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Calling Realtors


truhome
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That's a tough one. Many of the established HI's on the board will almost surely tell you not to call or do anything else to pander to realtors, but you're the one trying to survive. If you think it would help, try it. If it doesn't help, drop that and try something else. As long as you keep your committment to the client first and foremost, there's nothing wrong with asking for business. And the whole time you're working them for leads, do whatever's possible to get to a point where you can do without them.

Brian G.

Do What You Gotta Do, Just Don't Sell Out [:-dog]

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Darren welcome to the club. I'm new to the game myself, one of the things my instructor taught me was that 90% of all business comes to real estate agent referrals. Right now I am working on pre-inspection brochures for home sellers, and will be personalty distributing these real state offices. Remember the product you're selling as yourself, so let them see face to go with those letters and they may have more confidence in giving you a call. I'm also told it may take one or two years before you have a full thriving business. Just remember they can't recommend you if they don't see and hear from you. Better to oversell then undersell. And by the way going to this site seems a great way to get started. Lots of tips from older more experienced inspectors. Also have you tried mortgage brokers and real estate lawyers. Anyway good luck in the future as I am in the same boat as you. Sincerely Chicago(Bobe).[:-graduat

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"Lots of tips from older... inspectors." Thanks, we needed that.

I work with several Realtors who I trust and who trust me. I would starve without their referrals. Personally, I don't see a problem with it. A good way to start is call or stop in and offer to give a short presentation at one of their weekly meetings. Realtors love meetings and are always looking for ways to fill the time.

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Fritz checked out your site nice pictures. I'm sure both of us appreciate your input. I suspect that in the Midwest home sales will cool off with the weather, so we need to boost inspections quickly as we can. Your advice to play Speaker of the week is a good one, however us novices may need to build a little bit more confidence before attempting this. You feel that pre inspections will grow with the slowing market?[:-graduat

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Robert, its not as bad as you think. The office meetings are usually a dozen people or less. Just sitting around a table, show them a report, explain to them how your service is better than the others out there, bring some donuts, leave some brochures, etc. Nothing formal.

Also, you might want to go to the larger area meetings and get to know people and leave brochures. Another advantage is you figure out pretty quick which agents are selling the most and which ones you would be able to work with.

There are lots of inspectors on this forum with more experience and knowledge than me who have "never set foot in a Realtors office". Frankly, I don't know how they do it. Word of mouth is great, but are there that many old clients who know people purchasing homes? Maybe you will hear from some of them with ideas of how to build your busuness without the Realtors.

Personally, starting out, I would'nt go after the pre-listing inspections. It's much better at the start to have a client that is happy with your work, not pissed.

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Something that just about every new inspector does not really understand (New being in the business less than 2 years), is that you have to build your business.

The training schools do not teach this. But as with any business this is a vital step in the process of success and this takes time, patience and money! On the average I would say that it will take you 2-3 years to build up a referral base, and this is giving your HI business 40+ hours a week.

If I can recall my first year in 1994 I did around 50 inspections and by my third year that number had grown to over 250. It's just not going to happen in 6 months or even in 1 year.

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Hi,

I think I'd do it a little differently. I used to be a member of a franchise and spent several days in training learning how to kiss the butt of real estate agents and use every sales trick in the book to manipulate them into referring customers to me. Since the franchise was started by someone who used to sell real estate, it only served to turn me off on the whole process and I never felt comfortable doing it. I did though, for the first 9 months in business and then I simply quit and decided to let the chips fall where they may. That was nearly 10 years ago.

If you feel that you must go to a real estate office and kow-tow to them in your area in order to get referrals, I think you'd be wise to keep in mind that agents are professional sales people. They'll know that you're coming there to try to sell to them and they'll have seen literally dozens of similar presentations from other inspectors before you and will likely be bored silly if you try and feed them the same old fodder.

I have a friend who's an agent. He says that they love it when the inspectors bring the donuts and coffee, but that he tunes out when the inspector goes into his/her 'I'm better than the other guys because' spiel. He says that some agents he knows make it a sport to pick the inspectors apart in front of everyone else in the office and that after they leave they usually have a good laugh at how the inspector had been squirming. He says that after the inspector leaves they toss the brochures and cards, go back to their desk and keep right on referring inspectors whom they know and feel comfortable with. So, basically you're spinning your wheels if you think you can impress them by talking about how you're better than the other guy.

