You can spot evidence of water damage in the trickiest of places. You have a knack for sniffing out both hidden problems as well as hidden gems. And you take pride in helping people find their new home.
But none of this matters if people haven’t heard of you or your home inspection company.
Running a home inspection company isn’t just about how you conduct your business. It’s about your marketing and business strategy, too. It’s estimated that around half of all new home inspection companies fail in their first year because they lack the marketing skills to grow a sustainable business.
Building your home inspection brand requires a combination of smart online marketing and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. You’ll need to develop some basic marketing skills to get your company off the ground, target potential customers, and grow your network of industry connections to make sure your business weathers the ups and downs of the housing market.
The importance of marketing for your home inspection business
If you own or operate a home inspection company, then it is vital to develop a marketing strategy that conveys to your audience why your inspection company should be chosen over competitors. You’ll want your marketing strategy to be specific to your location, and it should also highlight the best qualities of your business.
If you have tried marketing in the past, then you are aware that marketing can be one of the most difficult things to perfect. After all, the market fluctuates so frequently and trying to speak to an ever-changing audience can be exhausting. However, rest assured that marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow a business.
Marketing consists of a variety of methods and tools used to help promote and grow business. It should be used in conjunction with a business strategy (also known as a strategic plan), proper internal organizational tactics, and the development of your trade skills.
Before we dive in, let’s establish the core parts of a marketing strategy and the things you’ll need to establish as part of growing your business.
What is your brand?
A brand is the identity of your company. A brand refers to a company’s name, the design that it employs, symbolic features, and narratives. Any logo that your company has will want to speak to your company’s image.
If you have not developed a brand or brand identity yet, then it is important to do so. What colors signify your company? Is there a catchphrase or a slogan that you use regularly? These are the types of things that will come together to make up your brand identity.
Who is your audience?
Your audience is the people who are most likely to purchase your services or product. You can tailor a marketing campaign to speak to certain audiences. This is based on the types of people your audience comprises, the things they like, what they are used to, and how they want to be treated.
It goes without saying that all businesses should treat everyone with a level of respect and professionalism. However, some audiences will want to interact with your business in a unique way. For example, you wouldn’t want to market to real estate agents in the same way that you would market to homeowners. Each audience is looking for something unique to their selling points.
How does your company compare to your competitors?
Any way that you portray your business to potential buyers should be strategic. Sure, you run a home inspection business. But how does it compare to all the other home inspection businesses that someone could choose from?
While competitor marketing should not be attacking other home inspection businesses, you’ll want to stack your company against the competition so you can understand what shape your marketing strategy should take. This will also help potential buyers to discern between the options available.
Completing this requires you to hone in on what exactly your competition looks like. They should be local to your area and offer comparable services.
Top tips for marketing yourself as a home inspector
You don’t need to be a marketing expert to get started, but you do need to make a plan and follow through.
Here are some tips for beefing up your online presence, broadening your local network, and successfully marketing your home inspection business.
Get a website
Your website and social media pages make up the backbone of your marketing activities. But it’s not enough to simply have a .com or Facebook Page. Your website must look current, be easy to navigate, and provide regular updates. If you have never built a professional website before, companies like HomeGauge can help you create one that is tailored to your home inspection business.
When building your online presence, be sure to consistently brand any social media pages that you establish to match your website. This means using the same logo, tagline and contact details throughout.
Also, match this branding to any printed business cards and brochures so that there is continuity in your company’s image. Any printed material should be directing people to your website and/or social media profiles.
Make sure that people can find you
This generation of home buyers and real estate agents are quick-moving and tech-savvy. If your company doesn’t appear near the top of a Google search, your competitor will get the call instead.
Whenever someone searches something on Google, the algorithm that Google uses to return search results will pull up topics that are related to the keywords used and are based on relevance and location. This means that location information and appropriate keywords can go a long way. Your website and social media pages should be tagged using location-specific SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, so that people can find you. They should also employ industry-specific keywords.
HomeGauge makes this process easier by offering home inspector website creation and SEO Builder services. You can also list your company in the HomeGauge directory, which is a place where buyers and agents search for a professional home inspector by zip code or county.
