WIN Home Inspection franchise owner says owning multiple territories is helping him to triple his income
Tom Unverzagt is one of the most ambitious Strategic-Partners in the WIN Home Inspection franchise network. His fast-growing franchise includes six WIN territories in Suffolk and Nassau counties in the greater New York City area — Valley Stream, Rocky Point, East End, Smithtown, Babylon and Huntington. Tom believes in continually pushing the possibilities of franchise growth, and he plans to double his already-thriving business in the next two years. His performance at WIN serves as a great example of the scalability of the WIN business model. “My business mentality is that I always want more and more,” Tom says. “I feel very blessed that my WIN business has done so well. I give a lot of credit to the WIN business model and to my wife, who helps out a lot and who basically runs the family. We have a great life.” In this WIN Home Inspection franchise review, Tom reveals a few secrets behind the dramatic growth of his franchise.
How did you get started with WIN? I’ve been with WIN since 2002. I got started with a friend of mine. He’s no longer with them, but I was working side by side with him in the beginning. I really liked it. I branched off and started my own thing. I was attracted to the home inspection business altogether because it’s fun. It’s not mundane. Each transaction, each home is different. Even the people you deal with are different. Home inspection can also be exciting because you’re not doing the same thing day in and day out. I thought WIN was the best home inspection franchise because of their platform. I like what they have to offer you as a business owner. I also like the fact that they are picky. They aren’t going to sell you a franchise just because you have money. They want a good match.
How quickly did your franchise grow? I was WIN’s Rookie of the Year my first year. I conducted 356 inspections that first year. By my fourth or fifth year, I was close to 800 inspections.I bought a second territory a year-and-a-half after I got started. For most of the past 10 years, I’ve owned three territories. Recently, I purchased another three territories. We even did pretty well during the worst of the economic downturn. Even at that point, the lowest amount of inspections I conducted was over 600 inspections.
How much difference does it make to the bottom line that you were able to “scale up” by owning multiple franchises? I easily doubled or tripled my income.
How big of a learning curve is it to go from a single franchise owner who’s basically working on your own to owning multiple units and having employees? I had to learn to let go. I worked myself to the bone for a long time; I wanted to do everything. I started answering the phone “we will be there.” Once I was able to initially let go of control, I brought someone else in to work part-time. I got to the point where I had weekends off, and I really started to appreciate the whole idea of having someone work for me. Before I knew it I hired a full-timer. Then I got to the point where I didn’t conduct any inspections myself for three months straight. All I did was marketing. At that point I realized I could grow my business faster if I became a strict marketer. I still do home inspections periodically, but now I focus on the marketing. I have four inspectors now, in addition to me. Last year was my best year. I conducted over 1,000 inspections. Now that I’ve doubled my franchise, my goal is to double what I’m doing now. I’m hoping to do 2,000 inspections in two years.
What do you like about WIN’s marketing? They have a great game plan. Everything in it is explained and mapped out for you. I like it that items such as flyers and brochures are included. The training is just so comprehensive. WIN teaches you how to set the stage for your business.
Some people have a misconception and think that when you start a franchise the phone will automatically start ringing. It’s not true. You need to get out there and shake some hands. WIN’s marketing plan really helps you learn to walk the walk when it comes to marketing. It can be hard when you first start, but after you’ve cracked that egg, it becomes old hat pretty quickly.
There’s a lot about home inspection that’s relatively easy. Report writing is easy. The inspection is easy. So much of the job is about how you speak when you are on site and how you sell yourself before you book the job. That’s the more difficult part.
What are the characteristics of a successful WIN Strategic-Partner? There are some basic qualities that are very important. It needs to be somebody who’s reliable and punctual. Being willing to communicate well is really important. You have to want to answer people’s questions. You have to care about having a good, clean image. You can’t go to a job with your shirt hanging out. You have to look the part to be the part. It really helps to be somewhat computer savvy. You have to be able to put yourself in a Realtor’s shoes when it comes to your schedule. That means being willing to be flexible with your hours. You can’t put people off, and sometimes you have to be on demand. If you insist on only working 9-4 you might get in trouble. Sometimes deals come together at 7 o’clock at night. I’m not saying you have to be on the job 24/7, but when you’re first starting out it’s very important to show that you are willing to put in the effort.
Do you feel like being a WIN owner gives you more flexibility in your schedule? More than you might have at a corporate job? There’s definitely a whole lot more flexibility, especially when you are a multiple operator. One thing I didn’t really understand when I first started was that having part-time workers can give you more flexibility. There’s always an influx of people available to go ahead and fill the schedule when you have more inspectors to call on. I’m able to be flexible with employees’ schedules, too. I have plenty of guys who are Yankees fans. I’m able to make it possible for them to go to Yankees games, and you know that’s important!
Learn about starting a home inspection franchise
The WIN Home Inspection franchise provides extensive training to help Strategic-Partners understand the technical skills needed to be great home inspectors. Many consider WIN to be one of the best home inspection franchise opportunities on the market.