June, 2018

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Chapters and People: Outside of the Framing


What do people think of when they hear the words “entrepreneur,” “business “or “success”? The majority of people will link these words with adjectives to describe a person who is wealthy or who makes lots of money.

Although this may be true to some extent, often our way of thinking about these words stops there. These words are not able to describe someone unless the person undrstands one thing: people. Understanding people and how they operate is the single most important attribute needed in entrepreneurship, business and, ultimately, success.

Too often the world is jaded by money, wealth and power. This distracts us from what is most important, and that is people. Money, wealth and power are large obstacles in our conscious and subconscious minds that can damage our ability to make connections with other humans.

So, how does this relate to the home inspection industry?

Several ways.

The comradery of the industry (as well as the planet) has shifted. Comradery is now seen as hitting a “like” button, sending an email or doing live chats through phones and computers. We are substituting face-to-face contact with social media and computerized methods. The most important piece missing to all of this is emotion.

Emotion is what drives us to do what we do. Without emotion, we are insouciant words on a screen. The connections are not real, and they feel artificial. Although technology is an amazing tool for expediting business, it should not be a substitute for developing business relationships.

The world thrives on building relationships. They are essential to survival and require emotion, which can be felt best through face-to-face connections.

I have seen the demise of local chapters, inspection companies and businesses from this very mistake. I know, because I was privy to its actions through my own local ASHI chapter.

When I first began attending meetings, the room was filled. Inspectors drove from hours away to meet in a room and discuss the industry. The goal was to make ourselves better by making the people around us better. This would raise the standards of the industry as well.

Unfortunately, it did not take long to see the dissection of the group. Seemingly, each month the group got smaller, and the pile of excuses grew higher. They included “no time,” “too busy,” “no value” and “I can’t afford it.”

Based on what we know about how humans can be productive, these are actually the reasons to stay in the group. Staying as part of a group will provide everything essential for survival. Instead, like dominos, they began to fall from the group and even retire!

Providing a culture of similarity allows a sense of “we,” and when this is provided, trust is created, as well as fulfillment. However, society has shifted from a “we” culture to a “me” culture. Focused on revenue, this is where the demise begins. People stop showing up, it becomes about the bottom line and no new ideas are brought to the group. What message does this send to the rest of the industry? How will others perceive the home inspection industry?

This only sets a bad standard for new home inspectors to build upon: the standard of the misconstrued conception of business. Where else can they look for guidance? An episode of Shark Tank?

This digs the industry into a deeper hole. Maintaining what is already in place is hard enough, but now, contending with new blood, ideas and technology, building upon a hollow base will inevitably not hold up.

The only real way to build anything associated with the word “business” is through human connections, emotions and understanding one another. This is exactly why we do not want to listen to automated messages or talk to a computer to solve our problems.

Solving this problem takes much more than showing up as a group of inspectors in a room. The disappearance of active chapters also can be attributed to the lack of passion.

Many people perceive real estate as a way to make money, but more attractively, on the side. In a world that lacks retirement planning or pensions, people are looking for other ways to provide income to sustain their lifestyles. Often, the industry of real estate is the first fruit tree that gets sized up for picking. This includes home inspectors.

Again, we are circumvented to the misconception of business. Home inspections are a great way to make additional income on the side. Unfortunately, most motives stop here. People forget why they became involved in the industry in the first place—to help people achieve the purchase of the single most expensive investment of their life.

Now, combine this with the weakened culture of local chapters and organizations, and we have a whole new crop of mistaken businesspeople. A harvest fed the ideology that business and success are achieved by making money, while the emotions and feelings of our comrades, business partners and clients are neglected and allowed to wilt.

The days before advanced technology are far behind us, and they will never return. However, technology will never replace the fulfillment of human connection and the spirit of giving.

We are certainly in a new era, with new problems. It is up to the true leaders in the industry to help solve them and, most importantly, influence others to do the right thing by working together to remove the obstacles of money, power and wealth, which seemingly are the driving forces behind the vague use of the words “entrepreneur,” “business” and “success.”

Any superpower in the world is not achieved through a single person, but by the harmonious acts of several people together who share the same ideas and beliefs.

Matt Smith is the owner of Ace Home Inspections of Upstate New York, an ASHI Associate member and a home inspector mentor. Check out his website (Acehomeinspection1.com) and his YouTube Channel (Matt S).