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Who do you market to?


BruceH
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Integrity - honesty - objectivity as long as you follow these three rules market to whoever can give you a referral, and realtors can give you more referrals then anyone else when your getting started in the business. That does not mean kissing their (realtors) asses, it means you have to get your name and face known so they will give you that first referral. Then you have to provide a quality report that is honest, accurate, objective and comprehensive. If you do this it will lead to building a good reputation that will lead to more referrals. It is sometimes painful to stick to your guns (Integrity - honesty – objectivity). For awhile last year I was getting at least one job a week from one of the areas top agents – it was a sweet deal that ended when she called me and asked that I reconsider something I wrote up. I explained that it was a serious situation that I wish did not exist, but it did exist and had to report it as such. I never heard from her again, but I sleep well at night and I hope the young couple that were my customers sleep safe and sound too.

If you’re a good public speaker and can present yourself well, try and get invited to the weekly meeting held at most real estate offices. They expect you to bring some kind of food, but in return you’ll get 5 minutes to talk about your business, reports, etc. You’re getting your name and face out there that may lead to that first referral. That first opportunity to demonstrate the quality of you performance.

I made up a flyer (not a brochure) but a flyer that has my picture and logo on it (people hire people, not companies) that had 3-4 bullet statements that explained I provide electronic reports w/ digital photos; I work hard at educating the customer not just running a checklist, etc…. I placed these flyers in the agents distro boxes. Again getting your name and face out there that may lead to that first referral.

Always be friendly and kind and carry your business cards– over the summer I helped an elderly lady load some groceries into her car. As she was thinking me she asked what I did - it turned out she was the matriarch of a family of 8 realtors and I now get regular referrals from the entire family team.

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Thanks for the info. It is kinda what I thought. I have been doing the realtor office visit thing and have had some good response but I also have received the look after I introduce myself as a home inspector. Most of the time I get "I'll pass your cards to our agents." I know this is a referral biz and I expect it to take time to get your name and reputation out I was just curious how you keep your name fresh if you don't go to where home buyers go.

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Integrity - honesty - objectivity as long as you follow these three rules market to whoever can give you a referral, and realtors can give you more referrals then anyone else when your getting started in the business. That does not mean kissing their (realtors) asses, it means you have to get your name and face known so they will give you that first referral. Then you have to provide a quality report that is honest, accurate, objective and comprehensive. If you do this it will lead to building a good reputation that will lead to more referrals. It is sometimes painful to stick to your guns (Integrity - honesty – objectivity). For awhile last year I was getting at least one job a week from one of the areas top agents – it was a sweet deal that ended when she called me and asked that I reconsider something I wrote up. I explained that it was a serious situation that I wish did not exist, but it did exist and had to report it as such. I never heard from her again, but I sleep well at night and I hope the young couple that were my customers sleep safe and sound too.

If you’re a good public speaker and can present yourself well, try and get invited to the weekly meeting held at most real estate offices. They expect you to bring some kind of food, but in return you’ll get 5 minutes to talk about your business, reports, etc. You’re getting your name and face out there that may lead to that first referral. That first opportunity to demonstrate the quality of you performance.

Very Well Put!![:-thumbu][:-graduat

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Purchase a batch of full page flyers from a professional flyer company. When you visit Realtor offices ask the receptionist if she would mind if you can stuff their mail boxes with your flyers. There may be 50 or 150 agent boxes. Place a flyer in all of them. If you are lucky two or three may call you and if you are lucky one of them may be honest enough to work with. Do all Realtor offices in your area until some calls start coming in.

Just remember one thing what is included in your report is on you no matter what the agent tells you. Don't be picky on cosmetics that is not part of inspectors job. cosmetics belong to new homes not older homes that have ordinary wear and tear.

Paul B.

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  • 3 months later...

You need to market to realtors. But your marketing material needs to be effective. Realtors want to know what’s in it for them by using your home inspection company.

Convey this message to the realtors:

You understand that whether a real estate transaction moves forward or not often times depends on how the home inspector conveys his inspection findings. And you are not a deal killer!

Go directly to the public using the web. Market to your prior clients.

Carl

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Mark (AHIS) has it right. Market to realtors, but don't sell out. Before long you'll only have the very few that want a real inspection for their clients. Meanwhile you can steal a little work and add some happy clients to the customer base as the bottom-feeders learn about you. Saying things like "I won't scare your clients" or "I'm not a deal killer" is naked code for "I'll kiss your butt for money".

Brian G.

The Client Is the Only Client [:-dog]

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Who do I market to?

