A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Home Inspector Marketing Part 2

Most business that inspectors receive come through Realtors suggesting your service to their clients. A good Realtor may provide you with eight jobs per year. However, word of mouth plays a big role in your success as well. The real estate industry is changing. Consumers are becoming more savvy about what they want, and what they need. Most homes sold in the United States still are found through Realtors, but the internet is catching up fast. How people are finding inspectors is changing, so you will need to keep up on trends to find out how your marketing will need to change.

In my last post on this topic, I went over my current internet campaign (maybe skirmish would be a better word), but traditional marketing still plays the biggest part for inspectors at this time. For new inspectors, most of your business is developed through direct customer contact, while older inspectors have more business because of their Realtor contacts. Some older inspectors boast of how they do not rely on Realtors, and there is a website dedicated to this group, but I know for a fact that the inspectors listed in my area are favored by Realtors, and these inspectors cater to them. As an inspector, you want to develop close ties to the best Realtors, but this is hard to do. Here are the means that I have used to generate business.

I network at parties, company picnics, or any place that has a crowd of people were I am invited. I am not hard selling my services, but I do let people know what I do. I answer questions about their homes, and I give them advice on where to find services. I make myself useful. If I find that someone is in a related business, I ask them for their contact information to pass along to my clients, and they will do the same. On most occassions, the person that you speak with will not hire you, but they will pass your name along, and this eventually leads to work. I do not push people to use me, because it is probably their friend who will use my service. This method has led me to real estate investors, who consistently use my service, which means steady income. Sometimes one client recommends me to another, and sometimes the seller uses me. I treat everyone that I meet with respect, since they may be a potential client or their friend could be one. This has actually been my best marketing tool. I joined a chamber of commerce for this same networking opportunity. The people in the group might not use me, but they will give my name to others.

I go to various meetings where Realtors will be present, and I introduce myself. With Realtors, I really take a low key approach. Texas has a law in place which discourages a Realtor from saying you have to use a certain provider, because this could be used to scam the consumer. Good Realtors appreciate good inspectors. Introduce yourself; be helpful to them; but do not push. As Realtors consistently see my face, they begin to use me more. I directly market to Realtors by two means. I send a package in the mail with beneficial information for their clients, to which I include coupons for my service. I also send out e-mails with links to this blog and my website. I inform them that they might find information for their clients here. They get information for free, and I eventually get business out of it. I do my best to make them look good to their clients, even if they are not using me. In time, this good will pays for itself. I have found that this marketing can be hit or miss. Many Realtors seem to be on the move from firm to firm, so your efforts may go unnoticed. The return in responses is around ten percent of what I sent out.

I have done some print advertising, but this has brought me the least amount of business. Currently I am reworking my campaign to include my website, which my original campaign did not do. I think that the data on the site would produce some good will on the part of the consumer, so this may cause the print ads to work better than they did before. I will let you know. Pick magazines or newspapers that will be seen by twenty five to thirty five year olds or those over fifty five. The younger group is looking for the first home, and the older group is looking for their vacation home. Check out the publications in you area that might appeal to these people.

Since I have a good deal of material for Hispanics, I am developing marketing schemes where I can effectively each them. For example, the local soccer games draw crowds. You may find a group that is interested in buying a home, and you might discover where they gather. Offer them free advice along with your business card. I think a singles group at a church would be a good place, or maybe a social club like the Masons. Some place or group can work for you. This type of marketing is an extension of the social networking that I mentioned above.

I hope this gives you enough to get started. Again, if you have any comments or suggestions, leave a comment to help me and others.

To conclude, I would say be consistent. Keep the same look on all of your marketing materials. This gives a professional look to your business, and it helps make you recognizable. Keep sending out marketing materials each week. The materials may be different things, but by keeping it up, it will pay off.

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