Tap Inspect’s Next Big Move

We don’t just run a home inspection software company. We’re working home inspectors who use our app in the field every single day. From doing our own inspections and listening to you, we know that our current comment library isn’t perfect. That’s why we’re dramatically revamping it.

Tap Inspect already provides multiple customizable checklists. No matter what you are inspecting, these checklists rarely provide a complete picture of what you want to communicate. There are always things that need more clarification in a specific report. That’s where comments and photos come in.

This simple task of recording comments can get complicated because every person has their take on what needs to be commented on and what the comment should say. Despite the individuality that complicates the design and coding of Tap Inspect, we believe in a few fundamental truths:

We all report in our own language and that language can change over time

Your choice of words, the way you explain things, your level of detail—these are the reasons clients choose you to do their inspections. As home inspectors learn and do more inspections, word choice can and does change. As professionals we are constantly learning and our comments reflect that.

Canned, default comments frequently cannot provide the personal touch that’s needed. They can provide a starting point, but they must adapt and change as we do.

Our new library notices when you change a word or add an entirely new comment and asks if you want to save it. It grows and changes as you use it.

We tend to report the same things over and over in the same places

As a general rule, we home inspectors tend to make the same handful of comments on almost every report we do and put them in the same sections. It’s just the nature of inspecting similar things over and over. These frequently used comments should be only a tap away since they are used so often.

Our new library remembers what comments you use in which section. Your most frequently used comments will always be at the top of the list in the section you use it.

It’s a hassle to find that one comment you only use once a year

We all run into some issue that is very unusual, but we know we have commented on it before. Where is it?

Keywords, comment codes and drop down lists typically don’t help because you have to remember where in you library it is saved and then scroll through long lists to find it. This usually takes longer than it does to type it again.

Just like with Google, Yahoo or Bing, our new library allows you to type in a word or phrase and search the entire database of comments. Is the list too long? Type in more words and the list gets shorter and shorter with the best matches nearest the top.

Stay tuned because we think what is coming soon from Tap Inspect will change your expectation of how comment libraries should work. We can’t wait.




10 Ways Home Inspectors Can Maximize the Slow Season

Just because you’re not doing as many home inspections in the winter months, that doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off. These tips, provided by veteran inspectors and small business experts, will help you build your business even if new clients aren’t pouring in.

Expand Your Skills

“Diversify,” says William Decker, Senior Inspector with Decker Home Services in Skokie, Illinois. “…The model for my company is complete home inspection services. I not only do pre-purchase inspections, I also do pre-listing, maintenance inspections and energy audits.”

Decker says that about half of his business comes from services he offers outside of pre-purchase home inspections. The extra income keeps the business viable when home buying slows down.

Get Support

Of course you don’t have to go at this job alone. Groups like ASHI, NAHI and InterNACHI not only offer conferences and continuing education credits, they also offer invaluable support systems for home inspectors breaking into the field.

“New [home inspectors] should look at joining ASHI and finding a local chapter for local support, education, camaraderie and mentoring,” says Bob Sisson, owner of Inspections By Bob in Boyds, Maryland.

Test New Toys

That infrared camera you’ve been eyeing…that moisture meter you’ve had in the back of your mind…that amazing home inspection software for the iPhone or iPad that provides five inspections for free…Well, now’s the time to take them for a test drive. To ensure that you’re prepared to provide a better, more thorough home inspection service for next year, test the new tools and toys you’ve been salivating over during the off season. Find something that works and your job could be a lot cooler once business starts flooding back in.

Find a Back-Up

That vacation you didn’t get to take last year? You’re going to disappoint your family again next year if you can’t find someone to take up the slack while you take a break.

“Take the time to make friends with a few inspectors in your area,” says Michael Wirth, co-founder of Tap Inspect. “It’s always helpful to have another point of view on the market, to talk over problems and to refer clients when you finally get a vacation.”

Connecting with the competition benefits your clients as well. Your business will be taken care of in your absence and you’ll have extra work when your business buddy takes his much-needed break.

