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Ian R: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the Inspector Toolbelt talk. Today I’m flying solo in this podcast. I don’t like to do a whole lot of solo podcasts because I just don’t like the sound of my own voice and I don’t think a lot of people like the sound of my voice but I wanted to talk a little bit today about inspection attire.

Now, this seems like a basic subject and it seems like okay, well, how much can we talk about having your logo on your shirt, but there’s something a little bit more to it. It’s a nuance of marketing and it’s very important for a business.

I’m gonna tell you a quick story. I bring this up because of an experience that I had. My neighbor was getting his house inspected. So me being the big weirdo that I am, I kind of walk my dog over to the trees and kind of walk through a little bit and I take a peek at the inspector. I couldn’t find him. I couldn’t figure out who the inspector was. I looked and I looked and finally, I think it was this one guy. I couldn’t verify it until I saw I’m taking pictures of stuff with his phone. It kind of blew my mind because I saw his truck pull in, and he has a logo, to be honest with you. It wasn’t a good logo, you could barely read it. It didn’t really brand him very well but that’s beside the point. When I looked at him, I thought he was like a cousin, the father-in-law, somebody, he just had like this t-shirt on, he might had his logo on a shirt, you really couldn’t see it again, because the logo wasn’t that great. He kind of had baggy jeans on and just sneakers, I thought he was just some guy walking around. You could tell that the people who hired him actually weren’t very comfortable with him from his body language not to be gross or mean or anything but he was a bit overweight, so his shirt wasn’t tucked in. I’ll get into the whole shirt tucked-in thing in a minute. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. So every time he reached up with his phone to take a picture of the soffit, the bottom of his stomach would hang out. Every time you do it, the wife would just kind of turn around or walk away. It ruined his whole Mojo. It kind of made it so that people weren’t following around asking them questions, to be honest with you made me uncomfortable. I’m like, Who is this guy? I don’t think my dog liked him too much either. That brings up the important aspect of inspection attire.

Now, we’re not going to drag this on and do a 40-minute podcast on it because it’s pretty basic. I call it to have the shirt tucked in the policy. In other words, look good. I say that because I’ve always said if you just tuck in your shirt. In other words, have good inspection attire, you’ve already beaten 80% of your competition. I see a lot of home inspectors, a lot of guys show up on these inspections with you know, either not clean clothes, baggy clothes, no logo on their shirt, no identifiable Mark sneakers, and, you know, just not looking professional.

One more quick story, I had a friend who got their home inspected and of course, they broke the whole rule of, you know, not a good idea for the sellers to be there. So they just kind of sat there for the whole inspection. They said they were really irritated at the inspector. I’m like, wow, did he make a big deal out of something that wasn’t there? Like, No, he just looked terrible. I thought that was a weird thing to pick on but it kind of shows the mentality of people. They said he showed up, you know, looking like he just got off the golf course we’re going to head to one. It just made them look unprepared and unprofessional and I know the guy who probably was heading to the golf course, to be honest. What we show up in is very important.

So over the years, I’ve done a lot of research on inspection attire, and what makes a person look professional in the field that they’re in. As a matter of fact, if you go to InterNACHI, they have a little chart, and they have an article on this, too. That’s not based on opinion, some of what I’ll say is based on opinion, but a lot of it is based on extensive research. They did a lot of trials of okay if we put a service person in someone’s house wearing this, how do people react? If we do this, how do people react? As a matter of fact, that even went as far as to say, we did studies that people trusted a contractor more if he just had ladders on this truck, even if he was a flooring contractor. If he had ladders on his truck, people trusted him more. So there’s a visual piece to what people expect of a home inspector. So we’re not going to go into all of you know the psychological details of that. Let’s just talk about a few things because it is marketing. It is important to our business. So first of all, let’s start from the top bottom.

