We recently caught up with Floyd Gibbs as he prepared to close out the year for his business. Floyd is a 24 year veteran of the industry, and owns a successful business in Virginia, Quality Home Inspections. Floyd's team consists of 8 home inspectors and several support staff in sales, marketing, and front desk. Floyd has a unique take on the industry, being one of the rare inspectors who was in business during the 2008 recession. He also teaches home inspection certification courses for ICA. Floyd says he mentors hundreds of new inspectors every month. He listens to their anxiety about an industry in flux. Here's some of his pro tips as we head into the new year.
Floyd acknowledges that many inspectors are dropping prices, sometimes after raising prices just a few months ago. But he stresses that the current market crunch will eventually end. When it does, don't shoot yourself in the foot with price cuts. Instead, consider giving one time discounts for a month at a time, or to new customers. That way, you can keep your baseline price steady.
"The last thing you need to do is come down to $300, then things are going great and you pop back up to $400. Your relators will throw a fit."
Most home inspectors rely on agents to get work, but a few lucky ones have a guaranteed pipeline with governments, non-profits, or developers. There are some organizations that partner with inspectors to complete new home inspections, awarding a contract for dozens or hundreds of homes en masse. Floyd says his company has gotten contract work from FEMA, who can call on a small army of inspectors in the wake of a major disaster. They took advantage of this during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, despite living several states away.
Floyd stresses that having airtight language in your report is often overlooked by new inspectors. If reviewing your inspection agreements and report language is on your to-do list, don't put it off.
Instead of being paranoid, Floyd says that getting it right on paper frees up his inspectors to be more customer focused, knowing that the company liability is well protected in the report:
"Wording is everything. Having your report software and its language absolutely spot on will give you the freedom and comfort to focus on what you're really paid to do: the home inspection."
Even after 24 years, Floyd says he still finds small tweaks he can make in his Spectora report templates.
It may seem like a selling point to have an open calendar, but Floyd says that even when work has been slow in the past, he always checks his calendar when on the phone with agents . . .and takes a second doing it.
"Don't go out and sound like you won't be able to feed your family without an agent's referral. It'll turn them off. They can smell it. You gotta ride it out."
Floyd says inspectors need to market with confidence. Don't signal to the world that you need business. Signal that you're a great home inspector.
Going a day without an inspection can be rough, but going several days without one can be mentally breaking. Floyd's been there, and he says the long months from September to March can throw inspectors into a spiral of self-doubt and negativity. And that's even during a strong year.
Floyd says inspectors should be looking to better themselves with their free time. Take a course from ICA so you can offer new services. Survey your clients and find ways to make your reports better. Reinvest in training your team. And not just your inspectors. Your front desk team, your sales staff, or your marketing person can all find ways to improve their skills and the business processes.
Floyd closes by reassuring all new inspectors that real estate is cyclical and that the industry will come out of this dip stronger than before:
"This will also pass and be a distant memory one day. It is inevitable that we will lose some mediocre inspectors as well as some really good inspectors before this dip levels back out.
The realtor's silver lining is that they will have their negotiating powers for their buyers back. Either way, this is happening whether you like it or not, and with or without you. So make your choice to push through this downturn and get started on making your own success story of how you did it."