So you’re a new home inspector just getting started ... or an experienced inspector deciding to blow up your current marketing plan because it’s not working. “What marketing plan?” you say. Well, there is the problem.
You know you should put together a marketing plan. When times were great, no one cared, since business was flowing in. But now, to differentiate yourself from everyone else, you have to be better than your competition, faster and more thorough with your inspections, kinder to the agents and more professional with your reports.
I’m not going to tell you how to set up your marketing. There are plenty of books and guides out there to help you do that, but I do want you to re-think how you get your name out there in your inspection communities. Are you advertising? How do people find out about you? Are you going the traditional route — ads in the paper, special borders in the Yellow book, etc.? Are you thinking this very minute that you hate this advertising because it is constantly costing you money? What your gut is telling you right now is true: Paid advertising is like flushing your money down the inspected toilet.
Think out of the box for a minute. You have to get your name out there! How are you going to do that? Listen up, I’m going to tell you how.
1. Your website. Don’t have one? Get one. For $135 a year — less than the cost of one good ad in the paper that people throw away — you can have a hosted website and site builder. You will get tons of business and publicity from this. GoDaddy and Network Solutions are two sites that make it easy and have real people answering the telephone to help you. If you decide you don’t mind other businesses advertising on your site, you can get a hosted site for close to free.
2. Your face. If you haven’t already, pay the small affiliate fee and join your local real estate broker organization. Go to all of the lunches. Yes, I know it’s boring, and it’s hard to socialize (inspector personalities and real estate agent personalities are about as opposite as you can get), but get up and speak to the crowd at that 30-second introduction of affiliates and tell them who you are. Bring your brochures and cards. One of the things I did that really got attention was a full-size cutout of myself in inspector uniform. Wow! I put it right at the sign-in table. These people know who I am now. It cost me all of $110 and now I have something for the local home show.
3. Your expertise. Now that you’re “in” with the agents, offer to speak at their next breakfast or luncheon. “No, you’ve gone too far,” I hear you say. But guess what? The other inspectors don’t want to talk in front of groups either. Differentiate yourself! Get some coaching; then muster up the courage — your audience will be kind, and they won’t forget your effort.
4. Your ghostwriter. Next, take a good look at your local newspaper. Does it have any regular columns having to do with energy, building, homes, maintenance, gardening? It doesn’t? Good! Because you’ve just become a guest columnist for it. Find someone around you who loves to write and have him or her write some short, tight articles on taking care of your home. You may even want to write these yourself. Why not? The editor will fix them before publication. If the newspaper does have a home maintenance or energy column already, that’s ok, too — simply write letters every couple of weeks along the lines of “I read so and so’s column, and as a local home inspector, I find ...” Put some good advice in and your name — there it is again!
These are only four out-of-the-box ideas, and if you use several of them you will be on your way to more business. As the marketing coaches say, you only need to be a step ahead of everyone else. Good luck and happy inspecting.