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The Franchise Informant

A resource for National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections franchisees, aspiring entrepreneurs and real estate professionals.

National Property Inspections Franchisee Spotlight: Chris Harr

NATIONAL PROPERTY INSPECIONS FRANCHISEE SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS HARR
 December 19, 2023 |  Franchise, Inspection Tips |  inspection industry, small business, business growth, motivation, entrepreneur

In our Franchisee Spotlight series, we like to take some time to recognize the efforts of some of our most outstanding franchises. Every year, we partner with new inspectors and seasoned professionals seeking extra support to take their businesses to the next level. While our marketing, technical support, and national accounts all work together for ongoing assistance, we think that one of the most impactful resources our partners gain when joining the NPI family is access to some of the best business owners in the inspection industry.

Today’s feature is Chris Harr and his team from NPI Columbus SE: our 2023 Franchise of the Year. Veterans of the industry, the Harr Team has served Central Ohio since 2002, and in that time, they have established themselves as consummate professionals. They are prime examples of NPI’s core values–Honesty, Integrity, and Professionalism. The Harrs are true mentors, and we’re always excited to see what new strategies their team discovers. With that said, let’s discuss who the Harrs are and what makes them stand out.


Chris Harr pictured with his sons Jake and Will at the 2023 InVision Conference Awards.

NPI Columbus SE & the Harr Family
Founded in 2002, NPI Columbus SE has performed over 15,000 residential inspections and over 5,000 commercial inspections as a family unit. Owner Chris Harr founded the operation, but the business grew quickly with his father-in-law Dave, and his sons Tom, Jake, and Will all joining as additional inspectors. Each member of the family adds their own strengths and perspectives to the organization, making a well-oiled machine.

The Harrs also make use of a number of different outlets to bolster their marketing efforts. Check out Tom Harr’s video series breaking down the essentials of home inspections for their clients and agents. NPI Columbus SE continues to innovate and offer new services like indoor air quality testing with AirAdvice.

Specialty Services
Today, Chris and his team offer a wide array of services starting with buyer’s inspections, seller’s pre-listing inspections, draw inspections for new construction, and builder's warranty inspections for new homes. In addition to these services, the NPI Columbus SE team is also licensed and trained to perform radon testing, SewerScans, termite inspections (WDO/WDI), and well water potability and quality inspections.

One thing that sets the Harr team apart from their competition is their 6-month warranty. Covering electrical systems, interior plumbing systems, HVAC, and appliances, Chris and his team are able to show how much confidence they have in their work while giving their clients additional peace of mind.

Chris Harr and his family have been a staple of the NPI family, and we couldn’t be prouder to recognize them with 2023’s Franchise of the Year honor. To learn more about NPI and its legacy of excellence, check out a few testimonials from our franchisees! Interested in learning more about franchising with NPI? Request your free info packet today.

How To Break Into A Male-Dominated Industry As A Female Entrepreneur

HOW TO BREAK INTO A MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY AS A FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR
 December 12, 2023 |  Business Tips, Franchise, Marketing, Social Media |  small business, motivation, networking, Google, Facebook, business website, entrepreneur

By Celeste Black-Harr, NPI, Inc.'s Recruitment Coordinator

The glass ceiling is a concept that describes an invisible barrier that limits advancement in the workplace for certain groups. For women who look to find a foothold in male-dominated industries, working to overcome stereotypes can make glass ceilings feel very real. The great thing about the glass ceiling metaphor, though, is that glass begs to be shattered.

Breaking into a male-dominated industry as a female entrepreneur can feel daunting, but underrepresented voices who build a platform in their industry have an opportunity. They will not only benefit those that follow in their footsteps, creating a more accessible pathway in the future, their unique background and perspectives will also benefit the entire industry.

Of course, if finding success in a male-dominated industry was easy then everyone would do it. While every industry has their own unique quirks and obstacles, there are a few considerations that are particularly worth taking into account for female entrepreneurs getting ready to break through.

Find A Functional Support System
Reliable contacts are important to establish for anyone entering into any industry, but identifying these people are even more important for women who are looking to establish themselves in a male-dominated industry. First, let’s talk about finding a strong mentor.

A mentor is someone with experience in the industry who is willing to impart advice, assist in navigating hurdles (which are inevitable!), and act as an advocate. Ideally, this should be someone who has encountered similar obstacles so, if possible, women should find other women who have found success to act as their mentor. Although male mentors will give invaluable insights on how to grow within the industry (and female entrepreneurs should absolutely seek out male mentors), developing relationships with women who have already walked their path and have direct experience of their unique challenges should be a top priority.

Unfortunately, finding a female mentor in a male-dominated industry is by no means easy, and in all likelihood, that single perfect business owner who is capable of answering each and every question along the way won’t exist. This is why we recommend finding a support “system” rather than a single mentor. Network, network, and then network some more to find an ally that knows the industry, then maybe find a female mentor who has found success in a different male-dominated industry, another person who excels at managing a large team, and yet another mentor who is a master on social media

Much of advancing in any industry involves getting to know the right people and establishing that reliable network of confidantes and advocates. For women entering a traditionally “male” space, an us vs. them can only distract from the great aid that women and men can provide while establishing a successful business.

Disprove Negative Stereotypes
Next, one important question that female entrepreneurs have to consider before stepping into a male-dominated industry is this: Why is this industry male-dominated?

If you struggle to come up with a good answer, this might be a good opportunity to reach out to one of your industry contacts to get their take and perspective. Maybe the industry has just been slow to catch up to modern sensibilities, or something about the industry doesn’t generally appeal to female entrepreneurs, or perhaps there are persistent stereotypes that present an unfair hindrance to success. In the case of this last issue, women can work to dispel stereotypes with a few intentional steps.

Let’s start with an example: according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.1% of plumbers were women in 2022 (the most recent available year). Although this profession has one of the most extreme male/female divides, many of the trades are similarly dominated by men, and this has a negative effect on an average person’s perception of competency for people in the trades. Another way to say this might be, if every plumber that a homeowner has ever worked with has been a male, they may have a subconscious assumption that men simply know more about home plumbing systems than women.