Everyone that sees me work and reads my report. I don't go to real estate offices, I don't send real estate professionals cards and follow-up thank you's and I don't sponsor open houses with them. Did once, as part of a franchise - stopped about 9 months later when I couldn't stand to do it any longer. Since I left the franchise in 2001 - not once.

They're always saying figure out who your target audience is. Well, I figure it's whoever's at the inspection and watches me work. Most of the time that's going to be a buyer but sometimes it's the seller or the buyer's relatives or friends. Sometimes it's other folks who wander in with their agent to look at the house in the middle of the inspection (I always drop 3-4 cards on the nearest flat surface to the entrance when I walk in, so anyone who wants one can pick them up.).

It might be a real estate person, if that person bothers to watch my work and listen to what I'm teaching the client and recognize that I'm ignoring their (the agent's) body language and hints and am taking care of my true client and am not sucking up to them. I don't pander to them or give them even a hint that I'd like to get referrals from them. I figure that if I'm doing that, the client is going to sense it, the same way I could sense it when a victim, perp or witness wasn't giving me his/her full attention when I'd be interviewing them.

If an agent is not interested in learning, and only wants to manipulate my time or what I say, and are going to be a royal pain in the ass during the entire inspection process, I can usually sense it within the first couple of minutes of meeting them. From that point on, I make sure they understand that it's me who's in charge of the inspection process, not them, by being as cold to them as any felon I'd ever caught and seen jailed. That way, there's less chance of them following me around and trying to put words in my mouth and I won't have to constantly rebut everything they try to interject into the presentation while they attempt to do damage control in the middle of the job.

In the end, it's the happy client, the client's spouse, the client's friends and relatives, the agent who has integrity, the house hunter, the nosy neighbor, the seller who end up telling others about me and those others call me for work. The agents? If they like my work they'll tell a few other agents, but not many. If they don't like my work, they'll tell a few other like-minded agents about the asshole of a deal killer they'd met and warn them to stay clear of me, which is fine with me, 'cuz I'd rather not have to deal with that kind of agent anyway.

Sometimes, but not often, when the 'zoid doesn't know the other agent well enough, it will backfire on them and I'll get a call from an agent I've never met who will tell me something like, "I just heard about this really anal inspector from one of the other agents in the office. He said you were a real deal killer and that you write really detailed reports and don't seem to realize on which side your bread is buttered. That's just the kind of inspector I need for my clients, what's your next availability."

Two days ago, my wife and I showed up to do a job and the agent and agent's wife, who's also an agent, turned out to be Koreans from my wife's church. My wife had a conversation with the agent in Korean out of earshot. That evening, she told me about it.

He told her, "Gee I didn't realize that your husband was a home inspector or I would have been referring him to my clients all of these years." She responded with, "Well, maybe not. He's a really, really picky inspector, he's going to be here at least 3-1/2 to 4 hours and he's going to tell the customer everything he sees. Is that the kind of inspector you are looking for?"

His response was something like, "What, 3-1/2 to 4 hours! What for? Why does he need to be so picky? All the client needs to know about is the big-ticket items. The rest is all part of owning a home. You know, we agents have to make a living. No matter how good he is, we don't want to refer our clients to inspectors like that, because all the work it took to get the customer to this point with this home will be wasted and we'll have to start all over again. If the home doesn't sell, we don't get paid. If I have to work twice as hard and twice as long to sell one client a home, I'll make commissions from fewer houses a year and I wont' be able to pay my bills."

My wifes response was, "Yeah, I know, I've told him that many times, but he's too stubborn and won't listen. He says he doesn't care about the agents because the buyer is his customer, not the agent." The agent than told her, reluctantly, "Well, that's too bad, because I'd thought I would refer work to you and your husband in the future, but, if that's his attitude, I can't afford to tell my customers about him. I hope you understand."

Koreans are pretty pragmatic. She does.

One more 'zoid added to my list of who I won't accept referrals from. Conversely, there are two other Korean agents from that same church that refer work to me all the time and who couldn't care less about how much time I take or what I put in the report, as long as I do a good job. Other than doing what I do, as best I know how to do it, I've never "marketed" to any of them.

Like Gary and the others said, you can be a 'zoid's stooge or you can be your own man. It's up to you. If we're ever to garner the true respect from others that we deserve as "professionals" we need to cull the former from this business and cultivate and mentor more of the latter.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Bruce,

Wow! You are getting all this education for free. Regular participants in these forums should receive MRC's - really.

As you can tell, we actually care. A good thing for you to look for is this - is a person talking about buildings, materials, ethics, electrical, plumbing or tulips?

