When I drop off clothes to be dry-cleaned, the person behind the counter greets me by name and immediately types my telephone number into the computer to see if there’s anything for me to pick up. Husband, wife and son greet all repeat customers this way. I marvel at how they remember everyone’s name and phone number. They also do a good job of cleaning, laundering and altering clothes. Two years ago I moved across town. Now I drive past three or four other cleaning establishments to take my clothes to them. Does once a decade qualify as a repeat customer?
Great customer service. Repeat customers are the most obvious benefit of establishing this type of positive relationship. Unfortunately, it’s not something that will work for home inspectors, whose customers may need their service only every five or ten years, and then only if they buy a home in the same area.
Nevertheless, many home inspectors have figured out how to adapt the idea of building relationships, which is so successful for my dry cleaner, to something that works for them. Making word of mouth work for you
As a customer, what’s the next best thing to doing business with someone you have a relationship with? It’s doing business with someone who had a relationship with a trusted friend, family member or business associate.
Call it trolling for referrals, call it networking or just call it good business—word of mouth about positive experiences keeps the phone ringing and the calendar full.
Savvy inspectors are aware that buyers, sellers and real estate professionals come away from every inspection with an opinion about the inspector’s technical expertise and service. They see every interaction with buyers homeowners and real estate professionals as an opportunity to build a mini-relationship based on respect and satisfaction. The home inspector who treats all the parties involved in the transaction with courtesy and respect earns the reputation of being a true professional — someone who deserves to be recommended. Discourtesy can be disastrous
Discourteous behavior leads to a different reputation. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration:
“When they (customers) are displeased, even by a small disappointment or discourteous word, various surveys have revealed that customers tell from seven to 11 people about their dissatisfaction.
“Critical to keeping customers happy is understanding them and the way they think.
For example, customers do business on the basis of emotional desire: they want what they want — when they want it. Customers also tend to gravitate toward a company or group of people they like.”
With this in mind, the SBC suggests, “Conduct your own survey. Profit from the ideas, suggestions and complaints of your present and former customers. Talk and meet with your customers. Ask questions. Learn their attitudes, what they want and what they dislike.” Consider emotion as well as intellect
In other words, learn to recognize the emotional elements, as well as the intellectual factors, that establish satisfying short-term relationships with customers — relationships that will help them recall their inspection experience favorably when relatives, friends or clients need a home inspector. Taking advantage of every opportunity
For the most part, home inspectors build relationships with buyers and real estate transaction professionals. ASHI Member Matt Bradfeldt is among the growing number of home inspectors who recognize that homeowners also have opinions about the people who inspect their homes for homebuyers. If this is so, why take the chance of creating a negative attitude when you have the opportunity to create a positive one?
As the general manager and technical director for Premier Inspectors of America, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona, Bradfeldt says his company leaves a table tent with the company logo, contact information, the offer of a 10 percent discount for future services on one side, and the following message on the other:
“Thank you for allowing us into your home. In the process of the inspection, the HVAC system, plumbing system and electrical systems were all operated. We strive to return all items in the home to the way we found them, and apologize if we overlooked anything. Please check your thermostat setting and GFCI outlets to ensure that we have not forgotten anything.
Please remember Premier Inspectors of America, Inc. for your future inspection needs.”
Bradfeldt’s company is taking full advantage of every opportunity to build relationships. The thank you notes recognize the emotional involvement of current homeowners who are making their homes available for the inspection.
It’s the foundation for The ASHI Experience. Every interaction with buyers, homeowners and real estate professionals is an opportunity to build a mini-relationship based on professional competency and courteous service. There’s no reason to try to remember every customer’s name and phone number, but there can be value in establishing mini-relationships because:
There’s nothing better for business than word of mouth about positive experiences.