For a woman who’s looking to open her own plumbing business, it is possible that a prevailing stereotype that makes her seem less competent than she is leads to less business than she would have otherwise gotten. The solution to this problem? To put it simply: prove the stereotype wrong.

In the past, this was much more difficult since female entrepreneurs would have to convince clients and customers to give them a shot, do a great job, then hope word-of-mouth spreads enough to get their business humming. Today, there are more opportunities to put one’s skills on display:

  1. Gather Google / Facebook / Yelp Reviews to put satisfied previous customers’ experiences on display. Clients that hold to a negative stereotype of women in a certain industry will have to adjust their thinking if they find their business has hundreds of glowing reviews and spectacular ratings across the board.

    To learn about review gathering strategies for small businesses, read more here!
     
  2. Post Video Tutorials to act as an authority on industry-related topics. Whether hosted on social media or on a business website, videos where prospective clients can hear you speak intelligently about your industry and services and see you exercise your expertise themselves serve as an excellent advocate for your capabilities.

    Did you know that videos can also be a great inclusion in email campaigns? Here are a few tips to make your next email marketing campaign a hit.
     
  3. Seize Opportunities to Teach in front of clients, referral sources, and even industry peers. These situations are, of course, more situations where you can put your skills and knowledge on display, but they are also opportunities to further break down unhelpful stereotypes. Whether at a child’s school career day, at a conference, or at a BNI group meeting, speaking as a representative of your industry in these public settings can work wonders to place yourself as an authority figure and even build your own confidence in your abilities.

    If you’re interested in refining your public speaking skills, take a look at our thoughts on the subject! If you’re interested in refining your public speaking skills, take a look at our thoughts on the subject!

Don’t Change Yourself - Change The Industry
Finally, there may be an impulse to act a certain way, or to change behavior in order to fit into the box of what sort of person has succeeded in the industry in the past. For many women, this can be a tempting impulse when entering into a male-dominated industry, but this instinct may not be the best. Just because women haven’t been prevalent in a male dominated industry doesn’t mean they can’t be, and it also doesn’t mean the odds are stacked against them.

Innovations that transform industries often come from those with unique backgrounds, or from perspectives that were previously absent from that field. Women that lean on their unique strengths and discover their own way of conducting business are far more likely to find a better way of doing things than if they only emulate what’s been done before. While there is wisdom in sticking to what’s proven to work, having the bravery to try something new is what separates industry leaders from the pack.

Taking home inspections as an example, a large portion of the job involves developing relationships and working with real estate agents - a profession that is 66% female (according to the National Association of Realtors). Although property inspectors also skew male, there may be a considerable advantage to women who enter into the home inspection industry due to their own ability to appeal to real estate agents.

Whether there are inherent untapped advantages in an industry or opportunities to innovate, women who take on the challenge of breaking into a male dominated industry should do so with great anticipation. Another thing that comes naturally with the breaking of things like glass ceilings: it’s bound to turn heads.

One fantastic benefit of an NPI franchise is access to a nationwide network of mentors and industry professionals with decades of experience and a desire to innovate. To learn more about the benefits of partnering with National Property Inspections, receive your free info packet today!

 

About the Author
Celeste Black-Harr, Recruitment Coordinator
With a background in customer service and office administration, Celeste joined National Property Inspections, Inc. in 2022. Her experience in customer service is the driving force behind helping all new franchise owners get started and developing those strong business relations! In her daily role as Recruitment Coordinator, Celeste onboards new NPI and GPI franchises from across the United Stated and Canada.

What Is The Benefit Of The Name National Property Inspections?

WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF THE NAME NATIONAL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS?
 December 5, 2023 |  Marketing, Social Media, Franchise |  inspection industry, small business, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, digital marketing, business website, SEO

By Michael Trimble, NPI, Inc.'s Content Marketing Coordinator

When starting a new business, entrepreneurs work hard to create a clear plan for growth. While there are many exciting things that come with establishing a business’ processes, brand image, and marketing strategy, owners tend to spend a lot of their energy early on avoiding common pitfalls. One of the most important pitfalls to avoid, of course, is choosing the wrong business name.

Names are hard, whether you’re naming a new business venture or your child. For many entrepreneurs, launching a new business is very similar to having a new baby, as they work through the trials and tribulations that come with learning to operate in a new industry. While a person’s opportunities may not be markedly different whether they were named John or Albus, a business name can mean the difference between success and failure.

National Property Inspections is a tried and tested name in the property inspections industry, which means inspectors that partner with NPI can see benefits prior to performing even a single job. To get a better idea of why National Property Inspections works so well in its industry, let’s first review what is important when choosing a business name.

Why Is A Business Name Important?
Business names are intended to accomplish quite a bit. First, a business name needs to set appropriate expectations to its intended audience. What does the business do? What are the business’ values? What can be expected when working with this business? If a name is too vague or imprecise, clients may misunderstand the business’ focus, either passing them over in favor of a competitor, or inquiring for services that aren’t offered.

Next, a business name needs to draw in clients! Names can do this by being particularly unique or memorable, or they might do this by evoking a sensation of professionalism or prestige. Depending on the industry, goofy names may be appropriate to appeal to a particular audience, whereas another industry that prioritizes expertise, safety, and high profile investments would be wise to stick with something more professional.

Finally, a name must be easy to remember. Sometimes names that include invented words can be memorable after getting established and gaining widespread recognition, but prospective clients need to be able to easily look up a business after hearing it off hand. This means that keeping a name relatively short and full of everyday words is best for discoverability online, and for easier recollection. (Per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, memorability and simplicity are two of the most important factors that make a great business name. You can read more of their thoughts on the subject here!)

With some of these basic standards outlined, let’s see how NPI stacks up!

NPI Cuts Straight To The Point
National Property Inspections is a name that cannot easily be mistaken for something else. In the home inspection industry, there is a high potential for clients to mistake a poorly named property inspection business for a construction company, electrical or HVAC company, or even a private detective’s office. Reducing the potential for confusion is paramount for any business owner who wants to reduce wasted time and unneeded frustration with mistaken clients.

