Welcome to Smart Tips, a monthly ASHI Reporter feature written by one of North America’s most successful home inspection firms, Carson Dunlop & Associates. Each month, we will feature a new article that provides sound approaches to strategic business growth, all field-tested for success by some of the most experienced home inspectors in North America. Whether it’s sales and advertising strategies, tips on making your business more customer-centric or how to evaluate public relations opportunities, our goal is to stimulate your interest to work on your business rather than just in it.
If you have been following this column, you have probably concluded that not all advertising lends itself well to the home inspection business. Every time you are presented with an advertising opportunity, you should evaluate a number of different factors. Here is one evaluation process you may want to consider.Don’t be pressured
Determine if it’s something you have to do. For example, if you don’t do it, the business you will lose far outweighs the cost of participating. Be realistic about this. If you lose a relationship with a top agent because his or her demands are offsetting your profits too much, it’s not the end of the world. There are other top agents. Consider whether the cost to maintain the demanding agent might be better spent building a relationship with another top agent.Does your public expect it of you?
Determine if it’s something the public expects of you. For example, everyone expects that you will have a business card. Today, more and more people expect that you will have a Web site and that your e-mail address and Web site address will appear on your business card. But does the public expect you to advertise your services on someone else’s card? Probably not.Compare strategies
If you don’t have to do it, or your public does not expect it, think long and hard about whether it’s the best approach. The key word is “best.” Even if you determine that you will make money on the advertising strategy, compare it to a dozen other campaigns and see if you still think it’s a good idea. The goal is to optimize the return on every dollar you invest, putting your resources where they will produce the greatest result.Make sure it’s trackable
If you decide that the advertising strategy might be a good idea, see if it can be tracked. Sometimes, a little imagination is required to come up with a tracking procedure that makes sense. Put the onus on the person offering you the advertising opportunity to help come up with a tracking procedure.
Tracking tools can include different prices for different offers: coupons that will tell you where the business came from; or an instruction in the ad for prospects to mention the ad when they call so they receive a reward. You should always be asking callers where they heard about you, and you should include a question in your client survey or questionnaire asking clients why they chose your firm.Direct mail is one of best strategies
Direct-mail advertising is often preferable to display advertising in the home inspection business. Consider the example of the direct-mail campaign that offered indoor air-quality inspections to previous clients. Even though your cost to acquire an inspection with a direct-mail campaign might be $30 or more, it may be better than display advertising. Direct-mail advertising may be more effective because you can track it, and you can turn it on and off quickly and inexpensively — a good fit with your home inspection business.
This article is based on content from “Building Your Home Inspection Business – A guide to marketing, sales, advertising, and public relations,” authored by Carson Dunlop and published by Dearborn Home Inspection. Carson Dunlop also authors the Home Reference Book, Essentials of Home Inspection, the Illustrated Home and, most recently, HORIZON, a unique Web-based reporting system.
See www.carsondunlop.com or www.dearbornhomeinspection.com for more information.