Weathering the Storm, Part 3: Competitive Research & Positioning

weathering storm part 3

When winter approaches and the slow season arrives, home inspectors may find themselves apprehensive about the future of their business.

Key to Success – Multifaceted Strategies

While there’s plenty of speculation about the current state of the housing market, economists are hopeful that the Federal Reserve won’t increase rates in 2024. They do, however, still anticipate ongoing affordability concerns.

In times of economic challenges, employing intelligent business strategies becomes crucial to sustain and navigate through softer periods.

Pinning Down Your Market Positioning

As incoming leads become scarcer and you are faced with more competition, you will want to focus on:

  1. Performing competitive research to better understand key areas of differentiation between your business and the competition
  2. Leveraging insights from competitive analysis and refine brand positioning to generate more leads, and build a customer base

When the pandemic struck the U.S. in early 2020, it significantly disrupted home inspections (and most business operations). When the economy gradually rebounded, inspectors adjusted to the “new normal,” and within a year, the housing market experienced a notable upswing. However, with the market now undergoing corrections to align with affordability, demand, and supply, inspectors can find it challenging to stand out in a more competitive environment.

Research & Competitive Analysis

When was the last time you remember running a competitive analysis for your brand? If the answer is “Never, I’m not sure, or before the pandemic,” then it’s high time to engage in this essential task.

If you’ve conducted one in the past year or so, was it efficient, insightful, and did it lead to specific and strategic adjustments that have yielded dividends? Because, when done correctly, it should.

What is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis is a strategy that involves researching other inspection companies in and around your area to gain insight into their services, sales, and marketing tactics. The information you gain from this analysis will enable you to stay atop inspection industry trends and ensure the services you provide are consistently meeting (and exceeding) industry standards.

There are many methods and approaches for performing a competitive analysis, but the must-have benefits any analysis should provide include:

  • The identification of your services’ unique value proposition and what makes your inspection services different from the competitors’ – this helps inform future marketing efforts
  • What you see that your competitors are doing right – this information is critical for staying relevant and ensuring both your services and marketing campaigns are outperforming industry standards
  • The identification of where your competitors are falling short – this helps you identify areas of opportunities in the marketplace, and test out new, unique marketing strategies they haven’t taken advantage of
  • Learnings from customer reviews around what’s missing in competitors’ services – this can inform what you might add to your own services to meet those needs

How to Perform a Basic Competitive Analysis

There’s no denying the importance of business intelligence regarding your competitors, and the advantages of conducting a competitive analysis are numerous. While you can enlist a firm’s assistance for market research in your inspection business (ACC routinely performs competitive research for clients), here are steps you can independently take to kickstart the process:

  • Determine who your competitors are. Depending on the areas you cover, research what other inspection businesses operate in the same vicinity. Are they sole proprietors or multi-inspector firms?
  • Determine what services your competitors offer. Beyond “inspections,” determine what additional ancillary services your competitors offer.
  • Research your competitors’ sales tactics and approach to service delivery. Look at their website, social media, referral sites, and determine how they manage their lead process. Can you reach them right away via phone or text? Do they have a contact form on their website, a chat option, and/or a “schedule an inspection now” option? And how long does it take to get a response from any of their contact methods?
  • Take a look at your competitors’ pricing, as well as any perks they offer. Are they more expensive? Less expensive? Do they bundle with other ancillary services or offer holiday promotions or special offers throughout the year?
  • Analyze how your competitors market their services. What ads are you seeing from your competitors? What areas of their business are they promoting more than others? Do they have podcasts or participate in webinars? Are they featured in any articles?
  • Take note of your competition’s content strategy. How much content do they produce each month? Is it good? Do people engage with their content on social media?
  • Observe how they promote marketing content. How often do you see their paid or promoted content on social media? Are there sites that link back to their website? Do they lend their insights or voice to industry associations or vendors in the industry – on blogs, podcasts, and social media groups?
  • Look at their social media presence, strategies, and go-to platforms. How many platforms are they active on? Do they have a lot of followers? What kind of content has gotten the most engagement and shares? How often do they post?

Insights & Brand Repositioning

Once you’ve performed a competitive analysis, you can take the information and easily plug it into a simple SWOT analysis to fully inform and identify areas where your business has “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats” in your market and with your competitors.

Leveraging Insights = Revealing Opportunities

Identifying areas to leverage insights from your research and SWOT analysis can reveal opportunities to capitalize on specific weaknesses observed in your competitors.

For instance, some inspectors may opt not to respond to phone calls or texts during inspections or after business hours, lacking a call center or an alternative customer service option. Well, according to a study by Consumer Reports, a staggering 75% of callers who can’t reach a live person at a business will not leave a voicemail.

The bottom line here is that after you’ve identified key areas of differentiation between your business and those of the competition and see gaps for opportunity, you can and must fill those gaps.

Repositioning Your Brand

Brands are built with the purpose of making a business more memorable and appealing to a given audience. Brands achieve this by identifying unique points of difference and communicating that difference in a manner that resonates with that audience. This is brand positioning 101.

Your brand’s position in the home inspection market, especially in your service area, is shaped by the way people perceive it. And this perception ultimately stems from the brand experience – how people “feel” when experiencing your business through various touchpoints, such as: your website, social channels, ads, customer service agents, the actual inspection, the inspection report, and follow-up emails.

“Repositioning” in marketing refers to the process a brand undergoes to adjust or transform its image in the market to better appeal to its target audience.

Even the most rock-solid of brands need to alter their positioning to combat issues related to current conditions. The primary objective is to realign your brand in the mind of your audience, so that they see your brand and its offerings as superior to those of your competitors. This aligns with our strategic approach to addressing those gaps we talked about.

After evaluating your brand’s current market position, and then comparing it with the insights gained from the competitive research and SWOT analysis, you can start envisioning necessary adjustments and modifications to your brand identity. This involves refining the personality of your business and the promises you extend to your customers. These changes will help you fill those gaps of opportunity by amplifying core elements of your brand DNA that are NOT part of your competitors.

ACC – Services and Solutions

Like we mentioned earlier, ACC routinely performs competitive research for clients.

As a comprehensive customer service and communication-handling solution exclusively tailored for home inspectors, ACC caters to both sole proprietors and multi-inspector firms by integrating and customizing services to mirror your company’s brand. Drawing upon 25 years of experience, ACC possesses the expertise to adeptly navigate challenging economic cycles.

When you count on ACC to help your brand stand above the rest, you can focus on your other business goals. Ready to accelerate your home inspection business? Request a free quote today.

Note: While competitive research and positioning are the focus in this blog, we do want to recommend that you delve into all of the methods and approaches discussed in our “Surviving the Slower Season” series designed to assist home inspectors during slower times.