National Property Inspections is a property inspections company, and one of the premier names within the industry across the United States. All of this is easily understood in three simple words, and this efficient, direct naming style subconsciously tells clients that they can expect the same from this business’ service: efficient professionalism, and a premier quality that stands up to scrutiny.

NPI Opens The Door For Commercial Inspections
The next thing that the NPI name does for its franchisees that’s different from many property inspection business names, is it doesn’t immediately force them into the box of home inspection. If you’re a home inspector who has ever tried to break into the world of commercial property inspections, you may have experienced the stigma that commercial referral sources have towards home inspectors.

While this is surely frustrating, the stigma isn’t entirely unwarranted. The truth is that commercial properties require a unique skill set and involve a different scale that most home inspectors simply aren’t used to. This leads those that need to coordinate commercial inspections to commonly look elsewhere for their needs. National Property Inspections doesn’t include the word “home” in its name like many in the industry, which inherently allows more freedom for franchisees to diversify.

Commercial property inspections can be very lucrative, and since NPI offers special commercial training and commercial job opportunities through its National Accounts, National Property Inspections uniquely positions its franchisees to excel in this field.

NPI Works Well On The Digital Front
One major unexpected struggle that new business owners face while naming their new company is digital compatibility. Businesses excel when they can be reached easily, and the best way to do this is to be present in every location that their client base is looking. This, of course, starts with securing your business’ domain name, then branches out to claiming pages on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Business, Yelp, etc.).

Consistency across all platforms is important to reduce confusion among your clients, and is an essential practice for businesses that want great SEO (search engine optimization). Another benefit of franchising with NPI is that our marketing helps you set up all of these profiles, securing your business’ name right out of the gate so that you can focus on building your audience and refining your skills.

NPI Has 35+ Years Of Industry Name Recognition
Finally, National Property Inspections has built a reputation of quality in the property inspection industry that spans over 35 years! With experienced and talented business owners stretching across the United States, NPI is a well-known brand that is already recognizable for its integrity and high-caliber service. Although new franchisees haven’t necessarily been active as a home inspector as long as NPI’s most tenured professionals, using the NPI name means that one of the most respected entities in the industry vouches for your abilities and your character.

To answer the old question: “What’s in a name?” Clearly, there’s quite a bit!

If you’d like to learn more about how National Property Inspections continues to innovate and stand out in this industry, contact our recruitment team. Want to learn more about the benefits of franchising with NPI? Collect your free info packet right here!

 

About the Author
Michael Trimble, Content Marketing Coordinator
A graduate of the University of South Dakota, Michael has a B.A. in International Studies and English. With a background in research and writing, Michael contributes to NPI’s corporate marketing team as a copywriter and content strategist.

Hold The Phone: How Do You Turn Price-Shoppers Into Paying Clients?

HOLD THE PHONE: HOW DO YOU TURN PRICE-SHOPPERS INTO PAYING CLIENTS?
 November 28, 2023 |  Business Tips, Inspection Tips, Marketing |  client satisfaction, inspection industry, small business, business growth

By Kimberly Stevens, NPI, Inc.'s Marketing & Business Coach

As a small business owner, getting your phone line to start ringing can sometimes be a difficult task, but once those prospective clients’ calls begin to roll in, that doesn’t always mean you’ll be booking inspections right and left. Often, a lack of conversions can be due to the fact that while some people might make an inquiry, many would-be clients are likely to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion on their search for the best price (or in other words, the lowest price).

Marketing experts over at First Insight break it down by explaining that all businesses are battling the top two deciding factors for consumers: price and quality. The best business owners endeavor to offer a product that is uniquely valuable to their clients, something that goes above and beyond their competition, hoping to become the obvious preferred option. If an entrepreneur has confidence in their product but they aren’t closing the deal, then the problem lies in their ability to explain their product or service’s strengths, leaving potential clients to default to price as the deciding factor.

This situation can be incredibly frustrating for owners who are scratching and clawing, trying to find some way to gain traction. The good news is that turning price-shoppers into paying clients is a skill that can be improved with a bit of strategy and practice. To get started, let’s discuss a few things that are essential in instilling confidence in your future clients.

Introduce Yourself And Your Business
Once you answer a phone call, the timer has already started in your responsibility to earn your client’s trust. Hopefully, the caller has visited your business website already and has been impressed by your brand, knows your service offerings, and has a familiarity with your industry. But, entrepreneurs should never assume what a caller knows. The first step in earning a client’s trust, is to guide them through the information that they need to know with respect and professionalism.

Start with your business’ name first, then introduce yourself: “Hello, [Business Name], this is [Your Name]. How can I help you?”

Though this may seem to be a basic step, this simple procedure does wonders to establish an air of organization and professionalism, as well as to take control of the conversation. Odds are that callers know very little about your specific business and your specific background, so business owners who take the time to mention their unique qualifications, their experience, and their business differentiators throughout the conversation can build their credibility. A credible, experienced business owner is much more likely to earn a client’s trust, than someone who rushes to the quote during a phone call.

Ask Clarifying Questions
Every request for a quote should involve a level of clarifying questions if you want to give an accurate expectation, but asking the right questions can also contribute to booking the job. More details can reveal whether they’d be good candidates for additional services or if specific tools might be required to complete the job. In home inspections, learning the neighborhood can also tip off unique expectations if you’ve worked in that area in the past or are familiar with that builder’s tendencies.

From the client’s view point, needing to answer more robust questions to get to the quote reveals a knowledge base that they may not have been expecting. Simply showing that you are informed on the nuances of your profession here shows clients much more than a quick quote. Additionally, business owners would be wise to ask about how the caller found their number during the initial inquiry. Was it through a Google search? A referral from a friend? Somewhere else? Knowing what outlets are getting your name out there can help your business whether you book the job or not.

Discuss Your Process
After introductions and asking questions, offering to explain the full process of your services should be an essential step of every call. In residential inspections, homebuyers or sellers may look for an inspection simply because someone advised them to do so. Chances are actually pretty high that your explanation of the process could be the first time that the caller hears what your service is and why it is necessary.

If a caller still decides to get other quotes, that first clean and clear run-down of what the service actually is will stick with them and, in all likelihood, they will defer back to the person that took the time to explain it to them. Becoming an expert in your profession is one thing, but being able to describe the service to someone unfamiliar with the industry is often what separates successful businesses from the ones that are still finding their footing.

