New Inspector....Any Tips?

Hello, I am hoping to tap in to the generosity and experience of some of you HI’s in practice. Being a UK ex-pat about to get started in the Industry I’d like hit the ground running. I am specifically interested in opinions say 1-2 years into business where the learning curve is at its steepest.
First off advertising, what seems to work?. Pitching to local Realtors, local paper ads, flyers, yellow pages or a professional looking website. Is it best to keep things low key and let the business grow “naturally” or invest in more agressive advertising. Allied to this is it worth being prepared to travel a bit to drum up customers.
Generally are there things you did in the first year or so trading which with hindsight you wouldn’t have done or undertaken differently?
Any personal insights would be gratefully recieved…I have enough problems with people understanding my accent, without getting off to a bad start with my business.!

Many thanks

Paul.

Paul, I’m not trying to duck your questions, by any means. However-

Please spend as much time as possible reading all the topics available to you on this Board…

Then, splurge on the best investment you can possibly make as a new Home Inspector - Join NACHI.

You will be able to access many more topics at that time. Don’t forget the “archived” board - we went to this new one on Jan 1st, and there are years of posts on the old forum.

Lastly, to get on to the Fast Track regarding Marketing, read every post you can find by Russel Ray.

Best of fortune to you!

Russ

Marketing - ANYTHING BY RUSSEL RAY (RR, RRAY) & have a lot of margaritas ready!!!

Paul, welcome to the world of NACHI, I read this once and kept it to share with others, a lot of truth in it!!:shock:

I think this is a very frustrating and difficult career to get into. Wonder they the colleges are not cranking out more inspectors?

Let me see if I can sum up the ideal requirements:
You need to have years of experience in the construction business or in one of the trades, which would take, well… years! Hard to get that coming out of a college!

You need to complete a ton of specialized courses that will cost you 4,000 to 6,000 or more, and take about 2 years of a lot of night school, while, presumably, you try to hold down a day job to pay for all this.

You need some equipment, ie: truck or van, ladders, and as many tools as you are foolish enough to use.

You need a reporting system - either computerized ( more bucks) or check off with comments, or… written. I forgot, most folks coming out of the school system would have to take a course on writing… and spelling … and maths…

Then once you have survived all of this cash outflow, you need to get some on the job training - lets say about 50 ride alongs with an experienced HI. Thats a trick, most are one man shops in an area where they do not want further competition, and live in fear of you stealing their contacts and future business, so that should really make this step a challenge, and take …well, years to complete 50 ride alongs!

You can join an association - preferably a professional one that will put you through a lot of hoops and steps and take months before you are allowed to practice inspections. Or, I suppose you could join some mail order group and have instant certification, which will likely be as recognizable to clients and Real Estate agents as any other “certification”.

Then you need insurance … if you can find a company that will insure a “newbie” and have still some money saved up to pay for the first year = lets say 5,000 to 6,000. Of course, you can decide to go without since by now, you probably will not have any assets left, and are highly unlikely to be able to afford any assets for the next several years if you survive in business as a home inspector.

Now, at last, 3 or 4 years later, you are ready to do inspections. Except that expensive cell phone and business line, are not ringing. So, you have to pound on doors, try to get by the pit bull at the front desk of most real estate firms, actually find an agent in the office, and willing to meet with you. You live in hope, that, once they recognize your lack of experience at inspections, but admire your young eagerness(?!) they will actually put you on their referral list - with all of the other inspectors they have used for years. Of course you will not see instances of agents pushing their “preferred” inspector since they are not allowed to do that!

So, once you are in business doing inspections, then the fall and winter arrive, and you are shocked to find out there is next to no inspection business due to the “slow” season in the Real Estate world. So, you have to face several months of no or negligible income with ongoing steady cash drains to support being in business. Opps, forgot all that money you have to find in order to advertize.

By now you have had to undercut all of the competition with the lowest rates in town in hopes that you will pull some business away from the more experienced inspectors out there, who, mysteriously are no longer talking to you. Suddenly you realize that you still do not have enough coming in to cover the costs. Should you have the misfortune of having to pay for an unhappy client, or worse yet, litigation - then you are really up the creek.

Suddenly, by year two or three, if you have made it that far, you wonder why did you even bother to spend all that time and money to get into a business, that, for many, is very stressful with constant concerns of litigation … and bankruptcy, especially when you realize that many experienced inspectors seem to last less than 7 years in this business, before burn out …or bankruptcy beats them down.

I forgot a couple of other ideal prerequisites, 1) independently wealthy - opps that probably means your assets are at risk
2) very understanding spouse who has a great career and is willing to support you, pay all the bills, watch the savings erode, while you struggle to make a go of this business.
3) a healthy retirement income, so you can enjoy this advocation without worry about making ends meet.

Since 1) and 2) are very hard to find these days, then, many inspectors likely fit into category 3)!

Gee, I wonder why so many are in the 50 to 60 age group?

Fear not, many baby boomers will be retiring so our ranks should continue to grow = with 50 to 60 year olds!

A very interesting statistic. Almost half of us are in the 50-60 age group with none under 30. Do you think this is because colleges aren’t promoting home inspection enough to entry level students.

Now. that is a classic post, Charles!

Paul:

What is the number of Owner Occupied Homes in your area?
How many Homes are on the Market currently?
How many homes sold Monthly & Annually?

