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  1. #1
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    Default prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    You'd think this would have come up before, but it hasn't.

    I have a prospective client who wants to contact a few previous clients of mine as referrals for my services.
    For those of you who do this, how do you handle it? Do you ask clients at inspections if they'd be willing to be contacted in the future by prospective clients?

    I'm not that comfortable with the idea of calling or emailing previous clients to ask them for this favor after the fact. But, maybe I shouldn't be, I don't know.

    Pros? Cons? Advice?

    Similar Threads:
    Inspection Referral SOC
    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I've gotten that request too John. I always tell people I don't give out the names and contact info of past clients to protect their privacy. Sometimes people hire me anyway. Some move along and I never hear from them again as I can only assume they find this unacceptable.

    In any event, I've thought about asking each client if they would be opposed to being a contact in case a prospective client wants to speak to a past client about my work. But I've never actually gotten around to doing it. If I did, I'm advise that their contact info will be given out one time only and will never be passed along again, whether the prospective client calls them or not. Otherwise, I think people could be left with the impression they'll be bombarded with calls from people asking them questions.

    If clients are happy with the work they we do for them, I don't think it would be a problem for most if we ask this favor of them after the inspection has already taken place.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  3. #3
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I have many clients that tell me that if I ever need a reference, they would be happy to give one. I keep a list of their phone numbers handy for when I get this request. I keep it updated.

    If you have some repeat clients, call them up and see if they would mind you giving their number out to prospective customers. What better testimonial that one over the phone?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I have been asked this once or twice and have told them no. To me it's not worth invading a client's privacy to gain a job. If the prospective client had any sense they would realize it's a useless exercise and a waste of their time anyway. What, you are going to give them the name and number of an unhappy client?
    I post a lot of emails from clients on my website (with names removed) and told them they could look at those.

    Here's an idea, tell them you can give them only 1 and give them your cell phone number or your home number


  5. #5
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Thompson View Post
    I have been asked this once or twice and have told them no. To me it's not worth invading a client's privacy to gain a job. If the prospective client had any sense they would realize it's a useless exercise and a waste of their time anyway. What, you are going to give them the name and number of an unhappy client?
    I post a lot of emails from clients on my website (with names removed) and told them they could look at those.

    Here's an idea, tell them you can give them only 1 and give them your cell phone number or your home number;)
    That would be great.

    ring.....ring.......ring...

    BEN: "Hello"
    BUYER: "........uh.......Hi. My name is......um.......didn't I just talk to you?"
    BEN: "I don't think so. Ben Thompson is a great inspector. The best ever. Handsome devil too."
    BUYER: "I didn't say why I was calling. How did you know I was going to ask about Ben Thompson? Are you sure I didn't just talk to you a few minutes ago? Is this Ben I'm talking too?"
    BEN: "............ummm.............CLICK".


    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 02-10-2011 at 06:11 PM.
    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  6. #6
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    No way...move on to your next client.
    If you have a few real estate agents thats fine give out there numbers otherwise move on.
    I fine clients like this are more of a pain in the back.

    Best

    Ron


  7. #7
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I tell the prospective client that I don't ever give out contact information of previous clients. I tell them its a matter of privacy. I would handle their right to privacy the same way.

    I also ask them what's to say I wouldn't give them a phoney. I mean really, how hard would that be to set up.

    I tell them to read my website and read my sample reports. I suggest that they ask other inspectors to show sample reports so they can compare.

    When they start off with the 50 bazillion questions, I stand my ground and remain confident. If they pass thats fine. I usually don't have a problem filling my appointment openings.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    You'd think this would have come up before, but it hasn't. I have a prospective client who wants to contact a few previous clients of mine as referrals for my services. For those of you who do this, how do you handle it? Do you ask clients at inspections if they'd be willing to be contacted in the future by prospective clients? I'm not that comfortable with the idea of calling or emailing previous clients to ask them for this favor after the fact. But, maybe I shouldn't be, I don't know. Pros? Cons? Advice?
    I have had that a couple of times. I answer with three problems, two of which have already been stated.

    1) I am reluctant to give out the name & phone number of past clients to protect their privacy.

    2) I would not willingly give out the name of someone who was dissatisfied with the inspection.

    3) If I have current contact information, that means that they probably have not moved into the house and do not know if I did a good job. If they have moved, it is likely that I do not have their current phone number.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  9. #9
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    May 2010
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    Durant, OK
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    One avenue you may consider is asking your clients to post a review on Angie's List or Kudzu, then it is visible to anyone wanting to read your reviews. Of course, you run the risk of getting both positive and negative reviews but if you have performed your inspection with due diligence and have conducted yourself in a professional manner with your client in regards to your Inspection Report and it contents...you should have nothing to worry about. I include an invitation to post a review on both websites with all of my Inspection Reports. Sometimes, the gain is worth the pain.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
    Jubilee Home Inspections

  10. #10
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    Mar 2007
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    Mesa AZ
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I give them names of two or three realtors that had me inspect their homes and now refer me.
    It works evertime.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    We obviously work in a different market.
    To me, the endorsements that guys post on their web sites are just made up fluff. "Inspector Gadget is the greatest!!!!!!!" - J.B. give me a break.

