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I have been reading this message board for a little while and this is the first time I tried to post something but have a question I hope to get some serious input on. I have been doing inspections in the ny area for 6yrs and started my own company 2yrs ago. I also moved and started my business fresh. No refferal sources completly from scratch. I started using written reports with the company I used to intern ( i guess would be how you describe working for someone to learn the business ) and when I started on my own switched to computerized reports.

My question is (after reading as many threads as i could find on this question and not clarifying anything for me is) I do all my inspections the way many of you on here do ( from what i read ) taking pictures and walking through and teaching customers about the home they are buying then going back to the office and producing and e-mailing the report the following day.

It takes me no less then 2hrs of office work to produce the report with inspectit software which I have fully customized to optimize my flow through the report and have over 300 inspections completed this way. I feel I spend way to much time doing reports and would like to maybe switch to an easier software or possibly a tablet to start and fill some minor componets to the report onsite to help speed the process.

Do any of you have experience with this software or taking a long time to produce reports? any suggestions on alernative software?

I was seriously considering Palm tech, it seems easy to use during the inspection. I like many of you don't like to stop my flow or train of thought to fill in the report.

I also perform roof inspections for a insurance company that requires me to do a diagram of the roof in microsoft paint and produce a small report. I feel that having a tablet instead of paper the doing it all over on the computer later would help this but I'm afraid of a cumbersome computer that I might damage or be unable to see the sceeen from the roof.

I would greatly appreciate your input.

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Hi,

I'll make a shameless plug here; check out our sponsor's software - Inspect Express by DevWave. Although it's great to use to build a report back at the office; it's specifically designed to make it easy for an operator to build and print a report on-site using a pen tablet or a palm type computer. You'll have to spend some time customizing the boilerplate to make it your own, but in the end it will produce a very nice on-site report that hands-down beats anything you can produce with InspectIt.

How do I know that? Because I bought the InspectIt program and used it for over a year after I quit the franchise outfit I used to be with. It was

$800 wasted as far as I'm concerned, because I spent a lot of time that year pulling my hair out. I found Inspect Express the next year and later worked with DevWave to develop a product that kicks InspectIt's butt.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Wow, Chris. My sentiments exactly. I've used Inspectit for 7 or 8 years. Here's what I've concluded about any Word-base, narrative system.

To create a report that is thoughtful, accurate and informative, it simply takes time.

I've seen my report writing time grow from 30-45 minutes to well over 2-3 hours. It's good in that my reports are far superior than even 2 years, much less 8 years ago. The bad is my dollar/hour ratio is drastically reduced. In fact, that's real bad.

And, I don't have any ideas for improvement other than to reverse direction: meaning either reduce the verbiage, cut out some of the details and / or a combination of both. I'm not sure that's reasonable.

By the way, the report time these days does NOT include photos. Thinking about how to do that efficiently brings a tear to my eye.

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Mike, I respectfully disagree.

I dinked with an Inspect Express sample for several hours and couldn't find any benefit. Once a word-based program is learned, I think they'll all perform the same. Its a matter of mouse clicks and keystrokes to insert autotext.

After that, it's the bells and whistles to which folks are attracted.

This is my opinion based on personal experience and after reading any and all threads I could find on inspector boards for quite a few years now. I think every feature and option of anybody's software has been argued extensively.

I'll say again - the time involved is a result of writing solid, accurate and relevant information.

BTW, I type around 70-80 wpm.

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Chris,

Since you have your InspecIt customized, you must be spending time typing in house specific comments, describing conditions and providing solutions. I think one has to decide if they want to do it this way or… It’s tough to find a middle route. But I think one can reduce office time, as you suggest, by compiling basic info on site with a hand held. I think that another method to less time in the office may be to use incomplete sentences. For obvious repair items, this woks fine. Another is to discipline away from adding those thoughtful conscientious key strokes. Could be like quitting smoking.

You may have heard others say: you need to download various software programs to find the one that works for you. I bought InspecIt several years ago, but was too computer dumb or inpatient to efficiently get my database in, took too many steps per comment. If you have a data base to install, I think there are better ones out there. A data base system makes this easier - I downloaded Whisper, it was simple, and liked the ease of entering my data, but the format options were limited and the support was not geared to facilitate changes, so I didn’t buy it. I stuck with my own creation using MS Word. If there were another data base system out there, I would like to see it.

There was someone who posted a few days ago who was honing up his report using Word’s (hidden) virtues. I think he uses a NAHI avatar. I wanted to get back to that thread but I can’t find it. Anyone know where that was?

If you are planning on tech-ing it up in the field, consider doing it now. The longer you spend time doing your reports in the evening, the harder it may be to switch out. For what we make on an inspection, I think doing time consuming narratives is not fair to our business. That seems to me to be a rub in our profession for putting out this information. A choice we make.

Dave

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Greetings!

Consider doing things differently from anyone else. If other inspectors are paddling up river, let your boat flow easily downstream. Go through what you do now, and look at it from the customer's perspective. How can you add value in each step? Then, charge what you need to and figure out who would be interested in what you do. The insanity is trying to make more money doing things the same way.

I like the high tech approach suggested above. Pics, report, all delivered via your Treo or Palm Pilot or iPhone?

Love, peace, $$,

Ellen

www.barebonesbiz.com

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Hi Ellen!

Welcome back, we haven't seen you here since Truman was president! Well, just a slight exaggeration.

