Home Inspection: Independent or Franchise?
Are you looking to build your own business in the ever growing and essential home inspection industry? Nothing beats working for yourself, especially with the flexibility and growth that home inspection industry offers. In fact, you can achieve success without the headaches of a storefront or inventory. A key question can be independent or franchise. Let’s explore in detail independent home inspection versus franchise so you can make an informed decision.
Benefits of Franchise Compared to Independent
The average gross income for independent home inspectors is approx. $55,000. Franchisees can make several times that while enjoying access to rigorous training and mentorship, innovative marketing, and ongoing support. If you are looking for a strong foundation, accelerated growth and higher rewards, partnering with a franchise system may be the way to go. When looking at home inspection, independent or franchise, there are many more benefits you can enjoy by partnering with a recognized franchise.
Comprehensive Training For A Solid Foundation
Ongoing training is crucial to your success as a business owner. One of the misconceptions is that online schools can help you grow as an independent. Reality is less certain than that. Online schools offer cookie-cutter training, with virtually no guidance or support. On the other hand, a committed franchise can offer vastly superior, instructor led, training. Additionally, many states require field training with another inspector. For example, in Alabama, you need to complete 35 inspections to be licensed. In Delaware, this jumps to 75 inspections with “active oversight.” As an independent, it can be difficult to find a competitor to train you well. However, as a franchisee, you have access to trainers and mentors. You receive certifications in ancillary services to build a strong foundation. Ongoing training and certifications is a key differentiator for franchises. It is one of the biggest challenges independent home inspectors face.
Furthermore, you need business training to succeed as an owner. Franchises can offer 360 degree training with a focus on professional and personal development. You learn critical skills and receive support for crucial areas such as planning and budgeting, managing books, and tax planning. You also learn how to build lasting relationships with agents and clients. As an independent, it may take several years of trial and error. Whereas a franchise system will train you on the do’s and don’ts from the start.
Mentorship For A Path To Success
Many struggles for independent home inspectors can be traced to lack of mentorship. Businesses owners with mentors experience a 5-year survival rate of 70 percent. This is substantially higher than for those without mentors. With a franchise, you gain peers and mentors who are interested in helping you and accelerating your growth while avoiding mistakes that are devastating to a small business. Whereas, independents start out with no mentoring and collegial connections. They have to build these connections on their own, and often times with competitors. With a franchise, you don’t have the stress of finding industry experts willing to help; peer relationships and mentorships come as standard.
Innovative Marketing To Stand Out
No matter how good you are at home inspections, your business will not succeed without effective marketing. In addition to rigorous training, franchises can offer comprehensive and innovative marketing. An established online brand will always win over clients and agents.
A franchise can create customized marketing programs for you. A franchise can create original and authentic content to help you grow your local brand. A strong franchise can connect your services with customer education through print, digital and video marketing. Conversely, independents don’t have such access. Independents do not have tens of thousands of dollars lying around for experimentation. Nor do they have the luxury of endless time to see what works or doesn’t work in their local area.
A small group of vendors dominate the independent home inspection market. These vendors sell the same cookie-cutter services to everyone in the industry, including your competition. The result? Most independents use near identical marketing programs with logos switched out. Can you imagine being a real estate agent who gets identical brochures, emails, and newsletters from you and your competitors?
Remember, ineffective marketing is a silent, non-visible disease that can eat a business from the inside. You do not get any warning signs or alarms going off when you continue losing business because you do not stand out. If you decide to go independent, do not cut corners in spending on marketing. Also, thoroughly vet the vendors and make sure they are going to commit required resources to your business to help you have your own unique market presence.
Established Brand For Instant Credibility
Another benefit of a franchise is becoming part of an established brand. Would you rather spend time and money building a brand or have recognition the moment you open the doors? The process of establishing market recognition on your own is daunting and requires significant trial and error. When trying to build a successful business, this can be detrimental to your goals. Unfortunately for independent contractors, it’s also a necessary step.
One-Stop Solution for Integrated Systems and Support
On top of the stress that comes from being an independent home inspector, you will also have to deal with a hodgepodge of systems. They have the added headaches of creating and nurturing relationships with vendors in IT, financing, law, real estate and marketing. On the other hand, a franchise can offer you an intuitive report writing system to generate easy-to-read reports that your clients will rave about. You can have seamless integration with customer database, invoicing, billing and collection. Your franchisor can generate highly effective marketing and operational emails to keep you connected with your agents and clients.
If you ask home inspection franchisees, you’ll discover that having all systems under one roof is one of the amazing benefits of a franchise system. Technical issues? Call the franchisor. Questions about new state laws? Call the franchisor. Having a single point of contact for all questions – and a dedicated corporate team that’s dealt with virtually any problem you could possibly encounter – is an invaluable benefit of partnership with a solid franchise system in the home inspection industry.
Top Notch Compliance With Ever Changing Regulations
Industry laws in home inspection are constantly changing. Unlicensed states are moving toward licensing. Licensed states continue to make subtle and not-so-subtle changes to their regulatory framework. Local leaders can change ordinances that have been in place for decades, and when this happens, the responsibility of being informed and adjusting to meet these new requirements falls on the inspector. The issue independent inspectors face is they don’t have a reliable source that proactively monitors changes within their field.
When you join an established company – particularly as a franchisee with a national brand – there’s a team in place that monitors changes within their industry. You’ve got enough to worry about as a business owner, you shouldn’t have to constantly monitor local, state and national laws pertinent to you. You may have the best technical skills, but that won’t matter if you unnecessarily get caught up in compliance issues that could have been avoided through proper coaching, education and training. This is precisely what a franchise system can provide you on an ongoing basis.
But What About The Franchise Fee?
Whether you partner with a proven franchise, or be on your own as an independent, investing is a prerequisite for growth and success. For a relatively low monthly fee, a proven franchise can provide you ongoing access to robust training and development, innovative marketing infrastructure, instant credibility of an established brand, integrated systems and support, strategic support on pricing, packages and certifications, compliance and risk management support, and an HR playbook to grow your team as and when applicable.
On the other hand, as an independent, you swim in the same pool as other independent inspectors, all vying for cookie-cutter services from a handful of vendors, with virtually no mentoring or support. Vendors you work with have other clients who are your competitors. This does not make the independent model completely unviable. It’s just that you should know the hidden costs and challenges of the independent model, and be prepared to invest substantially to build your unique brand. With a franchise, you get transparency of cost, and access to expertise without the stress that comes from being on your own.
Independents who are looking to grow should be prepared to spend substantially more than franchisees to build the same level of brand recognition, marketing support and other infrastructure. Otherwise they have to resign themselves to the same cooke cutter solutions that all your competitors are also using. Independents still have to go through significant trial and error. Moreover, industry regulations keep changing. Consumer preferences change. Technology changes. As an independent, it is up to you to keep investing to keep up.
Home Inspection: Independent or Franchise? It’s No Contest.
Entrepreneurship can be your path to success, freedom and flexibility. Furthermore, home inspection is an essential and growing industry. How you choose to start your home inspection business will have long-term implications for you. Fortunately for those who choose to partner with a top-notch franchise, the critical infrastructure is already in place, along with a highly experienced team providing ongoing and exceptional support for training, marketing and operations.
However, not every franchise system is the same. For example, WIN Home Inspection is not only the lowest cost franchise, but also rated as a Top-100 franchise nationally. You can contact us by clicking here to download your free brochure, and one of our experts will contact you.