Use this thread to discuss the entry New article for inspectors: The Importance of Advertising the Corporate Structure of Your Inspection Business at the InterNACHI Blog
I read the article. Very informative, but, also confusing. When Kate critiques our websites, she recommends using the singular in referring to your business if you’re a one man shop. Does that change if you’re an LLC?
Hi, Frank –
I’m going to send the link for this thread to Mark Cohen so that he can weigh in, but I wanted to add my two cents first.
I think if you use a plural pronoun (“we,” “our”) rather than the singular (“I,” “me”), then it gives the false impression that you’re larger than a one-man operation – that’s been my argument in my website critiques.
I also dislike the use of the royal “we,” as it’s both a misuse of the term based on its original, intended purpose, and it’s also potentially misleading, which is exactly why people use it in their marketing (to appear bigger than they are).
Mark is saying is that you need to identify your business as a corporate entity in all of your marketing materials, and that includes your website, but I don’t think using “I” negates that at all – I believe they’re actually separate issues.
Including “LLC” or “Inc.” – whatever applies – into your logo is a must. But using your company name infrequently in marketing text without it as a sort of shorthand, just for better flow, won’t hurt you (such as occasionally saying “ABC Inspections” instead of always saying “ABC Inspections, Inc.”), as long as you identify yourself front and center, in your logo and elsewhere, as an incorporated entity – that’s key. Obvious examples include your contract, invoices, report, your name as a heading in your brochures and flyers, etc., business card, and even vehicle magnets.
Personally, I prefer “we” if you are an LLC or S corporation. That’s better than having to constantly repeat the name of your entity or say “The LLC” or “The corporation.”
If you prefer “I,” that’s fine. I think doing that kind of blurs the distinction between you personally and your entity, so I prefer “we.” I can just imagine some client’s lawyer cross-examining you about your agreement and continually pointing out that you used “I” in your agreement. And then that lawyer is going to ask you, “Wouldn’t it be reasonable for my client to believe that he was contracting with you personally?” Even if your agreement says “LLC” or “Inc.,” on it, I think you’re still creating unnecessary confusion.
If you really prefer “I,” the I think I would add something like this at the beginning of the Agreement: “As used in this Agreement, “I” means only XYZ, Inc.”
I don’t use “I” in my agreement for the reasons you stated. I’m more concerned with the marketing aspect of it’s use, and the legal impact of that.
Yeah, Frank – I stand by my comments re your concerns:
“I don’t use ‘I’ in my agreement for the reasons you stated. I’m more concerned with the marketing aspect of its use, and the legal impact of that.”
Again, making your corporate structure known via your logo and other marketing devices should cover you. While they’re not technically relied on as legal instruments (unlike your agreement), your prospects will run into them first, before hiring you, so they need to be factual, especially if they’re used as evidence in a legal action against you. That’s why I believe you should be clear about your company makeup (party of one or not), and why, as Mark wrote, it’s important that you identify yourself in terms of your legal corporate structure. Indeed, some states require inspectors (and probably other corporate entities) to use such identification in their marketing materials.
Not only should your prospects and clients not be confused as to whether you work alone or have partners or employees, but, more to the point for legal reasons, as Mark conveys, they shouldn’t be fuzzy on the fact that you’re incorporated, including exactly what type of structure you operate under. Our members use many types, including LLC, Inc., Corp., and even PC.
On the signature line of my agreement it states that my signature is on behalf, “for”, the LLC. In the marketing, managing member seems awkward however.
For the purpose of making this web site more personal, the word “I” has been used vice utilizing the company name within each statement. The Company that will be performing the inspection is: Stress-Free Home Inspection, LLC and I, Ken Ellison is the President and Inspector of said company. The said company is locally owned and operated.