I don't want to let Chris' thread go off-track, but if any of you are wondering who Ellen is, then you probably aren't doing enough reading about the other trades associated with homes, such as HVAC and Plumbing, because she's a hero to folks in those businesses. If you're having trouble figuring out where you're money is going and how you're going to focus on making more, and keeping it, she's the one to listen to. There's another forum on this board specifically dedicated to asking her questions about finances and running a business intelligently. Given the current state of the housing crisis and the rate at which many in this business are going bankrupt, now is the time to take advantage of it.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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My advice:

Tell your customers to leave you the hell alone till you're done with the inspection. You'll work faster and do a better job. Complete the outline of your report onsite -- don't worry about spelling, grammar or details, just get the main points down.

Then invite your customers to sit down and go through the whole report. Get up and show them stuff, let them ask tons of questions. Once everyone's satisfied, go home, polish up the spelling, grammar and any points that you remembered while driving home and then e-mail off the report.

1. You'll do your job better without distraction.

2. Your customer and the realtor don't have to waste half their day bothering you.

3. Your overall inspection/report writing time shrinks because you'll work more efficiently.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Ellen made a valuable point. Provide a great service; charge what you need to cover it. I can't imagine changing my reporting methods if it will negatively affect my product in any way. If I can improve the product, great. If the product stays the same, and it takes less time, great. No way I can justify decreasing my level of service.

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Thank you all for your input. I would have responded sooner but I couldn't find the thread on the site.

I am constantly trying to figure out how to work smarted not harder. I think after reading some other threads and seeing that it seems to be the industry trend that we are putting more time into making a better product. I can't raise my prices to much because there is a bottom feeder inspection company in my area that is also an exterminating company. He charges less because he's picking up the treatment work. In my area insect damage is like 74% of all homes. I don't think this should be allowed because it's hurting the industry.

I think from now on I will try to ask the clients to show up an hour after I start the inspection. Maybe this will help me go through the entire house undisturbed and try to take notes in my reporting system.

From what I read it seems that all the software out there just doesn't allow us to do the job and the report efficiently.

I think I'm going to invest some time into learning how to type correctly. As of now I'm a 4 finger typer and I know that hurts me as well.

The thing that I don't like about the inspectit software is that the mobile version doesn't look like or allow the same functions that the full computer version does.

I think I may try to change around the template again and see if that helps. I do provide my clients with a lot of detailed house specific text that I can't copy and paste into the template.

I feel that we could never really charge what all our time is worth because realtors are the ones dictating to their clients who to use and what prices should be based on the speed and the way we describe things. Sometimes I feel they want to do the least work for the most pay.

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I just read the responses again and it reminded me the other things I don't like about this software TOO MANY STEPS for everything.

You have to manually add to the summery so once your done with the report then you have to go back through the entire report and add all the suggestions to the appropriate sections of the summery.

TO add to the template is tedious work as well and maybe is why I type more that having pre written text to insert.

I was seriously considering going with palm tech software ( no offence the devewave ) because their layout is exactly the same whether its on a computer or a pda it seems easy to add text to but the down side is you have to create all your own disclaimers and contracts.

Can anyone give me feedback that uses or has tried Palm tech or should I start a new thread?

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Originally posted by inspectorchris

I just read the responses again and it reminded me the other things I don't like about this software TOO MANY STEPS for everything.

You have to manually add to the summery so once your done with the report then you have to go back through the entire report and add all the suggestions to the appropriate sections of the summery.

Yes, that's a deficiecny. I've figured a pretty quick solution around it. Call me if you want to know how. (Talking for me is easier than emailing).

TO add to the template is tedious work as well and maybe is why I type more that having pre written text to insert.

I'm relying less and less on the features of the program. I'm finding myself doing straightforward writing. In other words, I may soon not need any software! It's almost getting down to as basic as opening Word, and starting to type on a blank page.

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He charges less because he's picking up the treatment work. In my area insect damage is like 74% of all homes. I don't think this should be allowed because it's hurting the industry.

Once hired in the capacity of "Home Inspector" by law, he is not allowed allowed to perform any other service for the client for compensation.

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Given the myriad of software products you just have to find one that suits you best. There is no perfect software that fits everyones style.

Personnaly I use an InspectIt product that I began using on day 1 in 1999. I have it tweeked to my style and find it very easy to use.

I set my tablet on the kitchen countertop and go inspect the roof. I come back and report what I found and insert pic's. I follow this routine until I'm done. If the client wants to watch me type and mouse click I'm ok with that. 99% of them go do something else without me having to tell them to do so. When the inspectio is complete my report is pretty much done. When I get back to the office or the house I tidy everything up and email the report.

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Hi Team Inspectors!

Good thread on building a better pricing structure. Crunch the numbers, aim for efficiency...and then charge what you must to make the $$ you want.

Then, improve your sales and communication skills. It's hard enough to communicate well with the folks we know and love...much less a stranger in a sales situation! :) And, be willing to fail as well as succeed.

One of my favorite sales trainers is Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master the Art of Selling. Tom has a laid back, non-threatening approach that doesn’t feel pushy or overbearing. And he has a nice way of looking at the word “noâ€

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Hi All,

I just realized why Ellen has been showing up to talk about software - this thread was mistakenly posted in her forum! I should have moved it to computers and software or something like that long ago. Well, maybe not. After all, how we present our reports on site or off is a form of marketing. Maybe I'll just leave it here.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Chris, some of the HIs on this forum are fast typers, and pretty smart to boot, but at 80 WPM you can get more done in less time. Here is free trial for a custom typing tutorial. A friend liked it, it sped her fingers up and mainly helped put them if the right spots. Maybe it will help. Just go to www.customtyping.com, for free trail and cheap after that.

Dave

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