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As inspectors we have a chance to set the coarse at the beginning of the deal. Some of you who have been in business have SOP im sure. Lets talk about it.

Im looking for techniques for constructing the talk that takes place prior to the inspection so I can make anyone who might be involved feel as comfortable as possible. I know the client is my main concern but many times they choose to allow others to participate.

How do you set the mood and what do you say? What are the main goals in the kickoff speech?

I am looking for techniques to establish things like;

this is not a perfect house and there is no perfect house...

my goal is too....

this is what you can expect from me...

etc....

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Originally posted by kurt

I've always found candlelight and soft sensual massage to be an excellent way to set the mood......

Perhaps your average client is more attractive than mine...or you are just more open to other body types! I would consider the massage and candlelight idea on only about 25% of my clients. In other words, only about half of the female ones! LOL

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I am looking for techniques to establish things like;

this is not a perfect house and there is no perfect house...

As my lawyer Jean would say, "Thank you Captain Obvious!" I'd leave that one out. It's so obvious that some might feel it's condescending.

Probably won't help much, but my kickoff speech went something like this: "Rick and I are going to look around for a while. Then I'll meet you at the kitchen table, and tell you everything I know about the house. After that, I'll show you all the really exciting things, if we find any..."

WJ

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Originally posted by chicago

John I think the reason you are not getting serious answers is due to the fact no one can teach you how to interact with people.

You and I may have different ways of conveying information.Each situation is different, so just be relaxed and go with your gut.

Yes I understand. Personal opinions play a large role in this issue. Do you think some would pass on a response to avoid the scrutiny of others?

I will play around with the search function like Mike has suggested.

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Hi John,

I'll bite.

I won't tell you what I say exactly, but I do try to set my clients' expectations for the inspection by explaining what will and what will not be reported.

I also explain that I don't report the small stuff and will concentrate on finding and reporting on only the more significant issues. That way I eliminate the calls concerning the sticky drawer or similar issues.

The most important thing is to develop a comfortable, casual rapport with your client.

John, I know how hard you're trying to be an excellent inspector. I can see by the questions you're asking that you want to be informed and prepared. Try to lighten up a little; inject some humor, lose the 'inspector speak' and try to communicate in an interesting fashion.

If you bore your client to death, they won't read your report or listen to what you say. It's the unheard, unread comments that'll get you in trouble.

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John,

the people that responded are not at all shy. I like Bob E's response. One of the finest inspectors I know personally, has the personality of a stone. He makes a living, stays educated, but can't size up his client. Me, I have about 8,000 opening lines. Some are crude, some quite good, and all are predicated on my first impression of the client and house.

Stay educated, stay honest and give folks your opinion. Make it an experience!

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You have to be yourself. You can't be someone else, if so you will fail. Be yourself.

When I knock on the door, many times I do not know if the person answering is the homeowner, the buyer or the real estate agent. The first words out of my mouth are "Hi, I'm Scott Patterson, the big bad home inspector!" This gets a chuckle 99% of the time. I find out who I'm dealing with and then I get the contracts and payment out of the way. Then I say "I'm going to be in and out of the home, but I'm going to start outside. So if you want to follow me please try to stay out of my way and hold your questions until I ask you if you have any questions." Once outside I say this "I can't allow you on the roof or in the crawlspace, but I will tell you what I find."

Most of the time they start to follow me, but they have trouble keeping up. They get to talking with the agents, neighbors, on the their cell phone, etc. I don't wait or stop for them.

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Originally posted by chicago

John I think the reason you are not getting serious answers is due to the fact no one can teach you how to interact with people.

You and I may have different ways of conveying information.Each situation is different, so just be relaxed and go with your gut.

Hey, I was serious. I described my pre-inspection speech pretty much word for word.

I'll explain further: When I was doing everyday HI work, I had the great advantage of having customers who were faithful readers of my weekly column, which is now 12 years old. I didn't have to worry about first impressions. My customers already knew my speaking/writing style, my opinions, the names of my family members and stuff my dog did.

If I were asked to write a generic warm-up speech for a home inspector, I'd start by telling them to drop the cliches. For instance, if you're meeting your customer for the first time, and you lead with, "there are no perfect houses," I think you put the customers on notice that you're working from an old yellowed script. They'll recognize the canned speech, the weak attempts at disclaimers, the blatant ass-covering and the inattention to their needs.

If you tell customers that you're looking for big things, and not little things, I think you'd best define some big and little things. Otherwise, I promise they'll be thinking, "What little things is he going to leave out?"

Note: In my litigation-support work, I've noticed that lawyers go straight to the HIs' ass-covering cliches, and use those to torture and expose unprepared HIs stuck in the witness chair. It's not good to use those "house-in-perspective" lines from canned HI reporting templates. Everybody sees through that. Really. It's not that hard to figure out.

