Whether you’re just getting started as a home inspector – or you already have an established business – there is no shortage of lessons to learn while you’re building your income.
Some lessons only come with experience. Others are lessons you can learn before you leap with just a little consideration, research, and planning. Read on for eight lessons I’ve learned as a home inspector (and AHIT instructor) building my business and salary over the last 20 years.
# 1 – Know Your Startup Costs
Make sure to get a clear picture of your costs to start a home inspection business before you hit the ground running. These expenses are based on many things, including your state requirements for home inspector training and the costs of your toolkit, inspection report software, business setup, and marketing efforts. I’ve seen graduates spend anywhere from the low thousands to $15,000 or more for a startup budget (and with home inspection company franchises a whole lot more!).
As a self-employed home inspector, how you run (and grow) your business is completely up to you. Spend some time thinking about the things you need to do for daily operations and the things you want to do to build your business overtime.
For example, buying your home inspector toolkit is a necessity, but you may not need the most upgraded tools to start. You can always upgrade your tools overtime as you start to make more money.
As another example, for marketing, you might decide not to invest as much money in flyers that may not always make it in front of the right people. Instead, you might spring for a good home inspector website that helps with your local visibility and generates the right kinds of leads.
Learn more about how much it costs to start a home inspection business.
#2 – Keep Realistic Salary Expectations
Home inspection is one of those rare fields that gives you complete control over how much you earn each year. It all depends on how many inspections you perform weekly, monthly, and annually – and of course, your operating costs.
Salary-wise, it’s not uncommon for a new home inspector to earn $60,000 to $70,000 gross income in the first year. In fact, $70,000 annually is the average home inspector salary. Moving into the second year, you have a clearer picture of how many inspections you can handle each week (250 is the national average). At this point, your full-time income can easily increase to $90,000 to $100,000 gross annually or more. A typical part-time inspector might earn $40,000 to $50,000 per year doing 90 to 100 inspections total for the year.
Get a realistic idea of how much you can earn as a home inspector in your state using our home inspector salary calculator.
#3 – Study Your Local Real Estate Market – and Network!
Knowing your local real estate market and networking are both key to building a successful home inspection business and a handsome income. Before you begin offering your services, spend time researching your locale, your local real estate market, and the real estate brokerages in your area. Doing these things helps you better understand how your services will benefit homebuyers, sellers, real estate agents, homeowners, and even commercial building owners.
Be proactive and network with local realtors to learn the state of the real estate market and better understand what local homebuyers and sellers look for in a home inspector. Great relationships with realtors often lead to regular home inspection jobs for their clients.
It’s also helpful to learn the shortcomings of existing home inspectors in your area. What do they do well? What don’t they do well? Is there opportunity for you to improve on those areas and fill a need? Plus, think about how you can develop your soft skills – such as communication, networking, and marketing – to stand out from the crowd.
#4 – Promote the Value of Your Inspection Services
One of the most common mistakes a new home inspector makes is “lowballing” home inspection fees. In the first year, you might offer discounts to increase awareness and help establish demand for your services. This works well as a beginning strategy. In the long-term, however, it’s important to build on the value of your services versus sticking with the reduced price model. This helps you gradually grow your local market share and revenue over time.
As the years go on, you’ll have years of experience on your side and a new perspective on what sets you apart from other home inspectors. You’ll know the “why” behind the price of your services, have confidence in charging them, and have successfully established your brand’s value in your local area.
#5 – Consider Creating a “One-Stop Shop” of Inspection Services
Offering add-on services can increase your income by $100-$300 per inspection, depending on the service. With so many types of inspections offered for homes today, consider creating a “one-stop shop” with these ancillary inspection services:
- Radon Testing
- Mold Testing
- Indoor Air Quality Testing
- Termite Inspections
- Pool & Spa inspections
- Well & Septic System Inspections
- HVAC System Inspections
- Water Testing
Learn more about different home inspector certifications you can earn to increase your income.
#6 – Find Mentorship to Help You Grow
When you’re just starting out, it helps to talk with other small business owners who have walked the road before you. These could be home inspectors or owners of any successful small business in your community. Ask about early issues in their business they had to solve or overcome and what they’ve learned over the years.
You might even find a business mentor who can help you build a comprehensive business plan for growth and review your plan regularly to see how your actions align with your goals. Many small business owners find mentors or mentor groups through Score.org or their local Chambers of Commerce.
Remember, the lifetime support you get from AHIT beyond graduation can also help steer you in the direction of growth. Use it to your advantage.
#7 – Create Systems to Help You Stay Organized
Staying organized is important for a small business. It saves time, keeps your finances in order, improves your customer service, and can reduce your daily stress. Schedule processes on a calendar to ensure you’re “tending the garden” in a timely fashion. For example, schedule when you need to prepare your quarterly tax reports, pay your bills, follow up on leads, work on marketing, etc. Plus, use programs like Microsoft Office or QuickBooks to help simplify your daily operations.
Learn more tips for staying organized and finding success as a new home inspector.
#8 – Re-Invest Profit into Your Business
Re-investing in your business is a great way to grow your business year to year and increase your salary. Here are some things you might do to re-invest for growth.
- Before you legally establish your business, research your options to create a corporate veil to help protect you, limit taxes, and develop a way to re-pay yourself overtime for your initial investment.
- Consider taking a portion of your revenue and re-investing it in your marketing – especially during the early years. Figures show you’ll typically spend more time and money marketing your business and establishing your brand during the first 18 to 24 months of operation. Re-invest in your early years for stable success and growth over time.
- When you’re just starting out, buy a new tool after each inspection to build your toolkit and save time on inspections. This will pay off handsomely in the long run.
- As you create your budget, consider that you’ll need some time before giving yourself a paycheck. One early strategy is to take a minimal salary and quarterly bonuses when cashflow permits and build on it in busier years.
- Remember, a good plan is good enough. Don’t fall prey to “Paralysis by Analysis.” Keep moving forward, adjust your strategies, and reset based on what works and what doesn’t.
Final PRO Tip: Consider getting help from family or friends answering your phone, returning emails/texts, and managing your leads in the early years. This can help you capture missed opportunities as you grow and become busier. One day, you might be ready to hire help with managing your business while still enjoying a lucrative salary.