June, 2005
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

From A to Zilliox


ASHI Inspector Puts Skills and Good, Old-Fashioned Customer Service to Work in Kentucky

In April, ASHI HQ received an unsolicited letter of praise from a consumer, Michael Shilleh, offering good feedback on The ASHI Experience Inspection he received from ASHI Member Ralph Zilliox in Florence, Ky.

"I thought I would drop you a line regarding one of your inspectors whom is a tremendous asset to your organization. His name is Ralph Zilliox. He has
outperformed my every expectation twice so far and, believe me, I will let you know about all other times [in the future]. ... [I want to thank him for] building such a great relationship with the buyers that have the great pleasure of encountering his great expertise. He has built a great customer relationship as far as I am concerned and I am sure with everyone else he serves. Thank You, Michael D. Shilleh."

ASHI wanted to find out a little bit about what makes Member Ralph Zilliox, Ralph-Zillox.gifHome-In-Spection, Florence, Ky., so well-liked by his customers. In sharing this information, ASHI believes that the entire membership will pick up an idea or two.

Q: Why did you choose this career?  

It chose me. In 1993, a real estate agent kept asking me to verify that the inspections on his property were correct. It was just a favor then, and it became my career a year later.

Q: What did you do before you became an inspector?  

I started out as an electrician. Just before I was an inspector, I was working as director of maintenance for a local restaurant chain called Barleycorn's.

Q: What is the name of your firm?  

My wife and I opened Home-In-Spection in 1994. I did inspections part-time and did my director of maintenance job full-time. My wife took care of the office. I'm the only one now, but my oldest son has worked with me in the past and will again after he completes his training and gets a license as a pest control operator.

Q: What makes your inspections so special that you receive an unsolicited letter of praise like this?

I put the needs of my clients first. They have a tough decision to make. How is the condition of the house going to affect the purchase?  It's not enough to say "it's broke, have it repaired." I try to answer their questions the best I can. They know if you care by what you say and how you act.  

Q: What is the most interesting thing you ever found on an inspection?  

Let's say my job is much more interesting since reality TV and DIY [do-it-yourselfers].  One very proud handyman [of a home I inspected] vented the gas dryer through the basement floor drain.

Q:  Why did you join ASHI?  

When I was checking out home inspection, the only person who had any advice was ASHI Member Steve Verssen. What a fantastic guy to know!

Q: What does the future hold for the profession?  

We, as ASHI members, need to hold ourselves to the highest standards and professionalism and to maintain that the public deserves no less. Not because we are conceited, but because that's what is best for our clients.

Q: Why do you stay in ASHI?

I think most of the members feel as I do, that we need to be the best professionals our clients can buy and that the best way to do that is through ASHI.

Q: What advice do you have for new inspectors out there just entering the business?  

Learn as much as you can. Do the best you can. Be a professional! Relax! When you do the best you can, your client will know it. If you get that dreaded call, it will be to ask your advice on how to handle the problem, not to blame you for it.

Q: If you had to go back and start your home inspection career all over again, is there anything you'd do differently?  

I would run the business as a business.  I would go through one of the inspector-by-review programs.  It's important to know you're doing it right.  
Ralph Zilliox joined ASHI as a Candidate in 1994 and achieved full Member status in 1998. He and his wife, Judy, have been married for 32 years, are the parents of five children and have two granddaughters. He said, "If anyone in Kentucky is reading this, I want a seat on the licensing board.  I think every client deserves the best possible inspection."