In 1999, ASHI embarked on a journey of planning for our future. Yours and mine. During a strategic planning meeting, we identified state licensing of home inspectors around the country as a possible threat to our society. With that concern in mind, we began discussing the future of ASHI—specifically, how we would remain relevant in a regulated environment. Along with many members and past leaders, we brought in a consulting group that specialized in working with organizations such as ours. With input from the members, past leaders and consultants, we created a “future” or goal for ASHI: “ASHI is synonymous with home inspection.” In that future, people will no longer ask for a home inspection; they will ask for an ASHI inspection. ASHI has a standard above and beyond state regulation, and will be recognized as the GOLD SEAL of home inspection. It was then, as it is today, referred to as our Big Audacious Goal. It is something we, as a society, are moving toward. But it requires the combined efforts of the entire membership, including yours.
Keeping ASHI in forefront of profession
In 2003, we expanded the plan, adding a process called Branding, and we trademarked the words “The ASHI Experience” and “We Speak House.” We determined what was going to be needed from a cost standpoint to carry through on this process, and the board voted to increase our dues to pay for the branding campaign. While no one likes paying more money for membership, the board believed it was necessary to keep ASHI in the forefront of our profession. We also knew that if we did not make it mandatory, some would elect not to participate and the program would fail due to under-funding. Since that time, we have lost some members and gained some members. We have also received more public relations attention in 2004 than we’ve ever received in our history.
Virtual home inspection tour becomes media darling
Our virtual home inspection tour on www.ashi.org was mentioned on CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg News, in the Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets. In 2004, then-President Stephen Gladstone did a Public Service Announcement (PSA) and a Video News Release, which were distributed via satellite to over 1,500 media outlets around the country. We’ve re-issued the PSA in markets where it wasn’t originally used, and have hit almost 478,000 viewers in major markets such as San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston in only a few weeks.
Using public relations to keep moving toward goal
Overall, in 2004, we had approximately 120 million impressions through print, radio and TV coverage. That’s 120 million opportunities for the ASHI name to be seen, heard or read. As recently as last December 29, 2004 the Today Show aired a 5-minute piece about home inspectors featuring ASHI member Joseph Pasaturo as their expert from New York. In that piece alone, almost 6.5 million viewers saw and compared an ASHI inspection and a hidden camera exposé of non-ASHI home inspectors. The audience also heard that the way to find a qualified inspector was to visit the ASHI Web site. We were the only association mentioned.
This month, I leave for a media tour building ASHI’s name and brand. Later this year, I head east to meet with editors of the major publications in that market.
Number 1 with Google and Yahoo
If you haven’t noticed lately, ASHI is at the top of the list of home inspection resources when searched on Google or Yahoo. This is the result of work done during 2004. The staff and leadership will work hard to maintain our position. And, if you haven’t checked it out lately, you have your own custom company contact information page on the ASHI site, where you can upload a picture of yourself and describe your experience and other things of interest to your clients. Check it out, fill in your own specific information and take advantage of your personal Web page.
Expanding the market with maintenance inspections
I have also started discussing maintenance inspections for existing homeowners and I’m happy to report the media is interested. If we can explain the benefits of having a home inspection every three to five years for existing homeowners we will substantially increase our market base as home inspectors. While I don’t think this will become common this year or even in the next two or three years, I believe it will come to pass, and talking about it at a local and national level will increase the likelihood of it happening. Spread the word.
Get involved! It is only through members like you and me that things happen in our society. Involvement doesn’t have to be volunteering your time in leadership. It may be writing articles for the Reporter. Or creating an interesting presentation for InspectionWorld. Your involvement will strengthen the society and move us closer to making ASHI synonymous with home inspection.