Know your market
Understanding the market helps you find your niche. It also helps you target your ads. Your market will be determined by your service area. If you’re unsure of your service area, ask yourself: what is a reasonable radius of miles you can travel if you are doing multiple inspections per day?
You’ll also want to invest time in getting to know the real estate market within that radius. With this information, you can identify who the most active agents are within your service area and the buyer and seller demographics.
You’ll want to scope out your competition, too. How are other home inspectors marketing their services? Once you’re ready to start implementing marketing strategies, you’ll know exactly who your audience is, where to find them, and how to market to them in a unique way.
Define your edge
By defining your edge, you are establishing what makes your inspection services different from, or better than, what other inspectors are doing in your region. Do you specialize in pre-listing inspections, radon testing, or commercial inspections? Do you use cutting-edge equipment?
One way to define your edge is by using home inspection software. Home inspection software simplifies the inspection process and delivers a mobile-friendly, media-rich inspection report. This will differentiate you from inspectors who are still using older report formats. You can even post a sample inspection report on your website so your customers know exactly what to expect when hiring you.
Inspection software also helps you with customer relationship management, which leads to better client interactions. Having better client interactions increases your chances of being referred and earning positive ratings on review websites like Angie’s List.
Use digital marketing and advertising tools
As we move even further into the digital era, you’ll want to use more online marketing tools in addition to physical marketing. Digital marketing and online ads have become extremely affordable. They are also far more valuable than physical marketing because their reach and effectiveness are greater.
Digital marketing can target specific demographics and geographical areas so you can reach the exact audience that you need. Metrics are also offered, so you can evaluate the effectiveness of each ad campaign. Google Ads and Facebook Ads are a great option for small business owners. They are simple to set up, easy to experiment with, require very little financial investment and can yield tangible results, such as increased website traffic.
Physical ads in newspapers, real estate publications, brochures, flyers, or other print mediums might still make sense for you depending on your target market. But these avenues can be quite expensive and it is nearly impossible to measure your return on investment.
Become part of the community
It is important to get involved in local business associations, community groups, and industry organizations where you can meet new people and give your inspection business exposure. “If you’re going to run a business, you have to be involved in the community,” says Bill Compton, the President & CEO of Georgia’s Champia Real Estate Inspections, in an article in the ASHI Reporter.
This same principle works online too: join Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, or MeetUps where real estate agents or home buyers will be sharing and networking.
Best places to network with potential home inspection clients
Home inspection is ultimately a people business and your long-term success depends on building relationships over time and becoming known as a friendly, reliable, and competent member of the community.
Establishing relationships with local real estate agents should be your top priority when marketing yourself as a professional home inspector. Anywhere from 60 to 100% of your business will likely come from referrals made by real estate agents, especially when you’re just starting out. To build these relationships, attend open houses, visit real estate agency offices, and offer to present at or host a real estate sales meeting.
You can also find business through new home buyers, potential sellers, and returning customers. Basically, anyone involved in any part of a home buying or selling process is either a potential customer or someone who can refer you. Become an active member of professional associations, attend industry-related conferences, and participate in or sponsor local community events.
Pros and cons of hiring a marketing professional
As a business owner, you already have a lot to juggle. Adding a marketing strategy to your to-do list might be impossible. Adding a marketing expert to your team might seem like the perfect solution, but is it?
There are advantages to hiring a marketing expert. The digital marketing landscape is complex and trends move fast. Consider hiring a professional to help you define your strategy and lay out a marketing plan which you can then implement on your own.
Even if you can’t afford to have a full-time marketing pro on your side long-term, having guidance in the beginning stages will get you over the initial struggles associated with marketing a small business.
But if that’s just not in your budget right now, take a mini-course on marketing from your industry association, local business collective, or find one online. There are plenty of free and affordable resources available to get you started.
While it’s important to have an online presence and use digital marketing tools, building relationships with real estate agents is the key to selling your services and creating stability and longevity for your home inspection company. As your online and offline community grows, so will your inspection company.