5 Musts to Market Your Home Inspection Business on the Internet

It’s tough as a home inspector to get your prospective clients to contact you directly. For years it has been direct referrals from agents that has help build successful home inspection companies.

To be a successful home inspection company now you need to be doing digital marketing. Some people call it internet marketing. It does not really matter. It still means that your prospecting clients find you and contact you directly.

You Need a Modern Website

If you are a new home inspector or a home inspector that has been around for 10 years it does not matter. You need a modern website that can be easily viewed on a computer, a tablet, or a phone.

At the very minimum your website needs to let people know 3 things: who are you, how you can help the visitor, and how to get in touch with you.

It is really that simple. 

Since we are all in the service business our websites are our digital storefronts. That is where our prospective customers first get to see who we are and how we handle our business. Help them see that you are the one that can help them get through the home purchase and you will get business.

Building your own website custom can take weeks and cost $5000-$6000. Don’t spend the time and money. There are plenty of companies like FullView Digital that specialize in home inspector websites.

Get an SEO Plan

SEO is not some magic, dark secret. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it comes down to the simple idea that if your website is easy for Google and Bing to search AND that you have content that people find valuable your SEO score goes up. Websites with higher SEO scores are given better treatment.

At the very minimum your modern website should be setup with all the stuff that makes it easy for Google and Bing to see what you are all about. It can get a bit technical but FullView Digital does a great a job. Make sure whoever you hire does the same.

Beyond the basics of website design, SEO also means that you are providing valuable content to your visitors. This really ups your SEO score. If people come to you for advice and to read what you provide, you are valuable. More valuable than a site that just has a Call Me button.

Building this type of content is a long game. It can can 4 to 12 months before you get noticed. It pays to stick with it but there is no point if you do it half way.

At Tap Inspect we try to provide shareable content on our blog to help. Feel free to repost any of our content your own website. You can also talk with FullView Digital they can help if you choose a higher plan.

Buy Search Ads

I hate to say it but internet marketing has become ‘pay to play’. If you do a google search on almost any home service the first 6-8 listing on the results are paid ads. Since most people will never look past the first page of results you really have no choice but to buy ads too if you want to be successful.

Paid search ads are highly competitive. The truth is that most people that buy search ads pay way too much and get very bad results. You really need to talk with an expert for this step.

Do your research before you start throwing money away. Here are two great resources about buying Google ads and also about boosting Facebook posts directed to home inspectors to get you started.

Get Active on Social Media

It is a simple idea that you need to go where your customers are if you want to market. Even if you do not Facebook or Instagram, your customers certainly do.

From my experience social media has need be a great way to generate leads for home inspections BUT it has help helped people decide to use me.

We try to keep posting valuable information for homebuyers and agents on our social medial accounts. That helps keep the people we want to work with to stay in touch with us. It may take months or even a few years. We are planting the seed. They will remember us when they see our name again.

If you don’t know what to post just share some of our Facebook content. We post things that not only interest home inspectors but also home buyers too.

Ask for Reviews

There is no other way to say it. Reviews are like gold when it comes to internet marketing.

Once you over 50 reviews with 4 stars your online ranking moves up drastically. Good reviews tell Google and Bing that you take care of their customers. That makes it in their interest to help refer even more people to you.

Send a followup email 7 days after your home inspection. Thank our client and ask them to give us review. Most are quite happy to do it. You will be amazed how well it works.

Conclusion

When you decide to do internet or digital marketing the home inspection leads will come in. It takes time, money, and patience. Marketing is a long game. Results are not instant but they keep on coming on and coming. Invest wisely.

What Sets You Apart as a Home Inspector

It can be really hard to stand out in the home inspection business. Many clients just don’t understand the difference between one home inspection company and the other. That is where your USP or Unique Selling Proposition comes in.

Unique Selling Proposition

When people ask what you do or who you are, you need to be able to explain it in 10 to 30 seconds. Imagine you are in an elevator and you only have until they reach their stop. That can be all the time you have.

I do it in two parts. The first part is about you and the last part is about them. That is your USP and when a potential client calls or when you meet a potential referral source it should be automatic.

My USP is that I am a personable home inspector that wants to guide and educate my client. They are welcome to be with me the whole time and they do not have to wait for the report.

