DEVELOPING AN INSPECTION PROCESS THAT WORKS FOR YOU January 3, 2023 | Business Tips , Inspection Tips , Franchise | small business , business growth , time management , entrepreneur By Jon McCreath, NPI, Inc.'s Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator Every successful entrepreneur finds a process that works for them. Certainly they take note of the proven strategies that work in their industry, and they adjust their approach when they come across new ideas. For someone just starting out in their industry, this also means plenty of trial and error. While you develop your own routine for running your business, one of the best habits you can work to gain is becoming organized. There is a wealth of information out there for how to do this as a small business owner, or even as a person in general. For example, keeping a to-do list, removing unnecessary clutter in your workplace, and keeping a strict schedule all work wonders to increase a sense of accomplishment throughout your day. However, anyone who has worked in the property inspection industry knows that there is a lot to juggle as a home inspector. As we discuss some recommended processes that have proven to work in the inspection industry, remember this disclaimer: Do not be afraid to tweak these strategies to fit your own style! The main takeaway should be to find your routine and stick to it. Whether that routine closely reflects what we’ll outline here, or deviates considerably, be strict about the routine that you craft for yourself. During the Pre-Inspection Period Prior to the inspection, there are a few steps that every inspector should know to do. Review and receive the pre-inspection agreement, discuss the scope of work involved in the inspection, and outline the standards of practice. In addition, take the time to do as much preliminary research that you can manage. Take advantage of public listings on websites like Zillow or Realtor.com to get a background on the property and better orient yourself when you arrive. This sort of preparation can be considerable in contributing to the efficiency of your actual inspection. If you haven’t taken the time to organize your jobs yet, you can start as you book your new inspections. For the best security, consider using an external hard drive or using the cloud for storage (or use both!). This should improve the performance of any laptop or desktop you are using, and it provides some extra flexibility as you move forward. Experiment to see what format works for you, but try creating a folder for each year, and then dedicate a new folder for each job. In there, you can store copies of the pre-inspection agreement, a copy of the listing, and everything else pertaining to the inspection. One part that inspectors tend to mismanage is their photos. Within each individual inspection’s folder, create a photo folder and save all of them there. Systems like these can save a lot of work for yourself down the road. During the Inspection The key to a smooth and efficient inspection is to work on your routine. A first step should be to find your “home base.” For your tools and other equipment, the garage can be a great space to organize and orient yourself. A good space for your computer can be the kitchen, and when you’ve developed a comfortable routine, this space can be a good one to start working on your report. With your equipment organized, an initial walkthrough can be a great way to develop your strategy and familiarize yourself with the property. While most inspectors have an order that they prefer, a home’s layout can sometimes lend itself well towards some sort of deviation. Another situation where some deviation from your plan may be necessary is when a homeowner or client must be present at the property. This may be more common with elderly clients or with clients who have young children. Balancing efficiency with how you accommodate your client can be difficult, but your clients’ preferences are crucial. Remember to carry an inspection checklist to keep yourself on track, especially in these situations when deviations are unavoidable. After the Inspection and the Wrap-Up During what we’ll call the “Post-Inspection,” a great way to be efficient with your time and to build satisfaction with your clients is to take control of the wrap up with a consistent “speech” or breakdown. This can take a few different forms depending on what you find your clients to appreciate the most, but consider using the “Four Cornerstones” speech. The main concept behind this speech is to explain the most important systems in a home, and to break down what their home’s systems are in its current state. Explain the home’s four cornerstone systems: Structural Roofing Mechanical Water Management These systems are the most expensive for homebuyers to repair, and they are the most common areas that can create issues for inspectors in disputes. Feel free to tell your clients about their importance, why it matters to you as an inspector, and why it should matter to them. After discussing this and covering any other points of interest in their homes, this strategy tends to reduce questions and increase confidence in homebuyers. All in all, an organized wrap-up should take around 15-30 minutes, and with a refined process, you will be in great shape to move on to your next process. Every step along the way is important when creating a strong business model. If you’re attentive to the smaller details, things tend to run much smoother. If there are any processes that have worked for you (that we didn’t discuss here), feel free to share them on the NPI/GPI Private Group! If you are interested in joining a vast network of property inspection professionals with your own franchise or as an employee, our recruitment team would love to speak with you . About the Author Jon McCreath, Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator A former NPI franchise owner and real estate agent, Jon joined the NPI corporate team in 2019. With his inspection expertise and foundation in classroom instruction, Jon teaches and mentors new franchisees during their two-week training course in Omaha. He also handles technical support calls during and after office hours and guides franchisees through the state licensing process.