Starting a new home inspection company can mark the beginning of a promising career. But like any small business, it takes strategy and hard work to achieve long-term success.
A skilled inspector will not only perform well at their job, but they will also be prepared for unexpected hiccups. Economic uncertainty, changes in the housing market and the rising costs of managing a business can pose challenges for new and established inspectors alike.
This article discusses five keys to succeeding as a home inspector, offers tips on how to develop skills in each area, and provides key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring success.
Five areas of success
Operating as a successful home inspector is easier said than done.
Really, there are five areas that an inspector should focus on when considering home inspection as a career, developing a business plan, and growing a business:
- Technical knowledge
- Verbal communication skills
- Inspection report writing
- Organizational skills
- Business skills like marketing
By delving into these key areas, you can identify if home inspection is right for you, if your business is currently on track for success, or if there are areas in which you may need to improve or focus on in the future.
When trying to grow your business, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
What items, like income or repeat customers, are the best ways to measure success as business grows?
What specialty skills are people looking for when hiring an inspector?
How can I improve operations?
While these may seem remedial or redundant, it’s important to ask these questions so that you understand if there are areas where your business can improve, if there are business tactics that your market is interested in, and the best avenues for growing your home inspector business.
The real estate agent who refers you or the buyer who hires you to complete the inspection expects you to have a strong understanding of a house’s structure and the home’s systems. This means that a good home inspector will be trained in the technical knowledge of the trade through continued education, experiential training, mentor training, and professional inspector training.
Here are some things to do to improve technical knowledge as a home inspector:
- Find a mentor
- Get licensed or professionally certified
- Join a professional home inspection association, such as InterNACHI or ASHI
- Continue inspection training
- Go on walkthroughs with different specialists (even later in your career)
- Ask a lot of questions
- Meet regularly with your local real estate professionals, home builders, and specialists in other related industries
- Learn a specialty
- Follow up with the client (i.e., home buyer/seller, real estate professional) after a job
Many states require professional training in the form of licensing, certification, or experience in order to inspect even one home. Even if the state you work in does not require any professional inspection training in order to inspect a home, know that receiving any type of training (such as licensing, certification, or continuing education) can help you boost your business up over your competition.
Training is a relatively small investment, but the cost will depend on the program. It’s a good idea to consult an industry association for help in assessing the quality of available training programs.
Continuing education will keep you up on trends in home building and give you a competitive edge. You can also diversify your business by becoming a licensed home inspector in a specific area or specialty, such as radon testing or pest inspections.
Verbal communication skills
A home inspection can either slow down a real estate transaction or facilitate a seamless transition into its final stages. Presenting inspection findings in an unclear or confusing manner can be a major reason why a real estate transaction is halted.
Remember that inspectors hold an important position in the home buying and selling process: the buyer, seller, and real estate agent all depend on the home inspector’s expertise and experience.
Home inspectors are hired because they a) have the knowledge to distinguish between major problems and minor issues, and b) they can clearly communicate to the potential buyer the differences between the two.
When it comes to understanding issues with the systems and components in a home, a potential buyer will trust the expertise of a professional home inspector over their real estate agent. This is not to say that their agent is untrustworthy, but their knowledge is about the housing market, and not the structural integrity of a home.
Inspection report writing
A good home inspection report explains exactly what condition a house is in at the time of the inspection. This helps make a real estate transaction run smoothly from initial inspection to final sale. And that’s definitely one way to make real estate agents your best friends (and get the referrals rolling in).
The inspection report is the primary product you produce as a professional inspector. It is more than just a record of your inspection process. It’s also evidence of your inspection training, your experience as an inspector, and a reflection of your customer service and business standards.
If you use a high-quality home inspection software, then you want your potential clients to know about it. Post a public sample inspection report on your company website so that real estate agents, buyers, and sellers know what to expect when they contract your inspection services.
After all, a poorly organized or incomplete inspection report can make or break a client. Confusing reports frustrate real estate agents and potential home buyers. A professional, organized, and thorough report reflects well on your business and wins you referrals and repeat customers.
Keeping organized records
The importance of basic bookkeeping and organization cannot be overstated. Good home inspection software gives you a leg up in this regard, especially if you have little prior experience in running your own business.
For example, HomeGauge software keeps inspection reports, customer contacts and history, invoicing and payment collection all in one central place. Other helpful features include automated collections and the ability to collect electronic signatures on agreements.
Marketing for home inspectors
Providing quality work, clear communication, and ethical reports throughout the entire inspection process will reflect positively on your business. It’s important to promote these and other positive features when marketing your business.
If you’re just starting out, you will need to put a concerted effort into marketing your inspection services. If you’re already established, trying new marketing initiatives can take your business to the next level.
Since 90% of people buying and/or selling a home use a real estate agent, and, on average, each real estate agent refers 3 inspection companies to their clients, establishing relationships with real estate agents should be your first priority in marketing your inspection company.
Meet real estate agents by leveraging your personal network, attending real estate industry events, and visiting open houses and agency offices in your area. Both online and in-person, marketing activities work best when they are consistent and targeted.
Affordable social media ads targeted to home buyers/sellers and real estate industry members in your geographical region will generate brand awareness and leads. The ads should have clear calls-to-action that push visitors to your website, where a sample inspection report and information on your services should be easy to find.
The average income of a home inspector varies widely. This is because a home inspector’s income will depend on the density of the housing market in your region, how efficiently you run your business, and how much business you generate.
If you are working independently, you will be able to work as much or as little as you wish. Most inspectors on average do two inspections in a day, and each inspection can take about 3 to 4 hours. With relatively low overhead, it is certainly possible to make a very good living as a home inspector.
But the true measure of a successful home inspection business is the quality of the relationships you create. Real estate professionals who repeatedly refer you to their clients and buyers who trust you to help them make crucial home-buying decisions will carry you through the ups and downs of the market and ensure your business grows through booms and busts.
HomeGauge gives your home inspection business the advantage. With home inspection software from HomeGauge, you can send clients a digital report that includes your detailed notes along with photos and videos of the home.
HomeGauge’s report writing software is also formatted for mobile access. These inspection reports give real estate agents and home buyers a complete story of the house, townhome, or condo at the time of inspection and the groundbreaking Create Request List™ feature can be used from within the report itself.
Technical expertise, good communication, thorough inspections, and strong business organization will be key factors in determining the path your home inspection career will take. By investing in a home inspection report software like HomeGauge, you are telling your customers that you care about your workmanship, that you want to clearly communicate the inspection findings, and that you are organized — all keys to achieving success as a home inspector!