I have a question concerning marketing in todays economic climate. What has proven the most effective way(s) to get your name out for some of you? The last few R.E. offices I have visited, there wasn’t anyone around to drop marketing materials off to. I either left it with the receptionist or in the agent’s mailboxes. Has direct mail worked for anyone? How about e-mailing? I’m about to launch a new website so that’s probably one of the most important marketing tools to have. I’d just like to get ideas from some of you who have probably faced this same type of chalenge?
Call around or stop at your RE offices and see if the agents provide a list of inspectors to their clients…obviously you want to be on that list! In my area anyway, you can drop off all the marketing materials you want, but if your are not on ‘the list’ you’re not going to get much business. When I got started, I had my wife call around to the RE offices and request a copy of the inspector list. I then spent a few days calling on the offices and asked to be put on their list.
Put together some materials for the mortgage dept’s of your local banks. Do the same thing for the Atty’s that do RE work. This will help you to tap into the ‘For Sale By Owner’ crowd.
This worked for me…I wrote a one page ‘opinion’ on septic systems and how they should be evaluated, and e-mailed it to almost 300 e-mail addresses (from #1 and #2 above). I got 9 positive responses in one form or another…doesn’t seem like much, however those responses have lead to a number of inspections. I just don’t have the time to write stuff, but I do continue to use e-mail to send things of interest. I don’t do it on a regular basis, and therefore I suspect I’m not being a nuisance because I get very few people asking to be removed from the list…This seems like an easy way for me to keep my name in front of these folks.
Thanks for the information. When your wife contacted the R.E. offices were they, for the most part, receptive to forwarding that list to her? Did they want to know why she wanted it? Did she tell them the purpose for wanting it? I think I might have a task for my wife :)… Thanks again…
When my wife called the RE offices she disquised the real intent of the call by asking the secretary for a listing or their agents, a listing of schools, and finally a list of home inspectors serving the local area. I’m sure 99% of the people she talked to thought she was moving to the area. Once I got the lists, I spent a few days going back to the offices with my own listing on a business card (from my computer) and asked to be put on their lists. By making my own listing I was able to control what was put on the list…I didn’t want my mailing address printed. I didn’t want clients eliminating me as an option because they perceived I was too far away. On most of the lists I have my name, cell phone #, and web page address.
This process was a real eye-opener when I first got started…I went in 1 office (after my wife called) in a town of 50,000 people and asked to see their inspectors list. There were 2 inspectors on the list! I asked the realtor “is this it?” She said “yes, that is all that work in the area” I said “Well I work in the area and would like to be on the list!” and proceeded to point out my brochure rack in their office. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY THESE PEOPLE! The agent I was talking to dressed as if she was married to Donald Trump, but honestly thought there were only 2 inspectors in the area. I could go on and on concerning realtors, but the bottom line is we all need them to some degree…
Well put Scott!!
Spend some time on your website. For example, whatever that text it across the top, it is next to invisible. Your phone number should be at the top of every page.
You have no key words in your HTML code. You need to do a lot of reading about website optimization. The internet could bring in 1/2 your sales or more, but it won’t happen automatically.
Use coupons to get in good with the agents. Offer $40, or 10% off their 1st inspection, or something like that.
All good advice. On a different note this is what I’ll be doing this summer. Most of our Real Estate offices support some sort of charity. I’m in a small area in western South Dakota. I bought a large grill and am going to grill hot dogs and hamburgers for agents and customers on pre arranged days at all the Real Estate offices. Food is free–no strings attached. But DONATIONS are accepted and 100% of the money will be turned over the the broker after lunch in the form of a check made out to their favorite charity. Food, charity, face to face conversation. I’m hoping to sell (give away) a bunch of $25 hamburgers and present a fat check to the broker. This may not work in some areas but it has great potential here. My point is know your territory and work it in areas that will get you noticed.
Keith, what Joe said about websites!
I see you don’t have one posted here yet.
Get with Dominic at homeinspectorpro if you’re a “do-it-yourselfer”. In my opinion, having full control over your own website is the only viable option.
I worked in this business for over 10 years without a significant website or any other marketing strategy other than direct marketing and referrals from past clients. [size=2]There were days where I had to stay in a motel near my next days inspection because there weren’t enough hours in the day for the number of inspections that were coming in! In today’s economy, a website is essential. I now get 75% of my business from my website. Previously, I received about 5%.
A website is international marketing. I get calls from all over the world these days. I got a home inspection last week from Korea. I do not do home inspections (or market) in my rural home town. I travel to the big city. Last week I received two inspections within 1 mile of my home from clients in California (one of those inspections I’m doing today).
In market areas where realtors don’t like home inspectors or home inspectors don’t like to deal with realtors, the most effective means is a marketing program based around your website.
Everybody uses computers in this day and age. Any marketing material or program you use should be used to direct people to your website for more information and a means to schedule an appointment.
Be careful of what you throw your money at in marketing!
Until just recently, this last year has been dead for me. It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is, if they don’t need your services they are not going to call you.
You went into a real estate office that didn’t have any real estate agents!?!
That’s because they are either out there beating the Street (unlikely), or they don’t have any business to come to work for!
[size=2]The best thing about your hotdog/hamburger plan is that you are actually getting out there and seeing the people and doing something other than just promoting yourself! You’re correct, know your market!