How was your franchise originally conceived and started?
Inspect-It 1st started in Arizona in 1991, and began offering home inspection franchise opportunities in 1997. At the time, the growing popularity of home inspections as a means to make informed property investment decisions was really taking off, and today it is almost inconceivable to purchase a home or commercial building WITHOUT an inspection first.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
The home inspection industry attracted a lot of players in the early stages because of the significant demand. There was a real need however for a professional, objective firm dedicated to the best interests of the client, which provided a superior level of service and inspection reports to customers. These factors still exist today and remain cornerstones of our brand.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
Potential franchise owners really need to understand the sales/marketing/lead generation model for the franchises they are considering. As an entrepreneur, you need to make a fundamental decision between the two macro types of sales/marketing models that exist for a business: (a) a high cost/capital model for a lot of paid placements that hopefully make the phone ring, or (b) a low cost but activity based model geared towards establishing relationships that generate recurring lead flow. Each has its pros and cons and an individual may be better suited for one versus the other.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
The Inspect-It 1st brand has amazing appeal to clients and real estate professionals. It's deeper than just our enviable image and tagline; a brand is really a promise, delivered on consistently. We consistently provide the industry's leading inspection report and the highest level of client care, while also being on the forefront of cutting edge technologies such as infrared thermography. These attributes empower our franchisees to charge more than the competition and earn higher profits.
What makes your industry attractive?
The demand for inspection services is established and proven. Even in the down real estate market, there were still more than 4 million inspections performed each year. And the forecasts are very exciting for the years ahead; with prices and rates at all-time lows, researchers are predicting a boom in sales and new construction starts.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
We want someone with drive, determination, energy and a 'go-getter' attitude - the type of person who can naturally accomplish in a day what others will take a week to do. Our extensive training programs will teach someone the technical aspects of the business and we provide a very detailed sales/marketing plan. If we combine our know-how and programs with the motivated individual, the result is a recipe for success.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
In a nutshell: everything. New franchisees are provided with extensive training; a launch marketing campaign; reporting and office management software; computer hardware; an infrared camera; one-on-one coaching and more. Ongoing, our franchisees receive technology, sales/marketing tools, training and one-on-one support to help them grow every year. We don't believe in add-on fees for every little thing there are no surprises.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
We award very large territories 450,000 people (there are an average 2.6 people per household in the US, so this roughly equates to 173,077 households). You'd literally have to purchase multiple units with other inspection franchises to get a comparable territory.
Why has your franchise model been successful?
We arm our franchise owners with a strong brand and competitive position, so they don't have to compete on price but rather can focus on the value-add of their professional service. You don't win in this business by being a low cost leader. And, we don't sit comfortable on past successes. We're always looking for the latest technology, marketing practice, service line, etc. that will keep our franchisees positioned as their market leader.
Where do you see your franchise in 5-10 years?
A number of factors are converging to make the next decade very exciting. Beyond volume spiking, we will see further industry consolidation as independent operators realize they cannot compete against the technology and marketing savvy of franchised operations. We'll also see further proliferation of infrared technology and additional, value-add inspection services areas where Inspect-It 1st is already ahead of the curve.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
Whichever franchise you choose to join, FOLLOW THE SYSTEM! I have worked with many franchise systems throughout the years and regardless of the business, the top performers have one thing in common they do all the outlined activities, participate in all the available programs, and take advantage of all the support and resources available.
What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?
First, if you weren't nervous, you wouldn't be normal. Starting any business is both exciting and scary. The first key is making sure you've analyzed your personal expenses and working capital, and determined you truly are financially fit to start a business. The second key is to minimize your risk by keeping your business overhead low. And finally, follow the franchisor's launch plan it's designed to get you out-of-the-gate and generating positive cash flow as quickly as possible.
Can you explain your financial assistance?
Our low, all-inclusive initial franchise fee of $19,900 makes it very easy to start an Inspect-It 1st business compared to other franchises with high initial investments. Most franchise owners use a combination of personal savings, 401k, etc. to fund the start-up and launch of their business. We may be able to offer additional assistance to very well-qualified individuals who meet our requirements.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
Typically, a new franchise owner completes their training program within 30-45 days of executing their Franchise Agreement, and is fully launched within 4 weeks or less after that.
What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?
I've personally been an executive with Merrymeeting Group, Inc. (MMG), Inspect-It 1st's parent company, for the past 12 years and have launched and grown numerous franchise systems during that time. With more than 2,000 franchised locations in over 40 countries, MMG has a breadth of experience and expertise unmatched by most franchisors. Collectively, our team has 100+ years experience working with franchise partners for mutual success.
Do you have any franchisee testimonials or success stories that you would like to share?
For those concerned about penetrating their market where some competitors are already established, consider Jeff Krattiger of Helena, MT. Jeff's 'good-old-boys-network' community had several inspection companies/franchises already established when he decided to launch an Inspect-It 1st business. Friends and family were concerned about Jeff's potential success we were not. In his first year, Jeff was named Rookie of the Year and is a multi-year Member of our 100 Grand Club. Jeff is the epitome of an ideal franchise owner passionate, hard working, determined, action-oriented, and a team player.