    I have clients that ASK me to give their names out in case someone wants a reference. I have not invaded anyones privacy.

    Someone thats not happy with my services?? Do we really know if they are unhappy unless they call to complain?? I get very few complaint/question calls, so I have to assume that my clients are happy with my service.

    Actually, most of my business referrals come from previous clients, so maybe that's the difference.

    I don't get all that many calls asking for a reference, but when I do, I have a list of willing participants that are willing to give me a good review.

    I have a huge following in the Chinese community in my area. Their referrals are gold. They don't care who their Realtor may want them to use, they know who their friends used, and want to have the same great service. I probably get 30 - 40 inspections a year from this network.

    To send someone away that is asking for a reference is just crazy to me. Not only are they a potential customer ($$$), but also a potential referral source for future jobs.

    Privacy issues?? Its not an issue if they give you permission to give out their number. Calling them every couple of months (to be sure they still want to be on the list) keeps me in touch. If I'm in touch with them, they are more likely to remember me when someone around them starts talking about getting a home inspection.

    Phone number issue. I don't know about anyone else, but most of my clients give me their cell phone number first, and rarely change it when they move. many people don't even bother with a land line anymore.

    There is a reason why most of my business comes from previous clients.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    The whole thing just seems unprofessional to me, giving out past client's names and phone numbers. Check the other new threads. I sure Pro Flowers could provide you with a long list of "satisfied" customers!


  13. #13
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I guess I'm failing to see how this is somehow unprofessional or an invasion of privacy.

    1. Potential client A asks if you have any references. (I think its a valid question. When I was looking to get my house painted, I asked the painter to provide some references, and I called them, AND went to look at the house)

    2. Previous client B told you that they WANT to be a reference source for your business. They tell you that its OK to have potential clients call them.

    I see this as a much better reference than all those stupid quotes that guys put on their web sites or brochures. I look at those and just assume they are all made up.

    I would never give out someone's phone number or information without their permission. THAT IS unprofessional and an invasion of privacy.


  14. #14
    William Corbett's Avatar
    William Corbett Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    Simply give commercial clients that you trust like Real Estate agents that also refer you etc.(most give me letters). I also get e-mail addresses and send a "How do you rate my services" form which has many questions with check boxes for excellent to bad and a comment area. Forwarding this type of material always seemed to satisfy clients.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    You'd think this would have come up before, but it hasn't.

    I have a prospective client who wants to contact a few previous clients of mine as referrals for my services.
    For those of you who do this, how do you handle it? Do you ask clients at inspections if they'd be willing to be contacted in the future by prospective clients?

    I'm not that comfortable with the idea of calling or emailing previous clients to ask them for this favor after the fact. But, maybe I shouldn't be, I don't know.

    Pros? Cons? Advice?



  15. #15
    Gary Heller's Avatar
    Gary Heller Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I have testimonial page on my web site. I refer the prospective client there.


  16. #16
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    Mar 2007
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    South-West Michigan
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    Post Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    There is a comments page on my website that come from actual clients, word for word. On occasion, the name and telephone number of previous clients have been provided as references.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  17. #17
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    Nov 2009
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    When I get that I tell them I don't give out my clients names due to privacy concerns. Instead I hand them a list of realtors that refer me(586 currently) and tell them to pick out several to call and talk to. Usually they see thet long list and say something like. "If you have that many realtors you must do a pretty good job". I usually wind up with the WDI Inspection and Radon measurement.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I find it comical when folks ask for past client references to contact, like a person would give them a name that would not speak well of them. Same goes for the testimonial pages that folks have on their website, it s all fluff.

    Frankly, I doubt I would even be able to contact the majority of my clients other than sending them a letter in the mail to their new address. Most of their phone numbers have changed from what I had when I did the inspection.

    The last time I had a person ask me for some past client to contact I had to tell them that I would need to try and locate a few that still had current phone numbers after they moved. The caller understood and told me to never mind and then they booked the inspection.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  19. #19
    Tom Camp's Avatar
    Tom Camp Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I am in agreement, I do NOT give out past clients information.

    Tom Camp
    FHA 203k Consultant
    Colorado Springs Home Inspector


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Chicago IL
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I get this call once or twice a year. I do not give out anyones info. If I really want the job for some particular reason I will ask the caller if I can give their number out so that past clients can call them. That's usually met with a NO, interesting of course. I have a few repeat/commercial clients that will call someone and give me a referral if I can them and ask. Their fine with making the call, they don't want to receive the call though, understandable.
    For the most part though its a waste of time. If I can't sell the job talking with the prospect, I doubt a previous client will either.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  21. #21
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I would refer people to the reviews posted about my service on Angie's List but you have to be a member to view the reviews. Instead, I refer people to the comments I made up and posted on my site from fictitious clients who don't really exist. C'mon Jack. Do you really think that's where these comments come from?

