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Well, again you guys have been great and saved me time, money, and head aches. So here we go again. And just so you know, I don't take negative feedback poorly. If it sucks say so, just include why you think it does.

This is a rough draft of a pamphlet I intend to put on the street. First off, I have seen the pamphlets done by E4MB and others and I just don't like the canned feel about them. How can I be special if I'm just like everyone else?

Also, as stated elsewhere, I intend to be the buyers inspector. I want to earn work through quality not quantity. I have decided that I will be charging a higher price than most, but I will also give a product that is of superior quality and well worth the price.

The first audience I intend to share this with is military home buyers. Local military family service centers have home buying classes. I will be making a 20-30 presentation at some of these telling people why they should have a home inspection. Although the true point of the class is to educate them, I also hope to earn 3-5 (more is nice too) inspections from each class (monthly).

Oh, this is just the narrative, imagine this one a single sheet, no fold, high quality paper about the size of an envelope. Indents and tabbing is off because it won't paste properly.

Anyways, here is my first draft, let me strap on some body armor and have at it....

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You’ve found the house of your dreams and now it’s time to take the next step, a home inspection. What do you do? Should you even have a home inspection? Who do you call?

A home inspection is the one of the best value and safety protection services available to home buyers today. Providing peace of mind on a home purchase is priceless. An inspection with your best interests in mind can prevent your dream from turning into a nightmare of repair costs, hidden problems and buyer’s remorse.

Choosing who to inspect your new home can be just as important as choosing the house itself. My goal with Family Home Inspection is to help you make your dream become a reality. I set aside an entire day for each inspection to ensure you get the best service possible. I don’t just stop after the average 3-4 hour inspection of the house itself. I will sit down and explain everything in the onsite computer generated report and answer any questions that you may have. In addition to the report, you will be shown where the utility shutoff's are, how things work and given tips on ways you could improve the energy efficiency of the house. If I can’t answer your question on site, I will find it for you. Then, just because you have the inspection report in hand, doesn’t mean my job is finished. If any major deficiency or safety problems are discovered, I will come back to re-inspect those items after repairs or corrections have been made. I will also accept invitations to join you on your final walk through prior to purchase if scheduling permits. After you have bought and moved into your new home, you can contact me for further assistance without fear of being ignored or blown off. Sellers can also get the same assurances with a pre-listing inspection.

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My initial thoughts are too much text.

I know this isn't the exact layout on the paper, but maybe just boil it all down to bullet points or simple one liners.

My experience and advice from other professionals (graphic designers, marketing folks etc) say that people will probably just look at it for 3-5 seconds, max. What do you want them to know in that time?

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John, I've been following your other posts and I get a good feeling about you and I think you will do well...eventually. The first few dozen inspections can be a bear to come by, but you do seem to have a plan.

On the brochure: Expect 99% of them to be immediately "round-filed" if you hand them out to agents. I had 5000 made when I first started (seems like a long long time ago), spent a few days delivering a bunch of them, and got zero jobs as a direct result of them, even though they were damn fine brochures. On the bright side, I do find the remaining 4000 or so make excellent fire-starters.

I think others have touched on this in the other threads but I'd have to suggest removing the two sentences..."If any major deficiency or safety problems are discovered, I will come back to re-inspect those items after repairs or corrections have been made. I will also accept invitations to join you on your final walk through prior to purchase if scheduling permits."

In the first you are basically saying that you are going to guarantee the repairs have been done correctly. Best to leave that to the licensed contractors who should be doing the work. There are exceptions, but going back to every house is not something you want to do.

The second, the walkthroughs, could be a scheduling nightmare once you get busy.

Anyway...best wishes.

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I agree, although you don't realize it yet, free re-inspections will cost you a lot more than just the lost time. When you start getting hung up in traffic trying to get from a reinspection to a full inspection on-time and you're client ends up sitting there for 15 to 20 minutes wondering where the hell you are, you lose good will.

Plus, whenever you go back for a reinspect, they expect you to tell them that the repair is fine - most of the time it isn't and you can end up going back 2-3 times while they keep trying to get the cheapest guy in town who can swing a hammer fix it for them. After you've been through a few dozen telephone calls wherein some sh*t for brains handyman is yelling at you because he can't get paid for his lousy work, you'll regret doing them.

I also did them free for my first 4-1/2 years in the business; then I sold the franchise and went on my own. At that point, I began charging double my normal hourly rate for reinspections, including charging for my time coming and going - including any time sitting there in traffic. I charge key-to-lock, from the time I pull my key out of the lock at my house until I reinsert it when I get home. Around here, with some of the traffic snarls we have, a ten minute on-site reinspection can cost them as much or more than a full inspection.

I let them know all of this up-front during the pre-inspection briefing before they sign the contract. I explain the rates, the fact that they'll be paying for my time coming and going, as well as time on-site and writing any memo's about the reinspection afterward. I tell them that if I recommend they have something fixed, that my recommendation will be for competent folks - licensed plumbers, licensed electricians, licensed engineer, etc., and not for Joe Blow the handyman. I put it in perspective for them by making them understand that I'm just the family doctor - these other guys are the neurosurgeons, and the clients need to hold their feet to the fire if something goes wrong, not mine.