Note: Finding the right way to schedule a job can also be a time to encourage a caller to make a commitment. Rather than ask the caller for their preferred date, offer them a specific day and time that works in your schedule. It may be shocking, but taking this small decision off their plate with the assumption that they’ll book with you can have a massive impact on overall conversions.

Explain What Differentiates You From The Competition
The goal of many of the points mentioned in this article is basically to get a conversation going. In any service industry, people will tend to give business to anyone that they’ve developed a previous relationship with. Meeting someone new over the afford doesn’t allow for much time to build up a rapport, so business owners should take special consideration on what they can bring up in their limited window to help them stand out from their competition.

If you offer a special warranty or unique promotion, be sure to mention that during your conversation. If you are active in your community, or your business has a special relationship with another organization, it may be wise to bring that up as well. Anything that helps get your unique values across to the caller will result in you becoming the memorable, natural option.

Note: When discussing your values, bring up a story that exemplifies how your business specifically prioritizes these things. Stories are far more memorable in general, and are much more convincing than a simple claim, so rather than saying you value honesty or integrity, remember to bring up a specific example instead! Click here to learn more about how learning to tell stories can benefit your business.

Convert On The Conversion
Employing these strategies into your phone calls will surely help your ability to convert a price shopper into a paying client, but why stop there? Happy, satisfied clients can benefit your business beyond a single basic service, so consider bringing up your add-on services if they are relevant to the client. The key here is to be genuine about these additional services - if you don’t truly believe that you’re adding value to your client, then don’t force something on them that they don’t want or need.

Take time to describe future services that they might want to have on their radar, and check with them to see if they’d like a reminder email or follow-up phone call six months or a year down the line. If you’ve established a good rapport with the client, a single job could lead to another, and consistently requesting reviews further turns that client’s positive experience into a convincing endorsement for future business. Calls asking for quotes can seem tedious, and too many of them without booking is certainly discouraging. But with the right mindset and strategy in place, that first phone call can be a pathway for success!

Did you know that National Property Inspections offers training and opportunities for franchisees to practice and improve upon their public speaking and relationship building skills? Learn more about the benefits of franchising with NPI today with a free info packet.

 

About the Author
Kimberly Stevens, Marketing & Business Coach
The baby of eight children, Kimberly learned quickly to master the art of communication in order to be heard. She has been with NPI for more than 15 years and is passionate about getting to know our franchisees. Kimberly is a certified marketing and business coach, trainer and speaker, leading training seminars, one-to-one coaching and more. She's a high-energy, fiery red head and an eternal optimist. Her greatest joy is celebrating our franchisees’ victories!

6 Traits To Look For When Hiring A Marketer

6 TRAITS TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A MARKETER
 November 21, 2023 |  Business Tips, Marketing, Franchise |  hiring, training, small business, business growth

By Kimberly Stevens, NPI, Inc.'s Marketing & Business Coach

Entrepreneurs tend to start off their business solo, or if they’re lucky, they can tap into spouses or family members for help. Eventually, as business picks up and they begin to struggle to keep up with the demand, marketing efforts tend to be some of the first activities that begin to fall off. This situation isn’t all bad, of course! But once a business pulls back on marketing, that inevitably means that they’ll end up missing out on opportunities for further growth - leaving work either on the table for the competition, or leaving would-be clients’ needs unmet.

Of course, business owners aren’t simply doomed to fall into this trap! They have options: first, to allow software to take marketing efforts off their hands, such as through scheduled social media posting, recurring email campaigns, or automated review gathering. Once these routes have been explored, though, it’s time to face the facts. It’s time for some extra help.

Inviting a new voice into a small business can be incredibly exciting, and somewhat terrifying at the same time. After all, a bad hire could result in a time, effort, and money investment loss that’s much more difficult to recover from in comparison to when a larger company makes a similar mistake. On the other hand, hiring a great employee can have an astonishing impact, helping the company reach goals that were unimaginable in the past.

A great first person to hire is a marketer - someone to take marketing efforts off of the owner’s plate, and to launch new, ambitious campaigns. While hiring can be tough, there are a few traits owners can look for in a marketer that should set them up for success!

They Are A “People Person”
Marketers are outgoing, conversational, and totally comfortable approaching a wide variety of people with confidence. While most jobs demand some “people skills,” marketers shine when they love meeting new people and being an advocate for the business. Between attending networking events, or even organizing their own, great marketing employees should have a high tolerance for interacting with people and building relationships.

Often, a marketing employee can become the “face” of the company, so it’s important to find someone who can easily keep up a conversation and capture your attention. These skills are also important if this is the person answering the phone or scheduling future meetings. The best marketers are curious and interested in people.

They Are A Good Conversationalist
Building upon this first point, business owners may be drawn to hire the first candidate who knows how to start and control a conversation, but while becoming energized through social interaction is important, knowing how to talk does not mean a person is a great conversationalist. When working in an industry where relationship growth is key, a good conversationalist is someone who knows about the give and take of discussions.

Even though a candidate might be capable of continuing a conversation all by themselves, marketers should know when to take a step back, invite someone else to take control, and take their turn to become an active listener. When people feel that they made a contribution and were included in an interaction, they are much more likely to walk away feeling positive about the experience and, in the context of running a business, these skills lead to more referrals, more positive reviews, and more opportunities for collaborations in the future.

Note: Sometimes it can be tough to determine a potential employee’s communication style and personality type through a single interview. In these situations, it can be valuable to have candidates take a personality or behavioral test such as a DISC assessment. For example, a marketer with both an ‘I’ and ‘S’ behavioral type might find more success than someone with only an ‘I’ type.

They Are An Engaging Storyteller
Social people tend to also be great storytellers, but this is not always the case! In the field of marketing, storytelling goes beyond simply capturing another person’s attention. Effective storytelling in marketing means being able to communicate complex, industry-specific topics or detailed services to their audience in a way that is not only easily understood, but also shows how their product or service fits a need.

