To Refer or Not to Refer: Should Inspectors Recommend Contractors?

Home inspections

Referrals are good for you, your industry peers and your customers.

There’s a longstanding belief among some home inspectors that it’s bad form or even unacceptable to recommend a contractor who can make repairs. Some locales might have regulations regarding referrals, but many home inspectors think it’s an important part of the job.

Your customers probably aren’t well-versed in home systems. After receiving a report that lists a few defects, the most logical next question is likely to be, “Do you know anyone who can fix it?” You can decline and be on your way. Or you can go the extra mile and refer a respected, trusted contractor to help the customer get the needed repairs. As long as you’re not prohibited, it’s your call.

Here’s why some inspectors believe that referrals are not just OK, but they’re an important part of providing a well-rounded service.

Home inspections

Networking is a natural part of working in the home inspection industry.

Home Inspectors Often Know Great Contractors

Your customers might have no idea where to begin looking for a contractor. And that leaves them susceptible to exorbitant fees and poor workmanship if they make the wrong call. If you refer a solid contractor whose work you know and trust, you’re providing a vital service that goes beyond a home inspection.

Reuben Saltzman, a home inspector with StructureTech in Minnesota, says that he makes it even easier on customers. Although many pros say that customers really need the name of three contractors, he offers only one – the best one he knows. “If I know a great contractor, I give out their name and tell my clients to call them.”

Addressing the Liability Issue

There’s always the looming issue of potential liability when an inspector makes a recommendation. But again. Saltzman disagrees. His stance is that a referral isn’t an endorsement or a guarantee. It’s just a name to help the customer get the needed repairs.

You wouldn’t recommend a contractor whose work you didn’t know. And if you have a professional relationship with the contractor, chances are he wouldn’t jeopardize future referrals with shoddy work or sky-high prices. Saltzman says, “If I know a great contractor, I give out their name and tell my clients to call them. I might give out a few other names as a backup, just in case the first one is too busy; not because I’m trying to eliminate liability on my end. A referral is simply a referral.”

Referrals Work Both Ways

Just as you meet customers who need a contractor to repair home defects, customers might also ask a contractor for the name of a home inspector. That type of reciprocal relationship is good for everyone.

Home inspectors rely heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth advertising. When you develop a healthy network of respected industry professionals, everyone comes out ahead. You get more referrals, the contractors you know get more work, and the customer is in much better hands than if he’d done a Google search to find what he was looking for.

Contractor referrals are a dicey topic for some home inspectors, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If your locale forbids referrals between home inspectors and contractors, then, of course, you should abide by those regulations. But if not, think about the long-term possibilities for growing your business when you have the name and number of a respected contractor in the glove box of your vehicle.

ICA School helps home inspectors every step of the way. We offer one of the best and most affordable training programs on the market. And we’re here with answers to questions that arise now and even years down the road. If you’re ready to start a new career, enroll now and get started today.

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