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



The Future for Referrals

RICHARD C. MATZEN

It’s estimated ASHI’s 6,000 Members and Candidates perform 1.5 million inspections a year. This number represents individual inspectors or inspection companies faced with attracting opportunities to work one inspection at a time so that at the end of the year their numbers are as good or better than expected. Such is the nature of the competitive marketplace.

In light of the need to maintain a volume of inspections at a price consistent with the American standard of living, one would imagine ASHI members would keep pace with changes in the purchasing habits of the homebuying public.  

Yet, as consumers embrace the Internet and online shopping, many home inspectors rely on the old tried and true methods of marketing that have been used since the beginning of the profession. At ASHI headquarters the shopping and purchasing trends among the younger generation have been known for several years. A couple of years ago ASHI placed our membership roster online. In addition to phone and e-mail information, home inspectors could provide a link to their Web site so consumers could have easy access to information about them from the consumer’s computer.

How it works

Homebuyers have embraced the system and use “Find an Inspector” with increasing frequency. Here’s how it works:

Type in www.ASHI.org

Click “Find an Inspector”

Type in the zip code of the home to be purchased.

Click “Locate Inspector”

Read the list of ASHI Members and Candidates that pops up.

Go to the Web site listed below a member’s name to learn more about the inspector or the company.

Choose the inspector that best meets the homebuyers needs.

Call or e-mail for an appointment.

While I was president-elect, I noticed only a few ASHI inspectors had their own Web sites. Therefore only a few were benefiting fully from ASHI’s “Find an Inspector” feature. I began to talk about the subject during chapter visits. More than once I was quietly told by those with Web sites about the steady flow of referrals they received from them, but they also said they didn’t see the need to broadcast this. But, I am sharing my experiences with you.

As an officer, I travel many days each year and like the presidents before me, my business has slowed as my obligations to ASHI have increased. Often real estate professionals can’t wait for me, and sometimes I don’t return phone calls promptly. I’m thankful for the “Find an Inspector” feature with the link to my Web site because of the steady stream of work I receive from it.

And there’s something else that’s special about this feature. In our profession much is made of the conflicts we have as we work in proximity to real estate professionals. Many avoid referrals from agents and are tormented by the choice to market or not to market to them.  

ASHI’s “Find an Inspector” is a real-estate-agent-free-zone. Those who go online to find an inspector are those who may prefer to choose their own inspector without input from an agent.

How to benefit

So what’s the problem? Why isn’t ASHI’s “Find an Inspector” revolutionizing our profession? I think the answer is simple: To effectively benefit from the feature, you must have a sharp, attractive Web site that motivates the homebuyer to select your business, pay your price and schedule an inspection with your company.

I recognized many years ago that I’m an inspector; I have no skill at Web site development and Web marketing. Therefore, I went to a design professional and asked for help designing and hosting my site. The result has worked for me. “Find an inspector” has been terrific for my business, even as I travel.

Any inspector who wants more business and a better bottom line is well advised to get a Web design professional on his or her team and to get linked to ASHI’s “Find an Inspector.”

That’s where the future for referrals will be found.