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Gibsonguy

Ad on an RE's folder?

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Hello All,

I just wanted to pick your collective brains about advertizing. I was approached today about placing an ad alongside Amerispec on a large RE company's folder, given out by agents to prospective clients. Is this considered a conflict of interest? Business is slow for me this season (my 3rd year of operation) and I could use the recognition.

I get most of my business through word of mouth, however home sales in Montreal are down drastically this year, and the phone just isn't ringing all that much. I prefer not to solicit agents directly, I work for my clients only... the cost of placing the colour ad is near what I charge for 1 cottage inspection, and the ad will be on every folder handed out by the RE agency for all it's agents for the next 3 years.

What would you do if you were just starting out like me?

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I do think it's a conflict of interest...for the "large RE company". In return for two or three hundred bucks they are willing to, effectively, recommend you to their clients by putting you on their free folders? If you don't pay, do they just go on to the next guy who will, no matter what his qualifications? That's how they show their potential clients they care about them? Really?!

For you, I don't see it matters that much. You are either an ethical inspector, working only for your client, or you are a total sleaze bag sucking up to agents. There's a lot of chatter about how inspectors get referrals but, IMO, those are the only two options when it comes to doing the actual job. Personally, I wouldn't encourage the RE company by paying to be on the folder. But, if you can overlook that part and need the work badly enough, I wouldn't get on your case as long as you know who you are working for and act accordingly.

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Red,

I would take your advertising dollars and spend anywhere else but there. The realtors are still going to refer who they refer no matter what name is on the folder. Typically, by the time the folder is in the clients hands, that decision has been made. Concentrate on your website, do a door hanger for homes that may need an annual type inspection(home owners). You'd be shocked at how many people don't keep up on the maintenance of their home, or go in their crawl space/attic areas. A home inspection for home owners. Just my humble opinion.

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You may, or may not, make more sales if you let agents have your advertising dollars, but you surely will injure the profession by deceiving home inspection clients who depend on you, and pay you, to give them an opinion that's influenced only by the house and not in any way by agents.

Your choice helps define who you are.

Marc

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You are either an ethical inspector, working only for your client, or you are a total sleaze bag sucking up to agents.

Richard, I don't think it's as black and white as that. There's no reason why you can't do a thorough, unbiased inspection, and still get referrals from realtors.

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You are either an ethical inspector, working only for your client, or you are a total sleaze bag sucking up to agents.

Richard, I don't think it's as black and white as that. There's no reason why you can't do a thorough, unbiased inspection, and still get referrals from realtors.

Sorry, that came out wrong. Well, at least as a stand-alone line. The "sucking" I was referring to was the inspection and sugar coated reporting. I agree with you. I don't give a rats ass where referrals come from. It should make no difference at all to the way you inspect and report.

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Does anyone think it's equally wrong to shun agents' referrals? I don't get very much if any referrals from realtors. Nor do I sugar coat any findings or sway my opinions because of an agent's referral. It's easy to take the path of righteousness if you have been working full time for 10+ years already, with an established name and clientele, however if you struggle to get 1 inspection per week, and $500 will get you over 10,000 spots in home buyers hands...

I kinda feel wrong with it. I just wanted to know if my feelings are justified, or if I'm being to extreme by cutting off realtor referrals

PS. My name is Ian, Red Adair is a famous firefighter.

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Over the years, I've heard from quite a few inspectors that tried the folder advertising. I don't recall anyone ever mentioning getting any inspections at all from it.

I do recall them mentioning that it was never even a real estate company putting together the folders. It's an outside company selling the ads, printing and handing out the folders. The brokers and agents don't have anything to do with it.

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Does anyone think it's equally wrong to shun agents' referrals? I don't get very much if any referrals from realtors. Nor do I sugar coat any findings or sway my opinions because of an agent's referral.

I think it would be crazy to shun agent's referrals. I don't solicit them, but I certainly welcome them. When I do an inspection, I honestly don't give a thought to how the job came to me.

It's easy to take the path of righteousness if you have been working full time for 10+ years already, with an established name and clientele, however if you struggle to get 1 inspection per week, and $500 will get you over 10,000 spots in home buyers hands...

As Robert pointed out, getting your info on a folder isn't going to be very effective.

Put the money into a website, even if it's just a template site that you customize. Frankly, your site as it is, is worse than none at all. There is nothing on it.

PS. My name is Ian, Red Adair is a famous firefighter.

I thought that was John Wayne.[;)]

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I believe Red Adair's company help put out the oil well fires in Kuwait.

I inspect for my clients and I keep their best interests in mind at all times.

I also get plenty of referrals from realtors, I think. I know the ones that sell lots of houses and never refer me. My ad $$$ would be wasted on them.

There are plenty of houses to choose from, and plenty of realtors.

I'm no marketing genius, but I would suggest keeping an arm's length relationship. Print your own brochures.

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It seems silly to think or believe that really good and professional Realtors wouldn't refer really good and professional home inspectors. Why can't professionals in one arena believe there are professionals in another? Isn't that the true pinnacle of professionalism - to recognize and appreciate professionals wherever they might be?

