December, 2003
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Gaining Perspective

RICHARD C. MATZEN

With the arrival of December, I’ve begun to finish up my term as president, and with that comes the realization that I’ve begun to gain some perspective on my experience as your president. It has certainly been a fast ride, with satisfactions never anticipated as I began.

One of the great pleasures has been the late-night car trips back to a hotel or airport, and the gatherings in a hotel suite with fellow inspectors after a chapter visit. These times have always resulted in quiet, direct and heartfelt meetings of the mind with great guys giving their best for their chapters.  

I’ve visited many chapters this year, and after a long trip it’s a pleasure to be taken in by a group of inspectors. One of our common human needs is to be known. After a clump of years as inspectors, it seems we share a big patch of common ground with other inspectors, and being known as a part of the inspector tribe, with all its challenges, is com-fortable for a visiting President.

Some weeks ago chapter leaders came to Chicago to spend a long day fleshing out the elements of The ASHI Experience. In the afternoon the leaders split into small groups in separate rooms. I took the liberty of floating from room to room to sit in the back or lean against the wall and watch the process, gain a flavor for the concerns, and witness priorities rise to the surface.

Home inspectors don’t hold back. These guys engaged, grappled with the issues and gave language to the concepts that will be the heart of The ASHI Experience at the grassroots level. Concentrating while sitting in a chair, while not a strong suit for an inspector, was complete enough that my coming and going from the rooms didn’t attract notice. Great stuff watching inspectors create The ASHI Experience. Guys were so involved they scarcely realized how much impact they have had on the branding products.

ASHI has made a big shift this year; we’ve realigned our operations to focus on the addition of exceptional service to the traditional home inspection. In its first 26 years, ASHI focused on technical excellence in home inspection. Technical excellence refers to propounding our standards and ethics. Inspectors were expected to be accurate and excellent in defect recognition. This value will never change, but we have added exceptional customer service.

In 2003 ASHI came to believe technical excellence is not enough, but technical excellence combined with exceptional customer service keeps  ASHI far above the crowd. Now we’ve overlaid the adoption of exceptional customer service on our standing committees. The result has been a complex challenge to adjust traditional committee priorities and refocus on the ramifications of adding customer service to technical excellence.

Committees have been pressed to move new ideas to the top of the list and move traditional themes to the bottom of the list. These committee folks have had to deal with unsettling changes for which they didn’t bargain. Hard work has been put aside in some cases, and new work has felt like a moving target. Watching these folks has been painful, but the products are coming forward for the benefit of the Society, and that’s great stuff.

The board of directors hasn’t been immune from difficulties while adding service excellence to ASHI’s traditional role in technical excellence. The board meets quarterly. and we have needed to review and repeat our progress in several cases in order to build and move forward in a step by step progression. It has been a long process, the Directors have  been asked for a great deal of concentration, and they have been asked to spend notably more time meeting and away from their business’ than previous directors.

The board has done extremely well and has achieved a notably high level of consensus with tough challenges. It is significant that in a time when the board of directors is asking the profession to undertake a major branding project that requires the membership to adjust in a grand way, it has adopted these changes, motion by motion, with a minimum number of dissenting votes. I’ve worked with a great board.

I’m satisfied; the ASHI community has been rewarding and ASHI is, more than ever, moving strongly into the exclusive position of pre-eminence in the profession.