Provide an overview of your industry. Include reasons why it's a great industry to start a business in today.
Today it's unimaginable to buy or sell property without the valuable insights of an unbiased, professional and thorough property inspection. Statistics show that roughly 80% of all homes sold are inspected prior to purchase, which means millions of inspections each year (not to mention all the other types of properties that can be inspected). The industry also provides for a wide range of add-on inspection/testing services such as radon, pool/spa, septic, etc. which further maximizes a franchisee's revenue and profit potential. While stable and proven, the industry is still highly fragmented and comprised of independent operators, so there is always room for a true leader to dominate the local market.
How has your industry changed in the last 10-20 years?
Every aspect of this business has evolved over the past 20 years. Firstly, awareness about the importance of property inspections is now widespread with 97% of realtors always advising their clients to have one done. And when we first started, handwritten reports were the norm! Now, we use sophisticated report writing software to deliver a superior product to clients with digital and infrared photos, and incorporate tablets and cloud services to maximize efficiency and productivity. Infrared itself is a huge advancement, allowing us to more precisely determine the cause and nature of any suspected defect. And, the marketing has become more complex from online social to direct marketing and webinars, we deploy a wider range of engagement mechanisms that ever before.
What trends do you see in your industry over the next 5-10 years?
We will continue to see new technologies emerge that allow us to detect more about the property, and/or drive more efficiencies. We'll also see more demand from clients to help them with other areas of concern, such as indoor air quality and energy efficiency, as awareness climbs in these areas. And states that do not currently have licensing laws for home inspectors will eventually pass such laws, which only further raise the bar of professionalism for the industry.
What is the biggest concern about your industry that a franchisee candidate should be aware of and investigate?
Many states now have licensing or trade practice laws for home/property inspectors, which can seem daunting and confusing. We're experienced with these provisions and will help franchisees understand and meet their state's requirements.
Why do you think your company stands out in the industry?
Our franchise owners state that all it takes is getting a Realtor to use them one time, and that Realtor immediately converts to referring them to all of their future clients. This is because we do all the big things AND the little things right, every time: we are highly responsive; deliver the industry's leading report; incorporate use of many impressive technologies; and are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence. We actually measure our client and Realtor satisfaction, and commonly here that consumers and realtors simply would not go with another inspection company.
What makes your franchise more attractive that your competitor's?
Our low initial and ongoing fees allow for the quickest ROI, while our brand and support position the franchise owner to dominate their market and charge more for their services. It's a combination that maximizes a franchisee's profit potential, both in the short term and for the long run.
Describe your ideal candidate. Do you think your requirements are any different that your competitor's?
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. Because our investment parameters are much lower, our financial requirements are more feasible for a wider range of people.
What's the strongest skill you require in a candidate?
The willingness and ability to execute our sales and marketing program thoroughly is absolutely paramount. A person who has had previous experience in this area and understands how to build and maintain relationships is definitely preferred. No previous experience in the trades or construction is required.
Describe the working environment of your franchisees. Is your environment typical of other companies in your industry?
Most, if not all, property inspection businesses are home based. And no matter how large your business grows or the number of inspectors working for you, it can remain that way (thus increasing your profit potential). Franchise owners love the mobility and flexibility of their days, along with a relaxed yet professional working atmosphere. Each day is a blend of interesting and stimulating activities, from performing inspections and giving educational presentations to real estate agents, to helping a previous customer find their hidden cat using your infrared camera (true story!).
Why has your company 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.
What advice would you give someone interested in buying a franchise in your industry?
Really do an apples-to-apples cost/benefit comparison of each opportunity, paying special attention to territory size, fees, included start-up package resources, and additional ongoing fees. Be sure to also review the financial statements to gauge the overall health/stability of the company, and determine how the franchisor actually generates its revenue is it from supporting franchisees (i.e. its royalty income), or by requiring franchisees to pay a host of additional fees and by marking up pricing on required purchases? The motives of the franchisor should be clear and tied to the success of its franchise owners.
How much experience in this industry should a franchisee candidate have before they consider buying a franchise in your industry?
We do not require any previous industry or business ownership experience, and literally have franchisees from every previous walk of life possible. Many come from corporate careers and have simply grown tired of the red tape, routine and limited upside potential. They desire personal and financial freedom, but still recognize the value of an experienced partner who can accelerate their business ownership success.