In the competitive business of home inspection, a steady stream of calls and referrals from real estate agents can drive and sustain the growth of your business, even in the toughest of times and markets. Being qualified, responsive and objective is absolutely required, of course, but what is the secret to effectively marketing yourself to real estate agents?
To answer this question, I asked two successful industry veterans to share their advice, based on their experiences working with real estate agents over the years.
Peter Ottowitz is the founder of The Hawkeye Companies, a team of eight professionals who have been providing home inspections, environmental testing and energy audits across eastern and central Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and eastern Connecticut since 2004. In addition to being a Certified Master Inspector, he has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA.
According to Ottowitz, “I think that focusing on how we can help the real estate agent—versus telling agents how great we are—is the best approach. We provide helpful information, including the Home Wizard eNewsletter and office presentations, and we post articles on social media on subjects relating to home inspections. In addition to providing information via the Internet, we also regularly use direct mail.”
He added, “In my mind, a marketing message to real estate agents must include the following important elements:
• How we can help them sell more homes by providing education on the inspection process, components of the home and new
• Timely information
• Consistent messaging—such as our monthly Home Wizard eNewsletter and monthly motivators (created by our business
Richard Cummings also offered advice. He is the founder of Cornerstone Residential Inspections, which has provided inspection services in central Oklahoma for the past 10 years, and is a graduate of the Midwest Inspectors Institute, Lansing, KS.
According to Cummings, “Over the years, I’ve tried several strategies, including the following:
• I’ve offered to speak to ‘new’ agent classes (and supplied the donuts, of course!).
• Some years ago, I ordered 700 bottles of water with my business card as the label. When I would go to open houses, I’d introduce myself to the agent and present them with a cold bottle of water.
• I’ve provided lunch for meetings of real estate agents.
• I’ve supplied pens and tickets to Oklahoma City Thunder games for an agents-only open house.
• I’ve also tried a number of other things, all with limited or no results.”
Cummings added, “I reached out to my ‘best’ real estate agent to ask what he looks for in a home inspector. He responded that the top five qualities he seeks are the following:
• Integrity and honesty
• Detailed and thorough inspection reports
These are traits that I believe all inspectors should strive to achieve.
“On a personal note,” Cummings continued, “when I give my verbal summary to the client after the inspection, I always try to include the real estate agent as well. As an example: ‘Mr. Smith, of course, you’ll always want to defer to Ms. Real Estate Agent for her advice on such-and-such, as she is the expert in this part of the process.’ I do this because I don’t want the agent to feel left out. This can be challenging with some agents, because the better the inspector, the more thorough the inspection and report, which generally means more concerns found during the inspection. Our duty is always to the client; however, the really good agents want a thorough report, as it will show their clients that they also really care about them—and that’s why they chose to refer you as the home inspector for their client.”
Joel L. Singer is the managing partner of Applica/Home Wizard (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.applica-solutions.com/ASHI, 508-281-2050). The Home Wizard eNewsletter and mobile app help home inspectors generate referrals and repeat business from real estate agents and homeowners. Applica Solutions, headquartered in Marlborough, MA, is a Gold Affiliate member of ASHI. ASHI members receive a 20% discount.