If so, then that is someone from whom you can learn much. Of course we bring up business issues from time to time, but that is not our usual emphasis.

For anyone here to really listen to another's advice, we first need to know that their motivation is building science and ethics. If that's not a person's introduction, then they are likely seen as fluff. Got it, Ace?

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Bruce,

Mike's comments are far more powerful than they would seem at first reading.

I am a moderately intelligent inspector that has pondered the marketing question for several decades. I think about it on a daily basis and have invested many dollars "marketing". I (company) have been the subject of several academic papers and surveys regarding this very problem. My way of doing business will not work for you or any inspector that is just starting or has less than 5-6yrs of experience.

I started with an unlisted telephone number, limited number of business cards and an attitude! I would not give my card to agents, but would send them a copy of the card if they insisted. The cards cost me 27cents each and I told them I would not waste the money on them because they were/are not my client. At that time I had very small financial requirements, single Dad, lived on an island, didn't have ANY payments and my cost of doing business per inspection was abt $5.00.

Fast forward twenty years - things change. Added services and inspectors and finally had to have a listed phone number and market our company. I had to re-think everything, and I did. The single thing that did not change was our passion and dedication to our client. By that time we started doing inspections for my original client base's kids and as of this date have done inspections for several grandchildren of my original first time home buyers. Life is good! In the meantime, we had to think up ways to market and feed everyone's families. I have met and talked to most of the high-powered inspection Gurus and watched as inspector mills turned out thousands of inspectors with an emphasis on marketing to agents. It will help, but will not keep you in business for a meaningful time period. I am not anti-agent! I am now married to a very active agent (15yrs)that shares my ethics and deeply held beliefs. I am fortunate.

I remain active on a regional and national level with ASHI and still manage to do a couple hundred inspections per year, couple dozen legal files, 10-12 lawsuits against other inspectors and 20+- lawsuits for other inspectors. My insight is this: Know who YOU are and what your values are, as well as modesty about what YOU know (or don't know). I have never seen an ethical, fair honest inspector go broke if they have confidence and patience. It ain't easy!

Finally, just read this and other forums and listen to the Scotts, Brians, Jim, Gary, Kurt, Mike, John, etc and you will pick up a strong common theme - Be ethical!! I really do know and understand you have to eat - you can eat and be honest at the same time.

Maybe more later.

By the way Tulips are a valid concern on a home inspector forum!!

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Oh Yeah!

Hey Les, I just realized, it's tulip festival time up in Arlington! That place will be hip deep in folks coming to tour the fields for a couple of weeks. I'm not much on plants and stuff, but all that color sprouting out of the ground in one location really is pretty grand to see. I'll have to try and remember to take a day to drive up this year. The last couple of years it slipped my mind.

You oughta try to make it one of these years.

[We now return you to your regular "Who do you market to?" thread.]

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Hi Bruce....Welcome to the cranky old mans club,and if you don"t believe me just follow the cob webs to our photos.When all is said and done just remember this.

Every thing you do is on record.

Every thing you say might be remembered.

Every thing you wish to sell is you.

So do not sell your service cheap just to get a jump start, or you hurt yourself and every one else in this business.Your success will be based on your knowledge in the long run.Personally I thought this would be a quick kill at the beginning and grew to realize it is a long romance.This is a profession you must fall in love with or you will quickly fade away.

I am a newbie myself but have learned this much already.

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I'm just coming to the end of my first "official" year in business. I felt that marketing to realtors would be the wrong path for me to take in the beginning. The temptation of dealing with the "wrong type" of realtor would be too strong to a hungry neophyte. I was afraid by dealing with every 'zoid out there, I would be laying a bad foundation for the rest of my career.

I did, however, market myself to the big FSBO outfit in my area as well as some mortgage providers and a real estate lawyer. I've been fortunate to get lots of business frome these guys.

The end result: I may have missed out on a fair amount of business, but I'm still in business (and growing nicely, thank you very much!!!) and I didn't have to sell my soul. I love what I do, I sleep well at night, and I plan to do this for a long time!

-Brad

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They give my cards to people listing their homes - I get a few pre listing jobs, but more often the purchers calls me. When someone makes an offer to purchase, the FSBO office as well as the lawyer doing the offer have my cards on hand.

This relationship has worked out well, they have linked to me via their website as well as asking me to write for a magazine they publish. I also speak at their FSBO seminars to explain the importance of a home inspection to "do it yourself" home selling.

I love FSBO!!!!!

-Brad

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