When I meet a new Realtor or client here’s my elevator pitch, ‘I have been doing home inspections for over 20 years and have come to realize that homes are like people. None of us are perfect. We are all a little messed up. A home is no different. We will go through your new home together and you can ask me any questions you have. I’ll show you where the important stuff is and how to operate it. At the end of the inspection we’ll go over the whole report on my iPad and I will email it before we leave the house.’

How to Find Yours

Your USP is not just your pitch. It is how you and your company stand out from all the other home inspectors. Do you deliver reports onsite? That speed of delivery can make you stand out. Do you offer a warranty or recall checks? People love a ‘freebie’. Do you offer discounted Radon, mold, or sewer scope? Maybe your competitors don’t. How about a report that is easy to read and simple to understand? Clients

Searching out, evaluating, and deciding how a USP will fit into your home inspection process takes time and it can change as your business changes. What do you offer that makes you stand out from the herd? What makes you special enough that someone should hire you?

Conferences are great to see what trends are changing in the business. Regional conferences can be even better. You get to see and talk with your competition to find out what they are doing and how well it is working.

Your best bet is to ask your clients and your referral partners. What made them select you? How did you stand out?

Then you can test out and fine tune your own USP.

5 Struggles Every Home Inspector Feels (and How to Overcome Them)

Struggles

We think we are the only ones with our own unique troubles, struggles, and concerns. I have gotten to know dozens of home inspectors across the USA and Canada. One thing has become very obvious after 20 years in the home inspection business. We all share the same struggles and some of us have figured out ways to overcome them.

Not Enough Business

The most common struggle I hear about is really the easiest to overcome. Not having enough business. Sitting in your office or at your ‘day job’ worrying about it will never make the struggle go away. It will just get worse.

Overcome this struggle by marketing. Not ‘fancy, costs you tons of money’ type marketing. I mean the ‘go out and meet people’ type marketing. When you need business you need to find people who are ready, willing, and able to hire you right now. Who knows those kind of people? Realtors. Go meet some and the business will come.

Too Much Business

This may sound like a struggle you want to have but it can be tough to deal with. I hate nothing more than to turn away business because I can’t fit it into the schedule. It is just like giving money away.

Overcome this struggle by raising your prices. You will get few holes in your schedule but will make more money on each job. Its a lot easier to handle slower times when you are making more money.

Demanding Agents

Demanding agents are tough to work with. We have all known a few. They want everything done the way they want it. They need inspections done at 5pm on Saturday or want some type of discount or special treatment for their clients. I make allowances for people that have been great to work with or have referred tons of business but there is always a limit.

Overcome this struggle in one or two ways. Put your foot down and let the agent know they need to chill. They may just need to know your boundaries. If that doesn’t work you may need to cut them loose. There are hundreds of other agents out there and most are honest and wonderful to work with. Go find them.

Client Don’t Seem to Listen

We have all had them. The client that just gives you that blank stare and you know they have not heard a word you have said. It gets frustrating. Nothing you seem to say gets through. More times than not it is our own fault and we can fix it.

Overcome this struggle by listening to your client. I know it sounds weird but get your client to talk and then listen to them. They will tell you what they need and the best way to communicate. Do that you will be amazed how well they listen to you.

Finding Time for Family

Running crazy through the summer is just part of the business. We welcome the time when things slow down and we have time to breath. Our families do too.

Overcome this struggle by setting time aside for family and sticking to it. It can be next to impossible to take a vacation in the busy season so do it at the holidays instead.

After the Home Inspection Comes the Repair Request

Working on a repair request

Purchasing a home can be a long and stressful process. Homebuyers have possibly been looking at dozens of homes with their realtor over several months. After finally getting an accepted offer they are ready for the next big step: inspections and the repair request.

A home inspector’s role in this process is pretty limited. We spend a couple of hours doing the inspection and building a report, and then we are off to our next inspection with a new client. But that’s not the case for the client we just worked with.

Big decisions still need to be made. What repairs should they address with the seller? Do they ask for repairs to be done? Do they ask for some type of credit, or maybe even a cash payment so they can fix it themselves?

That is the purpose of the repair request and that is why they are motivated to hire us in the first place.

What Exactly is a Repair Request?

Most real estate purchase contracts include a Home Inspection Contingency clause. That is what gives the homebuyer, our client, the right to hire a home inspector to help them understand the condition of the property.

