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  1. #1
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    Nov 2013
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    Default Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    Hello all and thanks for the add - I am a soon to be retired employee after 34 years in Telecommunications. I'm looking to get into something new and I have been considering this field. I've also been reading a lot of the threads on this forum, but frankly you guys are scaring the bejesus out of me! Whew! There are so many pitfalls discussed on the forum, the dropout rates, the dog eat dog back stabbing mentality, the huge liability issues, the marketing efforts, Insurance requirements and costs and the length of time is seems to take before making money - how does anyone really make a go of it? I know a small percentage do, but it seems to me that one has to have a lot of money stashed to get them by for a few years and/or have a spouse supporting them along the way. Is there a thread started that focuses on success? And another thing that concerns me is that there seems to be a consensus that nobody really charges enough for their services for fear of losing business. I would love to do this but somehow it seems pretty hopeless for all but a very fortunate few.

    F.I.R.E. Services

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
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    2,446

    Default Re: Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    First of all, welcome to the forum Stephen.
    Your post started out like hundreds of others........worked X number of years doing xyz and now want to get into the easy money of home inspections. However, you seem to be the only guy that has actually read and understood the posts here.

    Yes it is a very hard business to start up. You hit on just about every part of the business that makes it tough to succeed.

    That said, I've been in it since 1989. I will say its been a tough go these past few years, but for the most part, I love what I do. If I was to do it over again, I probably would not go into home inspection as a career choice, but I'm getting to the end of my working years now.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    1,078

    Default Re: Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    Starting any business is a taunting task. Home Inspections is no different. I am sure if you went to the Start a bakery, clothes store, auto repair, or X forum you would find similar stories of how difficult it was the first couple of years. Long hours, low pay, lack of appreciation, grumpy customers, etc.

    Ask the small business adminstration about the track records of any small business and they ALL have a high failure rate.

    People entering the profession often fail to see that they will wear more hats than just Home Inspector. They also must advertise, keep the books, market, improve technically, find new customers and a host of other tasks beside just wandering around bulidings taking notes.

    Lots of first time posters on this forum whose stories are often, I hate my current job and so have decided to become a home inspector. No previous business experience, no previous building systems experience or knowledge. Mostly a desire to work for themselves, set their own hours, and make piles of easy money. Oh and leave the horrible job there are currently stuck in. They choose Home Inspections not because they have an apptitude regarding how homes are put together but because they hate their current job. Its like they were throwing darts at the Pick a New Career board and the dart landed in home inspections.

    If you look closer at businesses that fail you will find that they did not manage the business. Not that they were necessarily poor at doing whatever the task of the business is, but did not manage the business. It is hard to be technically competent, a great marketer, a great accountant, and a great salesman. Sometimes just not enough hours in the day.

    Lots of home inspectors say you cannot be a good/great home inspector without having been in the trades. Phewy! The reason home inspectors have a job at all is because the trades often don't do stuff right. I spent 25 years in the corporate world. Tinkering with my house was a hobby. But I LOVE to figure out how things are put together. I bought my first code book in 1985, 20 years before I even thought about being a home inspector. I wanted to upgrade my home and I thought I could read the code book and learn how to wire my house.

    Texas has one of the most stringent home inspector licenseing programs. Good news is they have been very specific at what you must and must not do. That is also the bad news.

    My recommendation is take a start up business class at the local community college. Take a small business class from the Small Business Admin. Learn how to run a business first. Learn how to get financing, manage your books, pay taxes, etc. Once you have been through those classes you will understand how much money you need in reserve and for how long. You will learn where to find mentors near you to help you run the business. You will learn about logos, brand marketing, and relationship building. You will have developed a support system who you can call upon to help you run and manage any business.

    Make sure you can type at least 30 words a minute. Really. You may be surprised at how much typing home inspectors do.

    Then you can start worrying about the techncial aspects about how homes are assembled. Take a home inspector course at the local community college. Find out just how much you dont know about homes and home inspections.

    Is anybody happy with how much money they make? There are cost cutters in every business. Walmart and Neman Marcus have different customers. They both are department stores. They both make a profit but for different reasons. Walmart sells lots of products at low price. Neman Marcus sells fewer products but at a much higher price. Which is better? You have to decide if you are going to market low price and volume or higher price but potentially lower volume. Decide what is going to differenate you from all the other home inspectors in your area. Are you code certified? Member of a national asscoiation? Free refrigerator magnet with every inspection? If you were looking for a home buyer looking for an inspector, what would you look for? Intially you will not be able to play the Experience card so you gotta have something else.

