Jump to content

Franchise purchase or solo?


Recommended Posts

Gentleman,

I have been wanting to become a home inspector for some time now and finally have the opportunity to potentially start my own gig or buy into a franchise. However, the more I read about this franchise the less it seems appealing (i'm on page 45 of a 240 page document detailing everything and its pretty overwhelming to say the least). I'm really wanting to start my own gig but it is a daunting task to me. Thoughts from you guys that have been in the business for a while?

Link to post
Share on other sites

No franchise would ever make a sale on me. They exaggerate the benefits yet require an enormous sum up front and a portion of your sales thereafter. They also take you out of the driver's seat. Some franchises require you to use their choice of reporting software or materials even though you might someday become aware of a better way to do those things, and others. Franchisers are not really all that smart. Survive a franchise for 5 years or so and you might see the fallacy of their choices.

Marc

Link to post
Share on other sites

After weighing all the issues, I decided to strike out on my own. That was seven years ago, haven't looked back. Hardest thing was to get those first few inspections so you better have some money laid aside to get you through the start up period. Start up period can certainly be a full year. Of course, not buying the franchise will save you some money. If you work for someone else for a year or two it will be easier to go out on your own.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I got into this business 17+ years ago by purchasing a franchise. When I sold it 4+years later I'd felt like I'd just gotten out of jail.

I liked that they had their own two week school and that they all seemed to be like a team. I learned pretty quickly once I was up and running that it wasn't like being part of the McDonalds franchise. They didn't help me pay for any advertising but took 2% off the gross of what I made so they could pay for their advertising which was aimed at other prospective franchisees and not at the public like I had expected it to be. They did have pretty strong brand awareness; but I couldn't figure out why I was competing so hard in a medium-sized market against non-franchise guys if their system was so slick; and why I was forking over 10% of my gross for the privilege of saying I was part of that network when it seemed like so many customers had never heard of us. It wasn't like any other franchise I'd seen where the name is out there in front of the public all day every day 'cuz they don't, and as far as I can tell not many other franchises do either, advertise directly to the buying public that's looking for home inspectors the way the Coits, Roto-Rooter, McD's, Burger Whopper Queen and practically all other franchises do. Look around, you don't see a whole lot of TV commercials for home inspection firms do you?

I got tired of being called to the Principal's office. Their system called for a maximum of 2 to 2-1/2 hours per inspection. I have two speeds - slow and careful - and from day one I ignored their time limit requirement. I didn't give a rat's ass; I was going to do it at the speed that I felt comfortable doing it. As a consequence of that, the realtorzoids who their system curried favor with would constantly complain about how much time I took on inspections. That would get back to the HQ and I'd get called down to the office for a talk about "working their system properly," whereupon I'd usually get pissed off and leave there feeling like I was going to kick the ass of the next zoid I saw.

One such zoid, who happened to be Vietnamese, bossed me around on the job one day like I was his lackey and wouldn't translate what I was trying to tell the Vietnamese client about what was wrong with the POS house. I bit my tongue. After the inspection, I called him on my cell phone and told him that he was never again to refer any clients to me and hung up. He called me back and wanted to argue with me. I hung up. He called back again and threatened to tell my "bosses" at franchise HQ. I told him go ahead but if he called me again, or I saw him again, I was going to beat his ass like a wet puppy. He called HQ and they of course had a fit. They didn't care that he'd been manipulating the results of the inspection and had been rude and offensive - all they cared about was their franchise' image if he started shooting his weasely little mouth off around town.

Their marketing training was outstanding,...IF you believe that your primary customer is a realtor and the buyer who pays you is secondary to pleasing that realtor and getting those future referrals. There's nothing unique about it. You can learn every technique by purchasing books on gorilla marketing or power marketing and apply them without shelling out $20K for a franchise fee.

In the end I kicked myself in the ass and concluded that the franchise model is a way for old inspectors to get out of the active inspection part of the gig and make a pretty decent living by having others pay them to be part of their "brand."