I have always been a big proponent of hats. So a nice baseball cap style hat is what a lot of people expect from serviceperson it also gives you valuable billboard space. Now I know what some of you guys are gonna say it’s I don’t want to be a walking billboard. To be perfectly honest, you kind of do with my uniforms. It’s a hat with a logo on it shirt with a logo on it. Business Card right out of my pocket. We all of us wear the same thing on every inspection. When we walk up, they know, hey, they’re the inspectors, they look the same way they did the last 20 inspections that we referred them on. It gives people peace of mind kind of like, there’s a FedEx guy who’s used FedEx as examples on these podcasts. He pulls up, and he’s in a white Jeep now. I don’t know, what’s the FedEx guy, he’s not even in your uniform. He shows up once a week, he’s like supplementary work or something and drops something off at our house and it makes us kind of uncomfortable every time like, Who is this guy? Why is he walking over to our house? What’s that package in his hand? Then we realize who he is. So there’s the comfort factor.

Having a hat has a couple of benefits. First of all, man does it keep the sweat out of my eyes, there are a lot of different ways you can do that but keeping the sweat out of our eyes is important. Also too, it saved me from a few bumps, that could have been a lot worse but even just having that tiny, tiny little bit of padding on there, or my hat gets caught on the nail in the attic, instead of my hair scraping my head. So there’s a practical value. Ultimately, people like to see that. They also have that opportunity to have our logo on our hat so people know who we are, and it brands our company better. So if we’re not a hat kind of guy, think about it. It really is a great aspect of our uniform. Now let’s talk about shirts.

If you notice with shirts, big companies often use polos. Very rarely will you see a company that is trying to build trust using t-shirts. They’ll use polo shirts or button-up shirts and there’s a very important reason why. In one study, they found that people who wore button-up shirts tended to be more respected. So oftentimes, you’ll see field engineers wear button-up shirts, as part of their uniforms. You’ll often see service workers using button-up shirts, you know, short sleeve button-up shirts, whatever it happens to be. T-shirts are not really the best inspection attire. In my opinion. Most of the studies found okay T-shirts, okay but it’s not as good as a polo. Polo is the perfect medium for me. A polo shirt looks professional looks clean, and nice canvas for your logo. It just has a good feel to it. Somebody shows up at my house with their logo on their shirt and logo on their hat in polo with their shirt tucked in. Automatically I get that warm, fuzzy feeling. So I don’t need any kind of study or statistic.

If you’re looking for a couple, you can go to websites such as red curve, even Land’s End did a study and they found that the polo shirt was the perfect business casual attire. In other words, if you’re conducting business, but in a quote-unquote casual setting, in other words, you’re an HVAC contractor who needs to take apart a heating unit. You’re a home inspector that needs to climb into an attic. You are an engineer out in the field, the polo shirt, or a short sleeve button-up shirt was the preferred attire. So there are tons of studies that show that works well but I don’t I don’t need that. I just found that it was the best possible shirt. Now, we may be saying, well, I live in Southern Florida. It’s 150 decrease here in the attics, I’m wearing a t-shirt. Cool. If that works for your area, that’s fine. I will say though that in my area, it does get hot during the summer and I would sweat it out in that polo because I never wanted to change my attire. I would never change my attire in the winter, I would lay her up over it but I layer it up with a sweater that had her logo on it and Vest that had our logo on, and then a coat that has our logo on it. So you can see it creates an environment it gives people that warm fuzzy feeling about our business. So the polo shirt is just my opinion. One level down is a nice t-shirt with the logo on it one level up is a button-up shirt with their logo on it but we should always show up with our logo. I don’t know if you’re catching that theme or not because that’s our brand. That’s how we get people that warm, fuzzy feeling. That’s how we market. So we can have the logo on our truck and hand out our business card to everybody but if we look like somebody’s cousin or uncle showing up to the inspection, that’s not going to do a whole lot for our brand.

Sometimes though, we do need to give up comfort and performance for marketing. It’s really what it comes down to we need to come out of our comfort zone anyways to market, don’t we? So sometimes, well I prefer a t-shirt, and I prefer no hat. Okay, I prefer not to talk to real estate agents in a group in an office and I prefer not to spend hours marketing but we come out of our comfort zone. So just give it some thought it may or may not work for you, but give it some thought, can you come out of your comfort zone a little bit for your inspection attire? One more nuance to make your business that much more appealing to buyers and sellers and agents, obviously.

