hausdok Posted January 11, 2009 Report Share Posted January 11, 2009 Here's how it works, A new inspector getting into this business typically asks an old timer how to market or he/she is told in one of the shake-n-bake inspector schools how to market. Most old timers and schools are going to tell a newcomer that the only viable approach is to try to market directly to real estate folks; because there really is no other marketing model for this business. Sure, there are plenty of other methods that work, but it takes a lot longer to see results and most new folks coming into this business are doing it out of necessity, don't have a lot of extra cash to tide them over for very long and they can't afford to use the slow approach. So, initially inspectors market directly to real estate folks using a lot of tried and true tactics - most of them designed to convince the agent that the inspector is going to be the agent's best friend in the home inspection business. Stats from the franchise I used to be with were that you had to market constantly and consistently and that an agent had to see you numerous times over at least a 3 month period before they'd finally take a chance on referring a client to you. I think the franchises stats were that roughly one out of 30 agents you meet will take a chance on you and refer you to one customer. The first inspection referred to you by a real estate agent is an audition; depending on the type of agent that referred you, an honest inspector might or might not get referred again. Some agents will instantly try and determine how malleable the inspector is and whether the inspector will listen to "the code" - little body English signals or specific turns of a phrase that will indicate that the agent is not happy with what the inspector has just said, is getting impatient because time is running short, wants the inspector to talk up some gee whiz aspect of the house, warns the inspector that the agent's regular inspectors don't say that as a means of saying, "Shut up, you're putting my commission in jeopardy," that sort of thing. Other agents, the honest ones, will be looking to see whether you are working for their client or them. They'll use the same tricks because they've been taught the same tricks by the less ethical in their offices and it's an easy way of screening out suckup inspectors. Of course, the inspector - not knowing the agent personally - really won't know what type of audition it is unless the agent has the stones to tell him/her afterward what the agent didn't like about the inspectors inspection. Most folks' experience is that the great majority of the time the agent will say, "Great job," and they will not be referred again if they truly went all out for their client instead of the real estate agent. So, it's a question of time and numbers; you have to get in the face of as many agents as you can and try and get on their "list" before you run out of money and end up camping out under an underpass. That means meeting and greeting them over and over and over and over when you are new, trying to cajole your way into their offices in order to give them a "presentation" or something similar. The more you meet, the more likely you are to garner referrals. Know this, most agents who've been in the business for a year or more have already met dozens, maybe hundreds, of inspectors before they meet you and they will have already put together a list of inspectors they refer to their clients. Even though you might be the best inspector on the planet, they will really have no interest in referring work to you because the auditioning process is just as stressful on them as it is on inspectors and they'll be comfortable with their list. An ethical agent will have a very short list and will remain very loyal to the inspectors on that list for years; an unethical agent will have a longer list and will be somewhat loyal to those on that list; as long as they continue to kowtow and play the game properly. An unethical agent won't even consider referring you until it looks like one of the inspectors on the list is getting ready to go rogue. If you just happen to meet that agent at that point, you've got a chance. So, the bottom line is that it's a crap shoot and continued business depends on whether the inspector's ethical center and the agents ethical center are in sync at that first inspection. The experience of most ethical inspectors is that when they first get into the business the great majority of their referrals comes from agents and a very small percentage comes from friends, relatives, co-workers and satisfied former clients and the friends, relatives and co-workers of those clients. If an ethical inspector manages to survive long enough, those referral numbers will reverse themselves and they'll gradually see the number of referrals from agents drop off to a trickle compared to those from non-agents and they'll find that it's no longer necessary to constantly market to keep themselves barely afloat. On the other hand, the guy/gal that feeds at the real estate through will need to constantly market, market, market, market. All of that marketing means they can't afford to spend a lot of time inspecting and writing reports; so, even if they want to change their way of doing things and wean themselves off of the real estate teat, it's very difficult to do and still be able to pay the bills. These folks have no alternative but to market in order to keep adding new agents to their referral base because customers aren't stupid; they can sense when an inspector isn't working for them and is more interested in the real estate person's future referrals to the inspector instead of their well being. These clients will not tell their friends, co-workers, relatives about that inspector - unless it's to tell them how ripped-off they feel after paying that inspector - so referral numbers from satisfied former clients vs. agents tend to reverse themselves at a much slower pace with this type of inspector. That's where it's dicey; the real estate community is small - screw up one time when you're a suckup artist and word is liable to get around that you're damaged goods and the other realtorzoids (agents who prefer nearsighted suckup inspectors over ethical inspectors - zoids for short) will avoid you like the plague. When that happens, and the client is screaming about the thing you missed 'cuz you were too busy getting the job done quickly and without making any waves, and is threatening to sue everyone in sight, the agent will put it all on your shoulders. On the other hand, if you're an ethical inspector and screw up, and you admit your mistake, do the right thing and make right by the client, the ethical agents will probably continue to refer work your way. Some folks who begin in suckup mode manage to survive and come over from the dark side; many don't. Some don't care; they jump into the business, suckup to the max, make as much money as they can in the shortest time possible and then they get out while the goings good, leaving a trail of unhappy customers behind them. Some stay though and continue the model; some of these are so successful that they blossom into multi-inspector firms or they open up schools and start to teach new inspectors how to suck up, thus perpetuating this flawed model. Some get sued into poverty or declare bankruptcy, pick up and move to another town and open a new company under another name. ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!! Mike Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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