One Contested Seat

July 29, 2008

board room meetingI just submitted my ballot for the Arizona ASHI chapter leadership and while doing so, it struck me that there was actually a contested seat on the board. So what that means is – only one home inspector out of 135 Arizona ASHI members thought he was better qualified for the position than the selected/persuaded opponent. A home inspector who actually stood up and is asking for the spot for his own reasons.

What could some of the reasons be? Well, chief among them, becoming known. This may not be his reason of course, but it could be yours. There is also the nice attribute of having something meaningful on your list of credentials and a nice healthy networking experience.

Given the choice, so few home inspectors step out of their comfort zone and up into an easily attainable spot of notoriety among their peers. Why do I say – easily attainable, well for the most part, most of these guys had to be asked/persuaded to volunteer by someone who wanted to vacate the spot. Very few actually campaigned, or for that matter, asked for the seat.

I ask you, what better way is there to become the professional home inspector that you aspire to be? Not many of us are comfortable in a leadership role, but that uncomfortable edge is where life is lived and rewarded. The REWARDS you say? Yes, the rewards can be staggering on the road less traveled. At times it feels like a super highway the way things hit you so fast.

There’s only room at the top for those that put themselves in a position of learning and serving. I can’t think of a better place to stick you neck out for the first time than that of the company of your peers. I hope to see at least two contested spots next year, heck I might even throw my hat in the ring again.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.

Right Between The Toes

April 4, 2007

Bob Kille Acuspect Home Inspection This short essay is about initative and addictive behavior.

It just so happens that my sister is in the handcrafted soap business and is struggling to get it going. Much of what she sells is done through craft shows at a display booth. Like all the others, your at the mercy of the traffic flow past your booth. Any signage or hawking you can do to get a prospect to stop is what makes or breaks your day. Similar to your home inspection ad copy in any medium.

So on with the story, I’m on the phone speaking to my sisters signifigant other and he starts telling me what happened to him out at the craft show he did alone over the weekend. The show had a fairly light attendance and Ronny who is addicted to talking (just ask anyone) wasn’t getting anyone to stop at the booth. Ronny, I should mention is a Harley rider and looks the part, beard, tank top, chained wallet, tattoos and all. Yep, selling soaps and lotions at a craft show.

When an addict needs a fix he doesn’t stop to think about all the reasons why he couldn’t possibly get it, he just focuses all his energies in one direction. So here’s Ronny with no one to talk too and getting sore feet to boot. Then it hits him! Ronny had a recent heart bypass and takes along a folding recliner and foot stool when doing the craft shows. He could get it em out and rest his feet or…

He could sit the ladies down for a free foot massage using the featured lotions.

Out came the recliner and down sat the ladies. The booth quickly became a “giggle fest” as Ronny put it, that lasted the entire day. Other vendors came down to see what all the fuss and traffic stoppage was about and so did the local TV crew. The next day was the same and along came another TV crew for the nightly news. If this wasn’t enough, one of the other vendors has a local radio show and asked Ronny to come down to the station for a live interview for Misty Mountian Soap Company.

In my opinion the ladies just wanted a biker to massage their feet and bought the lotion as a souvnier. Just kidding Ronny.

Initiative and addictive behavior seem to have alot in common. Think about it.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.

Make Cents

February 25, 2006

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionThose of you who read my posts generally know my business philosophy of paying out for any compliant, whether valid or not, up to a point of course. When you do a lot of inspections the addresses and clients are mostly vague memories so when you get the question, “do you remember the job you did at such and such, for Mr. & Mrs. blankety blank about 3 or 4 months ago?”

Well, I got that question as I was getting out of my car from the realtor, who happens to be by the way, one of my better sources of referrals. One of the reasons he uses/recommends me is that he knows I’ll take care of his clients without question. What I mean is, without “PROBING” questions.

Here’s why probing questions are out, and it’s a funny thing. When you start to question, you’re mind, unknown to you, is really just trying to justify why you shouldn’t be held responsible for the yuckety yuck problem. And in asking the probing questions your voice betrays you by sounding a bit indignant.

Questions with this tone, and its not one you can easily refrain from, also puts the realtor who brought up the questionable oversight on the defensive. What you really want is them to feel relaxed with the impression that they’re helping you with your relationships. i.e. (your customer base, and don’t forget the realtor is part of your customer base).

To combat this unconscious indignant tone and to put the realtor at ease I say, in an upbeat or apolegetic way, “So what did I miss?”. Thereby taking the position that whatever the problem is that comes out of his mouth is my fault, and the questions that I ask are ones geared to fix the condition while assuring him that the bill can be sent to me.

Whatever you do, make sure to thank the realtor for bringing this to your attention. I try not to offer any assitance in resolving the matter outside of an offer to pay, as quite often I’m never contacted for payment and I’ve still made good on my word to take care of any compliants.

