Near the end of every year I look at the numbers from the previous year to determine our performance, where our business came from “who butters our bread” and how to increase it in the future. This year I am a little behind and drilled down much deeper than usual.
Don’t freak out at the length of this article. I assure you that not only will you enjoy it, but you will likely learn something you didn’t have a clue about.
Before I even begin, allow me to be very clear that we love having our bread buttered by Realtor referrals. We love Realtors, I sleep with one every night. We will take every Realtor referral we can get and are preparing a massive marketing effort to get more. That said, we prefer Realtors who honestly care more about their client’s best interest than their transaction. The other type will only refer us for possibly one inspection, if they refer us at all. Following that first inspection they will consider us too tough or too detailed. Wouldn’t you imagine that is what their client is looking for? Others will only refer us for rough or old homes. Wonder why that is?
We even have a few agents who only refer us when they have a client determined to purchase a home, in disastrous condition, that the agent prefers they don’t close on for fear it will come back and bite them in the ass. We become their insurance policy. “I referred the toughest home inspector in the business, and you still chose to close. I have done all I can do.” I had one that was literally condemned by the county just before closing. Yes, that is TRUE!
We have MANY agents who only book us on homes they or family members are purchasing. I have a few agents who I have inspected multiple homes for them, and family members, but not even one for one of their clients. They will tell me, to my face, that I am too tough for their clients. Can you even believe that? Does that scream something at you? Amazingly the clients we work with love us, especially investor clients. Out of over 7000 inspections we have conducted over 25 years, I challenge you to find even a hand full of dissatisfied clients. You will find a few and find that it wasn’t us but their expectations which were the issue. Agents, well, that could go either way.
When I began in this business, 25 years ago, most home inspection business came from Realtor referrals. The truth of the matter is that most of our competitors home inspection business still comes from Realtor referrals. Why do you imagine that most home inspectors bend over backwards to impress, “suck up” to Relators and not “kill their deal”? The problem is that most active successful Realtors have their preferred home inspector whom they recommend to their clients. Clients trust their agents and would consider no other. Hell, most have no clue how to even find another home inspector. This left me out in the cold. My decision to establish a reputation as one of the toughest home inspectors available and not to favor agent’s transactions over the client’s best interest threw even more cold water on my efforts to gain business. My lovely Realtor bride, the one I still sleep with every night, was convinced that I couldn’t make it. To be perfectly honest the first few years were embarrassingly lacking in inspection bookings. I had to find a different method to gain bookings. Began a massive marketing campaign to be number two, when those other guys were booked up. I began targeting new agents. Long before my competition I jumped on the internet and began targeting clients directly without their agent’s involvement.
Out of the 2186 buyer agents in our data base only 17% booked inspections with us in 2021. The bulk of our business in 2021 (76%) involved agents who were only involved in one transaction. Many of those new agents who had never booked with us previously. This likely indicates that we were not the agents recommend inspector but that the client chose us from the internet, referrals from past clients, friends, family members or business associates. That has been our target market for most of our 25 years in this business. 7% of our 2021 business had no agent involved.
Only 17% of our business involved agents in more than two inspections. These are the agents who prefer and recommend us. Wonder why that percentage is so low considering the volume of inspections we do?
14% of our business was from only two agents representing investors for 2021. We are under contract to do about 50% of our 2021 volume in 2022 for only one of those investors.
Other than these inspections involving investors, one of which booked 39 in 2021, no single Realtor represents even one half a percent of our business.
Still in 2022, after 25 years and over 7000 home inspections under our belt. Most of our bread is buttered, somehow, despite Relators. Isn’t that amazing?
Now - GO BRING ON THE BUTTER!!!
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