What Prompted This?
I am a home inspector and own a couple of successful home inspection companies. Last year, we did well. We beat our numbers from the previous year and we were able to feel good about that. But there was a problem.
“Growth” doesn’t always mean you are in a good trend. While we grew and our bottom line was better than last year, it was minimal compared to previous years. In fact, my lead inspector and I sat down for our yearly meeting and he flat out said “we need to do better” – and he was right.
So I went back to the drawing board to boost my inspection business – and we did, by a long shot. In fact, we had the BEST January we have ever had. While others in our area struggled, we had to turn down inspections – in the middle of January in the Northeast! So we want to share what we did to help you and your inspection business.
What We Did First
So, no one ever wants to read this part of a blog. The part where it says that you need to do research, know your numbers, etc. I would love to say there were just a few tricks that got us there (and if you read on there were some very successful tricks, so please read on) but going back to the numbers is VERY important. You need to know what you are working with, have goals, and be able to put them on paper.
For instance, go back and look at what you did for marketing last year. Look at what you did, how much you spent, and how much work came in. Don’t look at things like your website, lettering on your vehicle, or business cards – that is NOT home inspector marketing, that is a NECESSITY. Instead, look at Facebook campaigns, open house visits, donuts at real estate offices, and things like that. If you don’t have numbers on these things – start keeping track.
So we looked at our numbers and here is what we found: First, we spent a lot on digital marketing. Ads, campaigns, etc. These were effective, and we didn’t change these, but we noticed something lacking. When looking at the numbers we noticed that we spent very little on face-to-face marketing – and there was our hole. So we set out to fix it in a few simple ways that you can imitate.
Step 1: Contact Previous Agents
The first thing we did was contact our top agents. We use America’s Call Center (a call center for home inspectors) and they offer a service where they will call all your top agents for you. So we had them contact our top 20 agents and just chat with them for a few minutes and thank them for referring us. But that was not all we were going to do.
We then went through our list of agents who have used us (ALL of them, not just the top agents) and contacted them each – individually and personally. We did NOT use a mass email for this. Emails and letters to agents can be very effective (as can be seen here on our blog about letters of introduction to agents) but for this method, it needs to be more personal because you already know these agents. We tailored each message to each agent. It took
While we were somewhat successful with just those points of contact, getting a few extra referrals was not enough to really boost our inspection business and to get our best January ever. So we took the next step.
Step 2: Lunch and Coffee
Yep, you read that right – lunch and coffee. There has never been a more simple and effective marketing tool. We have used this for YEARS and have been very successful with it. We contact an agent and we invite them to lunch or coffee – that simple. It may be an agent we work with a lot, have only worked with a couple times, or sometimes an agent or broker that we have never met, but would like to get to know.
You would be surprised how receptive they are to it. We have contacted agents and brokers that we have never met and said “I don’t think we have ever met, I see in our system that we have inspected a listing or two of yours in the past/I see your signs around. I would love to have the opportunity to meet you and talk for a minute over coffee”. We have not had anyone refuse yet. In fact, one broker skipped coffee and asked us to do an office presentation instead – which was great and the agents started referring us from that office right away.
Here are some suggestions though:
- When choosing the place to have lunch/coffee, choose a place that is nice, but not too nice. You don’t want to meet them in a gas station, but you also don’t want to appear to be trying too hard and bring them to a fancy restaurant.
- Don’t talk about business. This is key because you are building a relationship and not selling them something. The relationship does the selling for you.
- Talk about THEM and get to know THEM. If you come up, that is fine, but keep the conversation on them for the most part.
- If you are a man, be careful about inviting female agents alone – it can come off like you are asking them on a date and be uncomfortable. Same thing if you are a woman asking male agents out. It might make them uncomfortable…. or maybe too comfortable…. If you have an assistant or a marriage mate, bring them along and mention that in your invitation to them. Or, you can invite two agents at the same time.
- Always follow up with a thank you email for joining you for lunch.
- Don’t be afraid to spend money. I hate having to say this, but I do. I had a home inspector complain one time that he had to bring about $100 worth of food to an agent conference where he would speak in front of and market to over 50 agents… so he didn’t go… You have to spend money to make money.
So is that it? Not quite yet. Now is the final part of what we did.
Step 3: Office Meetings
Home inspection marketing is about building on what you already have, no matter what it is. So many inspectors ask me how we get into real estate offices to do meetings, but it isn’t that hard. After each lunch or coffee meeting, we would just ask. We would wait a few days after (don’t ask during or right after) and mention to the agent that you notice you haven’t done a presentation in their office and that you would be happy to bring in lunch one day for the agents and do a “lunch and learn”.
It’s really effective – just ask. Be polite, don’t push the issue, just throw it out there and wait. We find that only 1 out of 3 times will you get into an office when you ask, but it is well worth it. If you are a little nervous or don’t know what to say, try these sample real estate presentations from Full View Home Inspector Marketing. They are simple and effective.
Will This Really Boost Your Business?
The answer is yes – if you put the time and money into it. Any time we want to boost our numbers we do basically what is presented here, and it has always worked for us. We have used these methods when the economy is good or bad and it is always effective.
The most important part of any business is relationship building. I know inspection companies that barely have a web presence and still make it work by doing these same things. So look over your numbers, get on the phone, and go out and have lunch!