So to get to the meat of this post, in being so ready to take responsibility with just a vague memory of the property, I had just agreed to fix the sellers problem. Turns out the realtor was the listing agent and the seller was renting back the property. When they were fixing to disconnect the washer at move out but the valve was stuck open. They complained to their listing realtor (the realtor in question) that the home inspector should have caught the condition so they shouldn’t be responsible because after all, it wasn’t their house anymore. Now, doesn’t that make sense?

I know, I know, there’s lots of good reasons why this shouldn’t be my problem and that just goes to show you why you shouldn’t go down that bumpy road with your voice betraying your real feelings all the while souring your relationship with the realtor.

You’ve got to know what the lifetime value of a good realtor is, so that this all makes cents. Yes I mean “cents”. Last year I performed over 30 inspections for this realtor at approx $300 each or $9,000 dollars worth of gross income. To make him feel any other way than that of helping me when he presents his sellers dilemma would be foolhardy at best.

My only problem now is to figure out how to get a wavier & release form signed by my client to make the payout. Company policy is never to payout without a signed wavier & release. Had I know from the start before I agreed to pay, whom I was paying, I could have at least requested that my client make the request. Now that it’s akward, by that, I mean to go back to the realtor to explian all of this, I’ll probably let it go and just pay the seller.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.

Pricing Strategies & Coupons

August 28, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionI just love the coupons that my competitors put out that have a limited time offer or some other incentive for a customer to act now. Many startup home inspection firms offer their customers special discounts if they’ll give them a try or place an order before the end of the month or year-end or whatever. An example of a call to action in the coupon might look something like:

I can only offer you this discount if you buy before March 30th. After that, it’s back to full price!

But the truth is, if the customer calls on May 5th with a nice, big easy home inspection order and wants the discounted price, nine out of ten companies will give it to them. What you don’t realize is that, by going back on your word regarding the time limit, your also training your customers/realtors to expect that your always going to sell at the lower price, and that those “limited time offers” are available any time they ask.

Oh, and what happens when you don’t give it to them? That’s right, you said the magic referral reversing charm, the charm that won’t let you pass go, the word without equal, NO.

Here’s the danger, discounting your price with gimmicks in relation to other home inspectors fee’s will put you into the perceived category of a low rate home inspector and when you finally figure out that you can’t make the home inspection business profitable at these prices, it may be to late to push the price.

Unlike the larger franchise firms that have a coupon marketing system with a huge budget to combat the perceived value to product pricing, and the budget to bleed money for an extended period of time your in a no win situation using the coupon strategy.

So if your determined to use the coupon strategy to build your business, “Mean what you say, and say what you mean”.

You just might make it.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.

Hallmark “When You Care Enough”

August 8, 2005

Bob Kille Acuspect Home InspectionI was reading an article about Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark greeting cards and thought I’d share his personal motto and how it fits into a business model. His motto is very similar to one I had adopted somewhere in my first year of business.

In his memoirs, “When You Care Enough.” Hall explains how he adapted a sign posted by one of his college professors, “Time is Money – save time” into a motto for himself: “Time is everything – save time”

In my business model I also hold a similar belief/motto, “Save Time – Create Relationships” This has proven itself, dare I say, time and time again.

Somewhere in your business model you have to address the issue of repeat business, how you’re going to get it. In every business there are only thee ways to grow a business; increase the number of customers, increase the average transaction value, and increase the frequency of repurchase.

For most of us, I’m referring to the home inspection businesses under five years, generating repeat referrals from your realtor contacts ( inspections ) may very well be a function of respecting their time. In my area, yours may be different; an average inspection time is about two hours. After that magic number expires the realtor starts to get annoyed and doesn’t really care how good you are anymore, they’ve got places to go and your holding them up. This especially applies to the high producer types.

My business model takes into consideration how long an inspection takes, where can I reasonably save time while still staying within the standards of practice and completing a competent home inspection on site. The business decision of doing the most comprehensive and all-inclusive inspection versus an on site inspection that is competent and referral generating is one worth considering.

For example, I don’t include photos in my residential reports as it takes an extra ten to fifteen minutes. This ten minutes would more times than not put me over the two hour self imposed limit. Remember, I’m doing the report on site, printed and handed over with an explination of the summary items. That’s a whole lota stuff to get in in less than two hours.

I did some homegrown research on the whole business of photo inclusion in the reports and here is what I found out. I asked fifty realtors if they would rather leave ten to fifteen minutes earlier or have photo’s included in the report; here’s what happened. A total of four out of fifty realtors stayed the extra ten to fifteen minutes. All four of them had out of town buyers who weren’t present at the inspection.

Before I get slammed, by all you inspectors who include photo’s in your reports, I will admit that using photo’s is one of the factors involved with getting higher referral rates from past home buyers. At this point in my business I get 70% of my business from realtor referrals. As the years go by, and my prices have increased, so have my past customer referrals. It may be time to start looking at a limited number of photo’s in my report and putting a little more effort into past customer marketing to increase the number of non-realtor referrals.

The “Time Is Everything – Save Time” motto seemed to work out ok for Mr. Hall and my own interpretation of the saying “Time Is Money” hasn’t hurt me any either.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.

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