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Kent B. Sauber of KBS Home Inspection and Consulting in Guysville, Ohio discusses setting himself apart from the pack.
Getting a home inspector’s license is only half the battle. Kent B. Sauber of KBS Home Inspection knows that marketing, generating leads and getting your name out is the other half. With home sales bouncing back at a painfully slow rate, the home inspection business is increasingly cut-throat.
Tap Inspect: What is the most effective thing you’re doing to market KBS Home Inspection?
Kent Sauber: I do a weekly e-mail that I send out every Sunday night. I send that to about 1,000 realtors so my company is always right in front of their face on Monday morning. That’s actually worked out really well for me…Statistically, most real estate deals happen over the weekend. The real goal is that my company name is right there in front…If I have nothing to tell them at all, I’ll just send an inspirational quote.
Tap Inspect: How do you separate yourself from all the other home inspectors in the area?
Kent: There are 11 other inspectors in my area. It’s not a very huge community at all…My goal is to be as educated as can. I do push my continuing education and the national associations that I belong to. Everyone in the county knows that when I do an inspection, I know what I’m talking about and I do it well. I have agents who won’t work with me because they know that I will find everything that’s wrong with the house and that might affect the sale. All of a sudden if they have a brother, mother, cousin who’s buying a home, all of a sudden I’m the most important person.
Tap Inspect: How do you keep agents coming back?
Kent: It starts with the first phone call, trying to befriend every single one of my clients and taking time to answer all of their questions, even if it’s explaining from front to back how a heat pump operates. If it turns a two and a half hour inspection into a three and a half hour inspection, that’s ok. When I get feedback or praise from my clients or a realtor sends me an e-mail saying “Wow, you really took the time to explain to so and so what’s important to them,” that’s really important to my business.
Tap Inspect: Any advice for young home inspectors?
Kent: Learn as much as possble. That is what’s going to set any home inspector above the rest is their knowledge of every component of the home. My first year as a home inspector, I trained in mold, I trained in radon. My first year in business, I did 168 continuing education hours and I think that made a world of difference because in my community, you could ask anybody and they knew who the most well-trained inspector was. I spent a lot of money to educate myself. I refresh myself on my training manuals once a month just to make sure I didn’t forget anything and to keep myself refreshed.
Tap Inspect: We ask this of all our home inspectors—What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?
Kent: I inspect foreclosed homes in the area and some of them are just super disgusting. One had a basement that was full of water. It was a giant swimming pool. That moved all of the rats that were the size of small house cats up into the main floor. I got to deal with basically inspecting this entire house with rats because they weren’t afraid of me at all. I was more afraid of them.
Check out Kent’s work at www.kbshomeinspection.com.
Got a question? Got a trade secret? Tap Inspect is always looking for ways to help our current clients and promote their businesses. If you’ve got a question on the home inspection business you’d like answered or you’ve got a tip you’d be willing to share with our fans, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Inspect the Inspector” in the subject line.
We’re planning to run a story on how home inspectors are using various social media outlets to gain clients. Specifically we’re going to be talking about what social media tools are working best for your business, how to find new clients and reel them in online and in-real-life steps to take after the initial meeting. We’re looking for home inspectors who have strong feelings (whether positive or negative) about using social media in their jobs. If you’ve had a fantastic (or terrible) time using online tools to find clients, we want to hear it! Shoot us a line at email@example.com.
“Tap inspect is a free app that allows you to customize the inspection process and deliver customized reports directly to your client from the field. You can include photos of the property and comment on your observations. The report is then transferred to a PDF and archived on their website. The reports are branded with your logo and name for identification. The app is text driven with a vast library of boilerplate comments. The app is free however there are pricing plans for the delivery and archiving of the reports.”
If you want to get a glimpse at the next wave of home inspection clients, head to your nearest college campus.
A study by the National Association of REALTORs shows that nearly half of all home sales are to first-time buyers, the majority of whom are young professionals around age 30. Research also shows that these buyers are much different than their parents. They’ve grown up with the internet and have been working with smartphones since they were barely out of the womb. They communicate with Twitter, text messages and Facebook posts-short, fast and to the point.
Unfortunately our industry doesn’t always accommodate that style of communication. We still expect them to read a 50 page inspection report and to try to understand it. Does the next generation want to be educated? Yes, but not like the previous generation. What they really want to know is what is wrong and who to call to fix it. They want to know where the water shutoff is located, how often to change the furnace filter and if the water heater is gas or electric, not the details of how a high efficiency furnace works. Short, fast and to the point.
I have a constant survey running for all my clients and agents. One of my questions is, “How soon did you expect delivery of the inspection report?” Over 60 percent say, “Within a few hours” and less than 40 percent say, “Within 24 hours.” I publish my reports while standing in the kitchen of the inspected home. I tell the client and the agent that the report is already in their inbox. They are always amazed! Over 80 percent of clients and approximately half of all agents pick up their report within two hours of publishing it.
The new home inspection client is impatient. When they want a movie, they stream it from Netflix and watch it immediately. If they want a song, they get it from iTunes and listen now. If they want to know the term for a group of turkeys, they Google it on the spot. (FYI: A group of turkeys is called a “rafter.” I just Googled it from another window). Rather than looking at the changing inspection client as a problem, I see him (or her) as an opportunity to update our profession and create more succinct reports that clients find accessible and readable. As clients and their needs change, we, as inspectors, must be able to adapt, move forward and alter our business model in response to the future.
~ Michael Wirth, Co-Founder of Tap Inspect