If an HI has a hard time being himself, if he has to practice his howdy-do speech in front of a mirror, he's going to have a hard time establishing the "I-love-Charlie" factor.

Bottom line is: Just act natural. People will see through a pose. Customers are going to read you for what you are -- stern, funny, curmudgeonly, well-met, hopelessly square, or whatever.

If I were just starting my first howdy-do speech, I might just start with something like, "Are there any things in particular that you're worried about? Is there anything in particular that you'd like me to do?"

Let the customers tell you what their expectations are, rather than trying to convince them what their expectations ought to be.

WJ

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I show up at each inspection early enough to walk the exterior, including the roof(s), before anyone arrives.

I have much work to do for the next 4-8 hours, so I need to get it going right away. I'm programmed to be a technician, not a salesman, babysitter or PR guy. I don't have a little conference to "manage expectations". It's not necessary if you intend to far exceed all expectations.

My speech:

"Hi, I'm Bill. Would you like to start with a little tour around the outside?"

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I have a fairly standard way of going over the pre-inspection agreement with a client, because they usually want a quick run-down on what they're signing. I won't go into all that, but when I get to the part that says...

Expectations: I am a home inspection generalist. I am not acting as a licensed engineer or expert in any particular craft or trade, I don’t have X-ray vision, and I cannot predict the future. My job is to observe, document, and report conditions found at the Subject Property on the date of inspection. I will never be able to examine every square inch of any house, regardless of the circumstances, and I cannot perform a perfect inspection. I will do my very best.

...I follow that by telling them "But I am the most through, hard-head home inspector anywhere around here, by far, and I'll promise you this: When I'm done and we go over everything, you will have no doubts whatsoever that I went all the way for you."

I also tell them "However much you think I'll find, it's actually going to be more than that. When someone combs through a house this way, any house, it turns up a lot of things that have been ignored, improvised, or forgotten. Be prepared for that."

If the seller is at the property I just introduce myself and tell them how long I think I'll be there, that I'll be going all over the place, and that I can't discuss any of the findings with them by law.

When I've gone over things with the client I end with something like this:

"Now if you buy this house and live in it, you're bound to find some little things I've missed somewhere, so I'll go ahead and apologise now. All I can say is that it won't be because I didn't try or didn't care."

And of course, by then they know I'm telling the truth.

I've had good luck with that approach so far.

P.S. Part of the "Expectations" paragraph is owed directly to Walter.

Brian G.

Tell 'Em the Truth, Show 'Em the Love [:-angel]

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Originally posted by AHI

Thanks everyone. Lots of good stuff coming through and sinking in.

I don't know why I didn't mention this earlier. If an HI creates a dandy website, full of useful content, written in a conversational tone, he can instantly boost his business.

Fair warning: To be reasonably successful, one must keep his website free of platitudes, ass-covering disclaimers, cliches, bad spelling and grammar, logical breakdowns and such like. Every ugly or cliched graphic, every misspelled word and every bit of HI folklore will eat away at customer confidence.

If the HI does everything right, he can set the tone for every meeting with a customer, without even opening his mouth.

While he's at it, he can set up his website so customers can download contracts and read sample reports. That way, he can collect the signed contract as soon as he gets out of his truck; and, the customers will be familiar with his reporting style, which will inevitably reflect his thinking style.

Long story short, a good website can make you or break you.

WJ

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I'm confused, the client has already hired you to do the inspection, so why a speech?

Introduce yourself and start inspecting. I don't tell them what I am going to do and in eleven years no client has ever asked me what I'm I going to do.

In the end they get a report which hopefully tells them exactly what you did and what you did not.

Captain

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Interesting thoughts, Walter.

Heck a couple of years ago, a home inspector didn't even really need a website. May not even be that bad if an HI doesn't have one today!

I'm assuming you're implying if an HI has a website, then it better be good?

Well, I've seen some excellent HI websites; and, I've been told that they generate a lot of leads for the owners. My (former) company's website generated a lot of business for me. The website currently needs an overhaul.

And, yes, HI websites should be interesting, useful and correct. There should be plenty of useful content. When we finally overhaul ours, it will contain sample reports, contracts, columns I wrote, links to useful info (NOT realtors), testimonials and articles that explain building defects that we see in our market area.

I've seen dozens of HI websites. Most are wretched, with the usual problems of bad spelling, grammar and logic. Many are ugly, with bad graphics, lots of moving things and annoying sounds. Content-wise, most that I've seen are canned and generic, and say exactly the same thing as dozens of other websites. Lame, cliched stuff like, "A house is your biggest investment," and "buying a house is stressful."

Summary: HIs benefit by having websites. The websites should be excellent. Websites generate leads, shape the local market, and save a whole lot of time.

Mark Cramer and Garet Denise have excellent websites. So does brother Kurt.

WJ

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