Business Online Journal
 
Franchisees Find a Bright Future in the Property Inspection Industry
By: Erin Eagan
Published: January 21, 2016, 3:40 pm

Whether you have construction experience or sales and marketing experience, National Property Inspections (NPI) offers the opportunity for a bright future. NPI’s turn-key franchise system gives franchisees the tools, training  and support to succeed in the property inspection industry. 

We recently interviewed Roland Bates, President of National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections (Canada), and asked him what differentiates the franchise among others in its niche, what makes this concept a good fit for potential franchisees and, lastly, what’s next for the franchise, both in the near future and long term.


What’s your background?

I was a general contractor and performed many property inspections before I decided to explore franchising.

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Give us an overview of your franchise.

We have been in the property inspection business for nearly 30 years. Our franchise owners perform approximately 20 different types of residential and commercial inspections to accommodate their clients’ needs. We give our franchisees everything they need to start their businesses, and we offer ongoing support as long as they own their franchise.

How many units are there? 

More than 220 throughout the United States and Canada.

What makes this franchise special?

Our home-office team builds close working relationships with the franchisees. We definitely have more of a family feel to our business than other property inspection franchisors. We also believe in working hard to earn our royalties, and we do this by providing ongoing technical and marketing support; continually developing our report-writing and marketing automation software; and making an effort to reach out to our franchise owners.

We really take an interest in our franchisees and no one does more for them than we do. I’m really proud of the rapport we build with our franchise owners. We have franchisees who have been with us over 25 years. Together, we work the business from both ends.

What is the idea behind the franchise?

We teach our franchisees the property inspection business from roof to foundation. It’s about much more than home inspections; we train our franchisees to perform commercial building inspections so they can diversify their businesses. We also encourage them to offer specialty services, such as radon testing, mold testing and infrared inspections. Our inspectors provide approximately 20 different types of inspection services for various clients. We are always looking for related services that are synergistic with our basic services.

Who are your biggest competitors?

AmeriSpec, WIN, Pillar to Post and HouseMaster.

How does the franchise compare to its competition?

We don’t automatically accept every franchise prospect who approaches us — we want a good fit with us and our existing franchisees. From the outside looking in, it appears some of our competitors will accept any prospect who has money. Furthermore, we don’t try to make a lot of money up front; we live on royalties. We don’t force our franchisees to participate in national adverting funds like many other franchisors do. Of course a franchisee must be willing to work hard to build their business, but in addition to that we are here to help them and we feel obliged to solicit and refer them business that we generate.

What differentiates your franchise among others in your niche?

No one does more for its franchisees than National Property Inspections/Global Property Inspections. The fact that we enable our franchise owners to diversify their businesses by offering commercial building inspections is one of our key differentiators, and we are the only franchisor in our field to provide franchisees with commercial inspection training. In addition, our national accounts department actively seeks out contracts for commercial inspections throughout the United States, and we pass those inspections on to our franchise owners.

Who are the key figures within your franchise? 

I am the president and founder of the company, and I am no more important to this company than every other single employee. Each of them makes the difference.

What is the total investment to open a franchise?

Approximately $50,000.

What do you look for in a potential franchisee?

One of the mottos that we’ve always used is “Honesty, Integrity and Professionalism.” We have always tried to live by those words ourselves, but it’s also what we look for in a franchisee. And, of course, a franchisee needs to be entrepreneurial and hardworking.

What qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?

Honesty, integrity and professionalism; an entrepreneurial spirit; smart and savvy; willingness to work hard to start and grow their business.

What type of initial training do you offer new franchisees?

We offer an intensive, two-week training course at our home office in Omaha, and up to 80 hours of field training with an existing franchisee in their area. In addition, the franchisee’s state or province may require them to obtain an inspector’s license.

What kind of ongoing support do you offer?

Our full-time marketing coach works with new franchise owners to get them started and keep them on track with marketing, and she is available to help them as long as they are a franchisee. Our marketing manager is available to help franchisees with their websites, social media marketing and other marketing needs. Our technical staff is available seven days a week to answer any questions or problems an inspector may encounter on an inspection. We regularly offer webinars to keep our franchisees up to date on the inspection business and marketing tactics. We offer occasional regional meetings and an annual meeting each year. We also provide every franchisee with our own proprietary inspection report software and our proprietary marketing platform. And, of course, our national accounts department works hard to win commercial inspection contracts so we can give those referrals to our franchise owners.

How have your most successful franchisees grown their franchises?

By planning long-term and hiring good employees, whether it be good inspectors or marketing/sales reps. Our top franchise owners tend to be driven and have worked hard to build and grow their businesses into multi-inspector operations.

What do you tell potential franchisees about the profit potential of opening up one of your franchises?

We share franchisee average sales through our franchise disclosure document, and we tell prospective franchisees to do their research and talk with some of our franchisees firsthand. Of course, the level of success varies depending on how hard a franchisee works and how much they put into the business.

What makes this concept a good fit for potential franchisees?

Property inspection is a service business providing services needed by homebuyers and sellers, commercial building owners and investors, property management companies, banks and others. This business has relatively low overhead, as most of our franchisees can work out of their homes and vehicles. It’s a great business for anyone who has construction-related experience — contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. — but our rigorous training can teach almost anyone how to perform professional, thorough home and commercial building inspections.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of a franchisee?

Much of the day is spent performing inspections, writing the inspection reports and meeting with clients to walk through a property and the report. A typical day may also include calling on realtors, real estate attorneys and mortgage bankers. They may update their website, email fliers or newsletters to their agent and client lists, answer and return client calls and schedule new appointments.

What’s next for your franchise, both in the near future and long term?

We’ll continue to invest in our franchisees by trying to improve in everything we do. We will continue to grow vertically by bringing on new franchisees, and we will grow horizontally by adding related inspection services.

What motivates you to keep going?

I enjoy what I do and take pride in seeing franchisees succeed. And I am pleased to say that I have made many good friends among our franchisees.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I suppose everyone could work harder and smarter, but overall I’m not sure I would do much differently.

Please tell us your secret to success…

I have always reinvested most of what the company makes back into the company. I think the franchisees know and appreciate that. If you sincerely care about the franchisees’ success, it will show and they will respond in kind.

What is the worst job you have ever had and what did you learn from it?

In high school I worked part-time in a bowling alley. To this day I am not crazy about the noise. The best bowlers never seemed to get upset; they just tried to figure out what they were doing wrong so they could improve. I think that little truth carries through in life and in business.

What is one trend that really excites you?

Using the tools and technology that we use, I’m really excited about how sophisticated marketing and growing your business can be. We’ve just introduced an automated marketing platform that we offer to all franchisees free of charge, and we are really proud of that.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

I don’t have a favorite, but I have always been fascinated with how organic searches work with search engine optimization, so I like those kinds of tools. I also appreciate how quickly and easily we can communicate by text or email and how blogging quickly lets us share information and experiences with each other.

Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?

I never had a mentor per se, but I am always willing to listen to and learn from other people. Though I am the franchisor, I have learned a lot — and continue to learn a lot — from our franchisees.

What advice can you offer potential franchisees?

Do a little self-analysis and concentrate your efforts on what you do best. Then, as your business grows, hire good employees to do the rest.

Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

If every Sunday afternoon you get a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach as you realize, “I have to go to work tomorrow,” then it’s time to pursue your dream and start your own business. Just be sure to plan and execute carefully so you’ll be successful.

Where can people get more information on National Property Inspections/Global Property Inspections franchise opportunities?

Visit the website here.

Where can people find National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections on social media?

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