If you make yourself look bad, you make the alternative look great.
Do you dream of driving away customers and sending them to your competition? Of course not. But if you’re not careful, that might very well happen. Some less-than-stellar business practices are as plain as the nose on your face. You wouldn’t fail to send a report or just decide that you don’t feel like inspecting a customer’s roof.
However, some slights are a bit more subtle. They don’t begin as an affront. But from a customer’s point of view, that’s exactly how they appear. So if you’re in the market for less income and fewer customers, here are 10 tried-and-true methods to make it happen.
#1: Ignore Technology
Certainly, home inspections were done before digital reporting software and mobile devices became so common. So if you choose to use a pen and a clipboard, why should anyone care?
Time marches on, and your customers march along with it. Technology makes your job easier, and it allows you to offer customers convenience. A handwritten report might take hours to complete. Embrace technology and you could send it before you leave the site.
#2: Forget About Building Relationships
Why should an inspector build relationships? It’s not like customers need an inspection every week or even every year.
The reality is that customers create referrals. If you do a good job for one, they’ll be more likely to tell their friends.
#3: Trash Talk Fellow Inspectors
Who should care if you and Inspector Joe across town don’t get along? You don’t want to give him free advertising, right?
Trash talking fellow inspectors isn’t just bad form, it makes customers uncomfortable. It can also make them less trusting and give you a bad name. As the old saying goes, a person who will gossip about one person will gossip about everyone else.
#4: Send Inspection Reports When You Get Around to It
Home inspecting is hard work. It can take hours to complete one job. After that, you might have another. Or you might just drive home and relax. Turning a report around in a couple of days shouldn’t be unreasonable, right?
Wrong. With the available advances in technology, customers expect fast report turnaround. That makes your job easier, too. Use digital reporting software, and the report will be ready by the time the inspection is finished. Then all that you have to do is push “send.”
#5: Don’t Worry About Marketing
Who can afford marketing? Big companies have a staff to handle that. But as a one-inspector operation, you probably don’t have the time or resources.
Marketing can actually be inexpensive. There are lots of ways to approach it. Actively participate in social media, create a blog and write regular posts, visit real estate agents and don’t be afraid to hand out business cards and ask for referrals. You really don’t need a major budget to market your business effectively.
Treat customers right and you’ll have a lot more fish in your sea.
#6: Don’t Join an Association or Attend Conferences
As if you have time to lollygag with a group of inspectors at a conference! Aren’t conferences just for meeting other inspectors and listening to people talk?
The truth is that association membership and conference attendance can help you in numerous ways. You can network with other inspectors, learn about industry trends and find out which new technology is worth the investment. And if you keep your membership active, you can advertise that. Customers get peace of mind from knowing that an inspector adheres to an association’s ethics and Standards.
#7: Never be the Bigger Person
Chances are, you’ll encounter a disgruntled customer at some point. It happens to the best of inspectors. But the worst possible thing to do is cave in, right? Stand your ground and you’ll gain respect.
Not exactly. There’s a lot to be said for being the bigger person. If there is a dispute, be prepared to make it right, even if it means offering a settlement. Your reputation as an honest inspector can only grow through fair dealings.
#8: Take a Grumpy Attitude to Work
You can do your job perfectly well all by yourself. It’s their fault if they insist on showing up and then further insist on talking to you before you’ve had your coffee.
There’s really no good reason to carry a grumpy attitude to work. Your customers have their own concerns. They’re buying a house, and that’s one of the most stressful events anyone can go through. Offer up a congenial demeanor, and you’ll gain friends instead of enemies. Remember, friends equal referrals.
#9: Don’t Make Calls (or Answer Them)
Alexander Graham Bell couldn’t have known how pervasive his little invention would one day become. Why, a person can’t get a minute’s peace anymore, especially since the advent of cell technology. You don’t have to call and follow up with customers, and you sure don’t have to answer if they call. You’ll get around to it at some point.
Few things are as nerve-wracking as being left to wait and wonder. It only takes a moment to pick up the phone and follow up with customers. And if they call you, the courteous and businesslike thing to do is answer. It will all be over in a few minutes.
#10: If You Don’t Know an Answer, Make Up Something
If you admit that you don’t know the answer to a question, your customers will probably think that you’re a fraud. Then they’ll want to take their business elsewhere. It’s better to make up and answer and save face. They won’t know the difference.
In reality, admitting when you don’t know an answer can be a big trust builder. you don’t have to hang your head in embarrassment. Just be honest. If you don’t know, tell the truth. But be prepared to follow up with the name of a person who can help.
No home inspector really wants to drive away business. The problem is that small problems and little personality quirks can show up when you least expect them. In your professional dealings, try to think like a customer. What might they expect? Don’t compromise your principles to make a customer happy. But whenever you can, do try to make the extra effort.
If you’re ready to take on the responsibilities of a home inspector, ICA School is ready to teach you how. Enroll now and you can work toward certification online and at your own pace.