It’s not exactly breaking news that home inspection volume on a national level has been on the decline for the past several months. Now, with winter around the corner, combined with sustained challenges in the housing market and an uncertain economy, home inspectors are rightfully concerned about the futures of their businesses.
The successful pivot
Late fall and winter months are traditionally a slower period for most inspectors across the country. However, if they aren’t careful this year, they could easily see a slower season turn into an economic blizzard for their business.
While there’s no shortage of speculation out there about what our housing market is going to do over the next year, most housing market prognosticators do agree that things are going to be a lot slower in 2023 than they have been in the past few years. And yes, that downturn will obviously have an impact on inspection volume. Yet, it’s what inspection business owners do during this downturn that will truly separate the success stories from the failed and forgotten. Here’s how to pivot now and improve your odds of becoming a success story when the tale is told.
The hook: Creating more opportunities
As incoming leads become scarcer and home inspection business owners are forced to compete more with each other, they must:
Improve their odds of closing more leads than the competition
Increase the average ticket price to compensate for fewer overall leads
While there are many methods and approaches we’ll explore in this series on how home inspectors can survive and even thrive during these slower times, one surefire method for improving the odds you’ll close more leads and increase your average ticket price is by diversifying your services.
Think about it. A lead comes in and they need a home inspection. OK, great, but many times, they really need or want more than that. That’s why offering additional ancillary services can be very attractive to customers, as they represent more of a one-stop solution for home buyers. Not only is it a great way to attract and retain more customers, but it’s a great way to boost your bottom line and grow your business. And during a time when you need to close more leads than the competition and boost those average ticket prices, you don’t want to lose one because you don’t offer radon testing or termite inspections.
The lineup: Diversified services
As a home inspection business owner, you might already offer a set of ancillary services. Some of the more popular ones being offered by the top businesses in our industry today include:
Plumbing / sewer scope
Lead paint inspections
Termite / pest inspections
If you’re an inspector who doesn’t offer some or all of these ancillary services, now is the time to invest in adding them into your offering. You already recognize so many issues that affect homes — yet many of these issues aren’t technically within your purview as you write your report. So, now is the time to consider additional certifications in areas you’re already likely well versed in, or which are popular in your area. Worried about the extra investment right now to add in those services? Don’t be.
Too often, when home inspectors begin to experience much slower periods in their businesses, they mistakenly end up cutting out critical business initiatives – sacrificing long-term growth and stability, for short-term financial comfort. Sure, trimming back on some business costs during leaner times is a smart strategy for sustainability, but certain initiatives need to be bolstered, not clipped.
The experience: How vs what
Truly maximizing every lead and upselling your diversified services in a way that feels more helpful than salesy, isn’t always easy. And it can get even tougher during a down economy. But it’s the businesses that have a thoughtful approach to customer service, and a strategic plan for managing the greater customer experience, who will always win the day.
We’ll explore this in greater detail in another blog post, but as leads present themselves, how you market and sell your inspection services becomes just as important, if not more so, than what you sell. Consider the following statistics:
80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products or services – McKinsey & Company
70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer FEELS they are being treated – McKinsey & Company
67% of customers say they would definitely be willing to PAY MORE for a great customer experience – McKinsey & Company
51% of customers will never do business again with a company after just one negative experience – Forrester Research
33% of Americans say they will consider switching companies after just a SINGLE INSTANCE of poor service – American Express 2018 Customer Service Study
According to a 2018 report by New Voice Media, poor customer service is costing U.S. businesses more than $75 billion a year. And the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) reported this year that customer satisfaction in the U.S. is at its lowest level in 15 years. So, with so many upsides to providing a great experience for customers, why are so many businesses doing it so badly?
Most home inspection business owners understand the concept of providing great customer service and the benefits that come from its application. However, the customer experience is a little harder to wrap your noodle around. Because it involves how your agents and clients perceive your brand from the moment they first interact with it, all the way through the inspection lifecycle process – including the final delivery of the report, that last follow-up email, and even a thoughtful holiday card. That’s the “experience.” But bottom line, too few inspection business owners are placing enough importance on customer experience management. During slower times, this will be a costly mistake for some, but an opportunity for others.
The shift: Making the investment
Maximizing every lead. Upselling more ancillary services. It all starts by focusing on creating a greater, overall customer experience. Have you spent the time and made the right investments to ensure every new lead and customer will have a great experience with your brand? Ask yourself these questions:
How often are your agents referring business to you? Has that been increasing over time or decreasing? Either way, do you know why?
Does your website give the impression you will provide them with a great experience, or does it overwhelm them with details?
When their call is answered after a few rings, does a friendly voice greet them, giving the time to answer all their questions about one of the biggest purchase decisions they may be making in their lives?
Are your marketing materials friendly and engaging?
Are you handling leads, offering your services, and booking inspections in a helpful, easy manner?
Is handling special requests a non-issue?
After the inspection, how would you describe the reaction of your customer?
How are you addressing questions or concerns they may have?
What are you doing post-inspection to make sure the agent and client received the best possible experience?
Not every home inspector is a natural marketer or salesperson. In fact, very few are. Becoming an inspector, performing thorough inspections, creating insightful and valuable reports for clients, keeping up with continuing education requirements, and trying to run a profitable and sustainable home inspection business…all that is hard enough. But when an inspector chooses to trim back on business costs that are actually critical business initiatives – like lead management and upselling by highly trained professionals – they are jeopardizing their ability to provide an exceptional customer experience for your clients.
ACC (America’s Call Center):
ACC is a fully integrated customer service and communication-handling solution exclusively for home inspectors – no matter if you’re a sole proprietor or a multi-inspector firm.
ACC has 25 years of experience and knowledge of what it takes to successfully navigate more challenging economic cycles. And when budgets are tight, it’s good to have a partner that has a history of producing an increase of 15% – 30% in revenue after inspectors begin services while only paying an average of $2 – $5 an hour for those services. That’s a big boost for such a small investment! We are inspectors’ smartest approach to growth and the essential partner that will make all the difference for your business. During this shift in our industry, make a shift for your business. Make a shift to ACC.