Want to know something? I've done maybe 4 or 5 reinspections a year for the past 7 years since I began this policy I've never had a complaint from anyone about it, I don't get stressed out as much, and I almost never have those unpleasant telephone conversations with crappy trades anymore. Oh yeah, and the number of miles being put on my vehicle per year has been cut by about half. Given the cost of gasoline, I'm thankful for that too.

By the way, establish a radius within which you'll work for your normal fee schedule and then charge extra for anything outside of that. I used to worry that folks would balk at that. They don't, they drive too and they know what it costs for gasoline, so they understand why it's necessary.

I do half as many jobs these days, because I refuse to do more than one inspection a day, but I'm making more than I did when my inspections were nearly $200 less and I was doing 2, sometimes 3, jobs a day.

Don't start out as just another low-baller. Why? Because when people call experienced guys like me and ask why I charge so much more than the low-ballers, I tell them that the low-ballers are charging so little because they don't have any work, because they're literally experimenting on every house they do; and, that at those rates, they'll probably be out of business and bankrupt a year from now, leaving them high-and-dry if something goes wrong.

I tell 'em, "There are Lexus inspectors and there are Yugo inspectors. I'm not the Yugo inspector. If you hire one of the Yugo inspectors, don't be surprised if you find that something that the Yugo guy misses because of his inexperience costs you the price of a Lexus somewhere down the road."

Keep in mind too that the reel-tours who refer work to you also know this stuff. If you're the low-ball guy, they almost expect you to be a toady. So, the one's who're hoping that you are a Toady will initially refer a job or two to you to size you up, while the other agents - the one's who won't try to twist your words or undermine you on-site because they want a competent inspector - will avoid you, because they won't want to take a chance that their customer will end up with a toady's inspection and because your price will have marked you as being just another one of the inexperienced guys. As if their avoidance of you won't be bad enough; once you demonstrate to the 'zoids that you don't intent to play their wink-and-nod games, they'll stick you on their do-not-call list and spread the word among like-minded reel-tours.

Don't mark yourself as weak or inexperienced or you're going to be pricing pup tents and coveting clear spaces under overpasses a year or two from now.



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I have had this conversation a lot lately with the realtors as many in my area (Salem - 2nd largest city) are being bombarded by inspectors from up in Portland (Oregons largest City) looking for work.

There are many good inspectors up in Portland. The problem is it doesn't matter how good you are. Realtors just won't use a guy they don't know personally or who doesn't come with rave reviews from their buddy realtors.

I have never used a brochure. What I did in the beginning was go out and personally meet realtors give them a card and show them my report and tell them I could provide servicios en espanol. I did that even when I could hardly speak Spanish. It worked for me and still does. Got to have an angle, something for them to go "oh I got to remember that guy"

None of this advertising stuff works in my opinion in my market. It's hard to do but you just have to personally go out and sell your self directly to clients and realtors, loan officers, etc.

Develop some kind of dog & pony show that gets them to think "I got to remember that guy" and you got to do all that in under a minute.

Don't ever do or give free stuff. That just tells them your new or hurtin for business.

Chris, Oregon

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Oh yeah, the hook,

The franchise had these really slick (and expensive) 2-fold and 3-fold flyers that were really impressive. In the first 9 months I was in the business, I followed the franchiser's marketing practice of gladhanding the realtors. I bought a bunch of those nice plastic stands for them and went around to all 33 real estate offices in my territory and set up the stands, left a bunch of the flyers, dropped off the candy boxes, and then left. Week after week, I would come back and find my fancy 3 folds tossed in a corner or in the trash can in the break areas with someone else's flyers in my stands. So, I'd toss the other inspector's flyers, fish mine out, and put them back up again, only to have the cycle repeat itself again and again - not always with the same other inspectors. Hell, I even put logo stickers on the stands and then the stands got tossed into the trash. Talk about your cutthroat bunch of d**kheads!

So, I eventually stopped buying the candy, stopped purchasing the flyers, and stopped going to the offices - about 9 months after I got into business. Instead, I used to stop into the brokers' opens, hand them my business card and say:

"Hi, my name is Mike, I'm with _____________________. I know you've heard it all before, and I know you've probably got a list of inspectors that you refer, so I won't waste your time. Here's my card. I double dare you to refer me to your clients, 'cuz when you do, you're going to have to decide which one of the folks on your list I'm going to replace. Have a good day."

Then I was gone. If they tried to engage me in conversation, I would tell them I was enroute to a job and had just stopped in for a second to drop off my card and really didn't have time to talk.

With that approach, they don't get to grill you about your experience or whether or not you're a deal killer. It leaves them curious. I figure that something like 40 to 50% of them called me. Then, after the first inspection I never heard from most of them again, because they discovered that I ignored the hidden code of conduct that all toadies follow, and I wouldn't let them lead me around by the nose and try and put words in my mouth. Not all of them only referred me only once. I'd pick up one or two new real estate professionals every month who wanted a real inspection. Some of these folks still refer clients to me to this day and have passed my name on to other like-minded real estate professionals who also refer me repeatedly. The first category, which I refer to as "'zoids," will occasionally still call me - when they are buying a house for themselves, when a close friend or relative is buying, and especially when lawyers or celebrities are purchasing. I don't mind. The work is work and they never try to manipulate that last category.

I think the homebuyer orientation classes put on by the post orientation folks would be an excellent place to do some non-zoid-specific marketing.



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