Make Connections

“Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn from others who are willing to share,” tweeted James Brantley, owner of Magnolia Home Inspections, LLC in Brandon, Missouri.

As the home inspection season winds down, conferences and networking events ramp up with the ASHI Inspection World Conference landing smack dab in the middle. Take advantage by making connections with veteran inspectors who can answer your questions and solve problems.

Account For Yourself

Sure you know how much money you billed out last year, but do you have any idea how much you actually made once gas, office supplies, car maintenance, office space and employee payroll are taken out? Taking a cold, hard look at your financials and calculating your per hour net pay can indicate whether you’re actually earning wealth or bringing in money just to see it go again.

Offer Something for Nothing

To get your foot in the door with new clients, William Decker of Decker Home Services says that he offers free safety inspections to clients who want their home to have a good once-over.

“[Safety inspections, usually at the beginning of the heating season] only take about 10 minutes to complete and they’re free,” Decker says. “I tell clients that I won’t fix anything, but I will tell them what’s wrong. You’d be surprised how much that little bit of good will helps.”

Mark Up Your Marketing

Your inspections might be spot-on, but they could be overlooked if your marketing is poor. Welmoed Sisson, Marketing Director of Inspections By Bob, says that new inspectors should take the slow season to revamp their social media strategy, rework their web sites if needed and take a careful look at the message they’re sending potential clients.

“Work on your marketing materials,” she says. “Order flyers and business cards…Are you using the same flyers from last year and the year before?”

Think Outside the Box

Home inspectors, builders and real estate agents can give you contacts, but so can those outside of the home and real estate professions. William Decker says that one way that he connects with members of his community is through his local chamber of commerce and through general networking groups like BNI and LeTip International. General networking communities often break members into smaller, diverse groups.

“In those kinds of groups, only one person can be a lawyer or a real estate agent or a home inspector,” he says. Decker’s group meets once a week over breakfast to exchange leads, critique each other’s elevator pitches and improve on each member’s public speaking skills. Thus far, Decker’s networking groups have connected him with several leads as well as a reliable handyman and a remodeler.

“If you know somebody that you can personally vouch for, that’s good,” he says. “It’s a marketing multiplier for you and a service multiplier for your client.”

See the Family

If you don’t decompress, at least a little now, you’ll be a mess once business kicks back into high gear. In the midst of testing, accounting and networking your fanny off, take a breather. Once clients start calling again, you’ll be glad you did.

Leaves are Ready to Fall, Change is in the Air

The kids head back to school and the weather begins to change this time every year. After being a home inspector for 15 years, I know business will also begin to slow. After four or five months of doing three inspections a day, working until 8:00 PM and far too many Saturdays, I am usually ready for it.

That doesn’t mean it’s time to just sit around. Since releasing the template editing features of Tap Inspect in April, we have concentrated on fixing problems that have cropped up and put off any major updates. This has been on purpose. The last thing we wanted to do was to make any big changes to Tap Inspect when you needed it the most to keep up with incoming business. We understand the home inspection business because we are in it too.

Our most recent update is waiting for Apple approval and contains several new default templates that may make it easier for you to customize the app to your way of doing inspections. We are constantly amazed at how flexible our reporting system can be and love it when people find ways that we never thought of to use Tap Inspect.

As we ramp up to releasing the new features of Tap Inspect, we want to hear from you. We have our own wish list of features we’d like to include in future editions, but we want to make sure we’re serving your needs as well as possible. Specifically we’re interested in:

What were you expecting when you downloaded Tap Inspect?
Did we live up to your expectation?
What is the number one thing you would like to see changed or added to Tap Inspect?
Where can we improve the most?

No silly surveys here. We want to know what you really think in your own words. Just drop us an email at info@tapinspect.com and don’t worry about hurting our feelings. We are home inspectors and have a thick skin. Thank you so much for your time and help.

~ Michael Wirth, Co-Founder of Tap Inspect

Home Inspection Clients Have Changed…So Has Tap Inspect

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