Thanks very much for the input so far, there are some interesting angles on the Industry. I had all the ball ache a man can handle running a construction company in central London (UK) for 20 years, so I am aware that people around buildings, especially at purchase stage is a stressfull place to be.
Coming from a different construction background where a similar profession would have spent 3 years plus at college and probably be employed by a large firm, I can only admire you guys going out there to face your public.
Again thanks for input I will endeavour to check out all leads.

Paul

Russell as I said I got that from another inspector that has a lot more insite to the trials and tribulations of our great industry! Hope it does not deflate the dreams of anyone just an eye opener!! :roll: :shock:

Doesn’t deflate my dreams…I can’t wait to get 365 days of this business under me and come post how it happened for me…I can guarantee I will profit before year #3…in fact, I will profit in 2006…I’m sure of it.

Keep in mind, I have never had a job…have operated several different businesses…and realize what goes into starting a new business…also, I have much of the equipment needed already…and the mindset of a business owner…I don’t have to shed my employee attitude…I think that is the toughest part of it all…

My Dos Centavos…

Ok I’m a newbie too ! Just read Charles post and was floored. Here’s my situation. I was encouraged to do this by several Real Estate friends. I have 25 years of construction experience and thirty years of Marketing and Sales experience. I am in Clearwater, Florida where home sales are absolutely exploding. 59,000 homes sold last year alone. I did all the research and knew exactly what my costs were going to be before I made the leap. Financially I’m in a postion where I could sit in the den for an entire year and not make one thin dime. My first week will be spent at the Convention in Orlando. I will carry as many Inspection Services as possible. I will be FEMA Disaster Certified andready for Hurricane Season. My connections include a wife that worked for the Board of Realtors for ten years. This was a natural fit. I’ll report back about mid year on my progress.

Actually, if you apply the wealth of knowledge available from the convention, this board, local chapter, etc -
I’ll bet we’ll hear from you long before that, Ray; Welcome Aboard!

Russ

The wife and I had dinner last night with the parents of my daughters boyfriend. When I told the father that I am a Professional Real Estate Inspector he said, “ya, I checked into that once”.

I get a lot of that!

Just make sure that if the real estate agents refer you that the buyer or seller and or both are aware of the relationship and friendships. Nothing worse than a conflict of interest to the real estate agent.

Good luck to you and remember people are here to help answer any questions you may have…so in short…USE the message board to your advantage.

Paul,

Or you can be like me…do a good job and still get black balled by Caldwell Banker in our area because they feel you find too many things wrong…

I found out because I told a client the roof leaks and the AC unit is sinking into the earth…that i was too tough an inspector…because she lost her 6% commission on the $ 350,000.00 house that sat in forclosure for 2 years before my inspection…GEESSSHHHH… hate having to court real estate agents…they claim HIGH morals and ethics when in fact it is all about the commission.

personaly, i’ve been in business for 7 months, completed 7 inspections (under this business name), made about $2500, spent about $4500 to get here, still hold a full time job, 2 kids, 31 years old 10 years construction/maintenance experience, military trained, 12 courses completed, 4 coraspondances, blah blah blah. according to that awesome post, i should be o.k. by,what…2026? that’s o.k. with me, i’ll live in a box and love every dank basement and dusty attic i can get into. i love it.

This is an area that does concern me a little as realtors do seem a good source of contact for work/promoting business. I should imagine if you are unlucky and report on a couple of houses in bad shape, the realtor in all likelyhood is going to consider you tough?. I am sure some realtors would rather have the deal go through and then blame a “poor inspection” if they are using guys they know may give favourable reports?
Maybe its a case of putting these problems in perspective, using diplomatic language for the prospective buyer, but in your case of A/c & roof its hard to sugar coat.
These realtor offices seem pretty clique and I am sure the issue of Home reports and local inspectors does come up in office chit chat.
Hopefully good realtors out there will appreciate findings for the sake of their clients.

Nothing diplomatic about the agent or firm being a AHOLE…IN many cases you do not get the chance to explain anything to the realtor…you give the report to the client and they give a copy to the realtor…then they say what they want around the shop without actually reading the freakin thing.

If you are new at this…TRUST me…you will find out soon enough what a real estate agent can and will say if they dont like something in your report.

Trust me also…I now dozens of agents and every one of them I know could careless about anything but their commission unless the real estate board is watching them or they are doing continued education …then they act like it is all about the client…WRONG every single one state its about the commission first and foremost.

I agree.

I know dozens of agents and every one of them I know could careless about anything but their commission unless the real estate board is watching them or they are doing continued education …then they act like it is all about the client…

**Marcel:) :slight_smile: **

Thanks for a realistic view point, I’ve done the math from the realtors standpoint, to be fair Its a profession thats all about the money so I guess its to be expected.
Once established do you guys rely on a decent customer base of satisfied clients and their friends etc?, because the scenarios you are describing sort of imply certain realtor offices are out of the loop in terms of repeat business if they don’t like what you have to say.
Having just read up on ethics your loyalty seems to be ultimately to the customer paying for your services. I’ll soon see.

I have been using several of the marketing ideas raised in the different postings throughout the message boards. My business is beginning to grow by the day. I expanded my range of operation knowing that I’m competing against firmly entrenched Inspectors. Either I’m looking under the right rocks or I’ve just been lucky so far. I’ve found many Real Estate Agents that are not too happy with the Inspectors they’ve been using. Each of these Agents have used me at least once and are eager to use me again.