No doubt about it, home inspectors have taken a beating these past few years. To get through the housing crisis, inspectors have had to revamp their business models, re-evaluate their expenses, and do what they can to survive. Here’s how three inspectors did it:
Ask For HelpFrom the home buyer that is. When he became a licensed home inspector in 2005, Stephen La Rosa of Rodan Home Inspections in Great River, New York, became known for creating gigantic reports. “They were 100, 110 pages long,” he says. “If you’re too thorough, realtors won’t even look at you. You become known as a deal breaker.” When the economy tanked, business got even worse. That’s when La Rosa started getting the agent’s perspective. “Always ask the agent, ‘What are you looking for?,'” he says. “If they want all the finer points, I’ll give them that. If they just want the meat and potatoes, I’ll give them that too.” After making that one tiny change, La Rosa says his business doubled in a matter of months.
When the economy started it’s downward trajectory, Matt Newberry, partner with Newberry Inspections in Reno, Nevada, stayed afloat by doing what others couldn’t. “We tried to pick up along the edges,” Newberry says. “We tried to find areas where people were being underserved and to increase our level of customer service.” One way Matt did that was by making sure his firm was available when other firms weren’t. That meant laying off staff, but ALWAYS making sure that someone was around to answer the phone. “As things got tough, a lot of inspection firms shrunk down so that inspectors were answering phones while in inspections,” Newberry says. “We wanted our clients to know that we were putting them first.”
Like Bob Sisson, profiled in our “Inspect the Inspector” section, Charles Buell of Charles Buell Inspections Inc. in Seattle doesn’t rely on agents to generate business. When the market crashed, Buell began relying more on the internet to generate business leads. “I was surprised,” says Buell. “I had heard that it was possible to get business from the internet, but I was unsure.” Since 2008, Buell has posted more than 1,400 entries on his blog and launched a second one. He currently brings in half of his business from the blog and maintains a strong Google ranking. Buell’s advice for inspectors looking to rely less on agents is this-“Just get a WordPress site and start blogging about yourself,” he says. “Be transparent and don’t worry if you’re not getting comments. People will find you. You just have to post consistently.”