Summer is almost here, and that means the busy home inspection season is about to launch. Are you ready, or do you plan to wing it and hope for the best?
Before your phone starts ringing and appointments roll in, take a little time to prep for the heavier workload ahead. The more that you handle now, the fewer surprises you’ll have to deal with and the fewer setbacks you’ll encounter. Here are 6 ways to gear up and handle summer like a pro.
#1: Ramp up Networking Efforts with Real Estate Agents
Certified home inspectors typically get a lot of business from real estate agents. If you haven’t made the rounds in a while, now is the time to drop in and leave a stack of business cards with agents who’ve helped you out in the past and those you’d like to meet.
This is also a good time to plan a lunch-and-learn visit to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones with other agents in the office. If you’ve never organized a lunch-and-learn event, Integrity Solutions offers these tips to make yours successful:
- Develop a topic that’s interesting and relevant to your audience
- Create an outline for the event to stay on track
- Remind the real estate agent’s office about your meeting at least one week in advance
- Write up handouts such as fact sheets to give to agents
- Choose a lunch menu that isn’t too messy
- Schedule another lunch-and-learn before you leave
Ask your office contact about people with special dietary needs (vegetarians, food allergies, diabetics) and offer options for them such as salads, nut-free choices and fruit. Build-your-own meals, such as a taco bar, let people pick what they like and skip what they don’t.
Networking keeps your name fresh in the mind of agents. Offer them valuable information—not just a business card—and you could drive in a lot more business this season.
#2: Check Your Website Functionality from Both Sides
It’s easy to focus on your website from the back end. Traffic statistics, web design and site maintenance issues need constant attention. But when was the last time you tested your website from the perspective of a new customer?
Competition is fierce. If your website is confusing, cluttered with too many buttons, banners and information or doesn’t work well on a mobile device, it’s easy for customers to look elsewhere for a home inspector. Do yourself a favor and visit your site as someone who has never seen it before. Even better: ask a friend, colleague or family member to give you their opinions about how the site looks and functions.
The Daily Egg recommends focusing on these areas:
- Server errors
- Broken links
- Appearance and functionality on a mobile device
- A consistent theme across every web page of your site
- Credibility: update your “about me” page to reflect your qualifications and experience
While some of your competition might cling to web design from a decade ago, think about what resonates with your customers. What are they accustomed to? What looks and feels comfortable to them? Check out these award-winning web design examples at AWWARDS. If your site looks comparatively cluttered and old fashioned, maybe it’s time for an upgrade.
#3: Get Continuing Education Out of the Way
If your state doesn’t require continuing education credits and you don’t have a membership with a home inspector association, continuing education might not be on your list of things to do. It’s still a good idea for every home inspector, though, and now is a good time to get this year’s requirements under your belt.
Here are some of the choices offered by ASHI:
- Radon measurement/mitigation
- Report writing
- Building science
- Designing, constructing and retrofitting low-energy buildings
- LEED training
- What’s below a home: basements and crawl spaces
- Bacteria, sampling and data interpretation
There are numerous ways to get professional development hours besides through a home inspector association. Check out ICA School’s partner, Quality Education Group, for more courses that you can take online.
#4: Stock up on Office Supplies
Your days as a home inspector are packed with site visits, customer communication and writing reports. The last thing you need is to run out of business cards, copy paper or brochures in the middle of a busy workweek. Check in with your supplier now and stock up before you’re stuck with scribbling down your contact information on a sticky note.
Services such as Vistaprint and MOO make the whole process simpler. Use their free software to design a professional looking business card, including your own artwork and logo, and they’ll deliver your printed cards right to your door.
Take inventory of the rest of your office supplies and make an order sooner rather than later. Your office supply store can deliver ink pens, staples, printer ink and anything else that’s running low.
#5: Develop a Social Media Marketing Schedule
Are you social media savvy? If you’re like most people, you have a Facebook account and you might also use Twitter. LinkedIn is great for professional networking and it can also serve as a digital resume of sorts. When people, especially prospective customers, find your LinkedIn profile, they have an opportunity to dig in and learn more about you than what’s on your business card.
Why does social media matter for home inspectors? Because it drives in more business.
Wordtracker says Facebook has more than a billion users, and among them are people who need what you have to sell. Use social media the right way and you could build your home inspection business brand, get more site traffic, connect with your audience, and help solidify your place in the community as an authority on home inspections.
If that sounds like a great idea that’s probably too complicated for your business, know this: anyone can become a pro at social media marketing. It costs little or nothing, and you don’t need a special skill set. Check out the MOZ beginner’s guide to get started.
#6: Get a Vehicle Tune-Up
After all of your preparation for a busy season, what’s the worst that could happen? Vehicle problems. If you haven’t had your work truck, van or car serviced in a while now is the time. You could save yourself the frustration of a flat tire, overheated engine or air conditioning that fails on the hottest day of summer.
Here’s a summer maintenance checklist from Fleet Pro:
- Check the brakes and tires
- Change the oil , oil filter, and air filter
- Dewinterize: if you use snow tires in winter, swap them out
- Check hoses and belts
- Replace wiper blades
- Check coolant levels
- Clean the battery
- Get an air conditioning checkup
Summer is the traditional busy season for the whole real estate industry. People are shopping for homes, contracts are being signed and agents are taking on more and more new clients. If your home inspection business is in order, you could stand to benefit from the surge in available work without dealing with unnecessary setbacks.
Home inspecting can be an exciting business. If you’re still just thinking about a career switch, let ICA School give you the inside scoop. Get a free course demo today and see why our education program is worth it.