Without knowledge of home systems and their myriad potential defects, you couldn’t perform an inspection. But without communication skills, you couldn’t complete the most important part of the job, which is the report.
Some states require home inspection training and some don’t. But none of them require you to learn how to communicate effectively. Here’s why it matters and how you can improve skills that have gone a bit rusty.
When Communication is Lacking, Your Customers are At Risk
A home inspection report has one purpose: to inform. How well it serves that purpose depends on your skills as a certified home inspector, but that’s not all. Without the skills to convey what you know, the report is just an expensive formality.
Remember that your customers might not know a GFCI outlet from an AFCI breaker. The knowledge that you have is only as good as your ability to help them understand what they’re buying. They better your skills, the more helpful you can be.
Poor Communication Puts You at Risk, Too
Beyond protecting the customer, good communication helps protect you and your business. If your home inspection report is too vague, too complicated or otherwise isn’t clear, you could be at risk of a lawsuit.
Home buyers rely on your report as an informational tool. Although you don’t advise on whether or not to buy, customers do partly base buying decisions on what your report has to say. You’re considered an expert; they aren’t. The better you communicate, the fewer chances a customer will have to claim that you led them astray.
Check out Your Feedback to Learn What Customers are Saying
Do you encourage feedback from customers? If not, you should. But even if you don’t, people still talk. There’s a common saying that applies to almost any business. Whether or not you create a reputation, you already have one.
Check out social media to see what customers are saying. Angie’s List is another resource for customer feedback. Do a Google search for your business name and see what pops up. You might be happily surprised or you might find that customers want better communication.
Take a Few Simple Steps to Support Better Communication
You don’t need a college-level writing or public speaking class to learn effective communication. In many cases, it only requires a little fine-tuning. ThoughtWire explains that it’s not only one of the fundamental skills needed for success, good communication can help make you an industry leader.
Here are a few steps that they recommend:
- Practice listening. Communication isn’t just about telling, it’s also about hearing what others have to say.
- Adjust communication style for the audience. You might not communicate the same way with a contractor as you would with a first-time home buyer who has no experience in construction.
- Watch your body language. While this doesn’t apply to a written home inspection report, it matters when you meet with customers.
- Proofread your work. Before you send a home inspection report, check it closely to find and correct errors that could otherwise damage your professional reputation.
- Be brief, but not too brief. Elaborate descriptions can come across as confusing. They’re also boring. Get to the point and keep it concise.
- Take notes. Customers notice when you misspell names and get other details wrong.
- Don’t be afraid of the phone. If you need to communicate outside the report, a quick call can sometimes clear up twice as much as a wordy email.
- Think, then speak. It’s not just what you say, but also how you say it that forms your professional reputation.
- Don’t be that home inspector. Everyone has encountered a knowledge snob. Just because you know more about homes and home systems doesn’t mean it’s OK to talk down to customers who don’t. Remember that your job is to help.
- Stay positive. The mood you’re in can easily come across in written and spoken communication, even over the phone. Although the way that you communicate is deeply rooted in your personality, communication is also a business tool.
All of the skills that you learn in home inspection training lead to the same outcome, which is the home inspection report. You might know home systems better than any other inspector in your market. Without the communication skills to convey that information, your reports can only fall short.
At ICA School, we’re committed to helping you become the best-certified home inspector that you can be. That’s why our program covers home systems and defects at its core but also covers elements of business, including effective report writing.
If you’re ready for a career change, we’re ready to help. Enroll now and learn at your own pace.