This gig is pretty individualized. The only "brand" is you. Some realtors will refer you because they like the way you inspect and some won't. Some realtors will not refer you to their clients because you do a good job but will refer others because they don't so such a good job and are willing to help facilitate that realtor's sale. The realtors that are like that are commonly referred to here as Realtorzoids - or 'zoids for short. Some markets are top heavy with zoids while others only have a small percentage. Before you hang out your shingle you'd better find out which kind of market you are going to be in.

Buyers - true clients - are more apt to refer you to others if you do a good job for them. In fact, they'll often wink at you or wrinkle up their nose and give you a wry look after listening to their zoid-inclined agent attempt several times to get you to change your opinion about something in such a way that it favors the sale. They recognize what the agent is doing and it's often the case, if they don't buy that house and hire you for another, that they'll be working with another agent on the next house they hire you to inspect.

Of course, you could always opt to be a model 'zoid toady and you'll get lots of referrals - from zoids - and you'll make lots of money. Some people can do that and still sleep at night. I can't.

If you feel overwhelmed and aren't confident of your own ability to start a business, then maybe a franchise is the way to go. However, if you are used to thinking for yourself and aren't patient with conforming to a system that will require you to practically grovel at the feet of every real estate agent you meet, do it on your own or you'll be really unhappy.

Bottom line. Why spend thousands to line some tired inspector's pocket for the privilege of using his "system" when you can create your own for a whole lot less and won't have to give someone the price of a medium-range Lexus every year?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah,

The digits don't work like they used to and sometimes I hit the wrong keys with disastrous results. Can you imagine typing the comment above and then after all that expended effort hitting the wrong key and sending the entire thing into the nether? I can; I've done it a lot lately.

OT - OF!!!

Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites

I got into this business 17+ years ago by purchasing a franchise. When I sold it 4+years later I'd felt like I'd just gotten out of jail.

I liked that they had their own two week school and that they all seemed to be like a team. I learned pretty quickly once I was up and running that it wasn't like being part of the McDonalds franchise. They didn't help me pay for any advertising but took 2% off the gross of what I made so they could pay for their advertising which was aimed at other prospective franchisees and not at the public like I had expected it to be. They did have pretty strong brand awareness; but I couldn't figure out why I was competing so hard in a medium-sized market against non-franchise guys if their system was so slick; and why I was forking over 10% of my gross for the privilege of saying I was part of that network when it seemed like so many customers had never heard of us. It wasn't like any other franchise I'd seen where the name is out there in front of the public all day every day 'cuz they don't, and as far as I can tell not many other franchises do either, advertise directly to the buying public that's looking for home inspectors the way the Coits, Roto-Rooter, McD's, Burger Whopper Queen and practically all other franchises do. Look around, you don't see a whole lot of TV commercials for home inspection firms do you?

I got tired of being called to the Principal's office. Their system called for a maximum of 2 to 2-1/2 hours per inspection. I have two speeds - slow and careful - and from day one I ignored their time limit requirement. I didn't give a rat's ass; I was going to do it at the speed that I felt comfortable doing it. As a consequence of that, the realtorzoids who their system curried favor with would constantly complain about how much time I took on inspections. That would get back to the HQ and I'd get called down to the office for a talk about "working their system properly," whereupon I'd usually get pissed off and leave there feeling like I was going to kick the ass of the next zoid I saw.

One such zoid, who happened to be Vietnamese, bossed me around on the job one day like I was his lackey and wouldn't translate what I was trying to tell the Vietnamese client about what was wrong with the POS house. I bit my tongue. After the inspection, I called him on my cell phone and told him that he was never again to refer any clients to me and hung up. He called me back and wanted to argue with me. I hung up. He called back again and threatened to tell my "bosses" at franchise HQ. I told him go ahead but if he called me again, or I saw him again, I was going to beat his ass like a wet puppy. He called HQ and they of course had a fit. They didn't care that he'd been manipulating the results of the inspection and had been rude and offensive - all they cared about was their franchise' image if he started shooting his weasely little mouth off around town.

Their marketing training was outstanding,...IF you believe that your primary customer is a realtor and the buyer who pays you is secondary to pleasing that realtor and getting those future referrals. There's nothing unique about it. You can learn every technique by purchasing books on gorilla marketing or power marketing and apply them without shelling out $20K for a franchise fee.