On a full marketing team, this ability to tell stories is divided into different mediums from copywriting, to graphic design, to photography, and maybe even over to videography. Together, marketers are able to create an easily digestible piece of advertising that proves the business’ value, drives attention, and moves clients to schedule an appointment or make a purchase. On a smaller team, a marketer that has a bit of experience in copywriting, graphic design, or another creative field can certainly come in handy and may be a sign that you’ve found a storyteller.

They Are An Innovator
The best marketers are bold and unafraid to try new things. The truth is that in marketing for small businesses, the options can often seem endless. Some can drown in all of these options, and others can find themselves getting too comfortable with one or two marketing outlets that seem successful enough. Keeping costs down is important, of course, but an unwillingness to explore new campaigns or exciting opportunities guarantees that you’ll miss out on that next new breakthrough, or that new strategy that could take the business to the next stage.

The one caveat that should be specified with this character trait in mind, though, is that honesty is so important! Sometimes, marketers can get excited about a new advertisement or a new campaign concept, only to find out that it isn’t effective or it doesn’t lead to enough conversions to be worthwhile. Though it may be painful, sometimes marketers may have to say goodbye to a project that they worked hard on. Good marketers are willing to innovate. Great marketers know when to redirect their efforts.

They Are Organized
Marketers have to juggle a lot of projects and responsibilities all at once, and this is especially true when working in a small business setting. Because of this, finding candidates with great organizational skills is highly recommended. Marketers have the digital side to worry about (posting to social media, organizing email campaigns, and managing Google ads) while also managing relationships with agents and clients (including keeping track of family members, birthdays/anniversaries, or just names of regular referral sources).

Though some people compartmentalize their organizational skills, people that are great about showing up on time or people that keep an orderly desk space will probably also have the capability to manage many different projects at once. Of note: some employees may have a tendency to take on too much and risk burn-out! Owners should be sensitive to all of their team members’ workloads, and recognize when it’s time to step in and remove some responsibilities.

They Are Independent
Lastly, one trait that comes in handy in pretty much every role in a small business, but is particularly crucial for marketers, is independence. With fewer employees in a small business, each team member’s ability to operate on their own with little oversight becomes increasingly impactful. Obviously, hiring a new employee isn’t worthwhile if the business owner has to hold their hand through every action and decision, but marketers are also expected to make judgment decisions based on their specialties. The ideal marketing employee should be able to add knowledge and experience beyond what the owner has themselves.

A few things to look for in a capable, independent team member is maturity, responsibility, and a willingness to hold themselves accountable. Sometimes, this might mean allowing an employee to grow into this role as trust is built between them and the business owner, but eventually, gaining the ability to operate on their own will become essential in running a successful small business.

Being ready to expand your team is so exciting! But, did you know that NPI’s corporate marketing team can help you with many marketing tasks before you make that hire? Contact your NPI marketing team today to collaborate on setting up your next marketing campaign! Want to learn more about the benefits of franchising with National Property Inspections? Click here.

 

About the Author
Kimberly Stevens, Marketing & Business Coach
The baby of eight children, Kimberly learned quickly to master the art of communication in order to be heard. She has been with NPI for more than 15 years and is passionate about getting to know our franchisees. Kimberly is a certified marketing and business coach, trainer and speaker, leading training seminars, one-to-one coaching and more. She's a high-energy, fiery red head and an eternal optimist. Her greatest joy is celebrating our franchisees’ victories!

5 Cost Effective Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses

5 COST EFFECTIVE MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
 November 14, 2023 |  Business Tips, Marketing, Social Media |  money management, Google, Facebook, email marketing, business website

By Sydney Bailey, NPI, Inc.'s Marketing Director

Seasoned business owners know that every industry experiences ebbs and flows. There are times when the phones are constantly ringing and the calendar is packed. On the flip side, there are stretches where work is more scarce. It’s often during the slow seasons where cutting back on expenditures is a natural impulse, but business owners should be careful not to handicap their marketing efforts.

Marketing is critical for reaching new clients and keeping your business top-of-mind for your established referral sources, so you should be hesitant to cut your marketing spend when business is down. With that said, there are ways you can be more intentional with your marketing budget. If you find yourself limited on funds, here are a few cost-effective marketing strategies worth exploring. 

Refine Your Communication Skills
Standing out from your competition is critical when business slows down. For some owners, explaining to prospective clients exactly what sets their business apart can be difficult. While effective marketing and networking can make your phone ring, it won’t do much good if the person answering the call doesn’t conduct themselves with enough confidence to actually book the job. 

With this in mind, business owners and office staff should take the time to rehearse their delivery over the phone and in person. Practicing with friends, family, and other trusted confidants can build assurance for business owners who aren’t used to conversing in these environments, and although some personality types may be perfectly comfortable closing a sale, feedback through this process can lead to further improvement and increased closed rates. 

Closing a sale is a skill that can be acquired and enhanced just like any other. For inspectors, don’t assume that a client understands the process of a standard home inspection. Figure out a way to explain in layman’s terms what you’ll do on the property, how long it will take, and when they can expect their report. Mapping out the experience like this should help establish trust early, and it’ll lead to more jobs! 

Rediscover Email Marketing
Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective marketing outreach strategies across all industries, and the great thing about email? It’s free! Review past campaigns and make some updates by refreshing the messaging, think of catchy new subject lines, or try adding a new promotion. 

One thing to keep in mind with email marketing is that outdated emailing lists can tarnish your email’s sender reputation. This could result in your messages being sent to spam folders. Be sure to regularly update your email list by removing defunct addresses and adding any new ones gained through networking. To learn more about making a great email marketing campaign, read on right here

Try Out a Timely Promotion
Speaking of promotions, coupons and discounts are a tried and true way to bring in clients who might be on the fence for a product or service. We understand that the last thing business owners want to do in a slow season is discount their services. However, what’s better? Booking a job at a $50 discount or booking no jobs at all? If business is slower, create urgency by launching a limited-time promotion. 

If you have a new service, create a campaign explaining its relevance to your local area or tie it to an upcoming holiday. Although business owners should never devalue the importance of their services, promotions with a clear message and an expiration date can work by bringing attention to your lesser-known services. 

