We thought we were finished with our “How I Did It” series until we met Craig Iden. The owner of Golden State Home Inspections in Sacremento, California for the last 14 years, Iden says that the number one challenge he and every other home inspector faces is making everyone happy. And we agreed. For home inspectors struggling to break into the biz, making it in our already saturated market means being able to consistently provide an inspection that gives home owners what they need to know and being a reliable one-stop shop for real estate agents. It ain’t easy. Beyond battling the inherent conflict between agent and home buyer desires, inspectors also have to figure out how to work their own happiness into the equation.
The Problem: Agents want to simplify the sales process by using a home inspector who can provide a wide array of services. Buyers want a home inspector who’s on their side and will give a heads up on problems and glitches. You want enough money to live on, a reasonable work schedule and some time to see the family. Good luck pleasing everyone.
The Solution: Go by Iden’s three rules-break into the home inspection business slowly, invest in auxiliary certifications and delegate when you can. One reason that Iden has been so successful is because he gradually transitioned into being an inspector. After spending 16 years in carpentry, Iden did inspections on a part-time basis for five years, giving him enough time to know the markets before jumping in full-time.
“[The company] started turning a profit almost immediately, but it wasn’t much of one,” he said. “It took a little while before things started taking off.”
Going part-time first also gave Iden some much-needed time to get certified for auxiliary inspections. Gaining mold certification first, Iden has since invested more than $40,000 in adding infrared, energy auditing, contract referral and soon pest inspections to his roster of services.
“That makes it easier on [real estate agents]. They don’t have to find separate people to do each of those things,” says Iden. Having auxiliary certifications also helps woo home buyers as well he adds. “[Buyers] may only use me for a home inspection, but having all of these other services available makes people feel comfortable just in case they need it.”
The move has more than paid off. Iden currently earns 65 percent of his revenue from home inspections and the rest from auxiliary services. To keep buyers happy even after the deal has closed, Iden offers a 90-day warranty on services and will answer questions on a project even years after the home has been sold.
The final piece of the happiness puzzle is Iden’s own. To farm work out, Iden already has one inspector on his payroll and he’s working to make room for another. The key to keeping good inspectors on board, he says, is to provide training and to set a generous pay rate. Until another employee is on board, Iden is focusing on adding pest inspection services so he can please clients even more.
“It’s all about being able to accommodate everybody,” he says.