    At the end of the day, you have to find a new customer every single day. People don't buy houses that often so repeat customers are few and far between. There is no list of home buyers but there area group of people who home buyers flock to. Getting agents to refer their clients is an acceptable marketing strategy. Just make sure you are not compromising the quality of the inspection or report to keep the agents around. Also make sure that you have more than one stream of leads. If you ain't got a website, you don't exist. The marketing pitch for agents is different than the marketing pitch for home buyers. Hone your 1 minute elevator pitch. If you dont know what that is see the paragraph about small business classes.

    Have business cards in your wallet and give them away every chance you get. Everyone you meet knows someone else who knows someone who needs a home inspection. Business cards are cheap and don't do you any good being saved for the right person. They only work if someone besides you has them. A box of 250 cards is $10. Best $10 you can spend. You should be giving away at least 750-1000 cards a year. If you aren't you are doing something wrong. One for the buyer, one for the buyers agent, and one left behind on the kitchen counter for the seller. That is a bare minimum of 3 at each inspection. First 3 years of my business I gave away 5000 a year.

    Yeah, the general vibe on the forum is running a home inspection business is tough, demanding, with a high probability of failure and problems. So is every business. It is also very rewarding. You get to really help people understand how their homes work and make an informed decision. You get to see some really cool homes. You get to meet some really nice people. But it is not for everybody.

    Pay a home inspector to go on a ride-along inspection. Keep your mouth shut, don't hassle the buyer and buy the inspector lunch. Do that five times with five different inspectors. You will learn more in those five ride alongs than you will in weeks of classes about home inspection. At the end of the five ride-alongs you will know in your heart if you really want to be a home inspector.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    United States
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    Default Re: Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    Thanks Jack and Bruce for the replies - I still have a little bit of time before I have to make a decision on my new career choice. One thing I didn't mention is that I have a business that I started about 10 years ago (in a city about an hour away from where I live). It isn't really thriving, but has been holding it's own and providing me with about 25K per year. I had to hire a GM and Secretary to run it for me while working my regular career job. I understand marketing, taxes, dealing with customers, etc., so I understand all the difficulties in making a small business run. I think I will take your advice and try to do a few ride a longs with Inspectors in my area. However, I have a feeling they won't be too open to it if they are territorial. Thanks!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    1,078

    Default Re: Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Pearson View Post
    I think I will take your advice and try to do a few ride a longs with Inspectors in my area. However, I have a feeling they won't be too open to it if they are territorial. Thanks!
    So request ride-alongs from people outside your area. 1 hr or 40 miles is about all most inspectors are going to travel in a metro area. Unless they are adding a travel charge. You mentioned you have a business in another part of the state. Request ride-alongs over there.

    Attend local home inspector association meetings. There are several associations and likely soon someone will be along to tell you their favorite is the best and the only club to join. The best association is the one that meets in your area so you get to know the locals. Make friends. We frequently refer jobs amoung ourselves when we are overbooked and the buyer just has to have the inspection on a certain day at a certain time. One inspector chooses not to perform pre-drywall inspections and sends me all those leads. One fella was sick for a week or so and referred jobs around. One fella has a thermal imaging camera and when potential clients have to have the technology, he gets referrals.

    The lesser inspectors fret about too much competition. The better inspectors have enough work to keep them busy and are working to get even better. They dont compete on price, they compete on service and reputation. Those are the ones that tend to be the officers in the associations. Those are the ones that are willing to ride-alongs. Those are the ones you want to learn from.

    One of the national associations encourages its members to offer ride-alongs and even has a field in the member profile they can check saying they offer ride-alongs. You can contact the local association president and he can usually guide you to the members most likley to offer that service. Most associations have a web site. Welcome to ASHI Texas - Texas Home Inspection is a group of local chapters in Texas.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  6. #6
    Bob Spermo's Avatar
    Bob Spermo Guest

    Default Re: Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    Stephen, You should also know that to be a licensed inspector in Texas you will have to go through approximately 440 hrs of approved training, pass a test and purchase insurance.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    United States
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    3

    Default Re: Hello from TX! Is this business like being on Survival Island?

    Thanks for that Bruce and Bob - I found an Inspector for a ride-a-long in the next week or so, and today enrolled in a course to start my 440 hour training. Wish me luck!


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