Refresh Your Social Media
Next, social media is an area that tends to fall off quickly whenever business owners get busy, but building an audience base here can be valuable for reinforcing relationships and generating attention strategically. The other nice thing about managing social media is its cost: posting on social media is another task you can do for practically free! 

To step up engagement on social media, consider posting pictures of your team on the job or generate an educational infographic about one of your services. Studies show that people connect to a business when they see peoples’ faces, and infographics are known to quickly grab attention. If you’re interested in taking an easy first step, here are some things to consider about producing videos for social media. Just don’t get hung up on making every second perfect! Homemade pictures and videos can feel authentic, making your business come across as more trustworthy and approachable. 

Make Use of Your Satisfied Customers
Customers Finally, business owners who have already impressed their customers can rely on their past track record to bring in new clients. In short: call attention to your 5-star reviews! 

Too many businesses neglect their Google and Facebook business pages, but a high four- or five-star business with tons of reviews instills so much more confidence than a competitor with a low score. Build it into your wrap-up process for every job, and make it easy for clients to leave a review, then re-post those positive reviews on social media and display them on your website. Satisfied customers can become advocates for your company with just a few steps, and luckily, we’ve already discussed some great ways to get reviews with more consistency!

There are so many ways to continue marketing for little to no cost - and this list is by no means exhaustive! For more ideas on expanding your marketing strategy, reach out to the NPI marketing team today.

Did you know that NPI franchisees benefit from weekly blogs, expert website design, top notch SEO, marvelous email marketing, eye-popping graphic design, and personal one-on-one coaching (just to name a few things)? Learn more about the benefits of franchising with NPI by requesting your free info packet!

 

About the Author
Sydney Bailey, Marketing Director
Sydney specializes in creative marketing strategy and project management. In her current role, she leads the NPI marketing department in implementing new initiatives to increase business for franchisees in our network. With experience in art direction, public relations, and brand development, she also served as the organization’s in-house graphic and web designer during her first five years with NPI. Sydney continues to support our franchisees on a daily basis with their overall marketing strategy needs.

Key Steps For Managing Your Work Vehicle As A Home Inspector

KEY STEPS FOR MANAGING YOUR WORK VEHICLE AS A HOME INSPECTOR
 November 7, 2023 |  Inspection Tips, Business Tips |  inspection industry, small business

By Jon McCreath, NPI, Inc.'s Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator

When imagining life as a home inspector, naturally one’s mind jumps to the on-site experience of gathering photos of a house’s interior and landscape, as well as maybe climbing onto a roof or roaming through a crawl space. What people who haven’t actually been a home inspector may not realize is that a surprisingly large amount of our time is actually spent in the car, traveling between locations, especially if you’re an inspector that serves a larger or mostly rural region.

Keeping your work vehicle looking sharp and in working order is crucial to running a professional, successful property inspection business. Although you may have a great system already in place, here are a few reminders about how to take care of your mobile property inspections headquarters!

The Importance of Vehicle Maintenance
Keeping a consistent routine of vehicle maintenance and servicing appointments scheduled should be a normal piece of your business’s expenses each year. While it may seem obvious, if an inspector’s vehicle breaks down or is delayed on the way to a job, their entire day’s schedule could be thrown off. Emergencies happen, of course, but changing plans at the last minute can come across as unprofessional, especially if it becomes a regular occurrence.

One thing that inspectors can do to quickly improve their vehicle’s lifespan is to keep it covered or out of the elements whenever not in use. Inclement weather and severe wind can damage vehicles, but even direct sunlight can damage a car’s paint and interior. Whether your vehicle’s performance or just its appearance deteriorates, ensuring a reliable vehicle should be at the top of any home inspector’s checklist.

Remember: Your Vehicle is a Reflection of Your Business
Speaking of the vehicle’s appearance, the overall look of an inspector’s work vehicle might be the most direct reflection of their business to the outside world on a day-to-day basis. Especially after installing a well-designed, eye-catching vehicle wrap or other exterior branding, pulling up to an inspection with an attractive, clean vehicle is a great way to quickly instill confidence in agents and clients alike.

While clients may not commonly see how you organize your tools or other equipment inside your vehicle, there is a decent chance that if they do see an orderly vehicle, they would assume that your other business practices are similarly well run. As home inspectors, anything that we can do to further instill confidence in our clients should be utilized. Investing in tool bags and other vehicle organizers are always wise for safety purposes since loose supplies could cause distractions while on the road, or even accidents in the worst scenarios. Keeping your vehicle clean and tidy should result in the entire process running more smoothly!

Note: Safe driving should always be exercised whether on the job or off the job. With that said, reckless driving is particularly harmful to your business when you are operating a moving billboard. Inspectors, be wise and safe on the road at all times!

Prepare for the Unexpected
Finally, as your mobile business headquarters, your vehicle can be a great resource for emergency scenarios. Be prepared for emergencies with items like a spare tire, a jack, and a lug wrench. Keeping back-up tools would be wise as well, such as flashlights, batteries, and extra footwear for roof access.

In addition, savvy business owners would be wise to keep extra marketing materials on hand to share add-on services or other promotions. Business cards, brochures, or door hangers can all come in handy, and having easy access to these items can be advantageous should the opportunity arise. The most successful business owners are also relationship builders, looking for extra chances to spread the word when the time comes.

Since home inspections can vary greatly and you never quite know what you’ll come across, inspectors would also be smart to keep a first aid kit in their vehicle should an accident occur on-site. Safety of your employees and yourself should always come first, so these supplies should be considered essentials. For solo operators, it would be a smart practice to keep someone off-site notified of your schedule so that they can regularly check in.

Overall, experienced home inspectors know the value of a great work vehicle. Be sure to take good care of yours for a safe and successful day-to-day operation!

Interested in learning more about life as a home inspector? Request a free info packet and get in touch with our recruitment team today!

 

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.

Marketing Insights: The Importance of Finding Your Audience

MARKETING INSIGHTS: THE IMPORTANCE OF FINDING YOUR AUDIENCE
 October 31, 2023 |  Marketing, Social Media |  client satisfaction, money management, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, digital marketing, paid search, business website

By Zach Vesper, NPI, Inc.'s Senior SEO & Marketing Strategist

Any experienced marketer, when speaking about how to grow a business and reach long-term goals, will preach on how important it is for a business to find its audience. For many business owners, this might sound a little strange. After all, shouldn’t entrepreneurs be looking to find as many clients or customers as possible in order to convert on leads and maximize their sales?

