Going into any business means taking on risk. Remember the Million Dollar Cup of Coffee? Here, we’ll talk about the basics and fundamentals to managing your risk as an independent home inspector like a pro so you can focus more on your clients and less on complaints.
Responding to Past Clients Right away
Not every call from a past client is going to be a complaint. In fact, the majority of phone calls I’ve received over the years from clients I’ve completed the home inspection for have simply been clarification calls or additional questions about the report. Once in a while though, you will receive a call from a client with a complaint. It’s part of being in business and learning how to deal with them is an important part of reducing stress levels.
The challenge for the home inspector is the majority of the time when the client is leaving a voicemail, their message is usually something like, “Yeah, hi, this is, Bob. You did a home inspection for me a while back. Please return my call.” The result is the inspector has no way of knowing whether it’s simply a call for more information about the report or a complaint.
That’s why, over the years, I’ve learned to make it a practice to prioritize the calls from past clients over the calls from agents or customers wanting to schedule an inspection. The reason is because when a client has a complaint, making them wait for the return call increases anxiety and anger, making it nearly impossible to resolve it peacefully. If they’re already upset, calling them immediately may not eliminate the emotions, but it can decrease the chances of heightened anger, and increase your chances of coming to a solution.
Handling a Complaint
Here are some basics to handling complaints we teach our students:
- Listen to the complaint. Don’t interrupt and NEVER argue. Take notes so you can respond when they’re done talking.
- Repeat it back to them letting them know you listened and understand what they’re saying
- Use the “Feel, Felt, Found” method to demonstrate empathy
- “I understand how you feel, I’ve felt the same way, and I’ve found the best way to fix the problem is to…”
- Go back to the property and take a look at the problem area
- Propose your solution
Insurance for home inspectors usually comes in the form of two very different kinds of policies, General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance. General liability protects your business against claims for things like advertising liability, theft, or damages cause while performing the home inspection. Errors and omissions insurance protects your business against claims resulting from errors you make ON the home inspection or for omission of key items in your report.
It’s important to understand what these coverages do for you and how they reduce your risk. Call multiple companies, talk to more than one agent, and make sure you get all of your questions answered before making a decision. Click here to see an interview with one such carrier where the agent answers several basic questions people have about insurance for home inspectors.
Filing a Claim
When should the home inspector file a claim with the insurance company? The answer is simple: Immediately. Never wait to turn over a complaint to your insurance carrier because it may be a condition of your policy to notify them as soon as you have a complaint. Failure to do so may result in the company denying the claim.
Some insurance carriers have a pre-claims service to assist you in resolving the issue without having to actually file a claim. It’s a great service to have on your policy and could save you a lot of sleepless nights.
HI-TEC thinks like a school AND a business. We discuss how to reduce your risk in detail in every class we teach. Like we’ve mentioned so many times, we want to be a part of your success and that means teaching you everything we know about how to manage the risk. It’s how we give you the high ground advantage in your new career. We’re better because we focus on the core competencies you need to get started. We’ve worked for the biggest schools in the country. We know what students need to be successful, and how to best provide everyone with the knowledge and skills required to make home