December Podcast Review: Handling Difficult Clients

Home inspector

Any home inspector can encounter a challenging customer, but the way you handle yourself makes all the difference.

It’s only a matter of time, really, before you have a customer who makes you scratch your head. Some want to follow you throughout an inspection, asking questions every step of the way. And some would prefer to hire you and then get a report later, never having met you face to face. Just as there is a range of personalities as deep and wide as the ocean, so are the types of customers that you will encounter through your home inspection career.

So how do you learn to manage the different types of customers so that everyone is happy? That’s the topic of the December 8 ICA School podcast. Director of Education Steve Preins answers a recent graduate and new home inspector’s question about puzzling customers. Is there really a way to please everyone and still do a good job?

It’s the Differences that Make Home Inspecting Fun

Steve begins the podcast by making an interesting point: The difference among customers isn’t something to fret about. In fact, that’s part of what makes home inspecting fun. In a perfect world, he explains, all customers would be the same. You’d know what to expect, and customers would hire you and then wait patiently for your report.

That sometimes happens. But just as often, it doesn’t. And it’s those different experiences that give you something to think and talk about. Every home inspector has war stories. When you attend your first inspection association meeting, you’ll hear more stories like yours and more still that are better and worse.

Customer Perception is Unavoidable

One of the reasons why customers can be difficult is the way that they perceive the inspector. Although it’s a very delicate topic, the truth is that many customers really do judge an inspector on his or her appearance. Youth might equal a lack of experience to some customers. And although real professionals strongly disagree, some customers also believe that a woman isn’t as good at the inspecting job as a man.

Those are total myths that Steve says really need to be dispelled. The way to accomplish that is with more women and younger inspectors entering the industry. Many young inspectors are highly qualified, some of them more so than a very mature inspector. And women are seriously underrepresented in the industry. The way to overcome these pre-judgments if they happen to you is by doing a good job and building a reputation as a solid inspector.

Home inspector

You can’t control how customers respond, but you can perform excellent inspections every time.

Working with the Range of Customers

Some customers get overly worried about every defect that a home inspector finds. Steve explains that while this is most common in first-time home buyers, anyone at any level of experience might be prone to excitability. A home is a large purchase, after all. The buyer doesn’t want to finance a money pit. For these customers, he recommends staying as calm as you can. Don’t rise to the same level of excitement, even in an effort to explain why a defect isn’t an enormous problem. And if the problem is large, such as a foundation issue, staying even-keeled is even more important.

On the other hand, some customers are completely uninvolved. In those cases, he seems to suggest that inspectors count their blessings. You might wish that the customer was on site and ready to ask questions. But some really don’t want to be involved, and only want to review your report once it’s done.

The big takeaway from the podcast is that in time, you’ll get a feel for the industry and gain confidence in your work. The attitude of the customer won’t matter, because it doesn’t alter how you inspect any house. You have your Standards to follow, and a good job to do. As long as that’s always your aim, you’ll have more satisfied customers than those who make you worry.

Ready to begin your own home inspecting career? There’s no better time. Enroll now and begin your ICA School training course today. Study at your own pace, and enter the market as a qualified inspector in your own timeframe.

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