Of course this is true! But this doesn’t mean that the best marketing strategy is to speak to everyone all at once. Imagine you’re making a speech in a massive auditorium. For most people, the more people there, the more difficult it will be to capture everyone’s attention. If too many people are there, the audience further in the back will struggle to see you, and even the most expensive sound equipment will start to fail, leaving your message completely unheard to many.

In the same way, marketing to a massive audience tends to be expensive, and a business that chooses to market in this manner can often see their message lost, becoming indiscernible as it competes with too many other businesses for attention. Instead of wasting money, time, and energy on expansive marketing, businesses should focus on finding their niche audience.

What is a niche audience?
A niche audience is a highly specific audience that consists of people who are uniquely in need of a business’ services or products, usually identified through intensive research as well as a good amount of trial and error. Small businesses that are looking to maximize the value of their advertising budget particularly benefit from identifying their niche audience because it usually translates to more conversions per dollar spent.

When targeting a smaller audience, marketers don’t have to keep their messaging as generic in an attempt to avoid alienating parts of their audience. In fact, the action of bringing up information that’s hyper-specific to a niche audience is more likely to be memorable, increasing brand recall, inspiring more engagement, and building overall loyalty.

In short, modeling marketing collaterals and campaigns to a specific audience is easier, more effective, and much more likely to leave a long-lasting impact. On the other side of the equation, consider what can happen when advertising reaches an audience that doesn’t find the service relevant to them (such as when men see ads for women’s hair products, or when dog owners see ads for cat food). These situations can lead to some frustration from the unintended audience, and worse, many accidental clicks on your ads from those who aren’t actually interested in what you’re selling. Since the cost of many paid ads are based on the number of clicks you get and not actual leads or conversions, this situation also results in a waste of your ad spend.

In many ways, finding a niche audience is the key to effective marketing, but identifying this group can be difficult, requiring plenty of time and a strong understanding of a business’s industry.

How do you find your niche audience?
One great way to start identifying your niche audience is to develop an audience “persona,” or the ideal customer for your business. Consider their demographic information, their age range, gender, education, and income level, then get as detailed as possible. Not only does creating this picture allow for a clearer target when writing website copy or designing advertising graphics, many forms of advertising can filter out individuals who don’t fit into these demographics.

In addition to this, businesses can use their existing audience to find commonalities based on website and social media analytics. Do your most frequent customers match your “ideal customer”? If not, this could either be because you’ve misidentified your niche audience, or there’s a key group you’ve been overlooking.

After completing these two steps, consider what your most direct competition is doing. How do their marketing efforts differ from your own, and what strategies seem to garner the most success? By knowing who they are “speaking” to, businesses can be much more intentional in their marketing, increasing their profits by spending less money and speaking to fewer people.

How do you market to a niche audience?
With a specific audience in mind, generate social media posts, infographics, videos, and other web content tailored for their interests, culture, or humor in particular. When it comes to focusing efforts on social media, businesses should seek to inhabit similar spaces that their niche audience occupies, partnering with other tangential businesses, or possibly influential local creators.

With tailored content, expect more reviews and engagement online - then be sure to respond to these interactions and react to feedback. Improving your product or services specifically for this key audience becomes much easier when conversations open up through these channels.

One note of warning! Although unlocking a new audience or a key niche audience can be exciting, it’s important that businesses don’t forget to try to branch out from time to time into new audiences. Marketing to a niche audience is important to gain traction, but entrepreneurs can see their business become stagnant if they never break out of their comfort zone. Experimentation and research should always be embraced by business owners looking to increase their market share.

To further strategize how to start your next campaign, contact your NPI marketing team to get the discussion rolling! Curious about the resources gained when franchising with NPI? Click here to get your free info packet.

 

About the Author
Zach Vesper, Senior SEO & Marketing Strategist
Zach brings twelve years of content marketing and nine years of search engine optimization (SEO) experience to the NPI in-house marketing team. His areas of expertise include building marketing plans that increase franchise sales, optimizing web content for search, crafting effective paid search campaigns, reputation management, and content strategy. Zach is always more than happy to answer your questions about all things Google and considers this the most important and enjoyable aspect of his job.

Got Your Six: The Veteran’s Guide To Re-Entering The Workforce

GOT YOUR SIX: THE VETERAN'S GUIDE TO RE-ENTERING THE WORKFORCE
 October 24, 2023 |  Social Media, Franchise |  hiring, Facebook, LinkedIn, veterans, entrepreneur

By Sammi Marcellus, NPI, Inc.'s Recruitment Coordinator

Enlisting in the military is a great opportunity for many to learn practical, real-world skills, all while serving their country. With that said, many struggle with making the move from the structure that military life provides, to the seemingly chaotic nature of being a civilian. Finding a career that’s fulfilling while also featuring these same benefits of a position in the military can be a tough ask, but that doesn’t mean veterans should be caught with application paralysis.

Veterans looking to find a good job fit for themselves should recognize their strengths and the challenge ahead. To move forward with confidence, here are just a few notes to consider when pursuing the next chapter.

Acclimate to Civilian Life
One major struggle that Veterans experience upon transitioning away from the military is their daily schedule. In the military everyone has a specific job and their days are planned out extensively for them, which frees them up to focus solely on their duties rather and reduces the need for self-management. In the majority of civilian workplace settings, this strict schedule is gone, which can be jarring for many to adapt to.

Veterans should decide early on whether they’d like to establish a structured schedule for themselves to follow (continuing in that military style) or learn to live with a more free-range routine. Either map out a daily, weekly, monthly schedule, and maybe print these schedules out onto a calendar or personal planner to set up a system that’s easy to follow and visualize, or learn to embrace the chaos. The option that works best will mostly depend upon personality and preference, but making an intentional choice here should be the first step!

