As one of the owners of Spectora you might raise an eyebrow to me writing an article on choosing home inspection software.
Ok yes, I'm biased. (Phew, I said it. )
I actually don't want every home inspector to use Spectora. I want every inspector that we're a good fit for to use Spectora.
But that doesn't mean I can't give you an objective list of the features, elements and considerations I've heard hundreds of home inspectors tell me are important when considering new software.
If we're a good fit, great, welcome to the family. If not, that's ok too. There are a couple competitors that I'd gladly refer you to.
So what should I be thinking about when considering new software?
This seems like a no-brainer right? You would think every home inspector would think about this first.
Most new home inspectors don't know what they don't know. They don't realize that saving an hour on each home inspection will eventually lead to more time to market and meet agents. Or an extra inspection each day or week.
When comparing different home inspection software apps think deeply about efficiency as you're test driving.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this easy-to-use?
- How quickly can I log a defect?
- Can I store comments for future use?
- Are there defaults so I'm not entering in the same information over and over?
- How quick can I put pictures into comments?
- Does the summary auto-generate?
- Do I have to worry about formatting the report?
If you're an experienced inspector switching software...
Then this should be an easy comparison to your existing flow.
Too many experienced inspectors get caught in the "this is the way I've done it for 10 years" and not "is there a more efficient way I could do this?"
If you're using an older software that was made 20 years ago and no longer makes updates then chances are there is a more efficient way to do things.
Technology evolves and it's a great thing! It means you can save time and focus on areas of your business that really matter!
The Final Product
This is another area where I constantly see home inspectors out of touch with reality. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
"My buyers and agents LOVE my report"
They may love you. But I promise they don't love your 80-page PDF with small photos and tons of text.
We've done dozens of focus groups with buyers and agents over the years and one constant held true - They expect an experience from their home inspection report that is in-line with everything else they interact with online in today's world.
Instagram. Pinterest. The Internet.
Most home inspectors think everyone loves their report because they don't have anything to compare it to. And they only see a home inspection report every 7 years (in buyer's case) or a couple times a month or quarter (in Realtor's case).
I was a real estate agent and my perspective was not unique.
I worked with and spoken to hundreds of agents that were not fans of the traditional PDF reports that are a nightmare to read. This was true of Millennial agents and 60+ year old agents.
Home inspectors simply have to adjust to what their customers expect. Not what they think they expect.
This is something new home inspectors won't understand until you've been on-site with an app or software that isn't working properly.
I want to make one thing clear - all software will have bugs.
Apple has bugs. Amazon has bugs. That is the nature of technology. I'm talking about overall reliability.
When software hasn't been updated or doesn't have people actively working to keep it current, it will often die.
Test different software/apps out and see if it feels stable. Read reviews.
Do the owners/staff work to fix bugs quickly? How many home inspectors are using the software? How busy are some of these inspectors?
Those questions alone will weed out 95% of home inspection software that is on the market. The bottom line is reliability requires a full-time staff that is constantly working on the software to keep it current.
This goes hand-in-hand with efficiency. (Can I get an amen experienced inspectors?)
See if your home inspection software has things baked in like:
- Online agreements
- Online payment collection
- Automated reminder and follow-up emails and texts
- Contacts management
You may not realize it now, but these tasks can add up to hours per week. Automate what should be automated!
High-quality and timely support is everything in this industry. When trying out different home inspection software providers check out their support articles & videos. Write into their support or schedule a call. Get a feel for what it will be like to be a customer.
And read more reviews!
You may not think about it now if you're a new inspector, but you will need on-going support, features, community in this industry.
Ah, you were probably wondering when I would get to this one!
I purposely put this one last to illustrate how most home inspectors (and consumers in general, so don't beat yourself up too much) start with price when evaluating software.
Cost is definitely important and should be a top consideration, hence being on this list. But if you start with price, nothing will seem worth it based on where our industry came from.
See, home inspection software used to be free (and you can still find free ones out there). You download it once and it's on your computer forever. Great right?
Great if you're in a world where technology doesn't change much and your software doesn't need upgrades, or have bugs, or needs to innovate to keep up with competition. If something is free, what is their incentive to keep supporting you?
When thinking about cost it should always be thought of through the lens of cost vs. value. What do you get for the price?
- More efficiency?
- Do you get a marketing advantage?
- Do you reduce headaches of fighting with your software?
- Do you get a better end product (the report)?
- Does it allow you to do more inspections?
- Does it give you time back with your family?
- Can you maximize revenue per customer?
Just from those questions alone you realize that there is a cost to everything. Even free. Spectora is the most expensive home inspection software on the market. Do I believe it's for a good reason, of course I do. But that is for you to evaluate.
Here are a couple other questions to consider when thinking about price:
- How does my business scale with a per-inspection fee vs. flat monthly fee?
- Do I need on-going support and updates?
- Does the price include cloud storage or business tools?
In a world where technology is changing faster than we can blink our eyes, I think home inspectors simply need to value their time more.
I'm a business owner so I understand reducing costs, running lean, etc, etc. But not to the point of being wasting time.
So I challenge you to ask other inspectors how efficient they are, how they market themselves, how they automate redundant tasks. Then see if the leading home inspection software companies help you do this. Then see if that is worth the investment for your business.
Too often we follow the heard in this business instead of evaluating what's important to your business goals and going with the software that helps you get there.