A couple of points about our shirts to, again, make sure it’s tucked in. That’s a big thing for me, if we’re a little bit of a heavier guy, make sure we get the longer polo shirts or whatever shirt we’re wearing, and try to look as professional as possible. Our shirt being untucked, if we look at a lot of the talk about job interviews and showing up the job, job interviews, those studies also things like you know, I thought it was funny, they say don’t wear a brown suit to an interview, because it denotes basically not being a good professional person and they talked about all these nuances. All of them assumed that you had your shirt tucked in. It’s like they don’t even need to say it. It just gives more of a professional appearance. Then too, if we have a button-up shirt, button it up we don’t have the button that top button, but we also don’t need to be walking around looking like Tom Selleck on the inspection, do we? so. If we have professional attire, make it look professional.

Also, have a nice belt. So I saw this one guy one time, he was walking around on the inspection nice uniform actually, but he had this weird like a colorful belt, and I kind of almost thought it was his wife’s or something. And I even joked around about him being like oh tall ahead. Okay, belts are cheap at Walmart to go grab one and then you know you have a nice professional-looking belt. One thing that is this is this has no basis on any kind of you know, study about professionalism. This is just a pet peeve of mine inspection vests. They are super convenient. I love them for work. You can have magnets on them and you put the screws from the electric panel on there and have all these pockets is really awesome. But the problem with an inspection vest first of all is they’re hot. And second of all, you just covered up your professional-looking logo and polo, especially for not wearing a hat now we’re walking around with the vest and nobody knows our company. We just kind of suck the branding out of the room. So a tool belt in my opinion is better. This is ironic because our company is called Inspector tool belt but a nice tool belt is better in my opinion because now all the branding is still exposed. All the branding is still exposed and out there and we have all our tools where we need them. That’s just a personal opinion. Inspection vests are fine. If you’re going to wear an inspection vest at least wear a hat with your logo on so people know who you are, or better yet, get your logo plastered all over that vest in a nice professional way.

For shoes, well we skipped pants, let’s go to the pants. I prefer jeans and a lot of people will argue with me. I know a lot of guys that are like well I live in a hot climate and you don’t know Texas middle of summer and to be frank, I don’t. So shorts. Great. Make sure they’re professional looking. We don’t want to wear golf shorts and you know, walk around looking like we’re you know just hanging out. We want to make sure that we have nice professional cargo shorts that tend to look the most professional. Look at what UPS and FedEx are wearing those guys wear shorts and they look professional. Take it from companies where you look at them as a boy they look professional. Copy them when it comes to shorts.

Now on the other hand went for wearing pants. A lot of guys are like all khakis. I don’t want to show up looking unprofessional in jeans. Again, this is just my opinion. I couldn’t find any study on jeans versus khaki pants. But jeans are more durable. khakis tend to get ripped easily in my opinion. Also too, they tend to show up dirt a lot more. So soon as you come out of the basement or the attic and it’s just covered in dirt jeans tend to hide those things a little bit better. Because we want to show up clean to the inspection and we want if we get dirty during the inspection, that’s fine but we want to make sure that we kind of present ourselves in the best way possible. I’ve never found a good way to do that with khakis. A good second option is those really awesome tactical pants. A lot of the guys that I worked with were tactical pants, perfectly cool by me because they look cool. They have ripstop in them so you catch a nail even if they can pierce that really thick material. It doesn’t rip anywhere. Also, they’re comfortable. They wick moisture so you get them wet and they dry out really quick. Those are great alternatives.

My thing about jeans is it gives you that almost contractor look but not quite. Which is kind of what I’m going for. You know contractor pants engineer almost looking shirt and service person hat. That’s the kind of perfect combo for me but pants I don’t have a really strong opinion on. Just make sure we Have good clean clothing. There’s one Inspector, he took pictures for his website still bothers me because he took all these great pictures and his jeans you could tell were worn, worn right at the knees at a couple of spots on them and that’s all I could focus on. I said, Man, I hope he doesn’t show up to inspections like that but I’m pretty sure he does.