Translate Your Experiences
After becoming a bit more comfortable with general “civilian life,” a new challenge that veterans will need to tackle is how to market themselves to future employers. The truth is that the majority of civilians have a certain picture of what military life might be like, but odds are that this impression is pretty inaccurate and they will be mostly unaware of the skills and proficiencies that are actually developed throughout the experience. To help tackle these misconceptions, veterans should take away the guesswork from hiring managers!

When constructing a resume, veterans can describe their duties and then translate the skills that they learned in these roles in a way that directly relates to the job that they are applying for. Veterans develop so many valuable skills that make them assets in their future companies! To get a better picture of what this process might look like, here is an example of why Veterans make amazing entrepreneurial workers.

Part of nailing an interview is entering with preparation and confidence. Veterans who show hiring managers how their experience in the military translates well to the workplace will have more success at securing the job.

Present Yourself with Intention
In the past, a snazzy outfit and clean haircut could do the heavy lifting in making a solid first impression, but now employers have more resources to learn about candidates prior to the interview. If veterans want to present well while looking for their first job outside of the military, they should tidy up their online uniform, just like they’d trim their military attire.

While this may seem obvious to some, employers can easily view any public social media profiles. Anything inappropriate activities or jokes published in these areas serve as a persistent negative endorsement that may not accurately reflect your behavior. Polished Facebook and LinkedIn profiles which feature a clean and professional headshot will go a long way in making hiring managers confident, and may be the difference in winning the position.

Whether in person or online, candidates should always dress to impress!

Utilize Your Resources!
Finally, veterans who are struggling to find their place in the civilian workplace should make use of the many resources at their disposal! Check out the VA's website to get started and look at options for career counseling or continued education, or lean on other veterans for advice. In fact, at NPI we believe that we match-up well with veterans, and we value the work ethic and skill sets of veterans so highly that we’ve entered into special partnerships to help them find employment and other work opportunities (hopefully with us!).

Businesses love working with veterans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough for veterans to find a great fit. Veterans looking to enter into the civilian workforce are at the beginning of an exciting new journey where they can choose to recreate themselves, and maybe build something new. If you’re interested in learning more about franchising with National Property Inspections, shoot an email to our recruitment team today!

For more information, request a free info packet!

 

About the Author
Sammi Marcellus, Recruitment Coordinator
A member of the Nebraska Army National Guard since 2017, Sammi assists the NPI recruitment team through building relationships with military veterans who are interested in franchising. Sammi has a background in customer service and is an asset to the NPI corporate team with her ability to relate with active and former military, guiding them through our recruitment process.

How Celebrating Holidays on Social Media Can Benefit Your Business

HOW CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS ON SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS
 October 17, 2023 |  Marketing, Social Media |  client satisfaction, networking, Facebook, LinkedIn, digital marketing

By Stepha Vesper, NPI, Inc.'s Senior Marketing Communications Strategist

As your business grows, building an audience online can quickly become a strong stream for new leads and an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition. In our previous article discussing how to use pictures to boost engagement on social media, we talked about how varied content is important for businesses that want to improve their performance online. While this is a great goal in theory, coming up with a consistent stream of unique content is tough. That’s why if you haven’t jumped onto the holiday post train yet, now is the time to start!

Holiday posts are a great way to capitalize on current events in a way that breaks up your regular social media schedule. For some extra inspiration before the holiday season really kicks into gear, here are some things to consider when it comes to posting during the holidays!

Choose Which Holidays to Highlight
Capitalizing on a holiday on social media isn’t as simple as looking at the next one on the calendar and making a graphic to accompany it. Ideally, owners and social media managers should take some time to think about why their business has something to add to the conversation, or whether a particular holiday is relevant to their industry.

Most businesses should be able relate their services to the major holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, etc.), but it’s also important to identify relevant industry-specific holidays worth shouting out. For example, property inspection companies would be smart to look at Fire Prevention Month, National Radon Action Month, Home Inspection Month, and National Small Business Week all as opportunities to bring attention to add-on services.

Before selecting a holiday to share some well wishes or to spread awareness for your business, take some time to consider what message you’re getting across. Does this holiday present your business in a positive light? Does it highlight the value of one of your services? Are you reflecting your brand values? Holiday posting can be a vehicle to drive whatever goal you have in mind for your business. Just be sure not to bombard your audience with too many in close succession (remember: variety).

Post Something Shareable
After identifying which holidays you’d like to celebrate, try to find some time in advance to come up with something custom to share. Pictures, custom graphics, and videos all tend to have much greater engagement compared to some simple text or article link. In particular, if you’re looking to generate content that’s sure to keep your audience’s attention, videos might be the best option.

Holiday posts are also a great time for limited time events, contests, discounts, and giveaways - all of which are very shareable. With every promotion, think about what goal you are trying to accomplish. Perhaps you’re trying to boost your follower count with a giveaway, or maybe you’re looking to increase the amount of Radon inspections you perform throughout the duration of the promotion. Create a sense of urgency and don’t forget to include a CTA (call to action) within your posts to maximize your returns.

Participate in the Festivities
Finally, holidays are a great time to get involved on social media, and in your community. Great business owners know how important it is to develop relationships with other businesses in their community, so find a way to celebrate together through a cross-promotional post. Accessing another business’s audience can quickly expand your audience, and the action should benefit both parties.

Another way to participate with another business, or simply show yourselves giving back to the community is through a coordinated volunteer event. Many holidays are about giving thanks, showing appreciation, or supporting your fellow man, so consider donating an afternoon to a good cause and then sharing a few pictures of your team at work after the fact. Not only does this humanize your brand and emphasize a focus on your community, it can convince others to do the same.

Get ready for the holiday season this year by spreading cheer on social media! If you’d like help creating custom graphics for a promotion or holiday, reach out to our marketing team. If you’d like to learn more about how your business could benefit from franchising with NPI, contact our recruitment team!

 

About the Author
Stepha Vesper, Senior Marketing Communications Strategist
Stepha holds two advanced writing degrees and has more than nine years’ experience creating blog articles, PR pitches, emails, website copy, print mailers, social media posts, newsletters, and taglines. Stepha also specializes in marketing training, strategy, and consultation, particularly in the areas of social media and email marketing. Her favorite part of her job at NPI is assisting franchisees with their digital marketing strategies so they reach their goals faster.

 

 

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