June, 2005
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Are You Losing Business?

DON NORMAN

If you are a business owner, you know how hard you worked to start your business and how hard you work now to maintain it-cold calling on real estate and law offices; making office presentations; marketing yourself to prospective clients and other referral sources, appraiser groups, Optimist Clubs, Rotary Clubs, rehabber groups and Boards of Realtors(r); and, of course, maintaining your business by doing the best home inspections you can for your clients. Every day, we have to generate business. It's what we do.

Now, if I told you, you already have at your fingertips, a tool that would increase your prospect calls, increase your sales, help you manage your customer base using a contact management program, let your prospects contact you in less than a minute by text messaging your cell phone, and even give you a Web page touting your experience, knowledge and skills with a picture of your smiling face, would you use it? How about if it wasn't going to cost you a cent more than the price of your annual membership in ASHI-something you've already paid for? Would you use it then?

Simply put, you may be costing yourself business. This month, I'd like to discuss the very real possibility that you are losing business for yourself and your company through your own inactions. Absurd? Don't be too sure.

As you know, ASHI introduced its new Web site (www.ashi.org) in February 2004. Since that time, ASHI has received more publicity from and about the Web site than ever before in our history. What you might not have know is that there is an area under your account that gives you the ability to setup and use all the options I've mentioned. Unfortunately, most of our full Members and Candidates with logo use privileges (C2s) are letting that opportunity slip away. For example, in my chapter, there are about 120 members. Of those members, I know of three who have taken advantage of all the options the ASHI Web site offers, and I'm one of the three. So, I'd like to walk you through some of these options. Feel free to follow along on the Web site.

First things first. Log on at www.ashi.org, enter the "Membership Extranet" area as a member, and click on "Membership Profile" in the left-hand column. This takes you to a page that gives you the opportunity to update your contact information and to list up to three areas in which you believe you are particularly strong. (Note, these benefits are available to full Members and C2s)

Next, click on Find an Inspector & Web Settings in the same column. This takes you to your own private Web page, where you have an opportunity to state your qualifications and experience. It's important to use terms such as home inspector, home inspection, The ASHI Experience, certified and professional. These terms help the search engines categorize and place the ASHI Web site when being searched by the consumer.

After you've written a glowing description of yourself, scroll farther down the page and click the appropriate buttons for how prospects can reach you. For example, I've marked that clients can e-mail or text message me on my cell phone. Your phone must be text message-compatible, and you must put it correctly in the box indicated. I suggest talking to your cellular phone company to get the details on how to receive text messages.

Scroll farther down and you'll have other options from which to pick, not the least of which is in what metro areas you work. If you haven't set this preference, simply doing so may increase your prospect contacts noticeably. You can choose up to three areas in this section. Click on submit changes on this page, and you're done!

About halfway down the left side column, you will find a button called Contact Management Tool. Click on this button and the site takes you to a powerful contact management tool that allows you to add contacts and download your contact information into your own computer. It also lists all those who sent you an e-mail for more information.

And finally, there is an area of the Web site that allows us to check on how we're doing in the eyes of our customers. Click on ASHI Experience Survey Results to see the results of the survey cards you've been handing out. You customers can grade you using the cards from your toolkit or on the ASHI site.

So, if you haven't been taking full advantage of the ASHI web site and all it has to offer, you are very likely costing yourself business, and I don't know about you, but I work too hard to lose business on purpose. See you next month.