We always want to show up with our best foot forward and I’m talking about just cleanliness, bring extra clothes with you, for between inspections. That’s one thing that we always have in our vehicles, we have a plastic container and it has a shirt, extra shirt, extra hat, extra shoes, extra socks, extra pants, extra underwear to be frank because you never know when you’re going to end up in a pile of sludge. People expect you to get dirty on the inspection but they don’t expect to show up that way. As a side point, you should always have an extra roll of toilet paper in there. Trust me from a guy who’s been doing inspections for almost 20 years, you will never know that you need that until you need it. So just a little side point.

For shoes. work boots are preferred. Now we made them like sneakers but they give too much of a casual look in a lot of ways. So you go to restaurants and you see like a nice restaurant, you’ll never see them wearing new balance sneakers, you know, they’re going to wear professional-looking black shoes or whatever it is that fits their particular restaurant, we need to give people the impression like, again, going back to the ladders in the truck, we need to give them the ladder on the truck compression. I always found a good pair of work boots or work shoes were best for that. Something that was sturdy and made for going up on roofs or something that you could slip on and off easily without having to spend 20 minutes lacing up, you know three different layers of laces. So wearing something that worked looks like work shoes.

Now a lot of people like to wear booties inside the house over their shoes. I’m never a fan of that I live in the northeast, there’s always snow and slush and everything, I always ended up drying my shoes off for 20 minutes before I slipped them into that little booty. Or to be honest with you, some of them can be a little bit slick, I’d have to take them off to go into the attic. It’s just not my thing. So I always brought an extra pair of shoes. They only touched the inside of the house and I have a lot of people here that were their culture and background don’t allow shoes in the house. So very respectfully say thank you very much, I will make sure to wear my interior shoes. Then they felt great about they’re like those only go inside yes, they only go inside is their culture and background. Even with booties, they weren’t really comfortable with it. I’m also not going to take my shoes off and walk around and socks in somebody else’s house during an inspection. So the perfect combination for me was slip-on work boots. So I’d slipped them on and slipped them off when I was inside the house and it was really convenient and easy. It seemed to be culturally accepted by all of my clientele. So top to bottom, we should always be presenting ourselves with the little nuances that happen when people look at us because that’s really what it is they take one look at us and they size us up as a business owner, Inspector going on site, we always want to be putting our best foot forward, we don’t want to be that guy that inspected my neighbor’s house. He may be the best inspector in the world for all I know but my assumptions about him were boy, I’d never hire him. So those are my first impressions as I looked at him, I couldn’t figure out who he was. Imagine everybody else he’s he’ll never know the work that he’s missing by not having proper inspection attire.

So, a couple of other little things. When we have good inspection attire, don’t switch it up too often. One day they were wearing a red shirt, one day they were wearing a blue shirt. One day they were wearing a black shirt. Keep the same inspection attire as consistent as possible. I always would buy all these shirts in bulk because if they ever went under, I’d always have an extra 30-40 of them laying around. We want to hear people say things as they would say about me and my guys, where’s “boy, they just look professional.” We’ll never know why they say that always but it’s all those little nuances that we talked about before. So we don’t want to be like that guy not knowing the work that he misses by not looking professional.

So step back for a moment and work on our inspection attire. Are we wearing the right inspection attire when we go to visit real estate offices? Are we going to office presentations wearing the same inspection attire? If people aren’t getting a good vibe off of us for changing their clothes, try trimming up our beard and combing our hair a little bit different button up the shirt not look like Tom Selleck and see what little nuances we can make so that we can appeal to the people in our area using our inspection attire.

Thank you for listening to my rant about the neighbor next door. Yes, I am that neighbor that kind of walks in the woods and stares at you when you’re getting a home inspection. Fortunately, you don’t live next to me but thank you for listening in and we’ll see you on the next episode of Inspector Toolbelt Talk.


Outro: On behalf of myself, Ian, and the entire ITB team, thank you for listening to this episode of inspector toolbelt talk. We also love hearing your feedback, so please drop us a line at [email protected].

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