According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_stop_shop), a one-stop shop, store or source is a business that offers a variety of services so that “customers can get all they need in just ‘one stop.’ The term originated in the United States in the late 1920s or early 1930s to describe a business model offering customers the convenience of having multiple needs met in one location, instead of having to ‘drive all over the town’ to attain related services at different stores.” Today, the term “one-stop shop” can be used to describe a website, a TV show or even a home inspection business—essentially anything for which “people can find most of what they need, including information, in one place.”
"Most value-added services help to alleviate fear of the unknown for your client."
Are you providing a variety of value-added services that complement your home inspections and enhance your worth in the eyes of your clients? That is the big–money question.
Value-added services for home inspectors are dominating conversations at educational conferences, chapter meetings and online via social media platforms. So, why all the buzz? Why should you be paying close attention and converting your business into a one-stop shop for your clients?
The answer is simple—if you fail to pay attention to how your industry is changing and what your competition is providing to clients, you will fall behind. Many value-added services that home inspectors embrace today are relatively simple to learn and execute, provide real value to clients and generate tangible incremental revenue to the bottom line. Most value-added services help to alleviate fear of the unknown for your client—for example, they will be more informed about issues like mold, radon, water leaks, poor air quality, sewer backup and termites.
Let’s do a quick overview of value-added services being offered by home inspectors across the country. I preface this list by saying that not all inspectors in every state will either want or be able to offer these services. Some states have protective licensing requirements that create barriers to entry. Some regions have better temperatures for certain services, some have bigger issues with mold, some have geologic issues that create higher levels of gas emissions and so on. Review this list, knowing that you may need to confirm with your peers, association leaders or state agency representatives to ensure that you can offer these services after your research confirms that you would like to. And also confirm by talking with your clients!
What you should understand to become a one-stop shop:
- For a standard-sized family home (with variations determined by square footage and location), a basic, comprehensive home inspection has a market price of $300 to $500. Home inspectors working alone are capable of completing two or three inspections per day, although that makes for a long work day, followed by more time to complete reports.
- Including infrared (IR) inspection in a basic home inspection service can add $40 to $60 per inspection. To add this service, you may need to earn IR certification, practice, adjust your phone and marketing scripts, and select what specific items to observe.
- A comprehensive IR inspection of an entire home may be called moisture mapping, an IR survey or a whole-home infrared inspection. When completed at the time of the home inspection, this service can add anywhere from $150 to $350; if it is completed separately from home inspection, the rate is similar to home inspection fee, normally $350-$550, depending on the region of the country and the market.
- Offering a sewer line scan to benefit your clients’ peace of mind can mean an acceptance rate of over 50% and, in some markets, closer to 70%. When completed in conjunction with the home inspection, the rates range from $175 to $275 for this 15-minute service. Real estate agents can be your best helpers to offer this service—they can recommend prospective homebuyers who are considering having a sewer scan in homes that are more than 20 years old, or in homes that have trees or other potential issues near or over the top of sewer lines.
Including infrared (IR) inspection in a basic home inspection service can add $40 to $60 per inspection.
- Air quality is critical to good health and good quality of life in a home. Various sampling methods can be used and can add substantially to the revenue generated from your client.
- Including a radon inspection can add $150 to $300. Depending on the region of the country in which you live and work, this service can quite literally be a value-added service that is expected by your clients (see EPA Radon incidence map).
- Water quality is critical to the safety of what you both ingest, and what you use to wash yourself and your dishes, floors or clothes. Well–flow testing can be especially important in areas where municipal water supplies or sewage removal may not be present.
- Mold testing has recently increased substantially in parts of the country; this service goes along with indoor air quality. Cost for basic sampling can run from $50 to $150 or more.
- Testing for pool and hot tub safety and functionality ensures that homebuyers not only get properly working recreational equipment but that the equipment and surrounding areas are safe for people of all ages to enter, exit, swim or lounge.
- Termites, or wood-destroying insects (WDI), are every prospective and current homeowner’s worst fear—a hidden enemy slowly and steadily ruining the home from the inside out. Depending on where you work, you may be able to provide an inspection that identifies likely WDIs in the home and recommend professional evaluation and corrective action.
- Less–frequently noted services are wind mitigation, gas safety and sprinkler inspections.
- By completing (possibly even printing) your report on site, you can immediately load the report to the cloud and email it to your client before they leave. The perception here is that home inspectors who embrace technology that allows for more immediate completion and sharing of their reports may be providing a better service. (I am not advocating for or against this perception, as I have been involved in many discussions about which way is better or best.)
Including a radon inspection can add $150 to $300. Depending on the region of the country in which you live and work, this service can quite literally be a value-added service that is expected by your clients (see EPA Radon incidence map).
If you’ve been keeping track, you know that the value-added services you could offer can literally double your average home inspection revenue. That should be very interesting to you as a small business owner.
Why offer value-added services that make sense for your business as well as for your clients? The answer is simplicity! You make the life of the real estate agent (your best source of recommendations and repeat business) easier because the agent can come to the property once, make a single call for their clients to schedule multiple services and rely on you more heavily to be the subject matter expert on a wider array of services. Similarly, you make the life of your client easier because, by being a one-stop shop, your clients can consolidate their efforts to secure an evaluation of their prospective home with one expert. And last, the one reason that I often discuss at length with home inspectors as fellow small business owners, is that understanding how to build a business is different from how to build yourself a job.
Working smart instead of always working hard means recognizing and embracing change. One high-value, high-quality inspection with one or several value-added services each day might not generate as much as completing two inspections in a day, but it might! And then, as your business continues to grow, you could hire and train someone to complete that second inspection per day. That employee then can cover for you when you’re sick, want to attend a child’s event or take a vacation and still generate income. This is just my two cents—I have nothing against one-person operations. I know that hundreds of you are very successful and very satisfied having no employees. But regardless of your goals for your own business, please recognize that being a one-stop shop will help your business grow!
Christopher Casey is President and CEO of Monroe Infrared Technology, a 34-year young, veteran-owned small business based in Brunswick, Maine. He’s a West Point graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration from St. Martin’s University. Since 1990, Chris has held leadership positions with regional and national companies for which his expertise in organizational management and creative problem solving has led to substantial growth. Since 2011, Christopher has led Monroe Infrared, a professional infrared training, sales and inspection services company recognized throughout the country for its customer-focused mission to help clients both large and small. He is a Certified Thermographer, a sought-after speaker at national, regional and state conferences, and an active small business mentor around the country. Christopher is the father of five children, enjoys biking, swimming and laughing with family and friends.