November, 2003
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



The ASHI Experience Update: Leaders Speak About Change

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

ASHI Membership involvement in the ASHI Experience has been tremendous. Thousands of survey respondents and hundreds of volunteers working through committees, task forces and the Board of Directors have contributed to its development and now its fulfillment. Here’s a sample of what your leadership is saying today about the ASHI Experience.

To remain static is to court extinction

“The world is changing and ASHI is changing too. That’s not just a good thing; it is essential. It has been said that to remain static is to court extinction. Never has this been truer than it is for ASHI today. While change can be frightening, the alternative is far worse. ASHI needs to concentrate on the world around it, and to respond to important issues like licensing and the changing marketplace.
ASHI has embarked on an ambitious plan to help its Membership. It looks to have done its homework in asking members, agents and clients about their needs and wants, listening to the answers, looking at the world around us, and getting top quality professional help to build a series of programs for its Membership. With the Board unanimously behind this program, every ASHI member should appreciate that his or her professional organization is breaking new ground in member support and assistance.

You may be confused or even skeptical about the ASHI Branding and ASHI Experience concepts. I certainly was. But when I took the time to look closely and listen, I saw the dramatic steps being taken toward making ASHI membership a far more valuable asset.”

— Alan Carson, ASHI Past President

Developing the skills needed to serve the next generation of homebuyers

“Since the inception of ASHI, the technical skills of our Membership have served us well. We will, however, need additional skills to survive in the future. The branding program will help our industry develop the skills needed to serve the next generation of homebuyers. The branding program was created using the results of surveys of inspectors, real estate professionals, and homebuyers, as well as focus groups of ASHI committees and others. With nearly two years of research, the program appears to fill the needs of all parties involved in our industry. Thanks to the ASHI Experience, we will have the tools to improve our service, communication, marketing and quality assurance skills.”

—Robert Gwaltney, ASHI Director

Educating the inspector, the customer, the real estate agent and the government

“I’m really excited about the work being done on branding and the ASHI Experience. The more I learn about it, the less I think it’s just some marketing scheme. There are so many components to it. Yes, advertising is a big part, but so is education of the inspector, the customer, the real estate agent and the government. I think it’s important for all ASHI members to get behind it, and make it work. So many people have already worked hard on the project, not just the consultants, the ASHI staff and the board of directors. Several committees have given their input regarding what’s important for us as the Membership. If we all work together, ASHI can become the voice of the profession.”

— Miki Mertz, ASHI Council Representative

A journey worth traveling

“In my view, it is as difficult to persuade some of our Members and Candidates to buy into the ASHI Brand program as it is to convince our own clients that we’re going to do a good inspection. I’ve been involved with the branding since its inception, and I may not have always agreed with every turn our work has taken us; however, I have always believed this is a journey worth traveling.

We inspectors put our butts on the line every day. We have an abundance of technical knowledge, and we are a confident group. To really increase our excellence, however, we need better training in customer service and especially communication. That is a difficult concept to get across to most inspectors. Communication and customer service is a big part of the ASHI Experience that we are spending a lot of time and effort on to perfect and to deliver to our Membership.”

Frank Lesh, ASHI Director

Maximizing the position that ASHI currently owns

“Specifics about the ASHI Experience have been sketchy up to this point because we’re still working to determine what components will be included in the program, and at what point in time. Each choice affects the funds that have been set for the next 12 months to implement the program. These funds are limited when compared to other national advertising programs that create ownership of the mental real estate that is held by companies like Intel®, Kleenex® or Coke®. A national TV advertising program could consume all the available funds in a single TV spot, so the initial emphasis has been placed on programs that will maximize the position that ASHI currently owns. This means we are concentrating on programs that will continue to have an effect beyond the 12-month period that is covered in the current budget. The ASHI Experience will become our brand, and we can finally stop referring to a process as the name of the program. The rollout of the ASHI Experience has already begun and will officially kick off at InspectionWorld in Albuquerque in January 2004.”

— Jim Hemsell, ASHI Legislative Committee Member

Pick and choose menu items that fit with your practice

“You can say that our Society has been too efficient at “branding” our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. There are 27 states with regulation, plus others soon to follow that reference these cornerstones of our association. The regulated states want to level the playing field so all home inspectors have similar qualifications. Survey data tells us our client base already assumes we are all equally technically competent. If that’s a given, what sets us apart? Here is where branding will help. It provide us the tools to do just that. The goal is to create more business and membership value (read “bang for dues buck”) through the use of marketing aids, of successful business models that have worked for home inspectors, and by each of us developing or expanding our existing micro-brand of who we are in our local markets. From the novice newbie to the 20 year veteran, all will be able to pick and choose menu items that fit with our particular practice.”

— Joe Corsetto, ASHI Treasurer

Work less-be even more in demand

“I’ve seen how the ASHI Board of Directors determined several years ago that for ASHI to remain relevant and viable in the future, our goal of ASHI being synonymous with home inspections must be furthered. The Board voted that we needed to move forward with a program. Members were surveyed by professionals, and their voices were heard. They said they wanted ASHI to help their businesses be successful. That is the ultimate goal of the ASHI Experience. Even veteran inspectors, with more business than they can handle, will benefit. When the phone rings and the consumer asks, ‘Are you an ASHI Inspector?’, the answer will be ‘Yes’. If your competition isn’t, he loses. Work less – be even more in demand. Let the laws of supply and demand take over. In the long run, this will be a good thing for each and every one of us, and it will allow each of us to work smarter in order to increase our bottom line.”

— Ken Salvo, Chair, ASHI Education Committee, ASHI Council Representative

Membership needs to be provided with real and improved benefits

“The current reality is we’re faced with immediate challenges that need reasonable solutions to allow for growth and improvement. The Membership needs to be provided with real and improved benefits. The best means to reach these needs is to provide for our governance, to open the flow of communications to share the experiences amongst ourselves, and to progress as a professional Society. It will take an effort on our part to allow for this success to occur. The goal now will be to create the ASHI Experience.

This means we will offer the homebuying public personalized, exceptional service based on our expert knowledge. This service will enhance customer satisfaction, encourage smart decisions made by our clients, and result in their increased peace of mind. If we do this, in other words provide the ASHI Experience, word will spread resulting in an increase in business for all. We will also need to provide consistent, impartial reporting delivered in a timely manner, recognizing that we work under contractual obligations that are of a vast importance to our clients and the real estate community.”

— JD Grewell, Chair, ASHI Standards of Practice Committee

Impressed by the quality of the marketing materials being developed

“It’s important for the ASHI Membership to understand that the ASHI Experience is being developed and implemented by ASHI leaders and Members whose primary goal is to spread the word to consumers and real estate professionals so the special advantages ASHI brings to the inspection profession become better known nationwide. ASHI is at the beginning of an exciting, new opportunity to provide the Membership and chapters with tools necessary to effectively promote ASHI quality, ASHI Standards, ASHI Ethics, and most of all a clear message on the overall ASHI experience.

I am impressed by the quality of the marketing materials being developed and it looks like ASHI, and its Membership, are getting a real bargain. ASHI has a unique mission as the premier nation-wide professional inspector’s association. Our voice needs greater membership support to protect consumers and to further elevate inspection professionalism.”

— Roger Robinson, ASHI Code of Ethics Committee Member