He says that every once in a while they'll get an inspector who continuously drop strong hints, without actually saying anything, that they can rely on him/her to help the sale go through. The inspector will comment about how he/she can help them ensure a "smooth transaction" by "putting things in perspective" and will tell them that he/she understands that they (the agents) are also his/her "clients." He says that these folks usually generate a little more interest among certain agents and those agents will typically pigeonhole the guy/gal afterward for a few minutes to ask more questions in their own cubical. Can you guess what they are probably asking?

This guy is a straight shooter and has been referring work to me for about 8 years. Believe me, if he's referring work to me after that long, he is, or I would always be booked up whenever one of his clients called. He says that he values honesty and directness and learning something new more than he does hearing about how an inspector is going to do better than the other guy, 'cuz that's what he's heard dozens of times from every Tom, Dick and Harry inspector. He says if an inspector can come to his office, educate him on something that will actually be of value to him, instead of trying to show him how to suck eggs, and will answer his questions honestly and without trying to tailor his/her answers so that his butt is feeling nice and kissed, he's more apt to save the guy's card and refer someone to him later.

In my opinion, this is the kind of agent this profession needs, rather than the other type who seeks out the facilitators. If I were you, I'd go there and give them a class on something that I knew well and that they aren't likely to know much about, which will help them understand homes better, thus making it easier for them to help them avoid money pits before they get to the offer stage. Stuff like that will be valuable to them. Keep it under 10 minutes and don't appear to be selling yourself or anything else. Act like you are doing them and their clients a favor by teaching them that stuff, pass your cards out and then leave.

If they tried to engage me in questions that are pointedly aimed at trying to gauge whether I were a facilitator, I'd tell them that I was there to help them better educate their clients. I'd point out that I inspect to specific standards of practice and I'd hand that person a copy of those standards and tell him/her to study it and then call me with any questions about it. I'd make it a point not to become trapped into questions about how I will inspect, because, as a rookie that won't help me. I'd tell them that if they want to know how well I can inspect, they'll just have to give me a shot by referring a client to me, and then we'd see whether we were a match or not. Then I'd pass just my card out and I'd leave and tell them that if they'd like some brochures to give me a call and I'd drop some off. That way, I'm not putting my money on their break room shelf only to see it tossed in the trash as soon as I'm out the door.

If you provide them information that shows you are knowledgeable and confident, and leave the impression that you/re honest and ethical, here's what I think will happen:

1. Those that want an honest and ethical inspector will probably refer at least one customer to you, in order to see if you really are. If you show them you are, do a competent inspection, and write an honest report, they'll probably add you to a list of honest inspectors they have and they'll refer clients to you as they rotate through that list. Don't expect it to be as often as you might imagine because the list of honest inspectors can be anywhere from one or two to up to a few dozen - depending on how they operate.

2. Those who are on the fence and can go either way, depending on how many homes they've sold so far this year and how many unpaid bills they're sweating out, will probably do the same, just to see whether they want to get you on their special list for those times when they have those touchier, more risky clients - a relative, a media personality, a celebrity, a lawyer or a professional engineer.

3. Most of those who are realtorzoids (manipulators who are seeking facilitators and secret salesmen) will never contact you, but some, thinking that maybe you're something else in private and out of sight of overseeing eyes, will probably risk at least referring one person to you, in order to gauge your skills, so they'll know what to expect when they know you'll be inspecting one of their listings and writing a report, and in order to include you on that special list used for those touchier clients.

4. All of them will include you on the list of inspectors that they'll personally use for homes that they are purchasing. Whether they use you when that time comes will depend entirely on whether you're available when they call.

In any event, by giving them something that they can use, you increase the odds of getting referrals from every type, over sitting there and letting them pick you off with questions designed to peel the onion and determine what's at it's core. It will get you referrals. From there, it's up to you. You can bet that you'll have to do it all over town the same way and do it enough to keep those referrals coming long enough to build up a decent referral base of satisfied customers and honest realtors, because I can guaranty you that for every one who sends you a second referral there will be at least six who never will again, unless it's on a home they are personally purchasing or the client is in that touchier class above.