    Personally, I would never ask for references and call somebody I don't know for all the reasons mentioned here. Likewise, I wouldn't put much stock in the testimonials posted on the company's own website (even though I have the same thing on mine) because nobody is going to post up critical comments or give out the names and numbers of customers we did not see eye-to-eye with. For my own needs, I would use consumer targeted sites like the BBB, Angie's List, and see if the local Merchant Circle has any positive or negative info on a company. But my first source would be to tap family and friends and see if they have any company they would recommend.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Western Montana
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    It's not an unreasonable question, given the wide differences in how home inspectors perform their profession (or part time hobby in some cases). Especially in states that don't have licensing. Membership in ASHI or NACHI doesn't really mean anything; licensing or certification don't guarantee that a home inspector will do a diligent inspection.

    One work around for this is to use Systino (Systino Customer Loyalty, Referral, and Retention Software). You upload a list of inspections with the email address of clients and Realtors. Their system will send a very quick, simple email to measure customer satisfaction by asking "would you refer this ___ person to your friends?". Then compiles the results. The system offers a pretty comprehensive set of reports to the business owner as a way to measure and improve customer satisfaction. And all at a pretty good price.

    You can then set up a link in your website that posts the results of the customer survey, and hides the actual name and identity of the customer. Will show all results, even the negative responses.

    I found it interesting partly because we hardly ever hear anything back from our clients (except when they want to sue us for something stupid). If you feel confident about the level of your work, it can be a great marketing tool.

    Terry B


  23. #23
    Russel Ray's Avatar
    Russel Ray Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I'm amazed at the answers here.

    I also don't provide past clients' information to prospective clients, but I easily turn this around: I tell prospective clients that I'll be happy to provide THEIR phone number to my past clients and ask my past clients to the prospective client. I've never had a past client say no, and the prospective client has always called back and scheduled the inspection.

    Additionally, my clients always give me their cell phone number and their work number. In their own words:

    1 - I don't even have a landline anymore.
    2 - My landline won't work once I move.


  24. #24
    Join Date
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    Utah
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    If you are not keeping track of past clients that have offered referrals then you are failing. To refuse a potential client access to a past clients is incredibly unprofessional and reeks of fear of past performance.

    I ask doctors, mechanics, insulators, plumbers and potential employees for referrals lists.

    If 95% of your past business isn't very happy with your work you are in the wrong business.


  25. #25
    Mitchell Toelle's Avatar
    Mitchell Toelle Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    That would be great.

    ring.....ring.......ring...

    BEN: "Hello"
    BUYER: "........uh.......Hi. My name is......um.......didn't I just talk to you?"
    BEN: "I don't think so. Ben Thompson is a great inspector. The best ever. Handsome devil too."
    BUYER: "I didn't say why I was calling. How did you know I was going to ask about Ben Thompson? Are you sure I didn't just talk to you a few minutes ago? Is this Ben I'm talking too?"
    BEN: "............ummm.............CLICK".
    Definitely sounds like a KitKat moment. Would make a great commercial.


  26. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Lake Barrington, IL
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    I'm going to agree with some of the previous posts. Testimonials from previous clients are useless and I personally would not put any stock in them, even if they were legitimate. If one were to press an inspector for info they should ask about their training and their continuing education. If your state is like mine, you can look up online the status of an inspector's license and what C.E.s he has. Ask to see a copy of a report and standards that are followed.

    I'll bet some inspectors may get a little nervous about such questions but I think that they are valid ones which may effectively weed out the field of candidates for the buyer. - especially that nasty one about having E&O. (I dropped my coverage due to a couple of bogus claims and I wouldn't hesitate to tell a buyer that)

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  27. #27
    Bert de Haan's Avatar
    Bert de Haan Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    We obviously work in a different market.
    To me, the endorsements that guys post on their web sites are just made up fluff. "Inspector Gadget is the greatest!!!!!!!" - J.B. give me a break.
    I don't put it on my website if it isn't true. No fluff.


  28. #28
    dave koloskee's Avatar
    dave koloskee Guest

    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    We email clients a few weeks after their inspection asking for their feedback. We also ask if we may use their reply on our website. When prospective clients call us and are researching us, we direct them to our site to view a sample report, read client testimonials, see credentials, etc etc.


  29. #29
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    Mar 2007
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    S.W. Missouri
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    Default Re: prospective client wants to contact previous clients

    You may consider directing prospective clients to sites such as Angie's List to view reviews that have been left if you are a member. Also many directories have ratings systems that can be viewed by prospects.

    Last edited by Bob R; 02-27-2011 at 10:39 PM. Reason: grammar

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