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Chris Bernhardt
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Scott P. says that his website worked for him when he started from scratch again after his move.

There are some great inspectors here at TIJ who don't even have websites!

I am curious, why are some inspectors claiming that their websites are bringing them biz?

I have heard of inspectors making the claim that they get all these hits on the ASHI site?

Logically I would think that it's not so much the website as people being directed to it. Do you agree or disagree with that?

I also would think that people who go searching for their inspector are willing to pay more for an inspection. Do you agree with that?

For you HI's that feel your website is bringing you biz, can you identify what it is that you think is working for you?

Do you think that today a key component in going independent is a good website and driving people to it or does it not matter and you can build just as good of an independent biz without one?

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Scott P. says that his website worked for him when he started from scratch again after his move.

There are some great inspectors here at TIJ who don't even have websites!

I am curious, why are some inspectors claiming that their websites are bringing them biz?

I have heard of inspectors making the claim that they get all these hits on the ASHI site?

Logically I would think that it's not so much the website as people being directed to it. Do you agree or disagree with that?

I also would think that people who go searching for their inspector are willing to pay more for an inspection. Do you agree with that?

For you HI's that feel your website is bringing you biz, can you identify what it is that you think is working for you?

Do you think that today a key component in going independent is a good website and driving people to it or does it not matter and you can build just as good of an independent biz without one?

Chris, Oregon

I started a company web page a number of years ago. I tweaked and tuned and got it to the point where it came up in the top ten or fifteen on a Home Inspector search of any of the browsers. In the last 4 or 5 years before I sold my company there were three or four inquiries each week, and mostly we converted them to inspections. Now, I don't know what your criteria is but a few inspections a week from the web is O.K. In my book.

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In the last 4 or 5 years before I sold my company there were three or four inquiries each week, and mostly we converted them to inspections

Interesting, do you think that there is a difference in the type of clients who find their inspector on the web then those who find their inspector thru their realtor? Do you have any reason to feel a preference for clients who come to you from the web over those who come thru realtors?

I know some will think why should I care. Just humor me, I'm curious.

Chris, Oregon

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I prefer to get folks from my site, ActiveRain site, etc. Why? I have the possibility of gaining more exposure. The person who finds me on the Internet without the aid of an agent will tell their friends about me. If they are working with an agent, that agent will be exposed to my superior service and will most likely refer me down the road over a person who stuffs their brochures in the real estate office. It's all about exposure.

I don't care really who refers me as long as I'm being referred and my clients are happy with my service. I try to make my clients my friends. I want them to use me on their next purchase. I want them to call me 2 years from now, if they have a problem with their home and they have a question or need some advice. I want them to tell all of their co-workers who are buying homes about "Their Inspector"!

Prior to 1999, I did not have a website to speak of. I don't think most folks had one back then either. Today, it is just smart business to have one. Look at how you look-up and research an item or service. In my family we use the Internet for just about everything we have a question about.

As for why my website works? It's not because it is fancy and designed by a website guru. I built it! Yes, it also looks like I built it. But what makes it work is that it pulls up organically in the top 1-3 spots if you search for a home inspector or home inspection in the areas I like to work in. Another thing that makes my site work is that it is not a "cookie cutter" template site, that we see so many of with home inspector websites.

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Web clients tend to be a little bit more educated about the process.

A web site is NOT the be all, end all of marketing your services. It's just another avenue to reach out to clients. I use all the avenues I can find that I can document a return on.

I also use the website to provide additonal information to clients that aren't sure, such as wives who have to do the legwork and report back to hubby (or [though fewer] vice versa). It gives them something other than just price to base their decision on.

i.e. Have hubby check my website so he'll be as educated as you about the process before making a decision.

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It's all about the content. Generic HI websites are painfully boring.

Homemade HI websites full of bad grammar, goofball "get to know me" features, off-topic stuff, links to boring sites, and most especially those bootlicking "For Realtors" zones all work against the HI, IMHO. I advise folks to pass on any HI with a "For Realtors" zone.

An HI website with interesting and original content is a wonderful thing. Such a website will create customers.

The last few years of my HI run, just about all customers found my company via our website or my weekly column.

Then came licensing. And I quit the HI biz. TN now has about as many sorry-ass HIs as Nashville has guitar pickers.

