Doing home inspections requires a great deal of skill and knowledge. Home inspectors might think that it all revolves around home systems and structures, but in fact, an essential skill home inspectors must hone is communication.
Excellent communication skills are critical in any profession that deals with the public. No matter what service you are performing, you must keep your clients informed throughout the process. Neglecting this part of the job can cost you clients — and therefore, money. Here are three communication rules that you can apply to your home inspection business.
- Make expectations clear. Even though your clients sign a contract, the odds are they won’t read it carefully, if they read it at all. So you can’t expect them to know that a termite inspection isn’t part of the home inspection.Go over the important parts of the contract with them in a face-to-face meeting. This could be when they are considering hiring you, or right before the inspection. They won’t memorize everything you say, but it will at least give you another opportunity to let them know the parameters of your service.After you have been in business for a few years, you will see patterns of behavior among your clients. You might notice the same areas about which they seem to be confused, and you can be sure to verbally communicate these points.
- Show and tell. Clients are almost always present during the inspection. They are worried that you will find something wrong, and they want to know right away what it is. Try to put them at ease, and encourage them to relax while you are doing the inspection. Assure them that you will report your findings afterward.Of course, you don’t want to spend hours going through the entire inspection again, but you want to show them anything you think is a problem and tell them why it needs fixing. Every so often you might get a super-nervous talker type who will take up a lot of your time and pepper you with questions you can’t answer, but difficult clients are part of the job. Skipping this important step might save you from a time-waster every so often, but it will also alienate many of your other clients.And the reverse holds true as well — avoid overexplaining everything. Keep your verbal report short and sweet and don’t bore the clients with too many details. The ASHI Reporter advises not using too many technical terms clients might not understand, and to use clear and concise language — both verbal and written.
- Time is of the essence. Don’t be late to your appointment to inspect the house. Psychology Today says people who are late demonstrate “a lack of intelligence, self-knowledge, willpower or empathy.” Always make sure you have the client’s phone number with you in case of an unavoidable situation like an accident.Clients and real estate agents might frequently be late, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to do the same. Always have some work with you to do if you are stuck waiting.Let the client know when to expect your written report, then make sure you deliver it by that time. Trust is important in the inspector-client relationship.
As you gain more experience doing home inspections, you will develop even better communication skills. In the meantime, if you’re ever unsure, fall back on the idea that more knowledge is better, and reach out to your clients with information about their future home.
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