For over 20 years and after 10,000 jobs I have always encouraged my home inspection clients to attend the entire inspection. I explain that if they want to have the full value of the inspection they need to see what I do and they will get to learn how their particular home operates. That is not the case during COVID-19.
By now everyone should know about social distancing and be providing some type of stay safe procedure for their clients, agents, and inspections. If not, check out the InterNACHI COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors and Contractors course for free. It is our job as professionals to guide them along the next steps to keep our clients, homeowners, and ourselves safe.
Set the Tone During the Booking Call
We have been surprised that almost none of our clients have asked about COVID-19 precautions while booking their home inspection. It is understandable when you keep in the mind the journey they have been on before they called us. It is stressful enough in normal times. These days it is even more stressful.
We are now telling our clients to not attend and how we intend to keep them, the occupants of the home, and ourselves safe. We also set the tone of how our process has changed and what communication they can expect from us. It has become super important to make sure the client is comfortable with a phone call, FaceTime, Zoom, or maybe Skype for their call with the inspector.
Make Contact Before the Inspection
My favorite part of most home inspections is usually the driveway meeting. It is when I get a chance to meet my client and let them meet me. In just those first few minutes you can tell what kind of client you are working with and what kind of reporting will be needed.
Many home inspection clients are downright terrified. They will likely not hear a word you say or ask a single question. Others are extremely comfortable doing their own repairs. Home inspection clients are not all the same. The driveway meeting helps us understand who we are working with.
This is not so easy during COVID-19. Since we ask our clients to not attend the inspection or to only come alone at the end, the driveway meeting is a thing of the past.
Since we have already let the client know the inspector will be reaching out before the job they are ready. We contact the client at least the night before or better yet on the day of the job for a virtual driveway meeting.
Write the Report for an Absent Client
Over my 20 years our reports have developed into something that is meant to be read. We always do our best to only report on important information. Since our clients are with us and we have been able to also talk and show them how things work and what we do it has worked incredibly well. It has let us deliver a home inspection report that our clients really want. The only complaints we get are from clients that are not at the job.
Now that our clients do not attend we now write the report for an absent client. This is not really new since we have been doing it for years once we realized that these types of clients were the source of complaints.
We still do not overwhelm them with every piece of information about the home but we are more mindful that the report is the only way they can tell what we did and did not do. We now report on much more informational items that we typically would if the client was with us. The goal is not to overwhelm them with such a long report they can not read it but just enough information that they understand the home.
Do a Virtual Report Summary
After the driveway meeting I have always enjoyed the report wrap up and report summary with my clients. Some of the best real estate agents I know also show up at this point so everyone understands what the biggest issues are that need addressing and possible ways to make that happen. It also gives everyone a chance to understand what makes a particular house unique.
These days that is no longer possible in person but it can be done virtually. The most important thing is to set up if it will be FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or phone call with the client beforehand. That way everyone is expecting it and should have their personal technology ready. They are also prepared when they see us in full personal protection equipment (PPE) when we call for the summary.
Follow up After the Job
After the home inspection our clients move on to the repair request and the next steps of the homebuyer’s journey. They may never think of their home inspector again or even look at the home inspection report. Unless there is a problem.
The post job followup can be the most important way to maintain the personal touch with our home inspection clients. It is also an incredible way to limit complaints and generate online reviews. This has not changed much since COVID-19 has come into our lives but it is more important than ever.
We already send an email and also a text to every client three days after the home inspection asking if they need any help or have any questions during the repair request phase. Now, since we are doing everything to provide a personal touch during social distancing we are having our inspectors call as well.