WJ

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

In the last 4 or 5 years before I sold my company there were three or four inquiries each week, and mostly we converted them to inspections

Interesting, do you think that there is a difference in the type of clients who find their inspector on the web then those who find their inspector thru their realtor? Do you have any reason to feel a preference for clients who come to you from the web over those who come thru realtors?

I know some will think why should I care. Just humor me, I'm curious.

Chris, Oregon

They seemed to be more into the process, probably because they took the time to find their own inspector. They knew more about what to expect from an inspection and never seemed to make unreasonable demands.

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Originally posted by ghentjr

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They seemed to be more into the process, probably because they took the time to find their own inspector. They knew more about what to expect from an inspection and never seemed to make unreasonable demands.

That's pretty much my experience also.

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I relocated from the Houston market to the Dallas market about 1-1/2 years ago ... similar situation as Scott P.

I've had a website for years and always keep modifying to some degree. Anyway ... about 60% of my business since my move has been via the web along with referral links from the ASHI site.

The clients I've received from the web are (most cases) ready to book and get a professional inspection. Very little discussion/negotiation concerning rates. A high percentage of the client calls I get via an RE referral are always "looking for a deal". I've heard so many times can you meet or beat this other inspector's quote or I'm a member of some-such group and my RE agent said you give discounts for them.

I've booked 4 inspections this past summer/fall via text messaging. Yes, I did follow up with live voice calls, but the media worked for the client and they were happy with my response and work. It was nice for me as the properties were all over 5000 s.f. and that helps the bottom line. No, I don't use a BBerry ... just the text messaging feature on my Motorola RAZR via at&t.

The 'hit rate' from the RE brokerages is (as my Dad said growing up on the farm in Montana) like "pis$ing up a rope". You can spend hours, gas and seldom get a good link for referrals.

Former client referrals and my website seems to be my best marketing at the current time.

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This is an interesting topic for me right now. I've talked to a professional web developer and I'm considering letting them make me a dynamic web site. First off, it would be a lot better than the crayon on a napkin ability that I have, but second and more important, they understand how the internet search engines work. With the deal, I get a guarantee of first page placement on Google and Yahoo for multiple search terms. But $2800 is a lot of cash for that. Overall I think a professional web site, and not the plain black and white script boxes I see all over, would get me at least 10 more inspections per year. Anything over 10 would be free and clear of the costs involved.

I'm still pondering.................

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It sounds like by the feed back so far that it's also easier and more likely that you can upsell the client on additional services since they probably already saw and read about them on your site, something difficult when they come by way of the realtor.

In other words theres more profit likely from clients that come from the web then those who come thru a realtor?

Also do you have to pay an ongoing fee to keep your site high on the hit list or is that something you can learn to do yourself?

Chris, Oregon

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It's all part of the one year contract. Of course, since the site is designed, the 2nd and following years are substantially cheaper ($300-500) range I believe, which includes hosting. But If I want to make changes, thats an extra fee.

But the idea I like the most out of this, a web site done professionally makes you look professional. To me it's the same as the cloths you wear. Show up at a HI wearing cut off jeans, flip flops and a "Smoke a Dube" tee shirt, the client might be scared a bit, even if you are the god of HI's.

Most clients, in any business, make up their mind about you before you even start working for them.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

... Also do you have to pay an ongoing fee to keep your site high on the hit list or is that something you can learn to do yourself? ... Chris, Oregon

Depends upon the contract/arrangement. I happen to use Go Daddy for hosting my website (not very expensive) and I built my original website over 5-years ago. I am making changes from time to time. It is not all that difficult.

I worked with Michael (DevWave) and had him refresh and update my site this past fall. It has helped quite a lot !! Thanks Michael!

I've considered and entertained other companies who have promised all sorts of visibility in the first few listings of page one of all the major SE's. But there is a cost to that as has been noted.

If you do the website adjustments yourself, spend the time and effort to get a good handle on SEO ... you can expend a bunch of time. Then, once you get a handle on it Google will change their methodoligy and you will be on Page NN? in a heartbeat.

It can be consuming, but interesting, but, but, but ... all sorts of decisions involved with them.

As with any advertising budget ... just have to be careful and weigh your options.

Some folks do the "pay per click" to get into the "advertiser" slots on the SE's top of the search page or to the right side. Not for anything I seldom (if ever) even look or click on those. I'm more interesting in the organic listings that come up in the searches. And ... it is not just Google ... you have Yahoo, MSN, and Lord knows how many others.

