A Consumer Left Unprotected
I have this acquaintance from a recent home inspection. This individual was the owner/seller of the home I inspected for the eventual new owners. Over the course of the 5 hours I was there inspecting (sometimes, inspections just take more time to ensure I get things right), I came to understand the owner/seller did not have a very fantastic home inspection on the home they themselves had just purchased.
You see, this owner/seller had a home inspection in which said inspector performed a very low-quality service and left the owner/seller with many questions and no real answers. On top of this, said inspector would not return phone calls and was not interested in returning to site.
Within a few days’ time of meeting the owner/seller, I “popped” over between home inspections to get a sense of the potential issue/concern (Lesson: not everything is as homeowners make it out to be, so due diligence trumps opinion every time) and found a handful of deficiencies without even looking for them. My heart sank. My blood pressure increased.
Why Good Service is Hard To Find
Now, if you thought this story would have more prurient details, nope. That’s it. That’s all we need. You see, it wasn’t that I had more specialized knowledge than this other inspector (I might), or that I would have performed a more thorough inspection (I likely would), or that I was more handsome (I likely am not). It’s that there can be such a discrepancy in the level of care (read: service) performed by any two professionals in any given industry (Lord, forgive me my childlike innocence).
On top of this, our regional context dictates a very old-school, southern, buddy-buddy culture. In said culture, you either show you belong to the “group,” or you have backs turning like the vertical blinds of a nosey neighbor. Slather atop this the built-in “systems” that help reinforce said regional cultural business norms (I’m looking at you BNI) and you wind up with what amounts to very low levels of service set as the expectational norm.
In non-fancy speak: The abided by norm for professional service is created by a local culture that is itself supported by other local business professionals abiding by the same set norm.
In my industry – Home Inspection Services – you get a range of performance and professionalism in our great state of TN. Part of this falls at the feet of our governing entity which is so short-staffed that we are positioned to police our own industry (no joke, the licensing body in our state recently sent out an email soliciting for home inspectors who wanted to review and critique inspections of other home inspectors called into question by consumers). WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?
Inspectors That Close Gain Friends
Real estate professionals tend to gravitate toward inspectors that help them close. Now, inspectors may not directly accommodate said desires, but they often have conversations with Realtors over time that help label/brand them as someone who won’t cause issues in the transactional process of closing. And, some inspectors, due to the range of professionalism, yield desired results by performing minimal standards in their inspections. To be clear, minimal standards are acceptable – after all, they are our licensing standards. To be clear, they are minimal.
To be clear – minimal standards leave clients underrepresented and under served for the value of their dollar.
So, you see how someone like my recent acquaintance can very quickly and unknowingly find her/himself in a quagmire of professional service that leads to sub-par results, poor customer experience, and a huge lack of consumer protection. You see, you can’t be a willing part of this business cultural context and perform a consumer protection-driven service. They are diametrically opposed motivations/ambitions.
We Put Our Clients Needs Above All Else
We at WIN Home Inspection Cookeville stand for our clients. We work for our clients. We make sure our clients aren’t overlooked, left in the dark, or unable to make decisions for themselves. We empower our clients by protecting them. That’s our goal (well, I also have a secondary goal of helping make sure people are living in healthy, well-performing homes – but, this goes hand-in-hand).
Yes, we suffer from our choice. Many local real estate professionals guide their clients elsewhere. But, we do quite well by those Realtors who hold tight and true to the professional standards intended by NAR; they tend to understand and appreciate the value of our professionalism for their clients. Our clients also feed us business by word-of-mouth and online reviews (like our Google Business Page).
Great Service Yields New Tools and Relationships
So, just how is my newly acquired acquaintance doing? Well, several trips have helped us develop a list of potential topics to discuss with HVAC contractors and builders. I ordered a new tool to help us assess the air quality of her/his new home. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers that lead to resolution/solution. It’s going to be a long and, most likely, expensive road for her/him.
All of this could have been avoided, IF my acquaintance had been better represented by a Realtor and given references for home inspectors who provide a much higher level of customer service. I like helping people. I strive to provide consumer protection. I’d be okay if I never had to do these side consultations. I’ll keep doing them, but I’d be okay if there wasn’t a need.
How do we give back to our community as home inspection professionals? The answer deals with our ever-growing rental market – stay tuned!