In the end I kicked myself in the ass and concluded that the franchise model is a way for old inspectors to get out of the active inspection part of the gig and make a pretty decent living by having others pay them to be part of their "brand."

This gig is pretty individualized. The only "brand" is you. Some realtors will refer you because they like the way you inspect and some won't. Some realtors will not refer you to their clients because you do a good job but will refer others because they don't so such a good job and are willing to help facilitate that realtor's sale. The realtors that are like that are commonly referred to here as Realtorzoids - or 'zoids for short. Some markets are top heavy with zoids while others only have a small percentage. Before you hang out your shingle you'd better find out which kind of market you are going to be in.

Buyers - true clients - are more apt to refer you to others if you do a good job for them. In fact, they'll often wink at you or wrinkle up their nose and give you a wry look after listening to their zoid-inclined agent attempt several times to get you to change your opinion about something in such a way that it favors the sale. They recognize what the agent is doing and it's often the case, if they don't buy that house and hire you for another, that they'll be working with another agent on the next house they hire you to inspect.

Of course, you could always opt to be a model 'zoid toady and you'll get lots of referrals - from zoids - and you'll make lots of money. Some people can do that and still sleep at night. I can't.

If you feel overwhelmed and aren't confident of your own ability to start a business, then maybe a franchise is the way to go. However, if you are used to thinking for yourself and aren't patient with conforming to a system that will require you to practically grovel at the feet of every real estate agent you meet, do it on your own or you'll be really unhappy.

Bottom line. Why spend thousands to line some tired inspector's pocket for the privilege of using his "system" when you can create your own for a whole lot less and won't have to give someone the price of a medium-range Lexus every year?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Stands, and applauds!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

Thank you for your words and experience. I think I'm leaning more towards doing my own gig. I don't know much about it but I'm motivated and willing to put in the sweat and patience right now to be able to not conform to a franchise. Anything else I should consider?

And now my barrage of questions: I know there are several forum postings on here that address these topics but can you guys summarize for me from your experience some of the best/cost effective options for just starting out?

Software?

Tools (required/optional)?

Advertising?

Suggested further reading?

Licensing/certification board/organization? ( I've seen several companies that offer classes to get certified but I again would rather learn with my hands than from a book)

Types of insurance to look into?

Sorry Mod if this is off topic. Thanks guys so far for your posting replys

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

Thank you for your words and experience. I think I'm leaning more towards doing my own gig. I don't know much about it but I'm motivated and willing to put in the sweat and patience right now to be able to not conform to a franchise. Anything else I should consider?

And now my barrage of questions: I know there are several forum postings on here that address these topics but can you guys summarize for me from your experience some of the best/cost effective options for just starting out?

Software?

Reporting software helps with report formatting, boilerplate manipulation and weak typing skills. Buy one to get started but start daily typing lessons now. Check out Inspectexpress. In time, you'll actually do better with an ordinary word processor and abundant boilerplate.

On typing lessons - never aim for speed, don't try to type faster, just without errors. Speed is something that happens on its own without aiming for it. Trying to type faster ruins it in the end.

Tools (required/optional)?

Advertising?

If you're intent on being in the minority by remaining ethical, you won't solicit from realtors and you'll need to know at least as much about advertising as you do about houses.

Suggested further reading?

Take a few days off and read every HI sample report you can find online, throughout the USA, that includes members of this forum. The more you read, the better you realize where you want to go. Read at least a couple dozen. The decent ones number less than 1 in 5.

Licensing/certification board/organization? ( I've seen several companies that offer classes to get certified but I again would rather learn with my hands than from a book)

NC Home Inspector Licensure Board

I've never seen a certification that's worth the paper it was printed on. Certs are mostly about convincing the public that you know what you're doing though they do sometimes teach you enough to get you in trouble.

The HI societies are about promoting the membership because there's so many of them competing for members. When they were fewer, it was about education but that got sidetracked long ago.

The book is good. So is this forum but you must first survive the initiation gauntlet by developing a thick skin. This advice I offer you - all of it I learned here. There's no competition.

Types of insurance to look into?

