Breaking into a new market is never easy. In a perfect world, you’d have clients lining up around the block, eager for you to inspect their homes. Instead, many new home inspectors find themselves confused as to their role in the local market. In order to find a niche and customer base that’s sustainable, you’ll have to sell yourself, your skills and your experience. Here are just a few strategies to try on for size:
Know the Market
To understand your role in the local market, it helps to understand the larger real estate inspection landscape. This can help you develop appropriate pricing and ensure you’re competitive within your particular niche. To begin, network with real estate agents – they’re some of the most knowledgeable allies a new home inspector can have. Determine how many homes are sold in your area each year and then divide that figure by the number of local home inspectors. This figure will give you a ballpark figure of just how much business is up for grabs in your region.
While you’re at it, read up on the reviews left online for your competition. These reviews can tell you a lot about the perceived value that homeowners are receiving from area home inspectors. Evaluating the competition is the quickest way to learn about your role in the larger home inspection scene.
Create a Digital Storefront
Offices and storefronts once served as the introduction between proprietors and their clients. Now, your website and social media presence can serve as your digital storefront. Cost-effective and essential to your overall mission, your website offers 24/7 availability for home buyers who are curious about your services. Consider employing videos and blog entries to round out your online presence. You’ll come across as authoritative, confident, and savvy.
Your social media pages should follow accordingly. Be ready to answer questions and comments via private message at virtually all hours of the day. The digital era has ushered in the expectation that you’re available on all channels all the time. Thankfully, there are just as many options to politely auto-reply and refer interested folks to your website for more information!
Join Professional Organizations
As a new home inspector, it may feel strange to operate as a party of one. Without a supervisor to report to or other employees to check in with, it’s easy to feel adrift. Luckily, professional organizations like InterNACHI and the American Society of Home Inspectors exist to provide training, networking and a sense of community. These professional groups offer an abundance of resources for new home inspectors who need assistance finding their foothold in the market.
Of course, professional organization membership can also add serious credibility to your business. Clients want to work with home inspectors with a track record for success. If you’re new to the business and don’t have much of a track record yet, membership in these groups can help demonstrate your commitment to industry best practices.
Put a Face to Your Name
It’s one thing to have a great web presence, but when it comes to forging valuable professional connections, you’ve got to go where the customers are. Consider joining your town’s Chamber of Commerce or a young professional’s networking group. The more people you can meet and make connections with, the better. You never know who might have an uncle or coworker in need of a home inspector!
Passing your card around town is a great way to start a chain of referrals, but in order to become more than just a flash in the pan, you’ll have to follow through on each possible lead. This is essential in the beginning when you’re still building a reputation. Your perceived value as a new home inspector is still being determined – don’t give anyone a reason not to hire you!
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
ICA members receive eight hours of home inspection marketing lessons as part of their training. Marketing and advertising don’t come naturally to most people, which is why we’ve carved out a corner of our home inspector training program dedicated to the fundamentals. Our instructors have designed thoughtful modules to train new home inspectors of the ins and outs of marketing to ensure they are set up for a successful first year. Learn how to leverage your very first testimonial into a long-term track record for success.
Best of all, ICA students receive a free one-year membership to InterNACHI, a leading professional group for home inspectors. Their resources, combined with the ones included with ICA membership, will help bolster your initial marketing efforts and get you networking with local thought leaders in your industry. There’s no better combination of tools for new home inspectors eager to secure a reputation for quality.