Then do you optimize your site for IE or Firefox or Opera or ????

I think I'll close this post for now.

...whew !!

You know ... it's New Year's Eve [:-party]

Happy New Year everyone !!!

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Dear John,

A couple of things to avoid when having someone else do your website for you.

1. Register your own domain in your own name. One company a couple of years ago, ainspect.com by name, took your domain name and registered it in their name. One guy I know that got caught up in it played hell for a long time trying to regain control of his domain name.

2. Don't use someone that does template sites. They tend to rank poorly in search engines because they have all have the same generic content. An example is inspectorX sites. You know them when you see them because they are all the same stuff with different names and addresses.

http://gcimob.inspectorxsites.com

http://eaglehomeinspections.inspectorxsites.com

http://digitalhomeinspector.inspectorxsites.com (this one is a doozy of a home loan site.

But you notice. They are NOT domains. They are subdomains of inspectorxsites.com and you see pretty much the same generic links at left.

Research your domain stuff and your web designger real well. It'll serve you good.

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Well, I was starting some keyword analysis but what I seem to have discovered was that in places like Texas and where Scott P. is at there are a signifcant percentage of people who are looking for inspection services on the web but apparently not in Oregon or Washingtion State.

Does that make sense? Are people looking for inspection services in significant numbers on the web only in some regions?

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Well, I was starting some keyword analysis but what I seem to have discovered was that in places like Texas and where Scott P. is at there are a signifcant percentage of people who are looking for inspection services on the web but apparently not in Oregon or Washingtion State.

Does that make sense? Are people looking for inspection services in significant numbers on the web only in some regions?

Chris, Oregon

We're tech central up here; remember Microsoft and all its' disgruntled talented people break away and start their own software companies.

I don't have any evidence but would guess that there's more people online up here than anywhere else.

I can't believe people aren't "shopping" online up here for inspectors.

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I can't believe people aren't "shopping" online up here for inspectors

You would think so, but if they are finding inspection services on line they might not be getting to them by directly searching for them. At least that is what Wordtracker appears to be indicating.

Also there hasn't been any responses by anyone here at TIJ in our region who is reporting any significant number of clients arriving via the web.

Chris, Oregon

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Well I guess that confirms my observation.

Scott P. and Nolan got me all excited. I thought I might do the same here and get few inspections a week off the web. Looks like thats not realistic in Oregon.

According to Wordtracker "home inspection/s" produced the greatest number of hits. Got zero for "oregon home inspectors" or "home inspectors in oregon". I did get a few hits for "oregon home inspection companies"

Chris, Oregon

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Chris,

I can't say that having a site has made a big difference for me. It doesn't seem as though people in this area rely much on searching online for inspectors. I can say that buyers who have been to my site end up giving me the job and they don't quibble on fees. I do get referrals through ASHI, but not a lot.

Funny thing about home inspector sites - there sure are a lot of "most experienced", "most thorough", "most trusted", "most educated", "most knowledgeable" inspectors out there. All that was left for me to brag about was that I exist!

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I can't say that having a site has made a big difference for me. It doesn't seem as though people in this area rely much on searching online for inspectors. I can say that buyers who have been to my site end up giving me the job and they don't quibble on fees. I do get referrals through ASHI, but not a lot.

Yes, I agree that having a good site can be that edge to close the deal. I still plan to SEO and remodel my website but will have to reformulate this years marketing effort.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Eric B

Funny thing about home inspector sites - there sure are a lot of "most experienced", "most thorough", "most trusted", "most educated", "most knowledgeable" inspectors out there. All that was left for me to brag about was that I exist!

I think that's called marketing.

I'm allergic to it.

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I don't have statistics, but we get a fair amount of folks that "find" us on the web. They don't ask questions, they just schedule. We get many commercial and historic building inspections that resulted from clients' web searches.

Our site is also very useful for sending folks to for more info. We have a short URL that directs to our main site. tcinspect.com The girls give it out over the phone to shoppers and folks with typical questions. Most quickly call back and schedule.

Chris B - The text on your site gets lost in all of those graphics!

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i didn't have a site for the longest. until one of my student began to double the # of inspections he was getting. i just did't take it seriously. i knew i needed one but not on top of the priority list. having made one this past april i have found it to at least double my bus.

i would also ck out microsoft office live basics

its free unless you want to upgrade

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