August, 2007
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



The Road to Happiness

BILL SUTTON

Based on the home inspection surveys I have seen over the past three decades, the majority of home inspectors throughout North America are independent sole practitioners. The 2005 ASHI Business Study/Survey indicated that 63 percent are in that category, and over 57 percent have no non-inspector staff working at their locations. Therefore, I assume that most of us work in somewhat of an isolated environment at home or in our office when we are not on the road performing inspections.

Psychologists tell us that social relationships are the single biggest predictor of someone’s happiness in life. People who have a good friend at work are much more likely to be engaged in their work, and people with at least three close friends at work are much more likely to be extremely satisfied with their life. These are some of the findings Tom Rath reflects in his new book, “Vital Friends, The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without.”

Even if you’re one of the inspectors working in a multi-inspector firm, you’re usually on the road each day and not in the office where you can socialize with colleagues and friends. So, how do we independent home inspectors develop professional and work-related friendships that are so vital to our happiness and well-being? The answer is easy. Get involved in ASHI. Home inspectors spend a great deal of time trying to manage themselves and improve their technical skills. “We need to focus more on building relationships,” says Rath. When it comes to improving our business and our lives, it’s the energy between people that makes a difference.

ASHI provides the ideal forum to meet with colleagues, discuss our profession and help develop these important work-related friendships. Rath has identified eight friendship roles. And, unfortunately, no single person can fill all these roles at once. The fatal flaw people make in relationships, according to Rath, is asking that one person, often a spouse, a ‘best friend’ or even one of our children, fill all of these needed roles. ASHI can also provide the opportunity to fill some of those roles and our need for work and professionally related friendships.

The shared visions and values we have as professional home inspectors and ASHI members will help encourage these friendships. Our monthly meetings, seminars and workshops are not only important for our ongoing education credits and professional growth, they provide an opportunity to show our colleagues that we truly care about them, their business and family. Over time, that builds good will, trust, caring and respect. This, in turn, will help you develop a more productive professional
network, gain referrals, establish friendships and, if Rath is correct, experience a happier, more fulfilling and more satisfied life.

We all need or should have what Rath calls a “navigator.” Whether we are rookies just starting out in the home inspection profession or are long-term veterans, we can all benefit from a navigator. “This navigator is not someone you necessarily have to have regular communication with, but when you do, they will be very meaningful in your life,” according to Rath. Almost all of the ASHI members I’ve met over 25 years at both the chapter and the national levels would be happy to provide a mentor/navigator role. These members, your colleagues, would be willing, able and pleased to share their expertise and knowledge with you. ASHI has experts in every facet of the home inspection profession.

We are all linked together by a passion for what we do. Get involved in your profession and ASHI. Make a difference, develop new friends, improve your business and enjoy a more fulfilled and happier life. ASHI does set you apart and ahead in this business and, who knows, it could be your road to happiness, too.