What Happens After the Home Inspection?

Congratulations! The home inspection is complete! We write the report and move on to the next job, but it isn’t over for our client. They will now use our report to negotiate repairs with the seller. How we write and present the report to the homebuyer deeply affects the repairs request and negotiation process plays out. Here’s what we can do to prepare the homebuyer for the negotiation process. 

Keep Things in Perspective

We know that home inside-out after inspecting it. We spot every problem, from huge structural issues to tiny cosmetic blemishes, and we know which ones to worry about. Our client doesn’t have this frame of reference. To them, an inspection report can feel like an overwhelming list of problems they have no idea how to prioritize.

Give the homebuyer perspective. Emphasize what issues really need addressing now, and which are less important. It’s tempting to write up every minor flaw, but an overly long report reads like a textbook. A typical homebuyer can’t digest the important information in time. Ask the client what is important to them, and address those points in detail. Tailor the report to cover the most relevant issues to that client and include an executive summary that places important information front and center.

Speak the Client’s Language

Our client shouldn’t need a dictionary to read their home inspection report. Technical language is second nature to us, but discussions about roof flashings and water heater anodes will lose readers. If our inspection report reads like a software manual, homebuyers won’t pay attention and may miss something important. Simple is always better. People respond to straightforward, uncomplicated language. Define complex systems and components so the homebuyer doesn’t have to ask, and encourage the client to ask questions even if they sound silly.

Give Your Client a Roadmap Through Repairs

Our home inspection reports serve two functions: notifying our clients of problems and giving ways to address those problems. The best reports offer concrete, actionable steps the homebuyer can take to address major issues before they move in. When writing up a significant problem, step into the client’s shoes. They have an issue. How big of an issue is it? What do they do? And when?

Write with action in mind. Don’t just say that a furnace is unsafe; tell the homebuyer to get an HVAC inspection before closing. We don’t need to provide cost estimates or recommendations for HVAC inspectors, but we do need to recommend next steps. Maybe the homebuyer decides to take those next steps before closing, maybe they don’t. The important thing is that they’re ready to make informed decisions.

Follow Up After the Inspection

Your home inspection report is fresh on their minds. Now, show them that you appreciate their business. Shoot the homeowner a thank you note three days (or less) after the inspection is done. Within a month, send another note that welcomes them to their new home and offers a timeline for maintenance tasks, like cleaning the gutters.

Homeowners are excited when they get the keys to their new place. They can move in and turn the house into a home. After a few months, small annoyances and problems surface. Send another note 90 days after the inspection to check on the homeowner and another at the four to five-month mark. Remind your client that it’s time to do seasonal maintenance, like checking the sump pump in winter or the HVAC system before summer.

Follow-up notes show that you’re a diligent, careful home inspector who cares about your clients. Investing in that relationship builds your business and minimizes complaints and lawsuits.

Why We Built Tap Inspect for Home Inspectors

Anyone that has done it knows that growing a home inspection business is hard work. Its is a special club of home inspectors that have risked safety and predicability to build a business that they hope makes the world a little bit better.

So why did we build Tap Inspect?

My partner, Jason Adams, and myself come from different backgrounds but share a common belief. We believe that all the hard work, sacrifice, and risk is worth the price if we can make a small dent in the universe. We honestly hope we can leave the world a better place due to our efforts.

With Tap Inspect, we realized that building home inspection reports does not have to be that complicated. There is more to life that sitting at a computer every night and writing home inspection reports. Everything we do, every feature we add, and every design we implement is focused on making that a reality.

It is hard to believe that so many home inspectors use Tap Inspect every day and it has become such a big part of so many lives. We look forward to more improvements and helping all of you spend more time doing what you love the most.

5 Steps to Deal With Difficult Home Inspection Clients

difficult-clientWhether you are a lone wolf or the head of a small business, you have clients. If you are a people person and have good relationships with your clients, then the client-vendor relationship can be a great one. Still, there will always be a small percentage of home inspection clients with whom your relationship is less than great. Too often we call these clients “difficult.” But there is more to a tense client-vendor relationship than name-calling.

As always, we have to remember that doing business is all about the building and maintaining of relationships. So when difficulties arise, it’s important to recognize that everyone involved deserves a certain amount of respect, and calling someone difficult is not respectful. It is finger pointing, and that is never helpful. Instead, let’s focus on ways to improve the communication with these five simple steps.

  1. Listen. Before any situation can be resolved, you need to have all the facts. That means you have to be clear minded and take the time to listen to your client. Hear them out and make certain that you have all the facts, as the client sees them. According to Seth Godin, acknowledging the client’s anger is one of the first steps to resolution. Even if you do not agree with it, resolution begins with this all-important step.
  2. It’s Just Business. When trying to remediate issues with an angry client, it is very important to remain calm. Taking time before responding to complaints or an accusation will ensure that you never speak harshly or defensively to a client. Remember, you are a business person, and this is just business. It is not a personal attack, so do not take it as such. Keeping your cool will always help alleviate the overall situation.
  3. It’s Not You, It’s Me. Before assuming the problem is the client, take a moment to examine your own household. Many businesses operate on the premise “the client is always right.” While no one can be right all the time, you should definitely examine your situation. This is a necessary step to determine whether the breakdown in communication is not due to some fault of yours.
  4. Be Part of the Solution. Repairing any relationship takes effort and, more importantly, it takes time. Of course it also takes a solution, and that solution should begin by asking the client what it would take to satisfy them. Any solution that will satisfy and improve the situation must begin with the client. The only question left is: Can you accept the client’s request?
  5. It Was You, After All. Ultimately, if you cannot satisfy whatever your client requests, then you have to realize that. Not every client-vendor situation is the right one for everyone involved. In that event, you have to be prepared to again follow the advice of Seth Godin and “fire” them in as civil a manner as possible. This may be as hard as cancelling a home inspection contract or as simple as not accepting any further work from them. In either event, it is time for you to part ways.

There is no way for anyone to be in a home inspection business for any period of time and not eventually encounter a dissatisfied or unreasonable client. This is the very nature of dealing with clients. Being prepared with the tools to mollify a client can do more than satisfy them. Mastering these skills can help you convert “difficult” clients into loyal advocates for our business!

Have you ever had to deal with an unhappy home inspection client? How did you resolve the issue? Please share your experiences below in the comments section.