As a home inspector, you know that your job is like no other. When friends gather for a night out to decompress, you’re probably the odd one out when it comes to typical work complaints. After all, you get to make your own schedule, and it’s hard to complain about the boss when you’re on a solo mission. Likewise, your buddies might not totally get the pressures you face as a small business owner who needs to sink or swim all on your own.
So it’s understandable if you tend to tune out some of the conventional business wisdom that gets batted around. After all, home inspection is so different that much advice just doesn’t apply.
But there is one piece of business advice that you can’t ignore:
And not just a placeholder that gives your name and phone number, either. You need a modern, professional website to impress your referrals and attract new clients.
Think this doesn’t apply to you? Here are three big reasons to change your mind.
1. First impressions are everything
Reality check: 85% of people do at least a little online research before they buy something. That’s just the world we live in now.
That means that, even in a referral-based business like home inspection, most of your clients are still going to look for you online to get a feel for your business. They’re looking for a general impression of how you operate, and your website will be the first interaction they have with you.
If you don’t have a website at all, you run the risk of clients thinking that you:
- Are no longer in business
- Will be difficult to contact
- Are not tech savvy
- Are too out-of-touch to get the job done (Ageism is real, too!)
If you have a website that hasn’t been updated in several years, it is likely that your website will give off a less-than-stellar first impression. That’s because older websites may lack functionality that today’s users expect. For example, newer websites are optimized for a better mobile experience, meaning that they will look just as good on a cell phone as they do on a laptop or desktop computer. This is critical, since mobile commerce is expected to grow by 68% in the coming year — and it already makes up a huge portion of people’s online experience.
In addition to function, an aging website may also look out-of-date — and not in a hip, retro-cool way. Studies have shown that people make snap judgments based on website design in just 50 milliseconds, so having a beautiful layout and easy-to-read fonts isn’t just a nice extra — it’s a crucial aspect of having a great website.
When you do have an up-to-date, well-designed website, you can make a fantastic first impression, with clients seeing that you are:
- Tech savvy and open for business
- Easy to contact, because your hours and contact info are up front
- Detail-oriented, because your website is perfectly edited
- Highly experienced, because your bio and certifications are clearly displayed
- Friendly and personable, because the tone of your writing and your images reflect your personality
2. Your website is your virtual storefront
Once upon a time, people walked to the center of town to do all their shopping and meet with professionals for services. But those days are long gone, and the pandemic has hastened the end of the brick-and-mortar storefront. Even if you have an office space, the reality is that you will not meet most of them in person until after they’ve decided to work with you.
This is also true when it comes to building connections with local real estate professionals. With Covid-based office closures, it could be a while before you’re able to network in person and wow Realtors with a stellar presentation. That means that when brokers and agents are looking for inspectors to refer to clients, they are visiting the website you listed on that card you left them or in that email you sent them — or hitting up Google just like everyone else.
For this reason, it’s smart to use your website to attract and impress real estate agents in addition to clients. In addition to a beautiful layout, those agents will be looking for content that showcases your expertise. Consider adding information about your specialty tools, your inspection philosophy, and perhaps even a few helpful blog posts about common issues in your area that position you as an expert.
3. Google is the new word of mouth
A lot of home inspectors have built highly successful businesses solely through word-of-mouth referrals. That’s awesome! But it’s much harder for new inspectors to match that success as we pivot to a more fully online world. Today’s home buyers are Millennials who often live a fully online life and expect to find you there, too. Brand new inspectors who haven’t had a chance to get their foot in the door with Realtors can get their names out there on the web — especially as older inspectors retire and agents are on the lookout for new inspectors to refer.
But being online is not just the modern version of handing out business cards. That’s because Google searches can help you cast a much wider net than in-person networking ever could. You can exponentially boost your brand just by having the right kind of website, built by a professional.
This type of exposure is all about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Basically, anytime someone Googles a question like “home inspector near me?”, the search engine quickly scans every website in the world to find the ones best able to answer that question. It does this by comparing the words and phrases on your site to the ones that are most often searched for.
So when your website is specifically designed to include common terms that people enter into Google when they’re looking for inspectors and is carefully keyworded for local searches, your website has a greater chance of showing up. That turns into more clicks — and more customers.
SEO can be complex, but good SEO teams, like the one at HomeGauge, can help you optimize your website and drive more traffic. This is well worth the investment and can take you farther than you thought possible by bringing new clients directly to your virtual doorstep.
How to create a website that works
Creating a great home inspector website isn’t necessarily rocket science — but it is best left to professional website builders who are specialists in website design — and in your industry. Think of it this way — would you want a web designer to inspect your home? We’re assuming your answer is no! Well, a web designer probably wouldn’t want a home inspector to build their company website, either!
Here are just a few things that HomeGauge’s Web Team will take into consideration to help your website stand out:
- Clear branding and contact information: Your logo needs to be displayed prominently, along with your contact information — right at the top of every page. All of your marketing materials should work together, as well. Your business cards, logo, pamphlets, and website all work hand-in-hand to create a unified impression of who you are and what you do. Your website should blend well with your existing materials — or drive the design of new ones.
- Friendly Language: The writing on your website should be clear and concise, while still meeting a certain word count so your website is indexable by Google. You don’t need to do anything fancy — the content should sound professional but approachable. (Sound overwhelming? That’s we write 100% unique content for you all about you, your company, and the services you offer!)
- Great Photos: Modern websites are built around images. In addition to gorgeous photos of properties, consider adding a professional headshot or even some pictures of you in action to humanize your website. And never, ever use an image you don’t own the rights to — you risk getting sued, which happens more often than you might think!
- SEO: Optimizing your webpage to use terms that will help with local Google searches and regularly adding blog posts with original content and relevant information is a great way to boost your visibility. Ask us about our SEO Builder program!
- Social Media: Link your social media accounts to your website, and vice versa. This will help even more people find you when they need an inspector.
- Mobile-Friendliness: Making sure your website looks phenomenal across all devices (especially cell phones) is an absolute must.
If this all feels like a lot, that’s okay — you’re a home inspector, not a web designer! HomeGauge can help you build the perfect website for your home inspection business, with industry-specific features that give your customers everything they need. With our range of hosting choices, we can keep everything updated and maintained for you, and we’ve already done the legwork to ensure that every design is responsive and mobile-friendly.
And if you’re ready to take that website to the next level with SEO, we can also help with that. Our SEO Builder program provides you with a proven keyword strategy, analytics to track your success, and blog posts to attract more clients to your website than ever before. Organic SEO is a secret weapon that can be the difference between a website that only gets direct traffic and one that may appear in local searches.
Want to find out more? There’s a lot to talk about, so view HomeGauge’s sample home inspector websites, and book an introductory call to find out more about our website building services, hosting, SEO, and more.