Once the home inspection is complete, the homebuyer will get together with their agent and decide what in the home inspection report is the most important to them. The homebuyer must release the contingency for the purchase to move forward, and that is typically done with a repair request. The home inspection report is used to document what and why those repairs are reasonable.

Why is This Important?

The homebuyer and the home inspector often look at the purpose of the home inspection differently. Some realtors will say “Don’t worry, the home inspector will find everything wrong with the house and give you a list of what needs to be fixed.”  What the homebuyer really wants is a list of repairs to ask the seller to fix. They hire a home inspector with the expectation that they will receive that in the report.

This can cause misunderstandings and sometimes even conflict. 

Ask a home inspector and you get a different answer. Most of us want to teach you about the home you are buying and provide a report. We don’t just list everything that needs to be fixed.

Why Care About the Repair Request?

The best real estate agents know how to negotiate issues that come up in the home inspection. They know that no home is perfect and also want their clients to be happy. The repair request is just another negotiation and another step in the process.

Some home inspectors refuse to tell their clients how to fix things. Others are a little more flexible and try to provide some guidance about how important something is and what needs to be done to address it. Some others may even provide estimates of costs. There is no right answer, it’s up to you how to run your business and treat your clients.

The homebuyer is still the one needs to make the choices. With the home inspector’s expertise, and hopefully their agent’s guidance, they will request the items they want to be addressed. In the end it is up to the homebuyer to reach an agreement with the seller.

Help Your Client Along Their Journey

To be a true professional means understanding what your customer needs and how you can help. Getting a home inspection report can be overwhelming enough for most homebuyers. Do you want to be the kind of home inspector to help them, or leave them confused and stressed?

Take a little time and think how we fit into the entire home purchasing journey. Deliver the report your client really wants. Help them understand what is important and what to do next to fix it. By preparing them for the next step of making the repair request, you will have a grateful and satisfied client.

Homes Don’t Have a Check Engine Light

Check Engine on Home

Home inspection clients have changed. One of the biggest changes has been that they have not been educated about how to take care of their home by their parents. Why don’t homes have a check engine light to tell us when to do maintenance like our cars?

Most people contract their maintenance or don’t do it at all

I think we can trace this back to kids raised by “soccer moms” that constantly shuttled them through activities. Even historically standard tasks like mowing the lawn didn’t happen as there wasn’t time, so it was outsourced to a lawn care service.

Besides being busy, a primary dynamic at work here is that the amount of disposable income increased substantially from 1990s through 2010 for many suburban families. This enabled parents to outsource home maintenance instead of doing it themselves and in-turn, they didn’t educate their kids about what to do, an how to do it. As stated above, because the kids were living such structured and busy lives there wasn’t much additional time to ask them to, or get them involved around the home. For parents that didn’t outsource, they had to cram some marginal home maintenance is to a few free minutes here and there. The idea of dad “tinkering around in the garage” didn’t happen as much with the most recent generation of families.

Anecdotally (and many home inspectors can probably tell better stories), today’s buyer may not even realize that there is a filter that needs to be changed for their central air system. Certainly most don’t understand heating systems whether it be the fuel source or how the heat is distributed.

How to help your client maintain their home

I’m fond of saying “homes don’t have ‘check engine lights'” and despite advancing of the smart home technology we are at least a decade away from that impacting a majority of homeowners. Without a critical eye to evaluate things that might be heading south, I can see a number trends:

  1. Owners will need help in identification and prioritization of home tasks/projects
  2. Home maintenance will be even more reactive than pro-active
  3. Owners will outsource even more about the home
  4. Inspectors will likely see more deferred maintenance than ever before

Inspectors that embrace the mindset of today’s buyers by using technology and helping their customers in ways they may not have before, will lead the pack. Whether it is helping the new owner find qualified home pros after the inspection is complete, or returning to offer services to the homeowner a year later, the skills and network of the inspector need not stop after the transaction is complete. There are important ethical lines that all inspectors need to heed, but ultimately, if the interests of the homebuyer are the number-one priority above all else, the inspector will have served their client well.

About the Author

Although not an inspector, Jack Huntress has been working with inspectors for the last 7 years, first with EDR (www.edrnet.com) developing the Neighborhood Environmental Report and in the last 4 years with his own business, HomeBinder (www.homebinder.com). He lives outside of Boston, MA with his wife and two boys. Connect with Jack at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhuntress