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January 2009 Inspector eNews - Page 3

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Photos from the CREIA Conejo Valley Chapter Holiday Party

CREIA CV Chapter Holiday                         Party

CREIA CV Chapter Holiday                         Party
CREIA CV Chapter Holiday                         Party

Great lap times by fellow inspectors (handle/nickname): B-rad, Slick, Speed Racer, Deal Killer, Choo-Choo- Charlie, Racer X and Palika.

Click here to learn about OREP Home Inspector E&O             Insusrance

Inspector Ethics - Business Practices That Can Help Build Relationships and Reduce Ethics and Performance Complaints

Unless he walks on water, at least on a semi regular basis, the time will come when a REALTOR® or client will be upset with the inspector, the inspection and/or the inspection report. There may be some basis for their displeasure, but most of the time, there is little or no basis. The house is falling off the foundation and it is obviously it is the inspector’s fault since he was the one who found it. It’s the “shoot the messenger for delivering the message” mentality. In past articles, as well as on the CREIA web site, the difference between a performance complaint and an ethics complaint has been discussed at length. To review, a performance complaint deals with the finding of fact. The inspector allegedly missed something or made an error of fact. An ethics complaint deals with violating guidelines that could create conflicts of interest. As indicated on the CREIA web site the most common ethics complaints relate to “advertising, improper or unauthorized use of the CREIA logo, improper use of the word ‘certified’, inaccurate listing of credentials or CREIA offices held.”

It is our responsibility to do the very best inspection we possibly can. If we do the best inspection possible and adhere to our Standards of Practice it will reduce the chance of a complaint later. Ken Compton, America’s premier home inspection marketing coach and a seminar leader at our upcoming conference in Scottsdale, AZ, drives home the point that a client or Realtor must know you, like you and trust you. If they do, the inspection orders will follow. It’s about relationship building. I think there is a corollary, “If a Realtor or client knows you, likes you and trusts you, they will be less likely to file complaints and be more likely to call you on the phone and work to resolve any potential problems.”

In our last article we indicated that CREIA has done a good job of policing themselves and the number of complaints in 2008 was relatively low. I would suggest there are certain business practices which, if we carefully follow them, we can help lessen the number of complaints and call-backs. The following are certainly not original ideas and many of you may already have incorporated them into your business practice.

  1. Create a company image. You are a professional. Act like a professional. Dress like and professional. Talk like a professional. Drive a clean vehicle - like a professional. Do a professional inspection. If there are issues with the property – deal with them in a professional manner.
  2. Don’t use “inspect speak”. Learn how to communicate in a professional non-threatening manner. I do not understand the trades or occupations of many of my clients. I’m not a car mechanic or landscaper. I would need for the mechanic or landscaper to communicate in a manner I understand. Don’t assume the client knows what a truss or reversed polarity is.
  3. Follow the Standards of Practice.
  4. Make sure your advertising is consistent, truthful, accurate and reflects your position in the market place. Your advertising may be your client’s first impression of your services. Make your impression memorable and positive.
  5. Make sure your web site communicates the benefit of using your services. Clients want to know what’s in it for them. Tell them.
  6. Have the client sign an inspection agreement prior to the beginning of the inspection. I would recommend you attach a copy of the Standards of Practice with the inspection agreement. Inspection agreements which incorporate the Standards of Practice are available from the CREIA web site. The key is to manage your client’s expectations. Let them know the scope of what you do before your start the inspection. Their expectations may exceed the scope of what we do. A client may expect that you test for mold but mold testing is beyond the scope of our inspection. They may think you can see inside walls to see the sewer line buried in the soil. Manage the client’s expectations.
  7. Ask the client if they have any concerns with the home or property. Make sure you address their stated concerns. If their concern is outside of the Standards of Practice, let them know. If they express a concern about the water fall in the back yard, let them know inspection of water falls is outside the scope of our inspection and suggest they hire a qualified professional to address their water fall concerns.
  8. Follow the Standards of Practice.
  9. Sometimes the client will bring the ultimate construction authority, “Uncle Buck” or Cousin Fred, to the inspection. You are a professional. Thank them for being there. (Quietly take two aspirin – extra strength if need be.) Respect their “input” or observations (even when wrong). Make it a point to thank them for attending the inspection before they leave. Remember, you are a professional.
  10. Arrive to the inspection early. On time is ten minutes late.
  11. Ask if there is a current pest report available for review. The report could alert you to potential problems that may be within the scope of your inspection.
  12. Deliver the report, by whatever agreed method, when you promised it.
  13. Follow the Standards of Practice.
  14. Follow up, after the inspection report has been delivered, with the Realtor® and the client. Do they have any questions? Answering questions or concerns now may prevent calls and concerns later. Remember it’s about building relationships.
  15. Send a thank you note to the client and Realtors®.
  16. Did we mention follow the Standards of Practice?
  17. If a problem or call-back occurs, deal with it in a professional and courteous manner.

Many of these may border on being marketing points. So be it. We want the client to be in a positive frame of mind. The key point to remember is that we are in the relationship building business. A happy client will be a good source of referrals for years to come. It is much more cost effective to retain a client or Realtor® for future referrals, than to repeatedly have to market our services to new clients and Realtors®.

Don Jackson in his book, 2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success, relates the following story. “A friend of mine bought a Lexus – a $45,000 piece of machinery. He could afford a Mercedes, a Jaguar, a Cadillac, but he went with the Lexus. His lifetime value to that automobile manufacturer could be in the high six figures. My friend took delivery of his elegant new Lexus from the dealer and started to drive it home, luxuriating in the smell of the leather interior and the glorious handling qualities. On a whim, he turned on the radio. His favorite classical music station came on loud and clear in splendid quadraphonic sound. He pushed the second button; it was his favorite news-weather-traffic station. The third button was set to his specific tastes.

Was the Lexus psychic? No. The mechanic at the Lexus dealership had noted the radio settings on the old trade in and duplicated them on the new Lexus. My friend was, in a word “delighted”.

He goes on to say, “Remember what this technician did for my friend cost Lexus nothing. Zip. Nada. Not one cent. Yet it solidified the relationship. Over the coming years, Lexus will have to screw up big time to negate that divine moment.”

As Ken Compton relates, “Delight A Customer (or referral source) And You Can Have That Customer For Life!” Remember we are in the relationship building business.

Submitted by:David Pace, Ethics Chair, CREIA MCI

Page 3


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