My opinion. Worth the price charged, I suppose.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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WOW! Sounds like a lion's den full of predators. Obviously they could care less who they give the business to which is one reason I was going to work the pre-inspection inspection angle. Perhaps offering that 90 day home warranty and a yard sign listing the home as be inspected by a certified certified inspector. This is something they would be of benefit to them and the seller. In this way they now I am hoping in a solo home plus I'm getting free advertising in front of the property. Also I'm hoping that I'll get a second deal for inspecting the home that the seller will be buying. Anyway I should be hitting my first real estate offices sometime later this week with brochures in hand. Other than that Mike what would you recommend other than marketing to real estate agents, perhaps real estate lawyers ,brokers etc. once again thanks for your input I appreciate it. Oh and by the way I assume that private cubicle conversation to which were referring has something to do with an unethical bird-dog fee. (Bobe).

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Hi,

No, he'd never told me that he's heard that kind of conversation. Understand that the N.A.R. has a code of ethics and that their public face encourages buyers and sellers to have an inspection. Since many of them compete with each other for sales, they don't talk like that in front of anyone who they know or suspect isn't of the same frame of mind. I'm just telling you how he says "those" kind of inspectors seem to get pigeonholed by the type of folks that I'd call slick operators.

I doubt that there's even anything as overt as you've suggested. It's probably something more on the order of very pointed and carefully worded questions about how the inspector inspects and reports and maybe how he reports certain issues that are a pet peeve for the agent. Basically, feeling the inspector out in private and hoping to get the right responses in order to know that he's got an inspector who's hungry enough to take it easy on the house for future referrals.

It doesn't take very many questions to figure that out. In fact, if you feed them the right answers and then they refer you, you can always turn around and do it exactly the opposite of the way they expect you to do it. You'll at least get that one referral and that's money in the bank, just don't expect to hear from 'em again and be prepared to receive an unhappy phone call and maybe get your name bandied around amongst their office as being an incompetent or something like that. Some of them will get pretty nasty on the phone, because you didn't listen to 'the code' and threaten all sorts of things - that I've experienced.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by truhome

I have been in business for about six months. It's been slow because I haven't marketing very aggressively. I have now sent out letters to local realtors. I was wondering if I should make follow up calls. I feel like the realtors would think I was "bothering" them while they are working. Can anyone help me?

www.truhomeinspections.com

Back to the original Question Letters to realtors gets a name out and most realtors do not refer based on a letter saying "I am a Home Inspector" I have been in business for about 2 years and at this time I am doing about as many inspections as I have time for (to give a quality inspection)I still contact realtors on a consistent basis I buy the foil wrapped cholocate coins and as I go through a realtors office if the agents are onthe phone I smile and lay some of my cards on their desk with 2 or three of the chocolates and go on if they are not busy I still lay my cards and chocolate coins on their desk if they want to talk They will do so (realtors are not shy) If They are with a customer I ask a realtor I know to give the cards and chocolates to them when they are not busy. This gets my name and face in their menmory. I have even gotten referals to customers in the office while doing this. Most of my business is referals from realtors lists of inspectors but I am getting good WOM referals and bank mortgage agents. I am envious of the inspectors who do not need to get the realtors to refer them, in my market this is esential to staying in business. Most of the realtors i work with want a Properm Inspection and appreciate the SOP as well as the ethics involved and yes I have upset some realtors with nspection results but this has not hurt me inthe big picture.

In short what I am saying is get your name and face out there consistently so the short memoried realtors will remember you.

wildwillie

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Excuse me,

I am also new to the inspection industry. I have been involved in Real Estate in one way or another (including sales) for the last 15 years. I do know quite a few of the agents in my area. BUT I do agree very strongly that the HI's are working for the consumer - period. With that said my marketing dime will be spent on working to educate the buyer's and seller's. There are allot of public clubs that will gladly give you 20 minutes to speek about something interesting or even not so interesting. I would also rather take flyers to the seller's door as opposed to a Real Estate office.

Thanks for the opportunity!

C.

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I'm in business. I'm in business to make money - period. I will market my company to anyone that gives me the opportunity - period. To not do so would be comparable to Target closing it's doors to anyone over 50 years old and anyone under 40 years old.

While this may not be a popular stance I do what I have to do to keep my company afloat and profitable.

I was in a seminar last year and Mark Cramer was one of the speakers. He stated that he has coloring books & crayons, with his companies name on them, and that he drops them off at realtors offices. Smart guy.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if a realtor only uses you once you have had the opportunity to impress your client (which you didn't have prior to). That's where the best referrals come from.

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Terry,

You make a very good point and I do here it. But as was stated earlier in this thread Realtors are sales people and it is very easy for a new HI to get sucked in to working for them. I am not at all putting all realtors under this umbrella, but as in any field they are out there. I was also struggling with this because that is the easiest market to go after but I have been reading this board for a few months now and it was actually you guy's that helped me make this career decision. Yes they are an excellent referral source but HI's beware!

I do not have the experience of you guy’s but in the short time I have been monitoring this board I have learned allot.

Thanks for the opportunity,

Craig

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Why would anyone, as a home inspector, let a realtor influence their report? You guys who are so afraid of realtor referrals, do you modify your report depending on the client you are working for? Do you maybe gloss over some things when you are doing a pre listing inspection for a seller?? Of course not! So why do you think that we who market to Realtors would?

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Originally posted by homnspector

Why would anyone, as a home inspector, let a realtor influence their report? You guys who are so afraid of realtor referrals, do you modify your report depending on the client you are working for? Do you maybe gloss over some things when you are doing a pre listing inspection for a seller?? Of course not! So why do you think that we who market to Realtors would?

We think that because, unlike sellers and homebuyers, the realtor can be a source of multiple referrals over a period of many years and, as such, is much more valuable to an inspector. Certain inspectors, present company excluded I'm sure, fall prey to the temptation to stroke the hand that feeds them.

It's a simple paradigm. The only people who don't seem to understand it are those who are too close to it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by homnspector

So why do you think that we who market to Realtors would?

Because I have viewed and reviewed many reports from "inspectors" in our profession.

My favorite comment from those who do market Realtors is " the condition of the roof is average for its age."

We all started the same way calling on Realtors. At some point in time I realized that in order to truly work for your client you have to decide who that client is.

Captain

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"Because I have viewed and reviewed many reports from "inspectors" in our profession."

So, that is the assumption if we market to Realtors? I strongly disagree with that assumption. Are you afraid if you market to Realtors you will fall into this trap, that you will "forget" who your client is? I personally do not have that problem, but I can see where it would be a problem for some.

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I've been trying to avoid commenting on this one, but....... It's the tender trap; sucks you in 'cuz the money's so sweet. By the time you understand, you're hooked to the sweetness.

Here's a little (very little) thought. Those of my brother's & sister's that market exclusively to realtors are bleeding out their toes right now in the market slowdown; seems them realtors that sent 'em all that work don't have any work to send 'em.

I seem to be doing OK 'cuz I never asked the pricks & prick-ette's (not Chris!) for nothing. I don't think it's unethical to ask realtors for business, I just think it's bad business. Go ahead & do it, but don't get addicted, 'cuz it's a hard habit to kick.

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Originally posted by homnspector

"Because I have viewed and reviewed many reports from "inspectors" in our profession."

So, that is the assumption if we market to Realtors? I strongly disagree with that assumption. Are you afraid if you market to Realtors you will fall into this trap, that you will "forget" who your client is? I personally do not have that problem, but I can see where it would be a problem for some.

It is not an assumption it is fact. I have viewed and reviewed reports from home inspectors that get referrals and the majority of then go easy on the house.

I'll make this simple for you. Not all home inspectors that get referrals from Realtors are friendly to the house. Some are some are not.

And you answered the hypothesis, no I don't have to remember or think who my client is.

I have no problems with inspectors who get referrals. Just give your client a disclosure stating that you have solicited the Realtor for referrals. I think it will help you in court when you tell the judge that my client knew I solicit Realtors for referrals and just because I solicit Realtors doesn't mean they are my client.

See herner vs hosemaster

Captain

Captain

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