, while conservative, has Lexmark and Valvoline headquartered here, and there's also the University of Kentucky so the population is pretty hip. I'm gonna check out Inspector X at your urging.

Les, I've heard your comments vis a vis sites from others. The boilerplate "this is who we are" and "this is what we do" doesn't seem to attract much attention. That's why I thought having lots of photos would be a plus. We're all visual, and understand much better when we can see something rather than having it merely described. I don't remember the numbers exactly, but remember from a seminar that retention rates for visually enhanced presentations are nearly double those of oral-only presentations.

Kurt, I laughed out loud when I read your note. Calls to my land line are forwarded to my cell, so I'm typically working when someone calls to discuss or schedule an appointment. As quickly as it's appropriate, I always ask if the caller was referred to me by someone. When I hear, "No, you were on a list my realtor gave me," I become pretty abrupt because I don't have time to explain to the person why I'm one of his or her best choices. Ironically, it's the folks who AREN'T busy who can sit at their desks and ramble on and on about why they're so splendid. Like you said, however, it would make things much easier to direct someone toward a web site so they can do their investigating on THEIR time.

Scott, your note was also encouraging. 50% is substantial. I created my own report--34 pages worth--on MS Word, and I always give the realtor a copy on CD-Rom. The key is to convert the word document into a .pdf (or Adobe Acrobat) file. You can password-protect it so it's read-only and can be printed but not altered or even copied. The Acrobat program is fairly expensive, but there are knockoffs you can get for a couple hundred dollars or so.

Again, thanks for the help. You guys have a good thing going here with this site. Everyone is helpful and there's little if any ego involved when you disagree with another, which of course will always happen.

John

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I'm another believer in the value of a good web site. Like Donald and Scott, over half my business is traced to my web site. I'm computer challenged and can't change a word on my site. I pay people who know how when changes need to be made, and the same group also keeps me high on the search engines. (No, they aren't accepting new customers - must be nice.) It's been money well spent.

I do on site reports, but will email a report when asked. I just email the Word document as an attachment and keep a hard copy file in case somebody trys to change something. That said, I haven't had a problem in 4 years. I'm also PDF challenged.

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Originally posted by Bain

Also, and perhaps more importantly, do you receive much business from your sites? Most of mine comes from client or realtor referrals...

I probably only average one booked inspection per month from nothing other than the website. Everything else is referrals from previous clients and from my small but growing stable of regular (and ethical) realtors. But that one a month is important as it starts a fresh tree of referrals.

As for it being slow...I had a good November, a slow December, a great January, and by the 13th of February I will have done 7 so far this month and turned down 2 others (manufactured homes...I know what I don't know). I'm approaching the end of my 2nd full year and had zero, none, nada, zilch, inspections last February, so whatever happens to the rest of the month I'm way, way ahead.

I just spoke to my realtor neighbor, and she says the home inventory is very low right now. That may explain the 15 offers on a very ordinary small home I did a pre-offer inspection on last week. More buyers than sellers right now, at least around here.

Unless your phone constantly rings off the hook and you have to turn down more inspections than you take, I suspect that this will always be a somewhat "lumpy" business for us sole proprieters. Those of you that market should be doing that on your days off. Me...I enjoy being a man of leisure when I can. As an old fart, I've earned it (just don't tell my wife).

[:-paperba Sorry...I just realized I replied to the last post on page one rather than two. And I'm supposed to be observant? [:-ashamed I'll leave it as it's still somewhat relevant to the thread.

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Bain,

I should also mention that no matter how good your website is, it won't bring in a cent of business if no one sees it. You'll need to implement a marketing plan for your website so that your prospective clients can find you.

First of all, get a domain name that is easy to remember. It helps if it is short and can be easily spelled.

Second, good advertising is better than a great website. Getting a bunch of people looking at your average website is better than getting a few looking over your award winning website.

Your web site address should be on everything you own... biz cards, pens, paper, reports, brochures, etc.

Spend the bucks on internet advertising. I started out using Google and Overture and paid whatever the price to be #1. Now that my site naturally ranks in the top 3 (most of the time it's #1) on most search engines, I've found I don't need to pay for those placements. Starting in Jan we're trying a 3 month trial of no paid placements to see if our top ranking is enough. So far I'm surprised that traffic and bookings have not dropped off. Studies have shown most internet users skip the "sponsored" ads and go to the naturally ranked ads. I'm glad. We were spending an average of $600 to $1000 per month just on Google and Overture listings (I have a very competitve market). Now I can direct that money toward a new sector.

Just for fun, I just went and typed "Lexington KY home inspectors" into Google to see what showed up. ASHI and Inspectors Guide had the top two sponsored listings and KREI and SuperPages had the top two naturally ranked sites. With the right keywords, meta tags and a keyword rich website with links to related websites, it shouldn't be hard to get your site ranked in the top 3.

Good Luck,

P.S. Did I mention I only inspect homes to make money for my marketing fix?

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