Sorry Mod if this is off topic. Thanks guys so far for your posting replys

Marc

Link to post
Share on other sites

You need to first check to see what the North Carolina requirements are for licensing of home inspectors. There will be a detailed list of requirements that run the gamut from licensing to insurance requirements to report templates and what you can and can not put in reports and more.

Start there with your education first.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike,

Thank you for your words and experience. I think I'm leaning more towards doing my own gig. I don't know much about it but I'm motivated and willing to put in the sweat and patience right now to be able to not conform to a franchise. Anything else I should consider?

And now my barrage of questions: I know there are several forum postings on here that address these topics but can you guys summarize for me from your experience some of the best/cost effective options for just starting out?

Software?

Tools (required/optional)?

Advertising?

Suggested further reading?

Licensing/certification board/organization? ( I've seen several companies that offer classes to get certified but I again would rather learn with my hands than from a book)

Types of insurance to look into?

Sorry Mod if this is off topic. Thanks guys so far for your posting replys

You're going to need some training to meet your state requirements. This link will show you what you need, you can also look around the site at the education offerings by The ASHI School. They offer small 6-10 person classes with infield training in addition to the classroom. http://www.theashischool.com/content/ho ... h_Carolina

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Being a franchise has little benefit. Most people don't hire you for your company, they hire you for your name or your reputation. Being new to the business the best way to start gaining a reputation is by having a great website and a really good sample report.

I also disagree with Casey completely. I don't see a correlation between being a franchisee and success. When I started my franchise they didn't help me with advertising and name recognition meant absolutely nothing. Mike has it completely right, being part of a franchise means nothing more than paying royalties to a company that cares nothing about your business other than you following their business model and paying your royalty fees.

If I had to do it all over again I would not buy a franchise I would have gone independent and saved myself a ton of money and stress.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And now my barrage of questions: I know there are several forum postings on here that address these topics but can you guys summarize for me from your experience some of the best/cost effective options for just starting out?

Licensing/certification board/organization? ( I've seen several companies that offer classes to get certified but I again would rather learn with my hands than from a book)

In North Carolina the easiest way to qualify for Home Inspector licensing is to have a General Contractors License. Several companies offer Pass the GC License Test classes for about $350. 2-3 days of intense classroom. There is a bank of about 600 questions and the test presents 200. The classes give you all 600 questions and answers. Take the test and pass. Fill out the form, give the GC licensing board their $75 fee and you are a GC. Ta Da!

Then find search for NECHS (homeinspectionedu.com) Dick Pontello has been teaching Pass the NC Home Inspector Exam for years. 2 day class. NC uses a state specific test. Dick tells you all the questions and the answers the state wants. Not the techincally correct answer, the one the state wants. If you don't pass, you can take the class again for free until you pass.

NC only offers the HI test 6 times a year. Plan ahead.

Join the local chapter of NCLHIA. North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association. They meet montly. Good bunch of people. Good presentations. You meet and learn who are the movers and shakers in Raleigh/Durham. Fred Herndon board member shows up to the meetings. Great guy. Eric Coates (detailedhomeinspections.com) is another guy you need to track down and meet. Contact Wilson Fausel for tips on report writing. Wilson worked for the licensing board reviewing reports. He knows exactly what they want and how they want it.

Join and attend the Greenville chapter of ASHI. There is not a RDU chapter. 1 hr drive to meetings. Several current and past board members reguarly attend. Seek out and talk to Marion Peoples (prospectinspections.com) and Gary Gentry (QRIquality.com). Meetings offer good education. Better inspectors in the RDU and Piedmont area. Good contacts for you to know.

Introduce yourself at the meetings and request ride-alongs. Offer to buy them lunch. Keep your mouth shut during the inspection but take lots of notes. Ask the questions of the inspector after and away from the client. Write a report for the inspection and ask if the inspector will critique. Also ask for a copy his report to compare to yours. Go on at least 5 ride-alongs before you ever think about doing a for fee inspection for a real client.

Talk to the 6 guys above. There information is on the NC licensing board website. Select Wake county and search the list of inspectors. If they don't know about it, then it is not important for the NC scene.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...