15 Jan 2014

Q&A with Dewey Messenger, who has owned his WIN Home Inspection franchise in Vancouver, WA, since 2002.

When Time Warner Cable moved Dewey Messenger’s job 1,200 miles away, the network engineer had a choice to make: Uproot his family from the Portland area and move to Denver, or change careers. Moving wasn’t attractive at all — Dewey is from the area, and his whole family still lives there. He decided to start a WIN Home Inspection franchise business in Vancouver, WA, instead.

This is his story, nearly 20 years later.

How did you discover WIN Home Inspection?

I bought the franchise back in 2002. I was tired of working in the private sector and wanted to be my own boss, so I started looking into franchise opportunities. Before I was with Time Warner, I spent 15 years building houses, so with my background WIN looked like a smart bet. I found out about WIN through a friend who was a franchise owner. One of the things that made it really attractive was the flexibility of the schedule. I keep my nose to the grindstone most of the time, but when I want to take a day off, I can.

WIN owners benefit from training, coaching, proven systems, consistent branding, and strong support from other Strategic-Partners and from the corporate office.

What sets WIN apart?

WIN had a proven track record. When I called people to ask about their experiences, they were all very positive and had good comments. The WIN franchise name and reputation was an added bonus. I heard negative things about some other companies, but not with WIN. Owning my own WIN franchise gives me a sense of pride that no other company could come close to providing.

What else has helped you succeed?

There are no competitors in my marketplace who can come close to providing the service I do. I’m willing to work my butt off and always provide the same premium home inspection every single day. You can build a good company if you set goals and don’t deviate from your plan. I worked seven days a week at first, but now that my children are getting a little older (sons Jackson and Parker are ages 9 and 6) I don’t work too much on weekends. My agents know I have family, and that I’ll do an inspection on Saturday or Sunday if they need me to, but they are very good about trying to book me during the week, and they won’t use a competitor.

How do you distinguish yourself from other home inspectors?

I’ve got a great attitude, I’m a good communicator and I like people. I like engaging people in conversation. I don’t care what industry you work in, you have to enjoy what you do. I love talking with people. Some of my competitors are not good communicators. They don’t explain what they are there to do to the homebuyer, and they don’t take the time to educate the buyer about the structure itself. When you walk away, you want your customers to know a house better than anyone, and part of accomplishing that is having the ability to sit down and talk to them like a friend. If you see a bad roof or a bad plumbing supply, you note it and let them know about it in a non-alarming fashion. Anything can be fixed, and you should be able to answer their concerns. If you can’t, you’re not providing service the way you should.

What don’t people understand about home inspections?

There are a lot of things people don’t know when they go to buy the house. We observe the conditions and if there are any repairs that require a specialist, we let people know where they can get help. The most important thing, in addition to technical knowledge, is good communication.

What do you enjoy?

I actually like it when I have a veteran home buyer who is a high-achiever — a doctor, engineer or pilot, for example — and they challenge my knowledge, because I like showing them that I’m a strong professional, too.

What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?

When you have a family, they are the most important thing in your life, and my wife Deanna and my boys are what I live for. My business lets me put food on the table and clothes on their backs, and it also gives me time to smile and laugh and have fun with them. If you do nothing but work, and you’re not home for them, that doesn’t give them much pleasure. I’ve already worked hard to build a solid business, and now I have a lot of freedom and flexibility to be with them. And I’ve made a lot more friends, too. My real estate agents are great — I consider nearly all of them friends, and a few are among my best friends.

Would you recommend this franchise?

If somebody came to me today and said, ‘Hey, man, I see you driving a big billboard on wheels. What do you think of WIN?’ I’m going to tell you owning WIN is the smartest thing I ever did in my whole life other than marrying my bride. I wish I wouldn’t have waited as long as I did. If you want to be an independent entrepreneur and can follow the playbook — marketing, marketing, marketing and providing premium home inspection service — I’d recommend it to anybody.