I don't know, maybe I am blessed to live in a bubble, here in Richmond, and maybe it's just because I've been around long enough that I've hooked up with some fantastic Realtors and have thus become insulated from the bad ones. There are some really good upstanding southern gentleman and ladies here that are resigned to doing the right thing, even at the cost of the deal. I just had one of my regular agents let a buyer walk from a contract, that he honestly had no legal right to walk from, because he turned out to be a really evil guy all around. Everyone involved realized it was the best thing. Unfortunately, the guy will have a hard time writing another contract to purchase around here, though, because it's become obvious what he's all about - absolute plunder. He had one bid from one of his buddies to remove and replace the insulation in a crawlspace: $9000.00.

I get referrals from agents, lenders and attorneys weekly. I'd like to think it's because they never get any negative feedback in doing so.

At any rate, If you want to hook up with real pros in any arena, you can. They're out there...

Frankly, I like hanging out here, because of the underlying promotion of home inspectors, as professionals, but when we collectively and publicly hammer another profession, isn't that, in and of itself, unprofessional?..

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It seems silly to think or believe that really good and professional Realtors wouldn't refer really good and professional home inspectors. ...

I agree. I have always thought it a dumb idea to create rules that end up punishing the good guys as much, if not more, than the bad. I have a small handful of good guy agents who refer most of their clients to me, and have done so for many years. I've "killed" my fair share of deals for all of them. I have also lost some agents over the years for reasons unknown. I don't ask. Some may be out of the business for all I know, but I'm sure I've been too picky for others. Tough!

I like Marc's "I don't shun agent referrals, I just don't solicit them."

It sums it up for me personally. BUT, I'm not totally against other HI's passing out cards, etc, to get their name out there...if they feel the need to. Just so long as they do it ethically by making it quite clear they will report all facts to the clients, regardless of the outcome.

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Indeed, and when you lose a Realtor, because you told it like it was, be thankful they moved on. The pros will stick with ya.

Regarding folders, I've probably been on about twenty of them over the years, mostly because I hated to let down a good agent. I already knew they aren't productive, and they're not. Face time remains the champion. When you'e in the field, SHINE...

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In my younger days I tried the adds on the folders and a few other items.

The folder where given out at closing. (I found this out later) The agents did not even have my name on their list.

All the printer is doing is getting some folks to pay for the cost of the folders

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I don't think the real estate office has anything to do with the folders. It's the folder companies soliciting the broker or whoever at the RE office offering them the free folders for names and contact info to try and get the fees to print the folders.

I've been solicited for years by these folder people and it always seems there offering the advertisement in a RE office that I don't even hardly know.

I always pass on the "offer" and have on several occasions have them "threaten" to go back and tell the broker that I was not interested.

Both times I told them while they were talking to this broker to tell them to not give my info out anymore.

I personally believe the whole folder thing is just a scam by the folder company.

Most recently I had a website company that was building a website for an agent and asked for me to support it. I knew this agent so I called him. He didn't even know what I was talking about.

I agree with others on taking your marketing dollars and put them where you want them, not some offer that comes on a cold call....

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It's been my habit, for years, to ask every client how they heard of me. Never once has anyone ever responded, "Because I saw your ad on a folder." So, that means out of the probably 20,000 folders I was on, the return was zero. Does that help?

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Yes it does tremendously... again, thank-you all for your help.

I have cancelled my appointment today with the ad company. I will instead be targeting potential clients by advertising pre-listing inspections as well as pre-purchase inspections by flyers, and... getting a better website. I made it with the most basic of tools. A web designer friend of my wife offered to make one for me for $500 recently, I'm going to take her up on her offer

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I made it with the most basic of tools.

Which tool? I used CM4all at fatcow. Take a look at what I did with it. $500 would pay for over 6 years of this hosting service. The 'tool' comes free with it. Mine's simple but clients like it. I change the content every few months.

Marc

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Ian,

I think everyone of these men made a great point based on their experience.

I've also had some experience with a broker who had an inspector's ad on their folder. There was a good reason for it being there. I was told why in private, by two of the realtors.

I also busted this broker three times, telling clients they shouldn't hire me. Luckily for me, these folks had called me on their own and were warned by me ahead of time, that this might happen. All three hired me. The broker was pissed.

So naturally, because of this, in my experience, this is nothing less than a pure conflict of interest.

However, given the opportunity you have for exposure to a captive audience in the size of the market you're in, I'm not so sure I'd pass that up for the sake of throwing more money at a website.

In my opinion, a website is more of a chance happening of being found and followed up on than having a shot at every single deal that comes through their door. Simply because, your ad is right in front of the buyer at all times.

Even if they hate you for doing your job, your ad will still be in front of folks on their folder. Kind of hard for them to bad mouth a guy who's on their paper work, huh?

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I did it once about a decade ago.

Good ethical realtor and her team had been referring me for years. They were putting together information packets for potential clients. They'd get a lead and send out the packet to the prospect. The ad was a business card sized ad that looked exactly like my business card 'cuz that's what they'd copied.

It cost me $350 - about the price of my cheapest inspection back then - and, as far as I know, I never got a single job from it. When I'd get a referral from that agent, I'd ask as I always do where the client heard about me and they'd all responded something like, "Oh, Julie raved about you, " or some such. It soon became apparent to me that I'd helped pay for the cost of those slick folders but that maybe the potential buyers really weren't reading the ads on the folders so much as thinking to themselves, "Man, this realtor has really got her act together and is well connected!"

I never renewed. When she ran out of folders a few years later and I demurred, she stopped referring clients to me. Go figure.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Well, I hope I didn't waste my money but I just placed an ad in a community directory sort of piece that will be in four RE offices for the next two years. They were distributed on Monday. Wish me luck.

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